He was known simply as Daniel. At 7ft 6in there was little confusing him with anyone else, especially in a world where it was rare to reach six feet.
If he had been of normal height, Daniel would have still been remarkable in mid-17th century England. He was porter to Oliver Cromwell and he became widely known as a clairvoyant, the Civil War equivalent of a Rasputin.
“He was a great plodder in books of divinity,” says A Biographical History of Britain (1824), “especially in those of the mystical kind which are supposed to have turned his brain.”
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He also experienced spells of insanity and spent many years in Bedlam, the asylum and madhouse . However, Cromwell, who became the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth was he had deposed Charles I, ensured that his porter was well looked after.
He was provided a room with a library – including a Bible provided by Nell Gwynn, and a secretary to take down his predictions of the future, which were a hit and miss affair. People often went to hear him preach and “would sit many hours under his window with great signs of devotion”.
His successes were memorable. For example, he had predicted that when the monarchy was restored following the death of Cromwell in 1658, the reign of Charles II would see a bright comet in the night sky.
In 1665, a comet appeared. Diarist Samuel Pepys, in a letter said the illumination was so great “that night was as day.”
Daniel also predicted the new king’s rule would see a great plague across the country followed by a rampaging fire that would leave London in ruins.
In 1665 the Great Plague, caused by the bite of an infect rat flea, killed an estimated 100,000, almost a quarter of London’s population in 18 months.
And then in September 1666, the Great Fire of London tore through the wooden buildings of the city, destroying 13,000 homes.