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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:
Ist. 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 Å. 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.
In 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 Dec. 12, 1758, contained the following summary of the ages at death: Died under 2 years of age 5971 Between 2 and 5
5 and 10
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 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:
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.
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:
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.