Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality (Graunt 1676)/Chapter 11

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Of the number of Inhabitants.


1.  I Have been several times in company with men of great experience in this City, and have heard them talk seldom under Millions of People to be in London[1]: all which I was apt enough to believe, until, on a certain day, one of eminent Reputation was upon occasion asserting, That there was in the year 1661 two Millions of People more than Anno 1625 before the great Plague. I must confess, that, until this provocation, I had been frighted, with that mis-understood Example of David[2], from attempting any computation of the People of this populous place; but hereupon I both examined the lawfulness of making such Enquiries, and, being satisfied thereof, went about the work it self in this manner: viz.

2. First, I imagined, That, if the Conjecture of the worthy Person afore-mentioned had any truth in it, there must needs be about six or seven Millions of People in London |81| now; but, repairing to my Bills, I found, that not above 15000 per Annum were buried; and consequently, that not above one in four hundred must die per Annum, if the Total were but six Millions.

3. Next considering, That it is esteemed an even lay, whether any man lives ten years longer[3], I supposed it was the same, that one of any ten might die within one year. But when I considered, that of the 15000 afore-mentioned about 5000 were Abortive and Still-born, or died of Teeth, Convulsion, Rickets, or as Infants, and Chrysoms, and Aged; I concluded, that of Men and Women, between ten and sixty, there scarce died 10000 per Annum in London, which number being multiplied by 10[3], there must be but 10000[4] in all, that is not the 160 part of what the Alderman imagined. These were but sudden thoughts on both sides, and both far from truth, I thereupon endeavoured to get a little nearer, thus: viz.

4. I considered, that the number of Child-bearing Women might be about double to the Births: forasmuch as such Women, one with another, have scarce more than one Child in two years. The number of Births I found, by those years wherein the Registries were well kept, to have been somewhat less than |82| the Burials. The Burials in these late years at a Medium are about 13000, and consequently the Christenings not above 12000. I therefore esteemed the number of Teeming-Women to be 24000: then I imagined, that there might be twice as many Families, as of such Women; for that there might be twice as many Women Aged between 16 and 76, as between 16 and 40, or between 20 and 44; and that there were about eight Persons in a Family, one with another, viz. the Man and his Wife, three Children and three Servants or Lodgers: now 8 times 48000 makes 384000.

5. Secondly, I find, by telling the number of Families in some Parishes within the Walls, that 3 out of 11 Families per annum have died: wherefore, 13000 having died in the whole, it should follow, there were 48000[5] Families according to the last-mentioned Account.

6. Thirdly, the Account, which I made of the Trained-Bands and Auxiliary-Souldiers doth enough justifie this Account.

7. And lastly, I took the Map of London set out in the year 1658 by Richard Newcourt[6], drawn by a Scale of Yards. Now I ghessed that in 100 Yards square there might be about 54 Families, supposing every House |83| to be 20 Foot in the front: for on two sides of the said square there will be 100 Yards of Housing in each, and in the two other sides 80 each; in all 360 Yards: that is, 54 Families in each square, of which there are 220 within the Walls, making in all 11880 Families within the Walls. But forasmuch as there die within the Walls about 3200 per Annum, and in the whole 13000; it follows, that the Housing within the Walls is ¼ part of the whole, and consequently, that there are 47520 Families in and about London, which agrees well enough with all my former computations: the worst whereof doth sufficiently demonstrate, that there are two Millions[7] of People in London, which nevertheless most men do believe, as they do, that there be three Women for one Man, whereas there are fourteen Men for thirteen Women, as elsewhere hath been said[8].

8. We have (though perhaps too much at Random) determined the number of the Inhabitants of London[9] to be about 384000: the which being granted, we assert, that 199112 are Males, and 184186 Females.

9. Whereas we have found[10], that of 100 quick Conceptions about 36 of them die before they be six years old, and that perhaps but one surviveth 76[11]; we having seven De-|84|cads between six and 76, we sought six mean proportional numbers[12] between 64, the remainder, living at six years, and the one, which survives 76, and find, that the numbers following are practically near enough to the truth; for men do not die in exact proportions, nor in Fractions, from whence arises this Table following.

Viz. Of an hundred there die within the first six years[13] 36
  The next ten years, or Decad 24
The second Decad 15
The third Decad 9
The fourth 6
The next 4
The next 3
The next 2
The next 1

10. From whence it follows, that of the said 100 conceived, there remain alive at six years end 64.

At sixteen years end 40
At twenty six 25
At thirty six 16
At fourty six 10
At fifty six 6
At sixty [six] 3
At seventy six 1
At eighty [six] 0 |85|

11. It follows also, That of all which have been conceived, there are now alive 40 per Cent. above sixteen years old, 25 above twenty six years old, & sic deinceps, as in the above-Table. There are therefore of Aged between 16 and 56 the number of 40, less by six, viz. 34; of between 26 and 66 the number of 25, less by three, viz. 22: & sic deinceps.

