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Living standards and plague in London, 1560–1665

Cummins, Neil, Kelly, Morgan and Ó Gráda, Cormac (2016) Living standards and plague in London, 1560–1665. Economic History Review, 69 (1). 3 - 34. ISSN 0013-0117

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ehr.12098


This article uses individual records of 930,000 burials and 630,000 baptisms to reconstruct the spatial and temporal patterns of birth and death in London from 1560 to 1665, a period dominated by recurrent plague. The plagues of 1563, 1603, 1625, and 1665 appear of roughly equal magnitude, with deaths running at five to six times their usual rate, but the impact on wealthier central parishes falls markedly through time. Tracking the weekly spread of plague, we find no evidence that plague emerged first in the docks, and in many cases elevated mortality emerges first in the poor northern suburbs. Looking at the seasonal pattern of mortality, we find that the characteristic autumn spike associated with plague continued into the early 1700s. Natural increase improved as smaller crises disappeared after 1590, but fewer than half of those born survived childhood.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2015 Economic History Society
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2015 12:03
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:12

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