The parish clerks of London were required to record the causes of death of everyone who died in London. At this time, however, physicians did not have to issue a death certificate, so poor elderly women were employed as "searchers" who went around to find out the cause of death for each person. Many diseases were not diagnosed properly, and the searchers were also willing to accept bribes to change an embarrassing cause of death such as syphilis to something more acceptable. Nonetheless, these statistics give us some idea of English city life in 1700, and of the way people looked at things then (even by what afflictions are lumped together in categories). Thanks a ton to liveforever for explaining what some of these things mean!



Source: "A General Bill of all the Christenings and Burials, from the 19 of December 1699 to the 17 of December 1700, According to the Report made to the King His Most Excellent Majesty," reproduced in Maureen Waller's 1700: Scenes From London Life. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000.

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