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In 1769 Dr. Price addressed to Benjamin Franklin his well-known Essay containing Obs. on the Expectations of Lives; the Increase of Mankind; the Number of Inhabitants in Lond.; and the Influence of Great Towns on Health and Pop This paper was read before the Royal So., and pub. in its Trans. The author, after speaking on the subject of "expectation," says:

These obs. bring me to the principal point which I have all along had in view. They suggest to us an easy method of finding the number of inhabitants in a place from a T. of obs. on the B. of mort. of that place, supposing the yearly births and burials equal. But it is certain that they [the Lond. Bills give the number of births and burials too little. There are many burial places which are never brought into the bills. Many also emigrate to the navy and army, and country; and these ought to be added to the number of deaths. What the deficiencies arising from hence are cannot be determined. Suppose them equivalent to 6000 every year in the births, and 6000 in the burials. This would make an add. of 20 times 6000 or 120,000 to the last number; and the whole number of inhabitants would be 651,580. If the burials are deficient only two-thirds of this number, or 4000, and the births the whole of it; 20 multiplied by 6000 must be added to 314,290 on account of defects in the births. The proportion of the number of births in Lond. to the number who live to be 10 years of age is, by the bills, 16 to 5. Any one may find this to be true, by subtracting the ann. medium of those who have died under 10 for some years past, from the ann. medium of births for the same number of years. Now, though without doubt Lond. is very fatal to children, yet it seems incredible that it should be so fatal as this implies. The bills therefore prob. gave the number of those who die under 10 too great in proportion to the number of births; and there can be no other cause of this, than a greater deficiency in the births than in the burials.

Then, by way of note, he says:

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One obvious reason of this fact is that none of the births of Jews, Quakers, Papists, and three denominations of Dissenters are included in the bills, whereas many of their burials. It is further to be attended that the abortive and still-born, amounting to about 600 ann., are included in the burials, but never in the births. If we add these to the christenings, preserving the burials the same, the proportion of the born according to the bills, who have reached 10, for 16 years from 1756 to 1771, will be very nearly one-third instead of five-sixteenths.

He adds another note to a subsequent ed. of this essay as follows:

Two whole parishes are omitted in the bills-Marybone and Pancras parishes. The former of these parishes is now one of the largest in Lond. The ann. medium of burials in it for 5 years to 1771 was 780. In Pancras parish this medium for the same period was 322. From an accurate account taken in March, 1772, of that part of this last parish which joins to Lond., it appeared that the number of inhabitants was then 3479, of whom 1594 were lodgers, and that the number of houses was 476, of which about 330 had been built in 7 years. Mr. Wales, in a pamp., of which more notice will be taken presently, gives the ann. medium of burials for 5 years to 1779, in Marybone parish, 1145; of births, 1008. In Pancras he gives the burials for the same period, 339; the births, 234.

Towards the conclusion of his essay he says:

The obs. I have made may perhaps help to show how the most is to be made of the lights afforded by the Lond. Bills, and serve as a specimen of the proper method of calculating from them. It is indeed extremely to be wished that they were less imperfect than they are, and extended further. More parishes round Lond. might be taken into them; and by an easy improvement in the parish regis. now kept they might be extended thro' all the parishes and towns in the kingdom. The advantages arising from hence would be very considerable. It would give the precise law according to which human life wastes in its different stages; and thus supply the necessary data for computing accurately the value of all L. annu. and rev. It will likewise show the different degrees of healthfulness of different situations; mark the progress of pop. from year to year; keep always in view the number of people in the kingdom; and in many other respects furnish instruction of the greatest importance to the State.

A regis. or bill was kept for the parish of Holy Cross, near Shrewsbury, by the Rev. Mr. Gorsuch, for the 20 years ending 1770, which showed that nearly one half of those who died reached the age of 30. It was from this bill that Dr. Price constructed his T. OF MORT. FOR HOLY CROSS.

