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denotes the increase of the smallpox. This fatal disease, which, in some respects, took the place of the plague of former times, destroyed seldom less than a thousand lives p.a., though in some years up to 4 and 5 thousand. [SMALLPOX.] To this there was added another calamity, which may almost be called a disease-namely, the vast amount of drunkenness which came to prevail about this period, and which is mentioned as something frightful in all the records of the time.-Martin.
Addison composed, about 1711, the following humorous B. of mort. in a paper, Dying for Love:
T. S. wounded by Zelinda's scarlet stocking as she was stepping out of a coach.
Tim Tattle killed by the tap of a fan on his left shoulder by Coquetilla, as he talked carelessly with her at a bow window.
Samuel Felt, haberdasher, wounded in his walks to Islington, by Mrs. Susannah Cross Stich, as she was clambering over a style.
John Pleadwell, Esq., of the Middle Temple, assassinated in his chambers, the 6th inst., by Kitty Sly, who pretended to come to him for advice.
On the occasion of the Gov. proposing to inflict a penny stamp on newspapers, etc., about 1712, there was pub. The Case of the Co. of Parish Clerks, Relating to the Duties on Pamphlets, etc., humbly offered to the Hon. House of Commons; wherein it is set forth that: The said Co., by their Charter, are obliged to keep a press in their Hall, for printing the weekly and yearly B. of mort., wherein it is appointed that Searchers shall in every parish constantly view the
body or bodies of every person or persons that shall happen to die, and report the nature of the distemper of every person to the clerk of that parish where the said person shall so die, and according to such report every Parish Clerk is thereby obliged to bring in his account weekly to the said Co.'s Hall of such distempers, and also of all christenings which shall happen, in order that the said Co. or their Clerk take an account weekly thereof, and send the same to Her Majesty and to the Lord Mayor of the City of London; likewise to give an account of all such Freemen and their widows as shall happen to die in each week, that the same may be presented to the Court of Aldermen, in order to take care of all orphans. There is also divers other orders mentioned in the said Charter-as their keeping a clerk, a printer and beadle belonging to the said Co., which is a great charge to the same.
That such reports are accordingly made by the said Searchers to the said Clerks, and accounts thereof weekly sent up to Her Majesty, and to the Lord Mayor as aforesaid; and likewise an account thereof dispersed accordingly in each respective parish within the said B. of Mort., the profits whereof is the support of the charge and expences of the said Co., they having little or no lands or estate to defray the same; and if the said duty be laid upon the said bills, very few persons will take in the same; whereby the said Co. will be out of any capacity of conforming to their Charter, or giving Her Majesty or the Lord Mayor any such account as aforesaid; and must likewise totally dissolve the said Co., they not having wherewithal to support the charge of the same.
Wherefore and for that the said Co. have been at a great charge and expence in building a hall in pursuance of the said Charter, and have always conformed themselves thereto; and the said Bill being of very great advantage, not only for the security of all orphans, but also a general satisfaction to all persons, by showing the nature of the diseases, and of the increase and decrease of the burials each week; which must inevitably be laid aside if the said duty is charged on the same: The said Co. therefore humbly hope that this Hon. House will take the same into consideration and exempt the weekly and yearly B. of mort. from the intended duty mentioned in the said Act concerning pamp, and papers, etc.; otherwise the said Co. (which has been of ancient and long standing) will be utterly dissolved and overthrown; all which is humbly submitted to the consideration of this Hon. House. A provincial B. of Mort. given in The Guardian, No. 136, edited by Richard Steele (about 1714), contained the following among the causes of death :
Among the curious causes of death, selected from the bills of a later date, are the
In 1726 Mr. John Smart, author of the famous Int. Tables, suggested that, with a view to the providing of data for the construction of proper T. of mort.,
If those in whose power it is would oblige the Parish Clerks weekly to make a return of the age of every person dying in each respective parish within the weekly B. of mort., in like manner as they now make their returns of the diseases and casualties; and if the number dying of every age were printed at the end of every year with the yearly Bill; then there would in time be a good foundation to build upon; and whenever this is done in Lond., it is probable it will be done likewise in other places, both at home and abroad, where accounts of births and burials are kept, which would make the foundation still more certain.
