Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality (Graunt 1676)/Chapter 1

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Natural and Political



Chap. I.

Of the Bills of Mortality, their beginning, and progress.[1]

THE first of the continued Weekly Bills of Mortality extant at the Parish Clerks Hall[2], begins the Twenty ninth of December 1603, being the first year of King James his Reign; since when a weekly Accompt hath been kept there of Burials and Christnings. It is true, There were Bills || before, viz. for the Years 1592, -93, -94; but so interrupted since, that I could not depend upon the sufficiency of them, rather relying upon those Accompts, which have been kept since in order, as to all the uses I shall make of them.

2. I believe, that the rise of keeping these Accompts was taken from the Plague: for the said Bills (for ought appears) first began in the said year 1592, being a time of great Mortality; and, after some disuse, were resumed again in the year 1603, after the great Plague then happening likewise[3].

3. These Bills were printed and published, not only every Week on Thursdays, but also a general Accompt of the whole Year was given in upon the Thursday before Christmas-day: which said general Accompts have been presented in the several manners following, viz. from the Year 1603, to the Year 1624, inclusive, according to the Pattern here inserted[4].


1623. 1624.

The general Bill for the whole Year, of all the Burials and Christnings, as well within the City of London, and the Liberties thereof, as in the Nine out Parishes adjoyning to the City, with the Pest-house be-|3|longing to the same: from Thursday the 18. of December 1623, to Thursday the 16. of December, 1624, according to the Report made to the King's most Excellent Majesty by the Company of the Parish-Clerks of London.
BUried this Year in the Fourscore and seventeen
Parishes of London within the Walls,
Whereof of the Plague, 1
Buried this Year in the Sixteen Parishes of London,
and the Pesthouse, being within the Liberties, and
without the Walls,
Whereof, of the Plague, 5
The whole Sum of all the Burials in London, and
the Liberties thereof, is this Year
Whereof, of the Plague, 6
Buried of the Plague without the Liberties, in
Middlesex and Surrey, this whole Year,
Christened in London, and the Liberties thereof,
this Year;
Buried this Year in the Nine out-Parishes, ad-
joyning to London, and out of the Freedom,
Whereof, of the Plague, 5 |4|
The Total of all the Burials in the places afore-
said is
Whereof, of the Plague, 11
Christened in all the aforesaid places this Year, 8299
Parishes clear of the Plague, 116
Parishes that have been Infected this Year, 6

4. In the Year 1625, every Parish was particularized[5], as in this following Bill: where note, That this next year of Plague caused the Augmentation, and Correction of the Bills; as the former year of Plague did the very being of them.


1624. 1625.

A general, or great Bill for this Year, of the whole number of Burials, which have been buried of all Diseases, and also of the Plague in every Parish within the City of London, and the Liberties thereof; as also in the Nine out Parishes adjoyning to the said City; with the Pest-house belonging to the same: from Thursday the 16. day of December, 1624, to Thursday the 15. day of December, 1625. according to the Report |5| made to the King's most Excellent Majesty by the Company of Parish Clerks of London.

