Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality (Graunt 1676)/Chapter 6

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Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality by John Graunt, edited by Charles Henry Hull
Chapter VI


Of the Sickliness, Healthfulness, and Fruitfulness of Seasons.

1.   HAving spoken of Casualties, we come next to compare the Sickliness, Healthfulness, and Fruitfulness of the several Years and Seasons one with another. And first, having in the Chapters afore going mentioned the several years of Plague, we shall next present the several other sickly years; we meaning by a sickly Year such wherein the Burials exceed those, both of the precedent and subsequent years, and not above two hundred dying of the Plague, for such we call Plague-Years; and this we do, that the World may see, by what spaces and intervals we may hereafter expect such times again. Now, we may not call that a more sickly year, wherein more die, because such excess of Burials |55| may proceed from increase and access of People to the City only.

2. Such sickly years were 1618, 20, 23, 24, 1632, 33, 34, 1649, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61, as may be seen by the Tables[1].

3. In reference to this Observation we shall present another, namely, That the more sickly the years are, the less fecund or fruitful of Children also they be. Which will appear, if the number of Children born in the said sickly years be less than that of the years both next preceding and next following: all which, upon view of the Tables, will be found true, except in a very few Cases, where sometimes the precedent, and sometimes the subsequent years vary a little, but never both together. Moreover, for the confirmation of this Truth, we present you the year 1660, where the Burials were fewer than in either of the two next precedent years by 2000, and fewer than in the subsequent by above 4000: And withal, the number of Christenings in the said year 1660 was far greater than in any of the three years next afore-going.

4. As to this year 1660, although we would not be thought Superstitious, yet it is not to be neglected, that in the said year was the King's Restauration to His Empire over these three Nations, as if God Almighty had |56| caused the healthfulness and fruitfulness thereof to repair the Bloodshed and Calamities suffered in His absence. I say, this conceit doth abundantly counterpoise the Opinion of those who think great Plagues come in with King's Reigns[2],because it hapned so twice, viz. Anno 1603, and 1625; whereas as well the year 1648, wherein the present King commenced His Right to reign, as also the year 1660, wherein He commenced the exercise of the same, were both eminently healthful: which clears both Monarchy, and our present King's Family, from what seditious men have surmised against them.

5. The Diseases, which beside the Plague make years unhealthful in this City, are Spotted-Fevers, Small-Pox, Dysentery, called by some The Plague in the Guts, and the unhealthful Season is the Autumn. |57|

  1. According to the table on p. 408 the years 1623, 1624, 1633 and 1634 fail to satisfy Graunt's definition of sickly years.
  2. The outbreak of the Plague at times of coronation was perhaps in part due to the concourse of people to London.