17 June 2008
[GRAUNT, John (1620-1674), attributed to]. London's dreadful visitation; or a collection of all the bills of mortality for this present year. London: E. Cores, 1665.
4o (216 x 162 mm). Folding letterpress table, woodcut title border of memento mori motifs. (Some minor marginal browning, H1 with small tear at lower right corner slightly affecting text, K3 cropped along outer margin slightly affecting text frame.) Contemporary calf (rebacked, corners renewed). Provenance: Wellcome Institute Library (library label on front pastedown, stamp on title-page, deaccession stamp on verso of title-page).
FIRST EDITION, with "27th of December" on title. Listing week by week the births and deaths in each of London's parishes, and including the causes of death, the register provides a vivid record of the great plague of London. Of some 97,300 deaths recorded during the year, 68,596 were from the plague. Other causes of death recorded include "griping in the guts", "stopping of the stomach", "rising of the lights" and "head-mould shot." In 1592 Henry VIII instituted these bills of mortality during another outbreak of the plague that provided the material for John Gaunt in Natural and political observations ... made upon the bills of mortality, regarded as the foundation of medical statistical analysis. Garrison-Morton 5119; NLM/Krivatsy 7098; Norman 1385; Wing G-1593A.
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