Bills of mortality

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The London bills of mortality were the main source of mortality statistics, designed to monitor deaths from the from the 17th century to the 1830s.

They began to be made in London after an outbreak of plague in 1592 (although there are a few earlier instances). From 1603, after another outbreak, they were made regularly on a weekly basis, with the view to giving authorities and inhabitants full information as to the increases or decreases in the number of deaths. The information was collected by Parish Clerks and published every week.

By 1570 the bills included baptisms; in 1629 the cause of death was given, and in the early 18th century the age at death. In 1836 they were superseded by the Registrar General's returns under the Births and Death Registrations Act.

The following places were within the boundaries of the bills of mortality:[1]

CountyParts thereof
City of LondonEntire, comprising:
City within the Walls;
City without the Walls;
Inns of Court and Chancery
MiddlesexThe City and Liberty of Westminster;

The Tower and its Liberty (including the Old Artillery Ground);
St Andrew Holborn above Bars with St George the Martyr1; St Matthew, Bethnal Green2; St Botolph without Aldgate; The Charterhouse; Christchurch, Spitalfields3; St Clement Danes (part)4,; St James and St John, Clerkenwell5; Liberty of the Duchy of Lancaster (part); Ely Place; St Giles in the Fields and St George, Bloomsbury6; St George in the East3; Liberty of Glasshouse Yard; St John, Hackney; St Mary, Islington; St Katherine near the Tower; St Ann, Limehouse7; St Luke, Middlesex8; Liberty of the Rolls; Liberty of Saffron Hill and Hatton Garden; St John the Baptist in the Savoy; St Sepulchre (part)9; St Paul, Shadwell10; St Leonard, Shoreditch; St Dunstan, Stepney (the hamlets of Ratcliffe, Mile End Old Town and Mile End New Town); St John, Wapping3; St Mary, Whitechapel11

SurreyThe Borough of Southwark (the parishes of St George the Martyr; St John Horsleydown; St Olave; St Saviour and St Thomas and Christchurch)12

St Mary, Rotherhithe; St Mary, Bermondsey; St Mary, Newington Butts; St Mary, Lambeth

1Formed 1767 by separating the Middlesex portion of the parish St Andrew Holborn from the remainder in the City of London and merging with the parish of St George the Martyr.[2]
2Formed from part of Stepney in 1743.[2]
3Formed from part of Stepney in 1729.[2]
4The remainder of the parish lay in the Liberty of Westminster.[2]
5The parish of St John was formed from part of St James in 1723.[2]
6The two parishes of St Giles and St George were united in 1774.[2]
7Formed from of Stepney in 1725.[2]
8Parish created 1733 from the part of St Giles Cripplegate outside the City of London.[2]
9The remainder of the parish lay in the City of London.
10Formed from part of Stepney in 1670.[2]
11Formed from part of Stepney in the early 17th century.[2]
12Parish of Christchurch, Southwark formed 1670: originally the Liberty of Paris Garden.[2]


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