Thursday, 25 May 2017

Epidemic or ?

I have been currently work on a branch of the family in around Barnton, Cheshire.  The men all seemed to gravitate toward the occupation of working on the canals.  As I input the the people's vital information I noticed a trend.  There were quite a few in that family that all died within a couple of years.

What killed them?  Was there an epidemic at the time?

Over time any tombstone can erode and become illegible.  With the use of Photoshop and burial records I was able to decipher the above picture.

To the Memory of
Sarah wife of Charles Cowley who
died April 27 1852 aged 59 years
Also the above named Charles Cowley
who died Nov 27 1887 age 73 years
and was  interred at Witton

Also Kitty daughter of Charles
and Sarah Cowley of Barnton
who died April 24 1851 aged 9 years
And Hannah their daughter
died Nov 29 1852 aged  8 Years
And Mary their daughter died
Dec 3 1852 aged 2 Years 11 Months

Also of Robert their son who died
at Birkenhead June 23 1874
aged 35 years

Unfortunately the burial records for Barton does not include cause of death.  The daughter Kitty dies first April 24. 1851 then the mother Sarah dies April 27 1852, then daughter  Hannah on Nov 29. 1852 and then daughter Mary died Dec 3 1852.  Chances are Kitty died from something else than her mother and sisters.

When I went looking for the burial records I also found where the grandmother Nancy Cowley died Jan 14 1852.  Granted she was 71 years old and died in Leftwich and interred in Witton, but could there have been some sort of disease that was being spread? John Cowley, the son, also died in Dec. 1856 and was interred at Witton.  John Cowley, the grandfather, died in March 1858 and was interred in Witton as well.

A real eye opener was for the mother Sarah's burial records.   I have never seen where they have put more than one person in a row in the records.  Does this mean there was an epidemic?

If you notice in the above picture they also show Kitty at the bottom of the left and Sarah in the middle on the right.  While searching for the burial records I did find records for the same time frame in Macclesfield that did state cause of death.  In the early fall there were quite a few caused by Scarlet fever but by years end the majority of deaths were by consumption (ie tuberculosis).

I checked the newspapers to see if any of the Cowley deaths may have been recorded therein - but nothing was found.  I did a newspaper search for epidemics or diseases and found the following both from the Chester Chronicle, the second article from Feb 5 1853.

Next step was to Google it.  Nothing specific for Barnton, but informative none the less.

As per

The 1848-49 cholera epidemic, reached Lancashire and Cheshire in early 1849.
Comparative Cholera Mortality in Liverpool and Cheshire, 1849
Town    Population Cholera Deaths Mortality/10,000
Liverpool      223,003      4,173                   187
Chester       32,499        89                   27
Birkenhead   10,777        96                   89
Wallasey        6,261        30                   48
Woodchurch   4,487        6                   13
Eastham        5,476        5                    9
Neston        4,783        2                   4

As per
1833, 1837, 1847
Influenza - widespread epidemics.
Smallpox - 42,000 deaths in Britain led to a Vaccination Act providing free vaccination as a charge on the parish poor rates. Vaccination had been known since Jenner in 1798 but its means of operation was not well understood.
Typhus - a major outbreak in London. In the autumn of 1848, a number of cases occurred about Bridge Street, Blackfriars; and it was found by Mr. Hutchinson, Surgeon of Farringdon Street, that the well of St. Bride's pump had a communication with the Fleet ditch, up which the tide flows. 'I have a strong impression that many a case of typhoid fever occurring in a respectable neighbourhood has its origin in the water of the neighbouring pump.’
Typhus outbreaks all over Britain especially the North of England and Scotland.
Cholera - a widespread epidemic - 52,000 deaths. The disease attacked 803 towns and villages.
Cholera - 15,000 deaths.
Diptheria - extensive epidemic - many deaths all over the country. (was also known as Croup. Scarletina was often confused with Diphtheria).

We may never find out for 100% certain what killed this family, but I know I am very, very grateful that we do not have to worry about the above diseases any more!

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