DATA FROM PARISH REGISTERS

Whalley and Altham in Lancashire

1. Whalley in Lancashire: Population Decline in the late 17th Century?

The following data comes from my transcription of the registers of Whalley from 1653 to 1812. More details of the work can be found on my family history site. In the course of the work it was noted that the number of burials exceeds the number of baptisms for the period up to 1729, which stimulated the collection of the following data. A few observations on the raw data are appended but no attempt has been made to undetake a proper statistical treatment - I leave that to experts.

Table 1a: Baptisms at Whalley, 1660-1739

Years 1660-9 1670-9 1680-9 1690-9 1700-9 1710-9 1720-29 1730-9
0 36 28 30 19 30 27 39 33
1 30 25 27 12 32 25 35 43
2 25 27 28 25 38 37 44 40
3 33 29 29 23 32 26 33 41
4 32 31 27 30 24 38 50 40
5 43 17 30 33 29 25 41 49
6 38 31 28 27 26 31 28 44
7 29 41 27 33 20 31 43 43
8 27 25 21 30 25 28 32 42
9 31 25 18 27 30 34 24 45
Ten-year totals 324 279 265 259 286 302 369 420

Table 1b. Baptisms at Whalley, 1740-1809

Years 1740-49 1750-59 1760-69 1770-79 1780-89 1790-99 1800-09
0 38 55 40 56 46 70 68
1 45 39 28 60 58 81 67
2 47 46 45 45 *34 85 78
3 42 47 41 53 52 83 100
4 52 48 54 39 56 83 80
5 49 41 50 58 62 79 92
6 49 47 50 42 54 78 90
7 43 32 53 48 70 79 68
8 43 45 48 50 61 91 97
9 46 39 46 49 73 80 78
Ten year totals 454 439 455 500 566 809 818

* Lines left in register indicating missing entries

Table 2a: Burials at Whalley, 1660-1739

Years 1660-9 1670-9 1680-9 1690-9 1700-9 1710-9 1720-29 1730-9
0 30 48 44 33 45 29 30 53
1 20 55 30 31 43 43 41 32
2 28 53 42 31 48 33 40 49
3 39 41 46 47 31 35 40 29
4 33 27 51 22 21 22 50 22
5 33 47 53 47 27 29 27 37
6 38 45 40 34 34 57 51 36
7 44 30 38 32 24 61 67 25
8 38 35 42 34 37 23 43 30
9 63 28 32 52 41 31 46 30
Ten-year totals 366 409 418 363 351 363 435 343

Table 2b. Burials at Whalley 1740 to 1812

Years 1740-49 1750-59 1760-69 1770-79 1780-89 1790-99 1800-09 1810-12
0 18 44 23 33 34 39 41 52
1 42 34* 36 31 52 42 51 53
2 34 32 43 48 27 45 51 60
3 27 28 52 24 37 62 67  
4 32 22 26 24 33 90 40  
5 32 41 32 36 63 34 52  
6 29 53 31 40 35 49 43  
7 35 64 28 33 38 67 52  
8 20 33 51 21 27 35 62  
9 22 40 41 36 62 46 53  
Ten year totals 291 391 363 326 388 509 512  

Table 3a: Marriages at Whalley from 1660 to 1739

Years 1660-9 1670-9 1680-9 1690-9 1700-9 1710-9 1720-29 1730-9
0 2 11 7 2 3 5 9 7
1 7 10 4 3 7 7 11 18
2 9 9 4 4 4 4 13 9
3 6 5 3 0 7 19 7 27
4 20 6 3 6 5 10 13 13
5 24 6 2 3 5 9 3 21
6 18 7 2 1 4 12 11 9
7 13 5 2 5 6 20 12 17
8 17 6 3 4 5 11 13 18
9 13 7 0 6 8 8 6 11
Ten-year totals 129 72 30 34 54 105 98 150

