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1832 Cholera pandemic

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SJT
Brisbane, Australia
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1 of 11  Wed 20th Jun 2018 1:51am  
Member: Joined Apr 2018  Total posts:19

I'm interested to find out the extent to which the cholera pandemic that hit English ports in late 1831 (and spreading elsewhere through the country over the course of 1832) did any damage in Coventry? I found that in 1832 there were 26 deaths in Bedworth about 6 miles to the north but I can't find numbers for Coventry itself. At the time Coventry was a putrid place, open sewers and waste (human and industrial) pouring into the Sherbourne so I wouldn't be surprised if it hit the city hard, but then the interweb is not really shining a light on it which is surprising. Overall there were over 6,000 deaths in England. Any information on cholera in Coventry in 1832 would be most welcome. Thanks!
1832 Cholera pandemic
Prof
Gloucester
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2 of 11  Thu 21st Jun 2018 12:17am  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:954

John Brooks, a weaver from Dublin, married my ancestor, Sarah Pickard, his second wife in Coventry. His first wife wife, Mary Ann FLOOD, from Dublin died 19 Sept, 1849 at West Orchard, Coventry of Asiatic Cholera. Buried 21 Sept 1849 aged 50, London Rd Cemetery (b 1799 Dublin). They arrived in Coventry c.1820s after the silk weaving failed in Dublin. In 1851 Census John Brooks was a Hand Loom Ribbon Weaver.
1832 Cholera pandemic
mcsporran
Coventry & Cebu
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3 of 11  Thu 21st Jun 2018 9:48am  
Member: Joined Oct 2013  Total posts:413

From the History of Epidemics in Britain volme 1 by Charles Creighton 1965: "The most remarkable explosion of it was in the month of January 1838 amongst the inmates of the Coventry House of Industry, of whom no fewer than 55 died in the course of four weeks - a mortality from choleraic disease that could hardly be explained on the hypothesis of cholera nostras even if the season had been the proper one". The death toll from cholera in 1843 was still sufficient to produce this booklet: Deaths Due to Cholera from the Coventry Herald August & September 1843 In 1849 Joseph Tomlinson of HIgh Street, Coventry printed and sold 'a special form of prayer to be used on Sunday 16th September' during the prevalence of cholera in the country. Another snippet courtesy of Google: "... it is interesting to note that in 1849 cholera claimed three hundred lives in Coventry; in 1854 the City escaped a cholera epidemic whereas ninety nine people died in Warwickshire". and in a report from a parliamentary select committee of 1867 "For instance between Coventry and Warwick all the sewage is discharged into the river, and at Warwick they are taking it for the town supply; and at the time I examined it, I could not, by any chemical analysis, find a trace of sewage in the water". Edited by member, 21st Jun 2018 10:24 am
1832 Cholera pandemic
SJT
Brisbane, Australia
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4 of 11  Fri 22nd Jun 2018 12:56am  
Member: Joined Apr 2018  Total posts:19

Thanks Prof and mcsporran. Bizarre that there is no record of deaths for the 1832 outbreak. I am just going to make an assumption (for the purposes of my historical novel) that there were cholera deaths in Coventry in 1832 - I think that's the most plausible conclusion given Coventry was such a crowded cesspit and on the main route from London to the north west.
1832 Cholera pandemic
mcsporran
Coventry & Cebu
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5 of 11  Fri 22nd Jun 2018 12:10pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2013  Total posts:413

This page includes a list of towns affected by the 1832 outbreak. No mention of Coventry, so presumably it was not so greatly affected though it certainly reached the Rugby area. Edited by member, 22nd Jun 2018 12:12 pm
1832 Cholera pandemic
SJT
Brisbane, Australia
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6 of 11  Sat 23rd Jun 2018 4:19am  
Member: Joined Apr 2018  Total posts:19

Thanks mcsporran. Yes, and some in Bedworth which was very close. The table shows the "most important cholera centres" but no doubt most cities were affected in some way. That's a great article, by the way. I think I am allowed to reproduce a paragraph of it, quoting Reverend Leigh of Bilston in 1832 describing the panic, the horror: "The condition of Bilston had now become frightful. The pestilence was literally sweeping everything before it, neither age, nor sex, nor station escaping.... To describe the consternation of the people is impossible. Manufactories and workshops were closed; business completely at a stand; women seen in a state of distraction running in all directions for medical help for their dying husbands, husbands for their wives, and children for their parents; the hearse conveying the dead to the grave, without intermission either by night or day; those inhabitants who possessed the means quitting their homes, and flying for safety to some 3 Section of Epidemiology and State Medicine 167 purer atmosphere; those who remained, seeing nothing before them but disease and death."
1832 Cholera pandemic
SJT
Brisbane, Australia
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7 of 11  Sat 23rd Jun 2018 4:53am  
Member: Joined Apr 2018  Total posts:19

