The Vicar and the Earthquake: Conflict, Controversy, and a Christening during the Great Lisbon Disaster of 1755
E-Journal of Portuguese History, Volume 10, Number 2, Winter 2012, 76-94, December 2012
Mark C. Molesky, Ph.D.
Department of History
This article analyzes five letters written by Richard Goddard, an
Anglican pastor from Swindon, England and a survivor of the Lisbon
earthquake. Produced on faded paper in a legible cursive script, they
offer a personal, detailed, and highly revealing description of the
events of All Saints’ Day (November 1) 1755, discussing not only the
earthquake and tsunami, but also the great fire that began almost
immediately after the first tremor and burned for more than a week. In
one notable and well publicized episode at the time, Reverend Goddard
is forcibly baptized into the Catholic Church by a crowd of pious
Lisboetas in the hour after the earthquake.