Apparently, in pursuance of this recommendation, a summary of the ages of all who died in Lond. was added in 1727-8. Thus, under 2 years of age, 9851; between 2 and 5, 2407; 5 and 10, 1038; 10 and 20, 950; and so on for each decade, until 90 and upwards, 135; so that, notwithstanding pestilence and other scourges, some did live to a good old age.
The area of the bills had become slightly extended since 1636, and now included in all 22,618 acres, beyond which limits the "old bills" never extended.
The following criticism has been offered on the Lond. Bills of this period:
The figures given reveal some striking facts regarding the health of Lond. at this period. We find
that whereas in the year 1728 the baptisms were 16,625, the number of those who died under two years of age amounted to 9851, or considerably more than one half of the total births. Between the ages of two and five, 2407 more children died, so that, subtracting the whole of this infant mort. from the 16,625 births, the surviving generation consisted of but 4367 individuals. This state of things grew worse in the succeeding year, 1729. While the whole of the reported baptisms amounted to but 17,060 the deaths of infants under two years of age were 10,735, and of those between the ages of two and five, 2516; making a total of 13,251, equal to nearly three-fourths of the whole birth-rate. Imperfectly though the registers may have been kept at this, as at former times, and considerable as was undoubtedly the number of children not baptized, this enormous infant mort. cannot be explained otherwise than on the supposition of the most defective sanitary arrangements and a general disregard of public health within the metropolis, added to growing licentiousness. The case is forcibly stated by a contemporary writer, Mr. Corbyn Morris.
A Bill of Mort. was kept in Amsterdam in 1728, from which we have already quoted [AMSTERDAM] It is not improbable that earlier bills were kept there.
In 1729 a circumstance arose which showed the causes of fluctuations to which the bills were subjected. In that year the christenings and deaths of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of Lond. were added to the bill; but a contest arising between the inhabitants of the Tower-Liberty without and within the Tower, whether this church of St. Peter ad Vincula was parochial or not, the question was tried in the Court of King's Bench at Westminster in 1730, when it was determined in the negative; and in the bill for 1731 the returns were again omitted.
In 1733 an account or bill was commenced at Northampton of the ages at which the inhabitants died. It was from this bill, combined with another commenced in 1741, that Dr. Price derived the data for founding the NORTHAMPTON T. of Mort.
In 1737 Mr. Weyman Lee pub. An Essay to Ascertain the Value of Leases and Annu. for Years and Lives, etc., wherein were many obs. on the B. of Mort. There is nothing very new or orig. in his remarks upon the bills. He found that I in 2786 lived to the age of 100; I in 200 to 90; 1 in 33 to 80; 1 in 14 to 70; 1 in 8 to 60; 1 in 5 to 50; and I in 4 to 45.
In 1738 Mr. John Smart, author of the famous Int. Tables bearing his name, pub. A T. of Mort. deduced from the Lond. Bills for the Ten Years 1727-37. This table was very little known. [LOND. MORT. T.]
In the same year Herr Kersseboom, of the Hague, pub. in Amsterdam, a tract on the prob. number of people in Holland and West Friesland, which he had deduced from the B. of Mort. He afterwards used this as a base for the construction of his T. of Vitality. [KERSSEBOOM'S MORT. T.]
