Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality (Graunt 1676)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality  (1899) 
by John Graunt, edited by Charles Henry Hull

Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality was first pubished in 1661/2.
It was reprinted four times. This edition is from the The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, volume 2, edited by Charles Henry Hull, and published in 1899, after the fifth edition of 1676.
See also: Charles Henry Hull – 'Introduction' to Volume 1 of the Economic Writings of Sir William Petty.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse

Natural and Political


Mentioned in a following INDEX,

and made upon the

Bills of Mortality.



Fellow of the Royal Society.

With reference to the Government, Religion,
Trade, Growth, Diseases, and the several
Changes of the said CITY[1].

———Non, me ut miretur Turba, laboro,
Contentus paucis Lectoribus.

The Fifth Edition, much Enlarged[2].


Printed by John Martyn, Printer to the Royal Society,
at the Sign of the Bell in St. Paul's Church-yard.

Tuesday, June 20. 1665.
At a Meeting of the Council of the
Royal Society.


THat the Observations upon the Bills of Mortality by Mr. John Graunt be Printed by John Martyn and James Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society.



The first edition of Graunt's Observations upon the Bills of Mortality[3] was published between 25 January, 1662, the date of the first epistle dedicatory, and 5 February, 1662, when Graunt presented fifty copies to the Royal Society to be distributed among its members[4]. In the world outside Gresham College as well as among the Fellows of the Royal Society, Graunt's work soon attracted attention. Pepys bought a copy at Westminster Hall, the 24 March,[5] and the book proved so widely successful that a second edition was called for before the close of the year. With the return of the plague in the early summer of 1665, interest in the Observations revived. On the twentieth of June, at the same meeting at which the Council of the Royal Society recommended the Society to intermit their public weekly meetings until the present sickness should cease, it also ordered "that upon a report of Sir William Petty of his having perused the additions of Mr Graunt to his Observations upon the Bills of Mortality, the president be desired to license the reprinting of that book, together with such additions".[6] As the 4 July is the latest date in the "table shewing how many died weekly," it is probable that the new edition appeared before the 11 July. It certainly appeared before the 25 July, on which day Brouncker sent to Pepys[7] a copy of the book, "new printed and enlarged." The enlargement of this third edition was effected chiefly by the addition of the appendix, the tables for Tiverton and Cranbrook, and the "table shewing how many died weekly"; the other changes, which are slight, are noted, in this reprint, where they occur. A "fourth impression," reprinted from the third, soon appeared at Oxford. The latest date in the weekly table of this edition is the 26 September, and a copy of it in Cornell University Library bears the inscription "Ex dono Authoris Octob: 22º 1665." No further edition was published during Graunt's life, but in 1676 a fifth edition was put out, it is said under Petty's supervision[8]. To this, the completest edition, here reprinted, there were added "Some further Observations of Major John Graunt." Since 1676 the Observations have been printed but once in English, viz. in A Collection of the Yearly Bills of Mortality from 1657 to 1758, London: 1759, which speaks erroneously of "the sixth edition, in 1676." There is also an anonymous German translation[9] published at Leipzig in 1702.

Concerning the disputed authorship of the Observations see the Introduction. No MSS. of the book are known.

  1. The title of the first edition (1662) ran, "Natural and Political Observations... By John Graunt, Citizen of London." etc. On the title-page of the third edition (1665) "Citizen of London" was superseded by "Fellow of the Royal Society" but the reference to "the said City" was retained.
  2. This phrase is retained from the title-page of the third edition. In the fifth edition nothing is new save the "further observations" and the Paris bills, pp . 141-146.
  3. See Bibliography
  4. Birch, i. 75.
  5. Diary ii. 209-210.
  6. Birch, ii. 57.
  7. Diary, v. 24.
  8. Dr John Campbell in the Biographia Britannica, iv. 2262-2263, note. Dr Campbell's account of the earlier editions, however, is sadly incorrect.
  9. The translator was Dr Gottfried Schultz, born at Breslau 20 April, 1643, died there 14 May, 1698. Travel, says his eulogist, had made him master of many tongues, "non autem legisse tantum exterorum scripta ipsi sufficiebat, sed ut aliorum etiam usibus prostarent, multoties Interpretem accuratum egit. Cum vero modestia insignis, qua ubique usus, nomen praefigere versionibus typis divulgandis vetaret, tale saltem in praesenti versionis Specimen exhibeo, de quo (cum in aliis dubius hæram) certo constat, ejus solertiam illud parasse. Scilicet Joannis Grauntii, Membri Societatis Regiae Anglicanae, Observationes Physicas et Politicas de Schedulis Mortalitatis Londinensibus Todten-Zettuln Germanico Idiomate donavit, in gratiam eorum, qui propter commodum publicum passim in Germanicam similem computum desiderarunt."—Memoria excellentissimi apud Vratislavienses polyhistori medici domini D. Godofriedi Schulzii quam posteris commendat Samuel Grass, pp. 201–224 of the Appendix ad Ephemeridum academiæ Caesareo-leopoldinæ nat. curiosorum in Germania centurias iii. & iv., Noribergae, 1715.

Although the book is divided in chapters, it does not contain a contents page.
It has an extensive "Index" (p. 327 f.)


Epistle Dedicatory page 319
Index 327
Preface 333
Chapter I 335
Chapter II 346
Chapter III 352
Chapter IV 363
Chapter V 366
Chapter VI 368
Chapter VII 369
Chapter VIII 374
Chapter IX 378
Chapter X 382
Chapter XI 383
Chapter XII 388
The Conclusion 394
Appendix 398