In 1771 Dr. Price first pub. his Observations on Reversionary Payments, etc., wherein he gave a T. of Mort. which he had constructed from the Lond. Bills for the 10 years 1759-68. At a later period he compiled another T. from the bills for the 10 years 1771-80. [LOND. MORT. T.]

In this same work was included an essay entitled: Obs, on the proper method of constructing T. for determining the rate of Human Mort., the No. of Inhabitants, and the Values of Lives in any town or district, from B. of Mort., in which are given the Nos. dying ann. at all ages, and therein the learned writer advanced the following proposition : In every place that just supports itself in the number of its inhabitants, without any recruits from other places; or where for a course of years there has been no increase or decrease, the number of persons dying every year at any particular age, and above it, must be equal to the number of the living at that age. The number for example dying every year at all ages from the beginning to the utmost extremity of life, must, in such a situation, be equal to the whole number born every year. And for the same reason the number dying every year at one year of age and upwards; at two years of age and upwards; at three and upwards, and so on, must be equal to the numbers that attain to those ages every year; or, which is the same, to the numbers of the living at those ages. It is obvious that unless this happens, the number of inhabitants cannot remain the same. If the former number is greater than the latter, the inhabitants must decrease; if less they must increase. From this obs. it follows, that in a town or country where there is no increase or decrease, B. of mort. which give the ages at which all die will show the exact number of inhabitants, and also the exact law according to which human life wastes in that town or country.

In order that these rules should hold good, it would be necessary that the pop. be kept up by natural operation, and not by immigration.

He adds by way of note:

Some have entertained a very wrong notion of the imperfections of the Lond. Bills. They do indeed

give the whole number of births and deaths, much too little; but the conclusions with respect to the prob. of life in Lond., and the proportion of inhabitants dying ann., depend only on the proportions of numbers dying in the several divisions of life; and these are given right in the Lond. Bills. For first: There seems nothing in this case that can be likely to cause the deficiencies in the bills to fall in one division of life more than another. But what decides this point is, that these proportions as given by the bills of any ten, or even any five years, come out nearly the same with one another; and always very different from the proportions given by any other bills. There are no other variations, than such as must arise from the fluctuations of Lond. as to increase and decrease; and also from some improvements in its state, which have lately taken place.

Speaking of the B. of Mort. kept at Northampton, he said:

It is much to be desired that like accounts were kept in every town and parish. It would be extremely agreeable to learn from them the different rates of human mort. in different places, and the number of people and progress of pop. in the kingdom. The trouble of keeping them would be trifling; but the instruction derived from them would be very important. I have already proposed one improvement of such accounts: I will add that they would be still more useful, did they give the ages of the dead after 10 within periods of 5 instead of 10 years. During every period so short as 5 years, the decrements of life may, in constructing T., be safely taken to be uniform. But this cannot be equally depended on in periods so long as 10 years.

There is yet another improvement of these accounts, which I shall take this opportunity to mention. They should contain not only a list of the distempers of which all die, like that in the Lond. Bills; but they should specify particularly the numbers dying of these distempers, in the several divisions of life. Accurate regis. of mort. kept in this manner, in all parts of the kingdom, and compared with records of the seasons and of the weather, and with the particular circumstances which discriminate different situations, might contribute more than can be easily imagined to the increase of the physical knowledge.

Almost immediately after this, bills on the plan recommended in the first portion of the last paragraph were issued at Manchester and Chester.

In two vols. of Essays Medical and Experimental, pub. by Dr. Percival, in 1773, there was contained: Proposals for estab. more accurate and comprehensive Bills of Mort. In the Phil. Trans., 1774 and 1775, appeared two papers from Dr. Haygarth, giving the Bills of mort. for Chester, during the years 1772-3, under an arrangement exhibiting their results with great clearness. Dr. Price used these Tables, and a continuation of them extending in all over the ten years 1772-81, in the construction of the CHESTER TABLE OF MORT.

