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Epidemics Timeline


The following information was compiled in 2011 for the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies (AIGS) and is reproduced here with permission.

It is a living document which is based on writings from the 1700 and 1800s that were available, as such it is not presented as being complete.  If you are able to add to the timeline please advise the Web Manager who will include the information here and update the author.

 


 

MAJOR EPIDEMICS & DISEASE OUTBREAKS TIMELINE

 

Based on writings from the 1700 & 1800s I was able to access.

Place names in brackets signify areas where disease especially deadly.

Not all epidemics listed nor all types of diseases included.  Diseases like tuberculosis, scurvy, syphilis, dysentery, infantile diarrhoea, enteritis,
respiratory ailments etc consistently took their toll especially in the crowded industrial centres & large cities

 

DATE

EPIDEMICS & OUTBREAKS

1600s

‘influenza’ in Summers, shift in late 1600s to Spring/Winter; smallpox already a killer disease; the Plague returned in force in 1665 but in smaller outbreaks in other years

1612 – 1651

The ‘new disease’ emerges in Britain.  Uncertain what it is – possibly typhus

1670

Jan – June measles epidemic (London) followed by smallpox epidemic, mention of ‘hooping cough’; high diarrhoea in infants

1674

Jan – June measles epidemic (London)

1675

Influenza first identified in London written records – Europe wide epidemic

1679

‘hooping cough’ again recorded

1700s

Early 1700s influenza occurs in Winter; later 1700s occurs all seasons.  Note the generational flare up of epidemics throughout the 1700s

1700

Smallpox = 2000 deaths per year (London); 25% of all those infected; city disease most fatalities in children; basically a city disease therefore spread limited

1705

Measles epidemic (London)

1706

Measles epidemic (London)

1708

Exceptionally cold winter; crops affected throughout that year

1710

Smallpox

1717

Smallpox epidemic (Manchester – 8000)

1718

Measles epidemic (London); smallpox (London); influenza epidemic

1719

Measles epidemic (London); smallpox epidemic (London) followed by severe influenza

1721

Measles epidemic (York); general smallpox epidemic severe in Halifax, Ripon, York

1722

General smallpox epidemic severe in Halifax, Ripon, York

1723

Smallpox.  Inoculation developed & gaining acceptance

1726

Measles (Ripon) followed by whooping cough & scarlatina /diphtheria (Ripon)

1727

Scarlatina /diphtheria epidemic (Ripon)

1728

Scarlatina /diphtheria epidemic (York & Plymouth)

1730

Whooping cough especially in London; measles epidemic

1733

Measles epidemic; smallpox especially severe in York

1734

Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon

1735

Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon

1736

Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon; smallpox

1739

Intensely cold winter; scarlatina (London)

1740

Intensely cold winter; scarlatina (London)

1741

Severe typhus (London)

1742

Severe typhus (London); measles epidemic

1745

Scarlatina (Sheffield)

1746

Scarlatina especially severe in London; smallpox

1747

Scarlatina especially severe in London

1748

Scarlatina especially severe in London & epidemic in Cornwall, Kidderminster, St Albans although present across country; typhus epidemic

1749

Scarlatina especially severe in London & epidemic in Cornwall, Kidderminster, St Albans although present across country; typhus epidemic

1750

Widespread Scarlatina epidemics rife throughout the 1750s Scarlatina (Plymouth, London, Kidderminster epidemic)

1751

Scarlatina (Plymouth, London, Kidderminster epidemic)

1752

Smallpox

1755

Measles epidemic

1757

Smallpox (Manchester 19,839)

1758

Influenza type epidemic

1759

Measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic (Newcastle, Yorkshire)

1760

Measles epidemic; Influenza type epidemic recorded in horses

1763

Smallpox

1766

Paving Act improved health in some cities

1768

Measles epidemic (London)

1770

Scarlatina epidemic (London)

1773

Typhus epidemic in Chester; smallpox epidemic (Manchester 27,246)

1777

Scarlatina epidemic (Worcestershire)