LONDON, Bur. Plag.
ALbanes in Woodstreet 188 78
Alhallows Barking 397 263
Alhallows Breadstreet 34 14
Alhallows the Great 442 302
Alhallows Hony-lane 18 8
Alhallows the Less 259 205
Alhallows in Lombard-street 86 44
Alhallows Stainings 183 138
Alhallows the Wall 301 155
Alphage Cripple-gate 240 190
Andrew-Hubbard 146 101
Andrews Undershaft 219 149
Andrews by Wardrobe 373 191
Anns at Aldersgate 196 128
Anns Black-Fryers 336 215
Antholins Parish[6] 62 31
Austins Parish[7] 72 40
Bartholomew at the Exchange 52 24
Bennets Fink[8] 108 57
Bennets Grace Church 48 14
Bennets at Pauls Wharf 226 131
Bennets Shearhog 24 8
Botolphs Billings-gate 99 66
Christ's-Church Parish 611 371 |6|
Christophers Parish 48 28
Clements by Eastcheap 87 72
Diony's Back-Church 99 59
Dunstans in the East 335 225
Edmunds Lumbardstreet 78 49
Ethelborow in Bishops-gate 205 101
St. Faiths 89 45
St. Fosters[9] in Foster-lane 149 102
Gabriel Fen-Church 71 54
George Botolphs-lane 30 19
Gregories by Pauls 296 196
Hellens in Bishops-gate street 136 71
James by Garlick-hith 180 109
John Baptist 122 79
John Evangelist 7 0
John Zacharies 143 97
James Dukes-place 310 154
Katherine Colemanstreet 26 175
Katherine Cree-Church 886 373
Lawrence in the Jewry 91 55
Lawrence Pountney 206 127
Leonards Eastcheap 55 26
Leonards Foster-lane 292 209
Magnus Parish by the Bridge 137 85
Margarets Lothbury 114 64
Margarets Moses 37 25
Margarets new Fishstreet 123 82
Margarets Pattons 77 50 |7|
Mary Ab-Church 98 58
Mary Aldermanbury 126 79
Mary Aldermary 92 54
Mary le Bow 35 19
Mary Bothaw 22 14
Mary Coal-Church 26 11
Mary at the Hill 152 84
Mary Mounthaw 76 58
Mary Sommerset 270 192
Mary Stainings 70 44
Mary Woolchurch 58 35
Mary Woolnoth 82 50
Martins Ironmonger-lane 25 18
Martins at Ludgate 254 164
Martins Orgars 88 47
Martins Outwich 60 30
Martins in the Vintry 339 208
Matthew Friday-street 24 11
Maudlins in Milk-street 401 23
Maudlins Old-fish-street 225 142
Michael Bassishaw 199 139
Michael Cornhill 159 79
Michael Crooked lane 144 91
Michael Queen-hith 215 157
Michael in the Quern 53 30
Michael in the Royal 111 61
Michael in Wood-street 189 68
Mildreds Bread-street 60 44 |8|
Mildreds Poultrey 94 45
Nicholas Acons 33 13
Nicholas Coal-Abby 87 67
Nicholas Olaves 70 43
Olaves in Hart-street 266 195
Olaves in the Jewry 43 25
Olaves in Silver-street 274 103
Pancras by Soper-lane 17 8
Peters in Cheap 68 44
Peters in Cornhill 318 78
Peters at Pauls Wharf 97 68
Peters Poor in Broad-street 52 27
Stevens in Coalman-street 506 350
Stevens in Walbrook 25 13
Swithins at London-stone 99 60
Thomas Apostles 141 107
Trinity Parish 148 87
Buried within the 97 Parishes within the Walls
of all Diseases
Whereof of the Plague 9197 |9|
Bur. Plag.
Andrews in Holborn 2190 1636
Bartholomew the Great 516 360
Bartholomew the Less 111 65
Brides Parish 1481 1031
Botolph Algate 2573 1653
Bridewel Precinct 213 152
Botolphs Bishops-gate 2334 714
Botolphs Alders-gate 578 307
Dunstans the West 860 642
Georges Southwark 1608 912
Giles Cripplegate 3988 2338
Olaves in Southwark 3689 2609
Saviours in Southwark 2746 1671
Sepulchres Parish 3425 2420
Thomas in Southwark 335 277
Trinity in the Minories 131 87
At the Pesthouse 194 189
Buried in the 16 Parishes without the Walls,
standing part within the Liberties, and part
without, in Middlesex, and Surrey, and at the
Whereof, of the Plague 17153 |10|

Buried in the Nine out Parishes.