Bills appear to have been kept in Manchester during the last century, the results of which we shall give under MANCHESTER.

In 1775 was pub. the second part of Dr. Moehsen's Collection of Obs. for the better illustration of the great usefulness and value of Inoculation for the Smallpox. He gave therein a good historical account of the first institution of Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, and of their gradual progress and useful applications down to his time; also twenty-six Tables derived from the Berlin Bills of Mort. for a period of seventeen years, commencing with 1758, and ending with 1774. We have already given some account of the work under BERLIN MORT. TABLES.

In 1776 an investigation into the mort. of the Laudable So. of Annu. was made for the purpose of being used in a controversy then raging between the So. and Dr. Price and Mr. Dale, both of whom had charged that the operations of the So. were insecure. The report of the managers resulting from this investigation said, "We therefore think it incumbent on us, to set forth the inaccuracy of all B. of Mort., from information received from a number of parish clerks." In this case it was probably ignorance and prejudice, not sagacity, which induced the assault upon the bills. The managers of this and some other sos. of that period would have preferred that no accurate means of measuring life contingencies should be discovered. To work in the dark was their policy.

In 1779 a special bill was prepared for the parish of Biddulph, in Staffordshire, of which we shall give the details under MORT. OBS.

A Regis. of Mort. was kept at Warrington, in Lancashire, for 9 years, 1773-81, by Mr. Aikin, from which Dr. Price constructed a T. of Mort. [WARRINGTON MORT. T.] We do not know precisely when B. of Mort. were first pub. in the U.S., but in 1782 a paper was prepared by Professor E. Wigglesworth, of Harvard University, embodying an estimate of the value of life in the U.S., and his obs. were based upon the B. of Mort. of the towns of Ipswich, Salem, and other places within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; which bills were filed in the rooms of the Academy. In another paper which the learned Professor prepared a few years later (1789), he says:

On examining the B. of mort. on the files of the Academy, it appears that the So. are under obligations to a considerable number of gentlemen in different parts of the Commonwealth for the attention they have paid to this subject.. Returns have been made from towns scattered along the sea-coast from Nantucket on the S. to Portland and Casco Bay on the N. coast, and thro' the counties of Middlesex, Worcester, and Hampshire, in a W. direction. From Hingham, Ipswich [and 8 other places], they have been made for a long course of years; and though those which have been made from other places are for a shorter time, yet as they are from places very distant from one another, it is presumed that the result from a combination of these bills will give a very just representation of the increasing pop. of this State, etc.

An actual T. of Mort. was prepared from these bills. [AMERICAN T. OF MORT.] In 1801 Dr. Heberden the younger pub. his work: On the Increase and Decrease of Diseases; and therein he announced his intention of pub. a new ed. of the B. of Mort. We presume he meant a new ed. of the collection prepared by his father. We do not find that he accomplished his design.



In 1801 Dr. Willan pub. his work on the Diseases of Lond. Many of his obs. were drawn from the B. of Mort.

In 1815 Mr. Milne pub. his since famous Carlisle T. of Mort., which had been deduced from data supplied by special regis.-B. of mort. in an improved form-kept by Dr. Heysham, in the City of Carlisle, during the 9 years 1779-87. [CARLISLE T. OF MORT.] In April, 1823, the Annales d'Hygiène contained a B. of Mort. for the City of Palermo during 1822, compiled by Dr. Francesco Calcagni. The number of inhabitants at the end of 1821 is stated to have been 160,051, and at the end of 1822, 161,735; but this last was derived from the first number only by adding to it the excess of the births above the deaths during the year 1822. No useful information is given as to the deaths. A peculiar feature of the bill consisted in tracing persons born out of wedlock to their graves, whatever age they might attain; and distinguishing the legitimate from the illegitimate in the number of deaths as well as of births. In 1822 the number of deaths of the legitimate was 4476, of whom 2294 were males, and 2182 females; that of the bastards, as they are called, was 418; of whom 151 were males, and 267 females. Of the illegitimate children born in that particular year 256 were boys, and 307 girls. Out of 4894 deaths, 16 of the deceased are stated to have attained ages from 97 to 105 years; but no information is given as to the distribution of those 16 persons into or among those last nine years of age.-Milne.