1778

Scarlatina epidemic (Worcestershire); typhus epidemic

1779

Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic; measles epidemic; smallpox epidemic (London)

1781

‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley; smallpox

1782

‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley

1783

Laki volcano erupts (Iceland) volcanic winter follows; Typhus epidemic; dysentery; ‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley

1784

‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley

1785

Measles epidemic; dysentery; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London)

1786

Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London)

1787

Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year

1788

Extremely hot summer; scarlet fever; ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); scarlatina epidemic; typhus 3124 deaths a year

1789

Scarlet fever; ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year

1790

‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus epidemic (Liverpool 160 cases per month); typhus 3124 deaths a year

1791

‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus among the well to do  across England; typhus 3124 deaths a year

1792

‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year

1793

‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year; croup/dipheria epidemic (London); scarlatina & diphtheria epidemic (Buckinghamshire)

1794

‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year

1795

Typhus 3124 deaths a year

1796

Measles epidemics more frequent & becoming more severe; typhus 3124 deaths a year; smallpox epidemic; measles followed & recorded as becoming more severe in its effects

1797

Influenza like epidemic amongst cats

1798

Influenza like epidemic amongst cats

1799

Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic spreads from London to rest of country

1800

Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic

1801

Severe measles epidemic (Middlesex); scarlatina epidemic (Middlesex) then rest of country (Suffolk, Northampton)

1802

Severe measles epidemic (Middlesex)

1803

Influenza (London, British troops in Ireland, Bath, Chester) – spreads along coach roads; scarlatina (Yorkshire Quaker schools especially hit)

1804

Scarlatina epidemic (south west, Manchester)

1805

Scarlatina epidemic (south west, Manchester)

1807

Scarlatina severe outbreaks

1808

Severe measles epidemic (London) exceeds smallpox as killer of children, adult deaths also significant especially London; Scarlatina severe outbreaks

1810

Typhus epidemic; scarlatina (Nottingham, Suffolk)

1811

Measles epidemic

1812

Measles epidemic

1814

Severe winter; measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic

1815

Measles epidemic

1816

Year Without A Summer’ Very poor harvest; famine, food riots, Welsh leave to to beg for food in England; general smallpox epidemic; 100,000 Irish dead

1817

‘the Irish disease’ (probably typhus) London 1 in 14 died; severe in Halifax, Leeds, Ripon, Huudersfield, Wakefield, Atley, Carlisle 1 in 10 died, Newcastle, it was milder but longer lasting, particularly affected servants to the well to do

1818

‘the Irish disease’ (probably typhus) London 1 in 14 died; severe in Halifax, Leeds, Ripon, Huudersfield, Wakefield, Atley, Carlisle 1 in 10 died, Newcastle, it was milder but longer lasting, particularly affected servants to the well to do; Measles epidemic in eastern counties

1819

‘the Irish disease’ (probably typhus) London 1 in 14 died; severe in Halifax; smallpox epidemic (Norwich)

1824

Measles epidemic south especially Exeter

1826

Excessively high temperatures also excessive rains followed by the Great Drought; general ‘fevers’ epidemic; typhus (Manchester over 31,474)

1827

High temperatures also excessive rains followed by drought

1828

High temperatures also excessive rains followed by drought

1830

Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic

1831

First record of cholera – Asiatic cholera (Sunderland, Newcastle on Tyne, Newburn) spread throughout Britain attacking all classes; epidemic (30,000); ‘malignant scarlatina’ countrywide (Plymouth, Staffordshire); Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic

1832

Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic

1833

Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic

1834

Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic

1836

Excessively wet winter

1837

Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic (London, Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 18,775; smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate)

1838

Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate); typhus epidemic (London, Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 15,666; in London 18,775

1839

Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate); scarlatina epidemic; typhus epidemic (Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 17,177; in London 15,666

1840

Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate, Lancashire); scarlet fever outbreak continued for next 30-40 years in severe proportions; cholera epidemic (Dorset, Lancashire); typhus kills 17,177 in London

