Monday, 17 July 2017

The Great Stink: disgusting not deadly

In retweeting a Guardian review of the just released book One Hot Summer. Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858, by Rosemary Ashton, Deceased Online asked "Did any of your ancestors die in 1858 as a result of the "Great Stink"? Sadly responsible for the deaths of many Londoners."
I wondered how many, so turned to FreeBMD for statistics.

This bar chart shows deaths registered in the London City registration district from 1850 to 1860. There's an overall decline through the period with the major decrease between 1854 and 1855. While 1858 has the highest death toll of the five year period 1856-60 it's less than for any of the first five years of the decade.
The registration district recorded fewer deaths as a percentage of deaths in England and Wales in 1858 than in any prior year in the decade. That trend continued.

The Great Stink was primarily an event of July and August 1858. Did deaths recorded that year in the London City registration district peak in that period?

No. There were fewer deaths in the third (JAS) quarter, 173, than in the other three. 222 deaths in the second (AMJ) quarter was the next lowest. The district also recorded fewer deaths in the third quarter as a percentage of total deaths in England and Wales than in the other three quarters.

Obnoxious as the smell was during the Great Stink of 1858 in London the impact on mortality, as recorded in the London City registration district, was insignificant.

1 comment:

Paul Jones said...

Old ideas, such as the miasma theory of disease or mercantile economics, never really go away. They lurk eager to find an eager, uninformed audience in a future generation. Here's a good explanatory link to "zombie ideas".