Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Sooty

There is no way to sugar coat today's little historical factoid and it certainly does file itself under The Bad.

For every one hundred babies born in England in 1740 seventy five of them died at childbirth or before reaching the age of six. Since percentages get lost so easily in our minds let's try to put it a different way. Think of a family with four kids that you personally know. Give each one of them a name, a personality, and a future. Now imagine that three of them died before ever reaching kindergarten. The effect that this had on the size of families from that time can not be over stated. It wasn't until the nineteenth century that you find many families with more than four children who reach adult age.

What really shocks me is that this figure does not take into account the survival of the mother which would also lower the size of families. You can imagine how this depressed the population growth for many years and why with a rise in medicine there was an explosion of populations in the cities that the government could not cope with.

Even by 1800 the death rate was significant, 41% still died by the age of six.

Sorry if I depressed anyone to make up for it enjoy this...
See? So cute! Puppies always make bad news seem a little bit better!


  1. I remember reading that before, though that doesn't make it any less depressing :P Puppies are cute!

  2. I felt that it was really important to include this because some of my later posts will refer to it but when I got done with the entry just sounded so frightening. In the modern age we aren't used to dealing with young deaths and they feel so tragic. So, yup, I thought puppies might help!

  3. Great post. It's hard to imagine a world where conveniences were so non-existent and where the very act of living was a rare and wonderful thing!

    And puppies!

  4. Thanks ROUS! Happy to hear that you enjoyed the puppy pic even though they are 'pocket' dogs!