Wherefore, supposing there be 199112 Males, and the number between 16 and 56 being 34; it follows, there are 34 per Cent. of all those Males fighting Men in London, that is 67694, viz. near 70000; the truth whereof I leave to examination, only the 15 of 67694, viz. 13539, is to be added for Westminster, Stepney, Lambeth, and the other distant Parishes; making in all 81233 fighting Men.

12. The next enquiry will be, In how long time the City of London shall, by the ordinary proportion of Breeding and dying, double its breeding People?[14] I answer, In about seven years, and (Plagues considered) eight. Wherefore, since there be 24000 pair of Breeders, that is 18 of the whole, it follows, that in eight times eight years the whole People of the City shall double, without the access of Forreiners: the which contradicts not |86| our Account of its growing from two to five in 56 years with such accesses.

13. According to this proportion, one couple, viz. Adam and Eve, doubling themselves every 64 years of the 5610 years[15], which is the Age of the World according to the Scriptures, shall produce far more People than are now in it. Wherefore the World is not above 100 thousand years older[16], as some vainly imagine, nor above what the Scripture makes it.


  1. The Scots Scouts Discoveries declared that in 1639 London contained 100000 Frenchmen and Dutchmen. Morgan, Phoenix Britannicus, 463. Howell estimated that in 1657 the various parts of London "with divers more which are contiguous and one entire piece with London herself" had a population of a million and a half. Londonopolis, 403.
  2. 2 Samuel, xxiv. 1—9; 1 Chronicles, xxi. 1—8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 If it be "an even lay, whether any man lives ten years longer," Graunt's multiplier, seven lines lower, should be 20, not 10.
  4. 10000 is a misprint for 100000.
  5. More accurately 47,667.
  6. "An exact Delineation of the Cities of London and Westminster and the Suburbs Thereof, Together wth ye Bunrough of Southwark And All ye Throughfares Highwayes Streetes Lanes and Common Allies wthin ye same Composed by a Scale and Ichnographically described by Richard Newcourt of Somerton in the Countie of Somersett Gentleman. Willm Faithorne sculpsit."——Facsimile, London: E. Stanford, 1878.
  7. The first edition has, "that there are no Millions," the fourth, "that there are not two Millions."
  8. See p. 374.
  9. Excluding Westminster and the six parishes enumerated at p. 345.
  10. See p. 349.
  11. From the bills Graunt calculates (p. 352) that seven in 100 survive 70. The grounds of his assumption that but one survives 76 are not evident.
  12. This method of constructing a table of mortality suggests Petty's Discourse of Duplicate Proportion.
  13. With this calculation of London's mortality may be compared the figures for Geneva in the seventeenth century. The following table, compiled from Edouard Mallet's Recherches hist. et stat. sur la population de Genève (Annales d'hygiène publique et de médecine légale, xvii. p. 30, Janv., 1837), gives the returns for all the persons whose age at death was recorded in the years 1601—1700. The table reveals a juvenile mortality even higher than Graunt's calculation for London.
    Number of deaths. Percentage.
    1—6 22,967 42·6
    7—16 4,949 9·3
    17—26 4,052 7·6
    27—36 3,761 7·1
    37—46 3,938 7·4
    47—56 4,026 7·6
    57—66 3,800 7·2
    67—76 3,273 6·4
    77—86 2,436 4·7
    87—120 581 0·1
    ——— ———
    53,783 100
  14. Apparently Graunt has not expressed himself with entire accuracy. The question which he put is, in how many years will 24000 pairs become 48000 pairs? The question which he probably meant to put is, in how many years will 24000 pairs beget 48000 children? He answers, in seven years, or, plagues considered, in eight. If, then, eight years are necessary for the birth of 48000 persons, the birth of 384000—a number sufficient, together with those already living, to double the population of the City—will require sixty-four years. It is unnecessary to dwell on the defects of this calculation. On one hand it ignores the increase in the number of pairs during sixty-four years. On the other hand, it tacitly assumes that the 384000 now living, and likewise all those new-born within the sixty-four years, will live to the end of that period.
  15. According to the chronology of Scaliger (De emendatione temporum, pp. 431—432) which places the Creation in the year 3948 b.c.
  16. Previous editions, 'old.'