In 1827 Dr. Emerson pub. a very full summary of the results recorded by the B. of Mort. for the City of Philadelphia during a period of 20 years. [MORT. Obs.]

In 1829 Mr. James J. Duncan pub. Tables of the Prob. and Expectation of Male and Female Life in Glasgow; and of the Value of Annu. on Single Lives at all Ages, distinguishing the Sexes, etc., deduced from the Glasgow Pop. and Mort. Bills, on an Average of 6 Years, 1821-7. [GLASGOW, MORT. T. FOR.]

In 1832 Mr. Marshall pub. Mort. of the Metro.: a Statistical View of the Number of Persons reported to have Died, of each of more than 100 kinds of Disease and Casualties, within the B. of Mort. in each of the 204 Years 1629-1831.

Here is a copy of B. of Mort. from 11th Dec., 1832, to 10th Dec., 1833:

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The ann. bill for 1833 gave the christenings at 27,090, and the burials at 26,577. Out of these the causes of death were returned as "unknown" in 887, or 1 in 30. The character of the bills was sadly changing for the worse about this period. As early as 1823 St. George's, Hanover-square, had ceased to make any returns. In 1832 the parishes of All Saints', Poplar, and St. John's, Wapping, followed its example; and in 1834 the clerks of St. Bartholomew's the Less, and St. George's, Queen-square, became defaulters. The Co. of Parish Clerks had no authority by which they could make these contumacious parishes supply correct or indeed any information.

A writer in the Companion to the Almanack, for 1835, pointed out, that in order to have these interesting records made perfect, or nearly so, it would be requisite that the cause of each death should be certified by a well-educated practitioner; and to qualify him for doing this, an anatomical examination of the body would be necessary in many or most cases. The friends of the deceased (he adds) would thus have an opportunity of comparing the physician's diagnosis given during life with the actual appearances found after death; and the check thus afforded to careless practice, or vague diagnosis, would advance medicine in a very material degree. The first step towards the change he desired was close at hand.

Consequent upon the increasing inaccuracy of the then existing B. of Mort., and perhaps even more upon the advancement of medical science towards a proper classification of the causes of death, while the increasing education of the people constantly pointed to scientific advancement, the attention of the legislature became directed to the subject of an improved system of returns for the births, marriages, and deaths of the entire pop. At length, in 1836, there was passed the GENERAL REGISTRATION ACT, which inflicted a death-blow upon the old B. of Mort., rapidly raising up a more perfect system in its stead. This will be spoken of at large under REGISTRATION.

At the foot of the B. of Mort. issued by the Co. of Parish Clerks in 1837 was the following notice :

By the operation of the new Regis. Act, much difficulty has occurred in obtaining the reports of christenings and burials, in consequence of which, in some parishes, the reports have been wholly withheld; and in those of several other parishes, where the office of searcher has been discontinued, the disease of which deaths have taken place has been necessarily omitted.

All such were therefore added to the deaths from "unknown causes."

Mr. Milne, in his famous art. in the Encyclo. Brit., pub. about 1837, offered the following general recommendations concerning the form, scope, and period to be comprised in B. of Mort. :

1. The form for the births should be such that the sexes are distinguished, and the born alive from the stillborn. The number of marriages should be stated. The deaths of the two sexes should be shown under 1 year; from 1 to 2, from 2 to 5, and then in intervals of 5 years, up to 100, over which all deaths should be shown separately, and the sex stated.

