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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

  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.