True Stuff: Mortality record from 1665


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I love this: Via Slate’s The Vault, “In 16th- and 17th-century London, in response to recurrent epidemics of bubonic plague, authorities instituted the tradition of publishing a bill of mortality each week.”

See Slate’s brief article, with more links, here.

They also link to Craig Spence’s Bills of Mortality blog:

The Bills were formulated initially to track disease (principally plague) and enumerate burials and christenings but from the mid 17th century they also listed causes of death including murders, suicides and accidental or unexplained violent deaths. It is these reports that provide an insight into the form and frequency of sudden violent death throughout the period of the early modern metropolis…

The content of the Bills was provided by the parish clerks who reported weekly accounts from each parish to the Hall of the Company of Parish Clerks. The Company then collated and printed a weekly sheet; one side held a listing of the number of burials by parish and from the mid 17th century the reverse listed a summary count of those killed by named ‘diseases and casualties’.

These covered a wide range of illnesses, some of which are readily identifiable to the modern reader and some which are not.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been suffering from ‘scowring’ for weeks

(h/t to @PublicDomainRev, where I first saw this)