OK. I couldn't resist, I paid my money to the British Newspaper Archive and conducted a search. The Coventry Herald reported on 16 March 1832: "The Cholera is spreading very slowly in the metropolis and its vicinity. The accounts of Wednesday show 59 new cases, a small number in comparison with the immense population." I think "metropolis" here must mean London because as late as July 1832 the same paper was reporting the setting up of a Cholera Hospital at the lower end of Grey Friars Lane in anticipation of the disease reaching Coventry (presumably no cases before that date). By September the newspaper reported that the impact in Coventry had been mild. The newspaper reports in Coventry, a Whig city, are interesting - playing it down, trying to dampen the hysteria, noting that it largely afflicts the dissolute, the drunken and those who eat raw vegetables (such as cucumber), and, from 16 March 1832 this little tongue in cheek note: "Mr. Brookes, the eminent anatomist, recommends the constant firing of guns as a preventative of cholera; like his brethren, Mr. Brookes wishes to envelope the question in smoke." Thank goodness for John Snow who was the first to recognise in 1854 that contaminated water supplies spread the disease.
1832 Cholera pandemic
Helen F
Warrington
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8 of 11  Sat 23rd Jun 2018 10:34am  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:1304

The report of how Cholera arrived in the UK is interesting in that a know-it-all town leader refused to enact quarantine for vessels from a known infected European port. Didn't want trade disrupted. The British adoption of tea was a saviour in many ways because it meant that drinking water was boiled. Beer served a similar purpose. Raw vegetables were probably a source of infection, partly from being watered with infected sources or even manured (eww), but also washing would have added another opportunity to contaminate the food. The worst outbreaks were where the drinking water sources were polluted by effluent. By 1830, a fair amount of food was brought into the city, although there were still large gardens. Most, if not all of Coventry's water supplies may have been clean. Several of the main wells, pumps and conduits were built over upwelling springs from groundwater filtered through distant hills. There were domestic wells that may not have been as deep as the city ones and would have been less safe but only if they were unlucky enough to be infected and it doesn't seem like they were. The city had struggled to keep river pollution at bay for centuries and there were regular city ordinances about how The Sherbourne could be used but those rules were broken. I'm not sure what state it was in by the 1830s or what ordinary households used it for. Travellers would have probably been viewed suspiciously by the locals, particularly if they were in anyway unwell.
1832 Cholera pandemic
SJT
Brisbane, Australia
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9 of 11  Sun 24th Jun 2018 1:38am  
Member: Joined Apr 2018  Total posts:19

Good old Rosy Lee and Pig's Ear! There's got to be some public health benefit from the Chip Butty too, surely! As for the condition of the Sherbourne, it seems it was still putrid and dangerous in 1843 (quoting from British History Online): "The streets were narrow, ill-paved, and ill-cleansed, and housing conditions deplorable; the burial grounds were inadequate and near the centre of the city; several areas were liable to flood because of the mill dams which obstructed the waterways and collected filthy refuse prejudicial to health. Consequently the death rate was high and epidemics common... Of 98 streets 76 had no sewers at all, and only fifteen were fully sewered; most existing sewers emptied into the Sherbourne." And from BHO again, under the heading Mills: "These three mills still existed early in the 19th century, when the problem of flooding was as acute as ever. But the nuisance factor of these mills was not confined to flooding. In 1841 the Sherbourne, then described as 'one of the filthiest streams that ever existed', and the mill dams whose area was then estimated at 15,586 sq. yds., were allotted most of the blame for the prevalence of disease in the poorer quarters of Coventry." Here's a great site as well quaintly named Colin's Cornucopia: River Sherbourne Edited by member, 24th Jun 2018 1:42 am
1832 Cholera pandemic
Dreamtime
Perth Western Australia
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10 of 11  Sun 24th Jun 2018 4:08am  
Member: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:3253

Thank you SJT for sharing a most interesting hour with us via Colin's Cornucopia. Such a fascinating part of our heritage and for the most part something I am very proud of. The area I am very familiar with, known to me as Sherbourne Fields, turned the clock back at least 45 years, maybe further still for many of our members. Thank you again. A highly commendable read. Thumbs up
1832 Cholera pandemic
SJT
Brisbane, Australia
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11 of 11  Mon 25th Jun 2018 3:32am  
Member: Joined Apr 2018  Total posts:19

So pleased Dreamtime. I look forward to when I can visit these lovely fields and streams myself one day (some day)! I'm in Brisbane, so almost as far away from it as you are in Perth!
1832 Cholera pandemic

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