We do not know for sure how many people died in the Great Fire. The commonly quoted figure is just six.
Deaths in London were recorded in Bills of Mortality, kept by the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks. These documents listed the number of people who were christened and buried in each parish. They also listed the causes of death (such as ‘aged’, ‘drowned’ or ‘worms’) and how many people died from each cause.
In the Bills of Mortality between 28 August and 25 September 1666, there are four people described as ‘burnt at several places’ and a person who was ‘burnt at St Botolph Aldersgate’. There are other deaths which may also relate to the fire, such as the person ‘found dead in the streets’ and perhaps some of the people who died from accidents or through being ‘frighted’.
Deaths of a few individuals are mentioned in letters and other accounts of the fire. According to one letter, written by Sir Edward Harley to his wife Abigail on 20 October 1666, Thomas Farriner’s maid was too scared to escape out of the window of the bakery where the fire started. This would make her the first person to die in the fire.
Another one of the people killed was 80-year-old watchmaker Paul Lowell, recorded in an account by ‘Rege Sincera’. Mr Lowell refused to leave his house on Shoe Lane even though his son and friends begged him to go. His bones and keys were found in the ruins.