Bur. Pl.
Clements Temple-bar 1284 755
Giles in the Fields 1333 947
James at Clarken-well 1191 903
Katherins by the Tower 998 744
Leonards in Shoreditch 1995 1407
Martins in the Fields 1470 973
Mary White-chapel 3305 2272
Magdalens Bermondsey 1127 889
Savoy Parish 250 176
Buried in the Nine out Parishes, in Middlesex and
Whereof of the Plague, 9067

The Total of all the Burials of all Diseases, within
the Walls, without the Walls, in the Liberties,
in Middlesex and Surrey: with the Nine out
Parishes, and the Pest-house,
Whereof, Buried of the Plague, this present year, is 35417
Christnings this present year, is 6983
Parishes clear this year, is 1
Parishes infected this year, is 121 |11|

5. In the Year 1626, the City of Westminster, in imitation of London, was inserted. The gross Accompt of the Burials and Christenings, with distinction of the Plague being only taken notice of therein; the fifth, or last Canton, or Linedspace, of the said Bill, being varied into the form following, viz.

In Westminster this Year Buried 471
Plague 13
Christnings 361

6. In the Year 1629, an Accompt of the Diseases and Casualties, whereof any dyed, together with the distinction of Males and Females, making the sixth Canton of the Bill, was added in manner following.[10]


The Canton of Casualties; and of the Bill for the Year 1632, being of the same form with that of 1629. |12|

The Diseases and Casualties this Year, being 1632.

ABortive and Stilborn 415
Affrighted 1
Aged 628
Ague 43
Apoplex and Meagrim 17
Bit with a mad Dog 1
Bleeding 3
Bloody flux, Scowring, and flux, 343
Bruised, Issues, Sores, and Ulcers, 28
Burnt and Scalded 5
Burst and Rupture 9
Cancer and Wolf 10
Canker 1
Childbed 171
Chrisomes and Infants 2268
Cold and Cough 55
Colick, Stone, and Strangury 56
Consumption 1797
Convulsion 241
Cut of the Stone 5
Dead in the street, and starved 6
Dropsie and Swelling 267
Drowned 4
Executed and Prest to death 38 |13|
Falling Sickness 17
Fever 1108
Fistula 13
Flox and Small Pox 531
French Pox 12
Gangrene 5
Gout 4
Grief 11
Jaundies 43
Jaw-fain 78
Imposthume 44
Kill'd by several accidents 6
King's Evil 38
Lethargy 2
Livergrown 87
Lunatick 5
Made away themselves 15
Measles 80
Murthered 7
Overlaid, and starved at Nurse 7
Palsie 25
Piles 1
Plague 8
Planet 13
Pleuresie and Spleen 36
Purples and Spotted Fever 38
Quinsie 7
Rising of the Lights 98
Sciatica 1 |14|
Scurvy and Itch 9
Suddenly 62
Surfet 86
Swine Pox 6
Teeth 470
Thrush and Sore-mouth 40
Tympany 13
Tissick 34
Vomiting 1
Worms 27
Males 4994 Males 4932
Christned Females 4590 Buried Females 4603
In all 9584 In all 9535
Whereof, of the Plague 8
Increased in the Burials in the 122 Parishes, and at
the Pest-house this year
Decreased of the Plague in the 122 Parishes, and at
the Pest-house this year

7. In the Year 1636, the Accompt of the Burials and Christnings, in the Parishes of Islington, Lambeth, Stepney, Newington, Hackney, and Redriff were added[13] in the manner following, making a seventh Canton, viz. |15|

In Margarets
Christned 440
Buried 890
Plague 0
Islington Christned 36
Buried 113
Plague 0
Lambeth Christned 132
Buried 220
Plague 0
Stepney Christned 892
Buried 1486
Plague 0
Newington Christned 99
Buried 181
Plague 0
Hackney Christned 30
Buried 91
Plague 0
Redriff Christned 16
Buried 48
Plague 0
The Total of all the Burials in the seven last Parishes this Year
Whereof of the Plague, 0
The Total of all the Christnings, 1645 |16 |

8. Covent-Garden being made a Parish[14], the Nine out (16) Parishes were called the Ten out Parishes, the which in former years were but Eight.