Table 3b. Marriages at Whalley, 1740-1812

Years 1740-49 1750-59 1760-69 1770-79 1780-89 1790-99 1800-09 1810-12
0 12 30 9 15 10 7 10 30
1 13 23 14 21 10 19 20 19
2 21 27 16 9 4 17 34 30
3 26 19 11 7 8 15 15  
4 19 14 12 10 12 15 25  
5 14 16 8 8 16 7 26  
6 31 8 10 19 16 18 23  
7 19 11 13 18 11 23 24  
8 32 9 4 10 12 21 23  
9 26 8 12 9 17 19 23  
Ten-year totals 213 165 109 126 116 161 223  

The year 1751* had only 9 months from 25 March to 31 December as a result of the change from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar.

Table 4: Summary of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials

Decade Baptisms Burials Baptisms less burials Marriages
1660-1669 324 366 -42 129
1670-1679 279 409 -130 72
1680-1689 265 418 -153 30
1690-1699 259 363 -104 34
1700-1709 286 351 -65 54
1710-1719 302 363 -61 105
1720-1729 369 435 -66 98
1730-1739 420 343 +77 150
1740-1749 454 291 +163 213
1750-1759 439 391 +48 165
1760-1769 455 363 +92 109
1770-1779 500 326 +174 126
1780-1789 566 388 +178 116
1790-1799 809 509 +300 161
1800-1809 818 512 +306 223

Commentary

Over the entire period from 1660 to 1739, the number of baptisms was 2504. The number of burials was 3048. Thus burials exceeded baptisms by 544. Only a proper statistical treatment can show whether a change in baptisms from say 324 in a decade to 279 is a statistically significant fall or what is to be expected in the normal random course of events. (The RMS deviation is 52.) However, one scarcely needs such treatment to be convinced that there is a real rise in baptisms from the roughly 270 a decade for the 40 years between 1670 and 1709 to the 420 per decade between 1730 and 1739. The burial data is much more even with a mean of 381 per decade and a root mean square deviation of only 32. This makes most of the differences between the decades of marginal significance except for the rise in 1720-29 and the fall in the next decade. Burials of above 400 a year were not seen again until the 1790s and in the 1740s there were only 291 - lower than at any time in the previous 8 decades.

Peter Laslett, in The World We Have Lost, Further Explored, (2000) gives a birth rate of 31.6 per 1000 in 1691 and a death rate of 28.7. Clearly at Whalley this is not true as the baptisms are exceeded by the burials in every decade until 1729.  If one were to estimate the population of Whalley in the period from 1690-99 using Laslett's birth and death rates the best one could say is that it would be in the region from 800 to 1200 based on an average number of baptisms of 26 and average burials of 36 per annum during that period. The number of baptisms per decade does not exceed that of 1660-69 until the the period 1720-29. In that decade it was 42% higher than in the worst decade, which was 1690-99.

During the Commonwealth and Protectorate, marriages were civil ceremonies and there were relatively few at Whalley. Following the Restoration, the number of marriages remained low until 1664 and then grew for a few years before falling back sharply from about 1669. However, it should be noted that Whalley was a very large parish, comprising about 11% of Lancashire and containing several dependent chapelries. While the vast majority of the baptisms and burials pertain to individuals living in the townships of Whalley, Wiswell, Pendleton, Read, Billington, Harwood, Sabden (Heyhouses) and Little Mitton, the marriages include individuals or couples from other chapelries within the parish including Colne, Clitheroe, Burnley, Habergham Eaves, Newchurch in Pendle and Rossendale. A more detailed analysis might be useful using only the data from brides resident in the townships of Whalley, Wiswell, Pendleton, Read, Billington, Harwood and Little Mitton

The very low number of marriages from 1680 to about 1712, coincides with the decades of lowest baptisms. Between 1710 and 1719 the number of marriages is double that of the previous decade and triple that of the period from 1680 to 1699. The high number of marriages in the 1740s (213) coincides with a lowest number of deaths in the whole century and gave the first increase in population of over 100 in a decade. The number of marriages in the 1740s was not exceeded until the first decade of the 19th century.

