The Bills of Mortality are a great source of information for those who have ancestors from London. The bills are the records of what the people of London have died from in that year. The bills were produced every year from 1603 until 1840. Some were produced in other periods but they may not have covered all of London.
The bills only covered Church of England burial grounds and not those of other denominations.
Now I have to say I hadn’t heard of these bills until I was watching 8 out of 10 cats does countdown and the comedian Vic Reeves mentioned them.
I thought I’d look at some of the death and see how they compared over the years in 10 year increments from 1657 until 1757.
The first cause of death is childbed, or childbirth as we would say now. Childbirth was a dangerous time for women and had it didn’t care from which level of society you came from. These figures remain fairly constant over the years and unfortunately this is to be expected as until medicine progressed the women continued to die.
Evil or King’s Evil was a disease that many believed that the touch of the monarch would cure. In reality this didn’t happen but the last British monarch to carry out the touching of those afflicted was Queen Anne. In reality this illness is scrofula which is the swelling of lymph nodes cause by TB.
Consumption is another form of TB which predominately affects the lungs.
I’m glad people don’t die of lethargy these days as I’d have gone years ago. I believe this was probably a form of coma from which people didn’t recover from. As for mortification the same is true. With my ability to put my foot in it and keep digging I’d have died from mortification years ago. In reality this was a form of gangrene.
I have to say I’m surprises that so few people in London were murdered each year. More people probably suffer this fate today than they did in the 17th and 18th century.
We all think hundreds died from the plague each year but in reality very few did. 4 died in 1657 compared to the 1998 that died in 1666.
I was surprised how many people died due to their teeth. I suppose their teeth became infected and the infection spread and they died as a result. Thank goodness for antibiotics and regular dental check-ups.
I have to say worms sounds like a dreadful way to go. I think it means as a result of parasites and worms such as tape worms and if you think about it London was a big port city so sailors were coming in from all over the world and bringing new and exciting illnesses with them.
Now I have one more personal favourite to add to the list. In 1670 one person in London died from a wolf! I assume they meant a wolf attack. Now this is unfortunate but why was there a wolf in London? I suppose it could have been at the royal menagerie at the Tower of London and have attacked it’s keeper or a visitor. Not a pleasant way to go but I bet the poor person 348 years ago never thought they would be remembered for dying from such an unusual method and be mentioned in a blog.
If you want to know more about the bills of mortality you can download the returns from: https://archive.org/details/collectionyearl00hebegoog/page/n5
The other week the office for national statistics released the top 100 most popular baby names in England and Wales. This got me thinking at how the popularity of names has changed over the years. Are there any names that are consistently place high in the rankings and how do the top two names in any given year compare to 1860.
I chose 8 names that appear to me to be found in the census over the years the most and looked at how they ranked in the listing from 1860 to 2017.
It’s probably no surprise that in the 1860 which names were most popular. People were still using the more traditional names and naming their children after themselves or their grandparents.
By 1890 things had begun to change. William and Mary were still the most popular names but Anne and Catherine had begun to lose favour. If you consider their name variants though Ann was ranked 31st and Katherine was 153rd in the rankings. Of the names chosen Henry was the lowest ranking boy’s name.
From the data from 1924 we can see that the most popular names have changed. For boys it was John and for girls it was Margaret with William and Mary both slipping to 2nd on the list. In 1860 John ranked 2nd and Margaret ranked 10th. Both Anne and Catherine had risen up the ranks again.
By 1954 the most popular names in England and Wales were David and Susan, a completed change from previous years. In 1860 David ranked 17th and Susan 35th. From the 8 above William had slipped to 15th and Mary to 9th. Surprisingly Ann was back up to 10th and Catherine to 26th but Henry had fallen down to 83rd.
Jump forward to 1984 and the most popular names were Christopher and Sarah. I should know Sarah was popular. In the year I was born my parents thought it was a little used name, but in my class at secondary school there were 4 of us, with 3 of use born within 3 days of each other. In 1860 Christopher ranked 44th and Sarah 3rd. But what of our 8? Well the most popular of them were James and Elizabeth at 2nd and 25th respectively, but Henry and Anne fell out of the top 100.
So to last year 2017. Well the most popular names were Oliver and Olivia. In 1860 Oliver was ranked 63rd and Olivia 186th. In 2017 Anne was still out of the top 100 still and William was still the most popular of the boy’s names at 11th and Elizabeth still held the top spot at 44th. Both Catherine and Mary were down in the 300’s but Henry was back up to 13th.
I suppose in general it doesn’t really matter where our names rank, it’s more for interest than anything else. It can help genealogist as they may get a better feel for what names to look out for. If the parents are William and Mary then the chances are they will have children with the same name and may have been named after their parents themselves.
If you want to know how your name ranks why not have a look at:
and look where you name comes by year. Happy hunting.
It’s the year 1066 and England is in turmoil. In January the King Edward the Confessor died without leaving an heir. So what would happen to the country? Enter 3 men who felt they had a claim to the throne. By December 1066 England would have a new king and the other 2 men would be dead.
So who were the contenders?
Harald Hardrada was the King of Norway and claimed the English throne as he claimed Harthacnut who was a previous King of England and Edward the Confessors half-brother had left the throne to him if there was no heir to the throne. Edward had no heir.
Harold Godwinson was the brother in law of Edward the Confessor and he claimed the Edward had claimed him his heir.