2. The value would be greatly enhanced by inserting in them the contemporaneous wages of labourers in agriculture, and of the workmen employed in the more common kinds of trade and manufacture carried on among the people they relate to; also the prices of the necessaries of life which persons of these descriptions consume the most of, together with anything uncommon in the seasons or the crops, and every material change in the circumstances of the people.

3. A bill should be pub. for each year separately, to show how the rates both of mort. and fecundity vary with the circumstances of the people in different years; and from these yearly bills others can be derived for longer periods.

The Reg.-Gen. Report for 1838 gave the deaths of the year, at each age, for the whole of England and Wales. This was but an indication of the efficiency which these reports were destined speedily to attain. The want of such returns for Scotland and Ireland then forced itself strongly to the front.

It appears to have been considered desirable not to let the old system of a weekly B. of Mort. die out. Accordingly the matter was taken in hand by the Reg.-Gen., who, with the machinery of the Gen. Regis. Office at his command, could supply a true statement, capable of being a guide to the prob. in cases of serious epidemic, and otherwise. The first Bill of the new series was accordingly pub. for the week ending 11th January, 1840. The area of the new bill was enlarged, and included many districts which were never even contemplated by the old bills. The total area embraced was now extended to 46,858 At the close of the present paper we shall give some details of the parishes and districts included. A return of the weekly births was not included in the new bills until 1845.


In 1843 Mr. Edwin Chadwick read before the Sta. So. a paper On the Best Modes of Representing Accurately, by Statistical Returns, the Duration of Life, and the Pressure and Progress of the Causes of Mort. amongst Different Classes of the Community, and amongst the Pop. of Different Districts and Countries; and the same is printed in vol. vii. of the Fourn. The main object of this paper was to illustrate the errors created and maintained by taking the proportions of deaths as exponents of the average ages at death; or of the chances of life to the pop. It will be referred to under other heads in this work.

In this year several large parishes on the south and south-west sides of Lond. were added to the bills-the area of which now extended to 58,553 acres.

In 1846 considerable add. were made to the bills, by including Hampstead on the north, and Lewisham, Plumstead, Eltham, etc. on the south; extending the area to 78,029 The pop. within this area in 1841 was 1,872,365.


In 1852 Mr. W. R. Wilde, Assistant Census Commissioner in Ireland, read before the Sta. Sec. of the Brit. Asso. at Belfast, A Short Account of the Early B. of Mort. in Dublin, from which we have already quoted.

In 1854 Mr. John Angus, of the Gen. Registry Office, read before the Statis. So. a paper: Old and New B. of Mort; Movement of the Pop.; Deaths and Fatal Diseases in Lond. during the last Fourteen Years; and the same is printed in Statis. Journ. xvii., p. 117. The author says:

To the plague the public of Lond. owed their bills of christenings and burials; to the acknowledged value of such records in connexion with the property of individuals, and only in a second degree to the knowledge of their importance in political arithmetic, we are indebted for the present system of regis. of births, deaths, and marriages. This is another illustration of a natural law, by which contrivances to which men are led by fear, love of property, or other powerful impulses of the mind, become fertile in new suggestions, and subserve innumerable uses, which enrich the storehouse of knowledge and dispense incalculable benefit to mankind.

The expression "within the B. of Mort." is still not unfrequently employed. The late Sir Richard Mayne, Chief of the Metropolitan Police, said before a Parl. Committee in 1862, that he had often tried to ascertain what the limits of the B. of Mort. were. He had sent to the Board of Works, to the Board of Health, and to Dr. Farr-three very likely places, but none of them knew! It surely must mean within the entire range of the parishes included in the Bills "for the time being"--expanding, therefore, as new parishes are embraced.

In the Medical Record (New York) for Sept., 1871, there was an art. on B. of Mort. by Dr. S. H. Dickson.