After a small rise in burials during the 1670s and 1680s the level fell back to that of the 1660s but in the 1720s the figure rose again to the highest for the whole period up to the 1790s. In the period 1720-29 the burials were about 20% higher than in the previous decade. From this superficial analysis of the data it would appear that the excess deaths in the 1670s and 1680s were not predominantly related to older people. The deaths must have affected younger people (< 20 yrs) to have had such a marked effect on the number of marriages from 1680 to 1700 and on the number of baptisms between 1680 and 1710.

Further transcription has been undertaken allowing the figures for 1740 to 1812 to be viewed.  Here we see a consistent excess of baptisms over burials. With the exception of the 1740s (291) and the 1720s (435) the burials fluctuate between roughly 350 and 400 for most of the 18th century until the 1780s and 1790s. The burials then rise to about 500 for the last two decades but by this time the baptisms have risen to over 800. There is some population data for the five townships within the immediate area taken from the census.

TOWNSHIP Whalley Wiswell Pendleton Read Little Mitton
Year          
1801 876 349 914 311 76
1811 1004 488 930 410 76

2. Death and Disease in Altham in Lancashire from 1817 to 1837

Altham was a chapery in the parish of Whalley.  The registers of St. James at Altham were transcribed by Jack Broderick and are available at the Lancashire county record office and at Accrington Library.

The burial records are unusual in giving ages and causes of death from February 1817 to 1851.  General Registration of births, marriages and deaths did not begin until July 1837 so the Altham registers give us an insight into causes of death for twenty years before the advent of national statistics.  For the purpose of this study the details have been abstracted for the 1341 deaths from February 1817 to the end of 1837.  The records show that people attending Altham for baptisms and burials came from Altham, Clayton, Accrington, Church, Blackburn, Oswaldtwistle, Padiham, Burnley, Clitheroe.

Table 5. The number of deaths in various age groups.

Age at Death Number
. .
Under 1 255
1 to 4 282
5 to 19 65
10 to 19 103
20 to 29 144
30 to 39 80
40 to 49 72
50 to 59 93
60 to 69 93
70 to 79 104
80 to 89 48
90 and over 2
Total 1341

 

During this period there were 1716 baptisms with a much higher than usual number in 1837, including children born in earlier years.  The approach of General Registration proved a stimulus to baptism.  It is not possible to know from the current work how many children were not baptised but were subsequently buried at church or to estimate the extent of migration in and out of the parish.  However, bearing in mind these reservation, the infant mortality rate, i.e. the percentage of children dying in the first year of life, was about 15%, which was close to the national average when records began to be collected in 1837.  A further 282 died between the ages of one and five.  From the number of baptisms this would indicate that in the region of 30% of all children did not live beyond the age of 5.

Infant mortality was generally higher in the towns than in the country areas.  For example, in 1846 the average for the whole of England and Wales was 16%.  Cornwall had the lowest rate at 10% whereas Lancashire, the most industrialised county, had more that double that rate.  Male infant mortality in the worst districts, such as Manchester, Salford, Liverpool and Ashton, was between 25 and 30% whereas the rate in rural parts such as Ormskirk and Ulverston was similar to that in Cornwall.

There were 144 deaths of people in the age group 20 to 29, this is the highest figure for any decade of adult life.  We do not have from this data details of the age distribution but it is likely that this group of people was more numerous than say those 30 to 40 as there was a rapidly growing population and they came from a period with higher birth rate. It would be useful to find detailed figures for the area from the census of 1841.