William of Normandy was the illegitimate son of Edward the Confessors cousin Robert of Normandy and William claimed Edward had promised the throne to him as his heir.
Let battle commence.
Before the battles commenced Harold attempted to consolidate his position as King amongst the nobles of the land. He was in the best position as he was in England when Edward died. Harold was crowned the day after Edward died and spent the next month’s building on his claim, but this wasn’t to last as he faced challenges to his throne.
The first battle was between Harald Hardrada and Harold Godwinson. This battle took place at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire on the 25th September 1066 with King Harold’s army beating the army of Harald Hardrada and killing Harald and King Harold’s brother who had sided against his brother.
After this battle news came that William had landed in England and so King Harold and his troops marched south.
William spent the months between the death of Edward and his arrival in England building up his army to launch an invasion. When William landed at Pevensey on the south coast on the 28th September 1066 he had a force of around 10000. Harold had an army of approximately 7000.
The 2 sides eventually met at the battle site near Battle on the 14th October 1066. Just as a side note it’s not really known where the battle took place exactly but the town of Battle is the most likely perhaps where the Abbey stands now or a mini roundabout in the town.
Harold and the English army were on the hill above William and his forces were in the valley below. The battle began around 9am and lasted until dusk, probably with a lunch break. Harold and William both fought in the battle alongside their men. Eventually for whatever reason Harold’s forces came down the hill and levelled out the playing field. During the fighting Harold’s brothers who were also commanders were killed and eventually Harold was killed sometime in the late afternoon thus leaving the English without a leader. There is much speculation as to how Harold died. The Bayeux Tapestry which tells the story of the battle would have us believe Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye, but whether this is true or not is unknown as the first recorded mention of this was in the 1080’s.
After the battle William and his troops marched on London to claim the throne. What he didn’t know was that a new King had been chosen. At this time there was a body of nobles called the Witenagemot who could choose the monarch if there was no obvious heir. They chose Edgar Ætheling who was Edward the Confessors great nephew. Needless to say Edgar was never crowned, but in the future he did try to get it back but eventually sided with William the Conqueror (William of Normandy) eldest son.
William of Normandy faced several more battles on his way to London all of which he won and eventually all the Nobles in England declared fealty to William. William was crowned King of England on Christmas day 1066 and he reigned the country until his death in 1087 in Rouen, France. William was succeeded by his third son William II.
So by Edward the Confessor taking a vow of chastity and not having any children England was thrown into chaos for a year. This left many dead on the battlefield and England coming under the rule of the Normans, instead of the Danes!
This week’s blog is a sort of personal journey for me as I want to talk about my double great Grandad Frederick Staton and his life.
I’d love to start with a picture of Frederick but I don’t have one and he probably never had his picture taken. Frederick was born in Eckington, Derbyshire in 1840 to William Staton and Sarah Hunt. He was their 5 child of the 7 they would have. William was a sickle grinder as many were in the village. Frederick lived in Eckington until 1861 when he moved to Worksop, Nottinghamshire.
Frederick’s musical career was first mentioned in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent in 1860 when it was reported that he and his elder brother William played a piano duet to raise money for the Eckington Mechanical Institute. They played Hummel’s in E flat and if you’re interested this link will take you to a video of it being played: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98vEOJ0IHwE
On the 1861 census when Frederick was still living at home in Eckington he listed his occupation as professor of music. In 1867 Frederick also took part in a concert to raise money for Ridgeway School and this was also mentioned in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent and the article mentioned he played with “taste and marvellous execution”. He was described as the organist at Worksop Priory.
It was while in Worksop Frederick met his future wife Annie Taylor who was the daughter of the landlady of the Cross Keyes Inn in the town. Frederick and Annie married in August 1871 and had 4 children together. Sadly the marriage wasn’t long as Frederick died in April 1879 from hepatitis aged 39. His youngest son, my great grandad was just shy of his first birthday. It was from Frederick’s burial record that I discovered just how long Frederick had been the organist at Worksop Priory. The notes to the burial stated he was 18 years organist at the Abbey Worksop where he is also buried.
To be the organist at the Abbey would have been a great honour for Frederick and would have indicated his high level of skill on the instrument. From a list of the previous organists of the Abbey it would appear Frederick was one of the longest serving organists they had. I wonder how long he would have held the position if he hadn’t died so young.
So what of the Abbey itself. Well in 1103 Worksop Abbey was begun to be built and it remained a monastery of the Augustinian monks until 1539 when it surrendered to the crown during the dissolution of the monasteries. After this the church building of the Abbey was used as the parish church of Worksop.
The above picture shows the organ at the priory, but alas this is not the organ Frederick would have used. This organ was installed in 1879 so it is possible Frederick new about the new organ, whether he used it is not known.
What I would like to know is what took place to get Frederick and his brother William to become professors of music. Who influenced them to take up music and rise to such heights? Frederick’s brother William was described in 1866 as being from Norwich Cathedral so they had both achieved great things in their chosen field. Did one of their parents or grandparents play and taught them or did the local church organist teach them to play. I suppose I’ll never know but however it came about I am proud of them for breaking into such a field as a time when they probably thought the only occupation open to them was to enter the grinding works in the area or going down the coal mines. Whoever inspired them gave them a huge chance in life and from that chance gave Frederick’s children a chance as his 2 sons both became dentists.
Maybe that’s why Frederick’s granddaughter encouraged her children to learn the piano and I learnt as well. Who knows, but I’m glad the brother’s had a chance to do something so different for everyone else.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!