I have to reconstruct the graph showing death rates from infectious diseases and from all causes in London. But I have trouble with finding the data for the period 1760-1834.

enter image description here

In the graph are shown three curves:

  1. Annual numbers of deaths per million inhabitants.
  2. Annual numbers of deaths from "measles, fevers, whooping-cough and diphtheria" per million inhabitants.
  3. Annual numbers of deaths from smallpox per million inhabitants.

The annual absolute numbers of deaths from all causes and from smallpox are presented in the Second Report of the Royal Commission, p. 290-291, but for the years 1832, 1833 and 1834 the data does not exist for deaths assigned to "all causes". To obtain the normalized value (referred to a million inhabitants) I need the London population values for the same period. The London population I found in the Third Report of the Royal Commission, p. 196, but only for the years 1780-1831. So it does not cover the required interval 1760-1834. Therefore my questions are: How to find the London population for each year in the periods 1760-1779 and 1832-1834? How to find the London total mortality in 1832-1834?

Probably I have to use the referenced Bills of Mortality, but I don't know how to find the requested data in these documents.

Even more difficult seems to be the problem of finding the data concerning combined "measles, fevers, whooping-cough and diphtheria", because the referenced book A History of Epidemics in Britain does not cover the whole period with mortality of these diseases.

If someone could help, I will be very grateful.


I found the book Statistics of the British Empire, by John Marshall, 1837. It contains the annual numbers of deaths due to various diseases in the requested period, but unfortunately it has some scanning errors - the table concerning the "period IV" (1790-1831) has not got its first page. Only the last part of the table is present in the book. Has anybody the complete version of this book?

Moreover: Probably some of the data I am looking for are presented in the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of the Local Government Board for 1884, page 32 Fourteenth Annual Report of the Local Government Board 1884-1885, pages 31, 32. But I have no idea where to find this book. Do you have the access to it? It contains no additional data.

  • 1
    This is a really good question and I hope it gets an answer
    – MCW
    Jan 8, 2021 at 11:55
  • 2
    @Mark C. Wallace - thanks. Now I am analyzing summary of Bills of Mortality. I will check if numbers for diseases are the same as in the other reports.
    – forrest
    Jan 9, 2021 at 19:43

2 Answers 2


In the paper "Patterns of smallpox mortality in London, England, over three centuries" authors deal with exactly this problem:

We accessed original documents in London, England, in the Guildhall Library, the British Library, the Wellcome Library, and the London Metropolitan Archive. We digitized weekly reported birth and death records for London throughout the period over which smallpox was listed as a cause of death (1661 to 1934). The last smallpox death reported in London was in the week beginning 17 February 1934. The last year when more than one smallpox death was reported in a single week was 1930, so we do not present data or analyses after 1930 (in total, only 7 smallpox deaths were reported from 1931 to 1934).

All data are available at GitHub.

  • Thx. I have made the graph of London population using the data named Data/LondonPopulation1550_1931annual.csv in the article that you have linked. On the same graph I have put the curve depicting the proper data used in the interval <1780,1831> taken from Third Report of the Royal Commission. It occurred that the former data gives exponential-like polyline, and significantly differs from the latter.
    – forrest
    Jan 22, 2021 at 14:36
  • The difference is visible in the Eighth Annual Report of the Registrar General, p. cli. The first row in the table (746233, 856412, etc.) represents the data used for the graph preparation. The data pointed in the article linked by you almost fit to the last row in the Eighth Report. I have to find the extension of the population data used originally by the graph author (maybe not "true" London population from the present point of view, but consistent with the Bills of Mortality).
    – forrest
    Jan 22, 2021 at 14:44

This source may help you – UK Data Service: London weekly bills of mortality, 1644–1849

  • 1
    This should probably include a description of what the linked dataset actually contains. Sep 27, 2022 at 11:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.