1841

Typhus epidemic (London 14,846)

1842

Typhus epidemic (London 16,201)

1844

The Great Scarlatina epidemic

1846

Excessively hot summer, drought – all diseases flare up across the country; ‘famine fever’/Irish fever (typhus) 500,00 to 1 million died between 1846 & 1848 Lancashire & Cheshire very badly hit, floating hospital ships o the Mersey Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Leeds, Hull, York, Sunderland all systematically saw dramatically increased death rates

1847

Famine; typhus epidemic (30,320);

1848

Good harvest, fall in food prices, employment rises; Typhus epidemic 21,406 epidemic ended with increase in employment & drop in food prices; cholera epidemic 62,000; scarlatina epidemic

1853

Cholera epidemic (north, Newcastle 26,000, London 10,000); vaccination against smallpox made compulsory but not always done (see death rate for 1870)

1854

Cholera epidemic (north, Newcastle 26,000, London 10,000).  John Snow's epidemiological study of this outbreak identified drinking contaminated water as the main mode of transmission of cholera.

1856

Typhus epidemic (London) followed returning soldiers from Crimean War; diphtheria epidemic

1857

Diphtheria epidemic

1858

Diphtheria epidemic; scarlatina epidemic

1859

Scarlatina epidemic

1861

American cotton crop fails Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns

1862

Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns

1863

Scarlatina epidemic (South West) followed by chronic measles epidemic; Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns

1864

Scarlatina epidemic  (South West) followed by chronic measles epidemic; Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns

1865

Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns

1866

Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns; whooping cough epidemic; cholera epidemic 14,000

1867

Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns; cholera epidemic 14,000

1868

Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London)

1869

Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford)

1870

Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford,); smallpox 23,100; decline of tuberculosis also decline in typhus

1871

Smallpox 19,000

1872

Smallpox

1873

Smallpox

1874

Severe scarlatina epidemic; smallpox

1875

Smallpox

1878

Whooping cough epidemic

1879

Severe measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic

1880

Severe measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic

1881

Smallpox epidemic; hospital ships moored in Thames

1883

Krackatoa eruption; Measles epidemic

1885

Measles epidemic

1887

Measles epidemic

1888

Severe measles epidemic in Staffordshire

1889

Measles epidemic; influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.  Medical opinion that this strain the same mutation that returned in the 1918 pandemic

1890

Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.

1891

Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.

1892

Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.

1894

Severe measles epidemic amongst infants (London)

1918

Influenza pandemic 50 million die world wide

1919

Influenza pandemic 50 million die world wide – London 23,000 deaths

 

Diseases

The difficulty in matching the names given to diseases with the diseases themselves is complicated by the often descriptive nature of the name which could fit a number of diseases plus the local names given to various diseases eg. Puerperal fever was variously known as childbed fever, nursing fever & sometimes white leg fever although the latter was a completely different ailment.  The following diseases - typhus, scarlet fever, scarlatina, smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, infantile diarrhoea, relapsing fever, scurvy – are the ones covered in the list below.

Famine fever

typhus, relapsing fever

‘new disease’ (1663) typhus
Spotted typhus virulent typhus strain (especially 1830 – 34)
‘Irish disease’ typhus, possibly relapsing fever
Putrid fever typhus
Gaol fever typhus
Hospital fever typhus
Enteric fever typhoid
‘purpyles’ scrlatina/diptheria
Military fever scarlatina/diphtheria
‘New distempers’ influenza? Influenza type respiratory disease
‘Plague ague’ (late 1700s) unclear Malaria???
Chin cough whooping cough?
Convulsions whooping cough?
Kink whooping cough
Griping in the guts diarrhoea
Gripe diarrhoea or cholera symptons
Epidemic catarrh influenza? Bronchitis
Croup diphtheria
Consumption tuberculosis
Wasting sickness tuberculosis
Tertians malaria
Intermittents recurring fever
Agues fever
Great pox syphilis

 

 

 

 

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