Maitland, in his Hist. of Lond. (1739), says:
The B. of mort. of the City of Lond. is certainly one of the most defective of its kind, none being mentioned therein but such as are buried in parochial cemeteries, precincts, and liberties; by which means many burial grounds belonging to the Church of England (such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Temple Church, St. Peter's ad Vincula, the Rolls and Lincoln's Inn Chapels, the Charter House, and divers others belonging to Hospitals) are not only precluded the same, but likewise those belonging to Dissenters of all denominations, together with all those that are buried from within the B. of Mort. in the several circumjacent parishes; whereby the number of persons that die within this city and suburbs is greatly diminished, to the no small lessening the grandeur of Lond. in the eyes of the world, in respect to the number of its inhabitants. Therefore 'twere better the bill were laid aside, than to suffer such a defective account to be printed, to the dishonour of this incomparable City. But much more laudable would it be to enable the Co. of Parish Clerks to pub. a perfect account of the births and deaths (instead of that imperfect one of christenings and burials) in this vast metropolis; which account would not only greatly redound to the honour of this vast City, but likewise to the nation in general, to see its celebrated capital excel all other cities upon earth in respect to the number of its inhabitants, whereby is manifested its great commerce and opulency.
After some observations, not material to our present purpose, he continues:
For the better enabling me to calculate the number of the inhabitants of this City, I found myself indispensably oblig'd to have recourse to the several registers belonging to the undermention'd burial grounds, where in all places (though in many with great difficulty) I succeeded by getting an account of the number of persons buried in each thereof, from all parts within the B. of Mort. in the year 1729, except the Presbyterians great burial ground in Bunhill-fields, where the lessee, out of a selfish view, would not discover the vast number buried there in the said year, otherwise than that I might safely insert one for every day of the year. This obstinate refusal put me upon inquiring of John Smith, the grave-digger, who assur'd me that tho' he kept no register, in the course of his long service he had made such observations that he was sure they buried annually between 700 and 800; but lest I should exceed the number, I have chosen only to insert 500 for the aforesaid year; which, according to the opinion of divers of the most eminent undertakers I apply'd to, is much too few.
His list of burial places not included in the bills numbered 64; the total burials whereat in the year 1729, amounted to 3038.
Bills were kept in Edinburgh early in the last century. Dr. Price constructed a T. of Mort. from them, for a period of 20 years, 1739-58 [ÉDINBURGH]. After 1758 he says the bills were kept very irregularly.
Bills were kept in Norwich early in the last century. From a copy of those kept for the 30 years 1740–69, during which period the ann. average christenings were 1057, and burials 1206, Dr. Price constructed the NORWICH T. OF MORT.
In 1742 Mr. Thomas Simpson pub. his Doctrine of Annu. and Rev., etc., and therein he gave a very exact Table for estimating the prob. of Life, deduced from Ten Years Obs. on the B. of Mort. of the City of Lond." [LOND. T. OF MORT.]
In 1747 Mr. James Hodgson, F.R.S., pub., The Valuation of Annu. upon Lives deduced from the Lond. B. of Mort. [ANNUITIES ON LIVES.].
We must now introduce another somewhat famous writer upon the subject, Dr. Thomas Short, M.D., who in 1750 pub.: New Observations, Natural, Moral, Civil, Political and Medical, on the City, Town and Country B. of Mort. ; to which is added Extended Abstracts of the Writings of the Best Known Authors upon the Subject, with an Appendix on the Weather and Meteors. Between 1740 and 1750 this industrious gentleman collected regis. of christenings and burials of 160 country parishes, besides those of many chapels lying in sundry situations, on various soils, and the inhabitants having different businesses and ways of life. The following description of one of his Tables will afford the reader some insight into Dr. Short's labours:
The line below the yearly totals, col. 1, gives the number of rainy days that year; col. 2, how many people died on these days; col. 3, how many days were showery, besides the rainy days; col. 4, the number that died on these days; col. 5, number of drisling days; col. 6, how many died; col. 7, on how many days thunder was heard there; col. 8, how many died there; col. 9, the number of days on which it snowed; col. 10, how many died-total. The table further comprises the specified number of deaths during the prevalence of the wind in "eight points" of the compass respectively, though the ages at which the deaths occurred are not even incidentally mentioned.
The treatise, however, is so unskilfully arranged, as to be almost statistically unavailable.
