17th Century Death

Rifling through the internet, I stumbled upon this image, a 17th century list of causes of death in London, so here goes:

graunt17thcenturylondondeath While some are understandable, others are so strange as to be useless for researchers. Spotted fever, vomiting, worms, ulcers, starved, broken and bruised limbs are easily understood by most people. I assume that “Scal’d head” was a poorly spelled version of “scalded,” a common cause of infant mortality and not evidence of alien invasion. And swine-pox is possible, since we have cow pox and chicken pox. And “stopping of the stomach” can be translated as an intestinal obstruction. Some of these ailments, though, seem out of a nightmare. What on earth, I ask, is “Teeth and Worms,” “Tissick,” and “Stone and Strangury”? I suppose a kidney stone or a gallstone might have been that last but I cannot fathom the other two. And just why is it that “Teeth and Worms” was so prolific a cause of death? Why is that so popular? Clearly, also, some of these deaths are homicides, such as “smothered and stifled,” “broken and bruised limbs,” “shot.” My favorite cause of all, though, must be the last: “Suddenly.” That one speaks volumes.

Dr Linda L Labin-logo


4 thoughts on “17th Century Death

  1. But its wonderful they had mortality statistics those days. Yeah strangury would probably mean urinary stones and obstruction. The “tissick” is a puzzle which I would love to work on and so also are ” teeth and worms”.

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