The man responsible for saving an untold number of lives in the Great Fire of London in 1666 has been identified, historians have said.
Thomas Dagger has been named as the man who first raised the alarm.
He shook awake baker Thomas Farriner who was able to flee the bakery that was the starting point of the fire, which spread rapidly through the city's wooden buildings but killed only six people.
The fire burned for almost five days, destroying more than 13,000 tightly packed houses, 87 churches and St Paul’s Cathedral. It left 85 per cent of the city’s population homeless.
Before now, with the 357th anniversary on Saturday, Mr Dagger’s role had been unknown. The discovery throws new light on how the alarm was raised.
“It was fascinating to find out more about what happened on that famous night,” said Kate Loveman, professor of early modern literature and culture at the University of Leicester.
“Although most of the evidence about the Farriners is well known to historians, Thomas Dagger’s role has gone unrecognised.
“Unlike the Farriners, his name didn’t become associated with the fire at the time.
“Soon after the disaster, he merges back into the usual records of Restoration life, having children and setting up his own bakery. His is a story about the fire, but also about how Londoners recovered.”
Ms Loveman used information from letters, pamphlets, legal and guild records to conclusively find the identity of Mr Dagger for the first time.
There are differing stories of how the blaze took hold but a letter from MP Sir Edward Harley offered the most detailed account.
He wrote that Mr Farriner’s “man” – meaning his servant or journeyman – was woken after 1am “with the choke of the smoke”.
Mr Farriner, his daughter and his man, now identified as Mr Dagger, then escaped out of an upper window.
Information newly gained from the records provides the surviving members of the Farriner household were the baker, his adult children Hanna and Thomas, and his “man” Mr Dagger.