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Ways of Dying in 1665

(841 Posts)
TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:36:32

So I'm just copying out a weekly Bill of Mortality from London, 1665 (don't ask!)

Look at some of the ways of dying - anyone care to hazard a guess at what some of them might be?!

Plague - 7165 (IN A WEEK!!!)
Childbed - 42 sad - just goes to show, it's all very well bemoaning medicalised childbirth/interventions/CSs but look at the alternative
Grief - 3 (Not bloody surprising - wonder what the actual medical cause was?)
Griping in the Guts - 51!
Rising of the Lights - 11 (WTF was that then? In offal, are the lights the lungs, right?)
Kingsevil - 2 (Don't ask me how I know this, but I believe this to be scrofula)
Wormes - 15 (OH EM GEE, you could die of worms <shudder>)
Impostume - 11 (what?!)
Frighted - 3 (three people scared to death in a week shock)
Winde - 3 (Oh yeah. FARTED TO DEATH)

I realise I am a bit morbid hmm

TunipTheVegemal Sat 04-Feb-12 11:38:33

I guess worms would have included tapeworm, not just threadworm.

that is fascinating.

Did no-one get killed in a fight, drowned in the Thames, etc?

TunipTheVegemal Sat 04-Feb-12 11:39:13

oh I just looked up impostume - it's an abscess.

SherbetDibDab Sat 04-Feb-12 11:40:22

You can't fart yourself to death, else my dh would be dead by now.

2tired2bewitty Sat 04-Feb-12 11:40:24


I see it doesn't list surfit, I thought that was a popular way to die back then? [Grin]

TunipTheVegemal Sat 04-Feb-12 11:40:26

oh btw I read recently that in the few days after a bereavement your risk of a heart attack goes up massively.
Frighted must be heart attacks too.

ScoutJemAndBoo Sat 04-Feb-12 11:41:12

I am sure I read once that lights was the common name for a chronic lung condition. Would wind be severe colic?

I wonder what the comparative list in London 2012 is.

Probably lots of RTAs, a few murders, and at least half of the above, but drink and drugs would be the modern plague.

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:41:35

Oh yes, that'd get you dead of malnutrition I guess..

There's more!!

One killed by a fall from the Belfry at Allhallows the Great (what was he doing up there??)
1 died simply Suddenly
Five died of Thrush - I am thinking this must have been like when people suffering from Aids get it in the mouth and can't eat???
2 died of Stone (kidney stones?)
1 died of Lethargy

And my favourite in a macabre sort of way: Burnt in his Bed by a Candle at St Giles Cripplegate

debka Sat 04-Feb-12 11:41:57

You'd be proper unlucky to escape the plague then die of farting wouldn't you! Great thread, TSP <waves>

choux Sat 04-Feb-12 11:42:06

Rising of the Lights: croup - any obstructive condition of the larynx or trachea (windpipe), characterised by a hoarse, barking cough and difficult breathing, occurring chiefly in infants and children.

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:42:30

2tired Top marks for you - 49 dead of Surfeit!

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:43:10

<waves at Debka> smile

It does make sense that lights would be a lung condition...

debka Sat 04-Feb-12 11:43:22

lethargy that's what I want to die of. (hear that, DDs??)

dreamingbohemian Sat 04-Feb-12 11:43:51

Oooooh interesting! (fellow history geek smile)

I think 1665 was a bad plague year, it came and went. I think it helped fuel hysteria in the leadup to 1666 when apparently loads of people thought the world would end.

Didn't they also hang a lot of people back then?

TunipTheVegemal Sat 04-Feb-12 11:44:05

what about traffic accidents in the 17th c? I know there were lots in Victorian times, horses and pedestrians in confined spaces are a dangerous combination.

BleatingRose Sat 04-Feb-12 11:44:38

Fascinating stuff!

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:45:27

Yes Dreaming it was a bad plague year - and then the Great Fire did them a favour I think??

Nothing here on hangings and accidents, oddly

18 died of Chrisomes - anyone know what this is, preferably without Googling?!

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:46:22

5 died of Scowring - that sounds like they've died of having been 'scowred' doesn't it?? <imagination running wild>

BeyondTheLimitsOfAcceptability Sat 04-Feb-12 11:46:40

A quick google tells me...

What is rising of the lights - "well, nobody really knows. Seems everybody has a theory, but no hard facts to back it up. Me, I have this pet theory that it's beri-beri. As you know, that manifests as water being retained in the lower body, with increasing pain as the water rises towards the abdomen. The patient usually dies when it reaches the heart. Deficiency disease. However, some say that "lights" was an old term for the lungs. This might indicate some sort of lung disease. Perhaps a pulmonary embolus. Yet, from the records, it would seem to have mostly hit women who were new mothers. That might indicate some sort of postpartum illness. Perhaps postpartum depression? An unusual cause of death - I'd favour the pulmonary embolus, myself." nanoakron suggests that "your 'rising of the lights' in london deaths in 1700 may well be eclampsia - a condition of high blood pressure in mothers associated with fits and flashing never know."

from here

2tired2bewitty Sat 04-Feb-12 11:47:11

Have you read 1066 and all that, OP?

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:47:29

It's interesting that 43 are listed with cause of dying as simply Aged.

5 dead of Abortive sad

dreamingbohemian Sat 04-Feb-12 11:47:58

Actually, is it from just the City of London? I think they hung people outside the City so maybe they're not counted...

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:48:27

2tired I haven't! I keep meaning to get it but always seem to forget when in second hand bookshops grin

Beyond that's really interesting....

ScoutJemAndBoo Sat 04-Feb-12 11:48:39

If you love macabre history and the fine detail of life as was - plus searching your own name! - this is the site for you!

TheScarlettPimpernel Sat 04-Feb-12 11:49:30

Dreaming I think it is, yes - that would explain the lack of hangings etc.

Unless that particular week (apparently the worst week for the Plague) there were no hangings?? Trials/hangings etc. might have been suspended <----awful pun grin

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