In 1751 Mr. Corbyn Morris pub. his Observations on the Past Growth and Present State of the City of Lond., and thereto he annexed: A complete table of the christenings and burials within the City, from 1601 to 1750, both years inclusive; together with a table of the numbers which have annually died of each disease from 1675 to that time; and also a further table representing the respective numbers which have annually died of each age, from 1728 to that year. From this last he particularly attempted to show the then increasing destruction of infants and adults in the city, and consequent thereto the excessive drain continually made upon all the provinces of the kingdom for recruits.
The subject continued to engage much attention. The writer pointed out that, although the then bills were kept in a better method than formerly, they were yet defective in many particulars of the most important concern, and to that extent at least were open to improvement. On this point we had better hear his views in his own language:
1st. the extent of time at the beginning of life is not sufficiently divided, although the degrees of strength at this time are continually varying from each other, and with swift steps-insomuch that one month in the earliest infancy produces greater alterations than several years in manhood. These successive and violent ravages in infancy ought therefore to be minutely described, in order to furnish cautions for the better security of life in its tender years; upon which the very preservation, and much more the increase, of our species principally depends.
2nd. The diseases are not connected with the several ages; thus, for instance, although it appears by the Bill for the year 1750, that 4543 died of consumption; 5837 of convulsions; 4294 of fevers, and 1229 of the smallpox; yet of what ages these several persons are is uncertain. Whereas, by annexing to every disease the number of persons of each age dying thereof, it would appear, from remarks upon a competent series of years, to what diseases persons of every age were particularly subject. From whence, if these Bills were extended throughout the kingdom, the growth or declension of every particular disease would be clearly discovered. This would furnish a constant fund of instruction to the intelligent physician; and at particular critical junctures might suggest caution, not unworthy the attention of the legislative body of the kingdom; at least, would make a faithful report to it of the state of the national health, and of the annual increase or diminution of the people.
Almost a century elapsed before the latter portion of Mr. Morris's recommendations were carried into effect. [See 4th and 5th reports of the Regis.-Gen.]—He added, that it would be requisite that the amount of weddings should be inserted in the bill; and also the respective numbers of those accidentally sickening of the smallpox and dying thereof; and of those receiving it from inoculation and dying under that process. He further says: Dissenters should also be required to keep their bills in the same manner; and to deliver a monthly account to the churchwardens of each parish of all the particulars prescribed which have happened to persons within their congregations belonging to such parish. But no difference of sects to be inserted in the B. of mort., for two reasons: 1st. Because it would annually bear a publick testimony of our several religious divisions; and 2ndly. Because it may oftentimes be very difficult to assign the religion of the person deceased.
In 1752 Mr. James Dodson prepared a paper on B. of Mort.: wherein he showed the importance of their being so kept as to afford the means of Valuing Annu. on Lives, and proposed alterations which appeared to him calculated to fit them for the purpose. The paper will be found in Phil. Trans. for that year.
În 1754 Mr. S. Stonehouse pub. The Valuation of Annu. on Lives deduced from the Lond. B. of Mort., wherein was a T. of Mort. deduced from the Lond. Bills for a period of 20 years-1728 to 1747. [LOND. T. OF MORT.]
In 1755 the Rev. Dr. Brakenridge addressed a letter to the President of the Royal So., in which he proposed to remedy the defects existing in T. of Mort. deduced from the Lond. B. of Mort. by blending the results with those obtained from the Registers of Breslau. [MORT. T.]
By the middle of the 18th century, Bills of Mortality had become very general; and many of the continental cities pub. them. The Bill for the City of Paris, 1758, gives the following particulars :-Burials, 21, 120; Christenings, 19,369; Marriages, 4089; Foundlings, 4969.
The Bill for Amsterdam, same year: Burials, 1789 (decrease of 900): Christenings, 4270; Weddings, 2417. Vessels arrived in the Texel, 1326. For earlier Bill for the city, see AMSTERDAM.
The Bill for Vienna, same year: Deaths: men, 1554; women, 1551; male children, 2004; female children, 1685 : in all, 6798. Christenings, 5267. So that the number of burials exceeded the christenings by 1531; the number of burials in the year 1758 exceeded that of 1757 by 139; and that of the births was less by 117.