Before closing this paper, we must say a few words concerning the present B. of Mort. issued weekly in Lond. We have the bill last issued before us; Weekly Return of Births and Deaths in Lond. and in Twenty other Large Towns in the United Kingdom. By authority of the Reg.-Gen., pub. by Eyre and Spottiswoode, 9, East Harding-street, Fetter-lane, Lond., E.C. No. 15, 1872, vol. xxxiii. Week ending Saturday, April 13. Price Id. This is the heading. Then follow contents of the bill, of which we can only give a running abstract :

Reg.-Gen. Office, Somerset House, 15 April, 1872. United Kingdom.-During the week ending Saturday, the 13th inst., 5800 births and 3712 deaths were regis. in Lond., and twenty other large cities and towns of the U.K. The aggregate mort. from all causes in these towns was at the rate of 26 deaths ann. to every 1000 persons estimated to be living.

In Edinburgh the ann. rate of mort. was 31 p. 1000 persons living; in Glasgow, 33 p. 1000; and in Dublin, 42; the fatal cases of smallpox in Dublin, which had been 67 and 44 in the two previous weeks, rose to 83 last week, and were equal to an ann. death-rate of 14 p. 1000.

Eighteen Large English Towns.-The ann. rates of mort. last week in the eighteen English cities and towns were as follows: .

Lond. In Lond. 2574 births and 1470 deaths were regis. last week. After making due allowance for increase of pop., the births exceeded by 259, while the deaths were 170 below, the average numbers of the corresponding week of the last ten years. The ann. death-rate from all causes, which in the two previous weeks had been equal to 26 and 25 p. 1000, further declined last week to 23. The rate was 21 in the west, 23 in the north, 24 in the central, 24 in the east, and 23 in the south groups of districts. The 1470 deaths included 49 from smallpox.

The mean temperature last week was 51°4 and 6°3 above the average; an excess was shown on each day.

The deaths referred to discases of the respiratory organs, including phthisis, were 458 last week, against 597 and 505 in the two preceding weeks.

To different forms of violence 50 deaths were referred.
Indian Cities.-In Bombay.

In Madras.

In Calcutta.

Foreign Cities.-In Paris 814 deaths were returned in the week ending last Friday, and the ann. death-rate was equal to 23 p. 1000 of the estimated pop.

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In the City of New York 655 deaths were regis. in the week ending 23 March, and the equivalent ann. rate of mort. was 36 p. 1000.

Meteorology.-At the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, the mean reading of the barometer last week was 29'97 in. . . .

The mean temperature in the other large English towns furnishing returns ranged from

According to returns furnished by the engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works, the daily average quantity of sewage pumped into the river Thames at Crossness was 213,147 cubic metres, and at Barking 292,032 cubic metres, equivalent to about as many tons by weight.

Then follow the tables:

1. LONDON.-Births and deaths regis. last week, and in the 15th week of ten previous years.

2. LONDON.-Comparative table of results in the last 13 weeks.

3. Births and deaths regis. and meteorology during the week ending Saturday, the 13 day of April, 1872, in the following large towns.

4. Deaths and rate of mort. in 18 large English towns, and in Dublin, during the week ending Saturday, 13 April, 1872.

5. Deaths in Lond. regis. in the 15th week of the year 1872 [causes of death specified in relation to certain groups of ages].

6. LONDON.-Pop., births, deaths from all causes, and from smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping cough, fever, diarrhoea, violence, etc., regis. in each sub-district during the week ending Saturday, 13 April, 1872. [The districts containing workhouses, hospitals, and lunatic asylums are marked by letters indicating the fact. These districts (of which there are 137) do not follow the parish boundaries of the old bills.]

7. Meteorological obs. taken at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, during the week ending Saturday, 13 April, 1872 [embracing "phases of the moon,' ""barometer," ""readings of thermometers,' "difference 37 66 degrees of humidity, etc.," 'wind," "rain," "electricity," "sky and atmosphere," "notes."

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The document extends over 8 pages, the size of this work, and may be pronounced to be a perfect bill, embracing all the sound recommendations of all the preceding writers.

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