Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bills of Mortality

As Republicans hack away at the American healthcare system, perhaps it is time to revive the old British system of tallying the weekly causes of deaths.

1665 London Bill of Morality
In that year, over two-thirds of deaths were caused by the raging bubonic plague. There were few plague deaths until May of that year, just three. By June hundreds were dying per week, by July it was thousands per week. The peak was hit in September when 7,000 people were dying of plague every week. In just 18 months, the plague wiped out a quarter of London's population.

The Bills of Mortality recorded every death by ever cause.
  • bubonic plague - 68,596
  • malaria (ague) - 5,257
  • tuberculosis (consumption and tissick, King's evil) - 4,894
  • small pox - 655
  • women died in child birth (childbed) - 625
  • syphilis (French pox) - 86
  • murder - 9
  • execution - 21
 Child specific deaths included:
  • Teeth and Worms (a variety of infections in teething children) - 2,614 
  • Chrisomes and Infants (unspecific deaths within a month of baptism) - 1,256
  • Griping in the Guts (infantile diarrhea, dysentery) - 1,288
  • Rising of the Lights (croup, called that because it sounds like the child is coughing up a lung) - 397
  • Overlaid and Starved (killed by a nursing mother who falls asleep on top of a baby) - 45
  • Headmouldshot & Mouldfallen (malformed skull caused by a difficult birth) - 14
 Fewer than 10,000 children were born in that year.

By 1670, nobody died of plague and the leading cause of death was Griping in the Guts.

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