9. In the Year 1660, the last-mentioned ten Parishes, with Westminster, Islington, Lambeth, Stepney, Newington, Hackney, and Redriff, are entred under two Divisions, viz. the one containing the Twelve Parishes lying in Middlesex and Surrey, and the other the Five Parishes within the City and Liberties of Westminster, viz. St. Clement Danes, St. Paul's Covent-Garden, St. Martin's in the Fields, St. Mary-Savoy, and St. Margaret's Westminster.

10. We have hitherto described the several steps whereby the Bills of Mortality are come up to their present state; we come next to shew how they are made and composed, which is in this manner, viz. When any one dies, then, either by tolling, or ringing of a Bell, or by bespeaking of a Grave of the Sexton, the same is known to the Searchers, corresponding with the said Sexton.

11. The Searchers hereupon (who are ancient Matrons, sworn to their Office) repair to the place where the dead Corps lies, and by view of the same, and by other enquiries, they examine by what Disease or Ca-|17|sualty the Corps died. Hereupon they make their Report to the Parish Clerk, and he, every Tuesday night, carries in an Accompt of all the Burials and Christnings happening that Week, to the Clerk of the Hall. On Wednesday the general Accompt is made up and printed, and on Thursday published and dispersed to the several Families who will pay four Shillings per Annum for them.

12. Memorandum, That although the general yearly Bills have been set out in the several varieties aforementioned, yet the Original Entries in the Hall-books were as exact in the very first year, as to all particulars, as now; and the specifying of Casualties and Diseases was probably more.


  1. On the history of the London bills of mortality see the Introduction.
  2. Maitland, writing before 1739, could not find the part of the Parish Clerks' register for the years before 1664. He records that "the Company are of the opinion that the same was lent to Mr Graunt, to enable him to write his Natural and Political Observations, and by some accident never returned." History of London, II. 738.
  3. Graunt's conjecture of a connection between the Plague and the origin of the bills is confirmed by their earlier history. Cf. Introduction, also Creighton, Epidemics, i. 294—295, Ogle in Jour. of the Stat. Soc. lv. 438.
  4. A printed weekly bill for 5—12 November, 1607, a ms. weekly bill for 10—17 August, 1609, and a blank form for a weekly bill with printed date of 1610 are preserved at the Record Office. State Papers, Dom., James I., xxviii. 89; xlvii. 85—86; lviii. 102. All vary in unimportant particulars from the pattern of a yearly bill which Graunt gives. The bill of 1607 lacks the entry of those buried of the plague without the liberties in Middlesex and Surrey, the bill of 1609, though it gives them does not include them in its total burials, while the form for a bill dated 1610 both includes them in its total and also omits to enter separately "the whole sum of all the burials in London and the liberties thereof." The ms. bill of 1609 is further peculiar in that it consists of two independent parts. The second part is devoted to the nine out parishes enumerated by Graunt on p. 341 below. These parishes the bill locates "in Westminster," and the first part omits their figures in making up the total of burials.
  5. In the weekly bills, at least, every parish was particularized as early as 1532. See Introduction.
  6. Properly St Anthony.
  7. Properly St Augustin.
  8. Properly St Benedict.
  9. Otherwise St Vedast.
  10. The diseases and casualties were reported to the Parish Clerks as early as 1604. Bell, London's Remembrancer, unpaged, Graunt, p. 346. Upon the back of the weekly bill for 5—12 November, 1607, the deaths due to each of twenty-one causes are enumerated in MS., and in the bill for 10—17 August, 1609, similar information is given, likewise in MS., for the parishes severally, e.g.:
    "Katharines Creechurch. pla. 1 crisom 1 small pox 2 fever 1 5 1." The last two figures occupy the columns uniformly reserved for total burials and for burials of the plague respectively.
  11. This should be 973 to correspond with the tables at pp. 408 and 411, since both of them put the total burials for 1631 at 8562.
  12. Probably a misprint for 266, which the first edition had. The plague burials, according to the table, p. 408 were 274 in 1631 and 8 in 1632.
  13. In the bill for 21 April, see table, p. 426.
  14. The Act erecting the parish of St Paul, Covent Garden, passed the House of Commons 7 January, 1645. Commons' Journal, iv. 398.