Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality (Graunt 1676)/Chapter 7

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Of the difference between Burials and Christenings.


1.  THE next Observation is, That in the said Bills there are far more Burials than Christenings. This is plain, depending only upon Arithmetical computation; for, in 40 years, from the year 1603, to the year 1644, exclusive of both years, there have been set down (as hapning within the same ground, space, or Parishes[1]) although differently numbred and divided, 363935 Burials, and but 330747 Christenings within the 97, 16, and 10 Out Parishes; those of Westminster, Lambeth, Newington, Redriff, Stepney, Hackney, and Islington, not being included.

2. From this single Observation it will follow, That London should have decreased in its People; the contrary whereof we see by its daily increase of Buildings upon new Foundations, and by the turning of great, Palacious Houses into small Tenements. It is there-|58|fore certain, that London is supplied with People from out of the Country, whereby not only to supply the overplus differences of Burials abovementioned, but likewise to increase its Inhabitants according to the said increase of housing.

3. This supplying of London seems to be the reason, why Winchester, Lincoln, and several other Cities have decreased in their Buildings, and consequently in their Inhabitants. The same may be suspected of many Towns in Cornwal, and other places, which probably, when they were first allowed to send Burgesses to the Parliament, were more populous than now, and bore another proportion to London than now; for several of those Burroughs send two Burgesses, whereas London it self sends but four, although it bears the fifteenth part of the charge of the whole Nation in all Publick Taxes and Levies[2].

4. But, if we consider what I have upon exact enquiry found true, viz. That in the Country[3], within ninety years, there have been 6339 Christenings, and but 5280 Burials, the increase of London will be salved without inferring the decrease of the People in the Country; and withal, in case all England have but fourteen times more People than |59| London, it will appear, how the said increase of the Country may increase the People, both of London and it self; for if there be in the 97, 16, 10, and 7 Parishes, usually comprehended within our Bills, but 460000 Souls, as hereafter we shall shew[4], then there are in all England and Wales 6440000 Persons, out of which subtract 460000, for those in and about London, there remain 5980000 in the Country, the which increasing about 17 part in 40 years, as we shall hereafter prove[5] doth happen in the Country, the whole increase of the Country will be about 854000 in the said time; out of which number, if but about 250000 be sent up to London in the said 40 years, viz. about 6000 per Annum, the said Missions will make good the alterations, which we find to have been in and about London, between the years 1603 and 1644 above-mentioned: But that 250000 will do the same, I prove thus; viz. in the 8 years, from 1603 to 1612, the Burials in all the Parishes, and of all Diseases, the Plague included, were at a Medium 9750 per Annum. And between 1635 and 1644 were 18000, the difference whereof is 8250, which is the Total of the increase of the Burials in 40 years, that is, about 206 per Annum. Now, to make the Burials increase 206 per Annum, there must |60| be added to the City 30 times as many (according to the proportion of 3 dying out of 11 Families)[6] viz. 6180 Advenæ[7], the which number multiplied again by the 40 years, makes the Product 247200, which is less than the 250000 above-propounded; so as there remain above 600000 of increase in the Country within the said 40 years, either to render it more populous, or send forth into other Colonies, or Wars. But that England hath fourteen times more People, is not improbable, for the Reasons following.

1. London is observed to bear about the fifteenth proportion of the whole Tax.

2. There are in England and Wales about 39000 square Miles of Land, and we have computed that in one of the greatest Parishes in Hantshire, being also a Market-Town, and containing twelve square Miles, there are 220 Souls in every square Mile, out of which I abate 14 for the over-plus of People more in that Parish than in other wild Counties. So as the 34 parts of the said 220, multiplied by the Total of square Miles, produces 6400000[8] Souls in all London included.

3. There are about 10000 Parishes in England and Wales, the which, although they should not contain the 13 part of the Land, nor the 14 of the People of that Country-Pa-|61|rish, which we have examined, yet may be supposed to contain about 600 People, one with another: according to which Account there will be six Millions of People in the Nation. I might add, that there are in England and Wales about five and twenty Millions of Acres at 1612 Foot to the Perch; and if there be six Millions of People, then there is about four Acres for every head, which how well it agrees to the Rules of Plantation, I leave unto others, not only as a means to examine my Assertion, but as an hint to their enquiry concerning the fundamental Trade, which is Husbandry, and Plantation.

4. Upon the whole matter we may therefore conclude, That the People of the whole Nation do increase, and consequently the decrease of Winchester, Lincoln, and other like places, must be attributed to other Reasons, than that of re-furnishing London only.

5. We come to shew, why although in the Country the Christenings exceed the Burials, yet in London they do not. The general Reason of this must be, that in London the proportion of those subject to die, unto those capable of breeding, is greater than in the Country; That is, let there be an hundred Persons in London, and as many in the Country; we say, that, if there be sixty of them |62| Breeders in London, there are more than sixty in the Country, or else we must say, that London is more unhealthful, or that it inclines Men and Women more to Barrenness, than the Country: which by comparing the Burials and Christenings of Hackney, Newington, and the other Country-Parishes, with the most Smoky and Stinking parts of the City, is scarce discernible in any considerable degree.

6. Now that the Breeders in London are proportionably fewer than those in the Country, arises from these Reasons, viz.

1. All, that have business to the Court of the King, or to the Courts of Justice, and all Country-men coming up to bring Provisions to the City, or to buy Forein Commodities, Manufactures, and Rarities, do for the most part leave their Wives in the Country.

2. Persons coming to live in London out of curiosity and pleasure, as also such as would retire and live privately, do the same if they have any.

3. Such as come up to be cured of Diseases do scarce use their Wives pro tempore.

4. That many Apprentices of London, who are bound seven or nine years from Marriage, do often stay longer voluntarily. |63|

5. That many Sea-men of London leave their Wives behind them, who are more subject to die in the absence of their Husbands, than to breed either without men, or with the use of many promiscuously.

6. As for unhealthiness, it may well be supposed, that although seasoned Bodies may, and do live near as long in London, as elsewhere, yet new-comers and Children do not: for the Smoaks, Stinks, and close Air, are less healthful than that of the Country; otherwise why do sickly Persons remove into the Country-Air? And why are there more old men in Countries than in London, per rata? And although the difference in Hackney and Newington, above-mentioned, be not very notorious, yet the reason may be their vicinity to London, and that the Inhabitants are most such, whose Bodies have first been impaired with the London-Air, before they withdraw thither.

7. As to the causes of Barrenness in London, I say, that although there should be none extraordinary in the Native Air of the place; yet the intemperance in feeding, and especially the Adulteries and Fornications, supposed more frequent in London than elsewhere, do certainly hinder Breeding. For a Woman, admitting ten Men, is so far from |64| having ten times as many Children, that she hath none at all.

8. Add to this, that the minds of men in London are more thoughtful, and full of business, than in the Country, where their work is corporal Labour and Exercises; All which promote Breeding, whereas Anxieties of the mind hinder it.


  1. See Introduction.
  2. See Verbum Sap., p. 107, note 3.
  3. See table, p. 415.
  4. See p. 331, note.
  5. Cf. p. 389.
  6. See p. 385.
  7. Latin: immigrants (Wikisource ed.)
  8. In fact 6,435,000.