A general Bill of all the Christenings and Burials in Lond. from Dec. 13, 1757, to
In Manchester, in 1759, the christenings were 815; burials, 712; marriages, 330. In Glasgow the bill for same year gave the deaths of 1034. The Hamburgh bill gave 2633 children baptized, and 2033 persons buried. The Breslau bill, 1445 children baptized, and 1697 persons died. At Munich, 747 children baptized, and 926 persons died. In Frankfort there were 896 children baptized, and 1700 persons died.
In 1759 was pub. A Collection of the Yearly B. of Mort., from 1657 to 1758 inclusive, together with several other Bills of an Earlier Date; to which are subjoined: (1). Graunt's Obs. on the B. of Mort. (2). Petty's Political Arithmetic. (3). Morris's Past Growth and Present State of Lond. And (4). 7. P.'s Comparative View of Diseases and Ages, etc. This work is of considerable interest. Its compiler says:
Many obvious and apparent defects in the weekly and yearly B. of mort. occur to every one who has looked into this subject; but others not so generally known can hardly escape those, whose nearer situation gives them an opportunity of inquiring into this matter with more exactness. Our bills must plainly be a very defective register of births, as: (1). They extend only to baptisms, which are administered according to the rites and usage of the Church of England. Very few of the numerous body of Dissenters, and none of the Roman Catholics, are included in this number. (2). They take no notice of those who die unbaptized; or of those, perhaps no inconsiderable number, among the lowest class of people who never are brought to be baptized at all. This defect is probably not made up by such of the Dissenters who may occasionally be baptized in the form of the Established Church. Supposing then the Papists and Protestant Dissenters to make up one-sixth part of the whole number of inhabitants, the baptisms as they now stand in the bills must be increased in this proportion, to give the true number of births within the B. of mort.
These bills must be also an imperfect register of deaths, as intending only to comprehend persons belonging to the Church of England, and buried according to the form of its service. Some few, indeed, among the poorer sort, both of Papists and Dissenters, who live at a distance from their respective burial grounds and cannot bear the expense of being carried thither, are buried according to the rights of the Church of England, and by that means have a place in the weekly bills.
Some have been willing to think that though the bills are defective in the several articles of births and burials, yet they are defective in nearly the same degree; so that a proportion is still in some measure kept up. But the last obs. destroys this supposed proportion; as the burials of some few Papists, and of more Dissenters, but the births of none in either persuasion, are registered there. Another defect in the bills, not so generally attended to, is that the number of persons carried into the country to be buried is not brought to account in them Many are frequently removed from one parish to be buried in another, that are both within the bills; which makes no alteration upon the whole. But great numbers are carried from parishes in town to be buried in the country. This number has probably increased, as the fashion of having country houses has more prevailed. A few, indeed, who die elsewhere are brought to be buried in parishes within the bills, but the number of these is very disproportionate to those who are carried out. A distinct account of this matter ought to be kept in the several parishes, but seldom is kept with any exactness.
The writer in support of this view gives an account of a record which was kept in one of the largest parishes in Westminster; and where the account would be kept as careful as in any. The average burials for ten years had been 1074. There were also carried out to be buried on an average 261; and brought in on an average 124-but of these latter, one-sixth at least were children of the parish out at nurse in the neighbourhood, and were, therefore, really to be considered as persons living and dying in the parish: deduct 20 therefore reduces the number brought in to 104, giving an excess of 115 carried out over those brought in; and raising the total ann. deaths of the parish to 1231. He continues :
Those who are brought in to be buried are carefully regis.; those who are carried out are not so. Such are entered by themselves in the burial account, as come to the knowledge of those whose business it is to attend to these matters: but of these many are heard of but by accident, and some not at all.
