Predicitions for the End of the World from 1736 to 1842

About a variety of people's predictions and beliefs for the end of the world coming between 1736 and 1842.

ARMAGEDDON OUTA HERE--THE END OF THE WORLD

OCT. 13, 1736

William Whiston (1667-1752), the famous English divine and mathematician, announced in 1736 that "the beginning of the end" was to be the destruction of London on Oct. 13. Hundreds of panic-stricken Londoners headed for the high places to escape the predicted deluge. Hampstead Heath and Islington Fields were jammed full, but instead of the expected day of disaster, it turned out to be a day of rejoicing for believers and a field day for pickpockets.

APR. 5, 1761

On Feb. 8, 1761, London was rocked by an earthquake, and on Mar. 8 another severe tremor rumbled through the capital. Noting that exactly four weeks had elapsed between the two quakes, a soldier in the Life Guards named William Bell made dozens of speeches throughout the town predicting the complete destruction of the world 28 days later, on Apr. 5. So quickly did the panic spread that even original disbelievers began to prepare for the worst. As the awful day approached, Londoners left the capital in great herds, heading for the safety of outlying villages, where exorbitant prices were being charged by villagers eager to take advantage of the mass hysteria. Because many believed that the destruction of the world would be in the form of a flood, all the boats on the Thames were filled to capacity. Nothing happened. On the following day, Bell was seized and thrown into Bedlam, London's notorious madhouse.

1806

In a village near Leeds, England, a hen laid an egg inscribed with the words Christ Is Coming. News spread quickly and hundreds flocked to marvel at the sign of Armageddon. Priests took this to be a signal of the fast approach of Doomsday and quickly organized hundreds of fresh converts into huge prayer meetings. A doctor who heard of the miracle traveled to the village to inspect the hen and proved that the egg had been inscribed with corrosive ink and cruelly forced back into the bird's body. Instead of being outraged, the hundreds who had collected to greet the end now rejoiced and gave thanks.

MAR. 17, 1842

Hundreds of people believed that the famous Elizabethan astrologer Dr. John Dee (1527-1608) had predicted in 1598 that St. Patrick's Day, 1842, would mark the end of Europe. Their belief was based on the following verse:

In eighteen hundred and forty-two

Four things the sun shall view;

London's rich and famous town

Hungry earth shall swallow down.

Storm and rain in France shall be

Till every river runs a sea.

Spain shall be rent in twain

And famine waste the land again.

The Lord have mercy on you all.

Prepare yourself for dreadful fall

Of house and land and human soul-

The measure of your sins is full.

In the year, one, eight, and forty-two,

Of the year that is so new;

In the third month of that sixteen,

It may be a day or two between-

Perhaps you'll soon be still and cold.

Dear Christian, be not stout and bold-

The mighty, kingly-proud will see

This comes to pass as my name's Dee.

Although only the "uneducated classes" took the prophecy seriously, hundreds took to boats to be on the safe side. It was claimed that the prophecy was in the Harleian Museum. Only later was it revealed that no such prophecy or manuscript was known in the museum.

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