Historical Miscellany #18 – Curious Statistical Accounts [1814]


The following is taken from the sprightly christened Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, although the statistics most likely surfaced elsewhere as there was a great deal of syndication in British newspapers in the early the nineteenth century.

Those of you with keen eyes will notice how the piece begins with weighty matters and then settles on the subject of smallpox. It makes you wonder whether it had a political purpose. (And I certainly would not vouch for the veracity of all the statistics.)

Curious Statistical Accounts, Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 20 January 1814

  • In Great Britain the number of men capable of rising in arms ‘en masse’ from 15 to 60 years of age is 2,734,817, or about 4 in every 17 males.
  • There are about 90,000 marriages yearly, and of 63 marriages, 3 only are observed to be without offspring.
  • In Great Britain there die every year about 332,700, every month about 25,592, every week 6,598, every day 914 and every hour about 40.
  • Among 115 deaths there may be reckoned one woman in child-bed, but only one in 400 dies in labour.
  • The proportion of the deaths of women to that of men is 50 to 54.
  • Married women live longer than those who are not married.
  • In country places there are on average 4 children born of each marriage, in cities and large towns the proportion is 7 to every two marriages.
  • The married woman are to all the female inhabitants of a country as 1 to 5 and to married men to all the males as 3 to 5.
  • The number of widows to that of widowers is 6 to 11, but that of widows who remarry to that of widowers as 4 to 5.
  • The number of old persons who die during the cold weather is to those who die during the warm weather as 7 to 4.
  • Half of all those born die before they attain 17 years.
  • The number of twins is to that of single birth as 1 to 65.
  • According to the observations of Boerhaave, the healthiest children are born in January, February and March.
  • From calculations formed on the Bills of Mortality, only 1 out of 3,125 reaches 100 years.
  • The greatest number of births is in February and March.
  • The small-pox, in the natural way, usually carries off 8 out of 100; by inoculation 1 dies out of 300, or, according to Dr Willan, 1 to 250.
  • The proportion of males born to that of females is as 26 to 25.
  • In the sea ports of Great Britain there are 152 females to 100 males and in the manufacturing towns 113 females to 100 males.
  • The total of the male population of Great Britain in 1801 was 5,450,202 and of females, 5,492,854, which is in the proportion of 100 females to 99 males.
  • Taking the whole population of the metropolis according to the recent enumeration at 1,096,101, the proportion of males to females is as 100 to 128.
  • During the first 30 years of the eighteenth century, the number of deaths in London from smallpox was 74 out of 1000.
  • In the last 30 years of the same, the deaths from the same cause were about one-tenth of the whole mortality, or 95 out of 1000.
  • Inoculation for small-pox has therefore actually multiplied the disease which it was intended to ameliorate, in the proportion of 5 to 4.
  • Out of more than 40,000 cases, which had fallen under the observations of an eminent physician, he had never met with one in which a person with red or light flaxen hair, had the smallpox to confluence.
  • Since vaccination has been fully established, no death has in any instance occurred from smallpox after a proper inoculation by the cowpox.
  • In most of the cases in which vaccination has failed, the smallpox has been remarkably mild, and of short duration.
  • According to the most unfavourable estimate that has been drawn, only 1 in 3000 vaccinated dies.
  • Of all the inhabitants of a country, 25 in 100 live in cities and large towns, and the remaining 75 in villages.
  • There are in Great Britain 6,000,000 of males, and in Ireland 2,000,000 of whom 807,000 were in 1812 in arms, that is, in the proportion of 1 to 10.
  • It appears, from the tables, from 1779 to 1787, that nearly 1 in 8, of all the cases of insanity, are imputable to religious fanaticism.

(More Historical Miscellany here)

Subscribe and Connect