An analysis of the full set of data shows that in the age group 20-29, there were 11 deaths associated with childbirth and 70 deaths, almost half the total, were caused by pulmonary tuberculosis.  While tuberculosis caused deaths in all age groups it was a particular scourge of young adults.  In England and Wales in 1846, the deaths of those between the ages of 20 and 30 comprised 7.6% of the total deaths but in Altham it was 10.7% over the whole period from 1817 to 1837.  This was a difficult period for working people.  After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 there was trade slump.  The 1820s were very turbulent in Lancashire with strikes, lock-outs and riots among factory workers.  

Table 6. Causes of death for all age groups (1341 deaths)

tuberculosis (consumption)
351
old age
172
convulsions
135
unknown/not given
90
smallpox
55
measles
46
decline
41
inflammation of bowels
38
typhus
37
water on brain
27
croup
26
tooth fever
25
inflammation of lungs
22
whooping cough
20
dropsy
19
scarlet fever
17
childbirth
15
accident
18
childbed
13
paralysis
13
drowned
11
worm fever
11
asthma
10
burned
10
apoplexy
9
cholera morbus
7
fever
6
pleurisy
6
visitation of God
6
inflammation of bladder
5
asthmatic fever
4
inflammation of throat
4
quinsey
4
stone
4
sudden
4
tumour of throat, brain or head
4
colic
3
fever of brain
3
inflammation of chest
3
inflammatory fever
3
influenza
3
rheumatic fever
3
burst blood vessel
2
epidemic fever
2
jaundice
2
suicide
2
cancers
2
blood on the brain
2
fall down a pit and a quarry
2
Total from these causes 1317

 

About a quarter of all the deaths recorded at Altham were caused by consumption.  The national figure was about 17% as judged by the Registrar General's reports for the 1840s.

Convulsions is a common "cause" but almost certainly relates to the symptom seen in the final stages of fever rather than epileptic convulsions.  "Old age" at 172, "not known" at 90 and "decline" at 41 account for a total of 303 deaths.  Paralysis may include some cases of general paralysis of the insane, the final stage of syphilis.  Water on the brain could include cases of meningitis as well as defects associated with drainage of the cerebrospinal fluid.  It is of interest that the period includes the first outbreak of cholera in England.  The disease entered through Sunderland in late1831 and raged through 1832.  It killed 50,000 in total but does not seem to have visited Altham.

Additional causes that had only one mention each were, abortion, bilious fever, bloody flux, cramp of the heart, disease of the liver, effusion of blood on the brain, epileptic fit, fistula, inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the breast, inflammation of the groin, inflammation of the head, inflammation of the heart, inflammation of the liver, mortification of the leg, mortification of the bladder, mortification of the side, shot by poachers, St. Anthony's fire, ulcerated leg, ulcerated sore throat.

Of those who died of non-medical causes, 14 were said to be "accidental death", one shot, one scalded, one killed by a cartwheel, one killed in a quarry, on by a fall in a pit, one by a fall in a quarry, 10 burned, 11 drowned, one "killed" making 42 in total.

At least 800 of the 1341 deaths, or about 60%, can be attributed to infectious diseases and this leaves out the possibility that some of the 303 described as "old age", "decline" or "not known" had infectious causes. Table 7 shows an analysis of causes of death for those aged under 1 year. Convulsions, probably "infantile convulsions" from infections, were cited as the main cause of death amounting to 35% of the total. Consumption or tuberculosis was said to account for a further 14%

Table 7. Causes of death for children under 1 year of age

convulsions
89
TB
46
unknown
19
measles
12
water on brain
12
smallpox
11
toothfever
11
decline
8
not given
7
whooping cough
7
croup
6
inflammation of bowels
6
inflammation of lungs
6
epidemic fever
2
scarlet fever
2
tumours
2
cancer in chest
1
cholera morbus
1
inflammation of chest
1
inflammation of throat
1
influenza
1
scalded
1
worm fever
1

 

Sources:

The Register of Burials of the Church of St. James, Altham, 1813 to 1990, transcribed, edited and indexed by Jack Broderick.
Annual Reports of the Registrar General for the 1840s, viewed at the Portico Library, Manchester.

 

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