Bills of Mortality

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The London Bills of Mortality were the main source of mortality statistics, designed to monitor deaths from the plague from the 17th century-1830s. They were used mainly as a way of warning about plague epidemics.

They began to be made in London after an outbreak of plague in 1592 (although there are a few earlier instances). From 1603, after another outbreak, they were made regularly on a weekly basis, with the view to giving authorities and inhabitants full information as to the increases or decreases in the number of deaths. The information was collected by Parish Clerks and published every week.

By 1570 the bills included baptisms; in 1629 the cause of death was given, and in the early 18th century the age at death. In 1836 they were superseded by the Registrar General's returns under the Births and Death Registrations Act.

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