Supposing the number of persons carried away, and not brought to account, to be one-sixth (which
I think comes as near the truth as any supposition we can make), this will make the whole number of deaths to be one-fifth more than the regis. in the bills. If the state of deaths which are not regis. in the bills be the same, or nearly the same, in this parish as in others, the defect in this article may with some degree of prob. be supplied. But there is another material defect, which affects both baptisms and burials, and cannot be supplied so probably. This arises from the neglect of Parish Clerks and their deputies in not making exact returns to the common Hall. From some large parishes no account is sent for several weeks together, and the account for several is sometimes inserted in one weekly bill. If this was done without any omissions, the account would come right at the end of the year; but omissions in many there is good reason to believe are never supplied or corrected. This is often to be ascribed to negligence; but it is sometimes owing to disputes between the clerks in orders and the officiating clerks, that the bills of births and burials are neither so regularly kept, nor so exactly returned as they ought to be. What allowance is to be made for these omissions, can be hardly settled; but it is judged that they are not inconsiderable.
It is stated in the 7th ed. of the Ency. Brit. that this treatise was arranged by Dr. Birch, Sec. of the Royal So., from materials furnished by Dr. Heberden; and that the T. of Prob. was calculated by James Postlethwayte, Esq. The pub. is, in every respect, worthy of being consulted, especially by statisticians interested in the early history of the London Bills, these being printed at full length, and a very judicious preface is given. It may be well, however, to add, what Mr. Farren has already pointed out, viz., that certain of the Lond. Bills having been frequently copied by different printers, the compilers of the above collection do not seem to have always procured the primary issues, and have thus occasionally reprinted in the totals, etc., typographical errors which did not exist in the original copies. [LOND. T. OF MORT.]
Dr. Thomas Heberden, compiled a Bill for the Island of Madeira for the 8 years 1759-66, of which we shall speak under Madeira, and under MORT. OBS.
Many of the English cities and towns pub. their Bills regularly about this period. Here are a few specimen bills:
A general account of all the christenings and burials at Norwich, from Wednesday, the 26th Dec., 1759, to Wednesday, the 24th Dec., 1760:
An account of all the christenings, burials, and marriages in Liverpool, from Dec. 24, 1759, to Dec. 25, 1760:
378 ... 339
Decreased in christenings, 92. Decreased in burials, 264. Increased in marriages, 82. Newcastle.-By an exact list that hath been pub. in this town there hath been christened this last year (1760), in our four parishes, 588; buried, 522. Increased in the christenings, 17; decreased in the burials, 9.
Yearly Bill for the City and Suburbs of Dublin, ending Dec. 28, 1760:
In the Island of Sealand, including Copenhagen, the bill for 1760 was as follows :— 9545 children were born, and 10014 persons died; and 2732 couple were married. In both the Pomeranias, subject to the King of Prussia, in 1760, the children baptized amounted to 10,935; the deaths were 13,903; and the marriages, 4062.
In the Ann. Register for 1761 is the following:
The Lond. B. of mort. for last year by the So. of Parish Clerks comes pretty near the calculation of 13 males to 12 females, the numbers being 7778 males, and 7173 females; an obs. long since made by Dr. Davenant, Sir William Petty, and other political arithmeticians.
Bills were kept in Rome during the last century-whether they were direct continuations of those Rationes Libitina, of which we have spoken in the early part of this art, we cannot say; but we suspect not. The average number of inhabitants for the 10 years ending 1771 was 158,957. The annual average of births recorded for the same period was 4851; and of burials, 7367. [MORT. OBS.] [ROME.]
The practice-it may almost be said the fashion-for such enumerations increased, and every subsequent year furnishes similar records for some additional country, city, or parish. It even extended to the Colonies: thus, in 1763 we find the following bill for Boston, New England: from 4th January, 1762, to 3rd January, 1763, buried, whites, 390; blacks, 66; baptized, 418.-In Norway, during this period, very exact records were kept in all the principal cities and towns. The same in Denmark and Saxony.
From a bill compiled by Dr. Lee, for Ackworth, in Yorkshire, furnishing an exact account of all who died there for the 20 years ending 1767, it appeared that half the inhabitants reached the age of 46.
In 1767 Dr. Short pub. a further work: A Comparative History of the Increase and Decrease of Mankind; and he gives therein much information respecting Foreign B. of Mort.