The HiFtorical RegiFter,
containing an impartial
all tranSactionS, foreign and domeFtic, with a Chronological Diary of all
the Remarkable OccurrenceS, viz. BirthS, MarriageS, DeathS, Removals,
Promotions &c. that happened in this year, Volume V for the year 1720, published
expence (sic) of the Sun Fire Office
(or More than you ever wanted
to know about causes of death)
This list came from the above book, which
provides a fascinating insight to
causes of death in 1720. What, for instance, can St Anthony's Fire be? Tissick? Horse-shoe Head? Planet struck?
The figures in brackets refer to the explanations for some of these terms.
Thanks to the many people who provided the explanations and links to medical
sites for further reading.
The General Bill of all the Christenings and Burials with the ...... and
Casualties from Dec 15 1719 to Dec 13 1720.
In all 17479
Decreased in the
Burials this year 2893
Causes of Death
Apoplexy 82 (17)
Bloody Flux 11 (4)
Bursten 6 (18)
Chin-cough 10 (3)
Chrisoms 56 (19)
Fistula 12 (5)
French Pox 108 (25)
Gravel 5 (10)
Griping in the guts 731
Head Mould shot 66
Hooping cough 33
Horse shoe head 46 (15)
Imposthume 47 (20)
Liver-grown 1 (21)
Mortification 184 (11)
Pain in the head 3
Pain in the stomach 1
Planet struck 1 (16)
Purples 16 (12)
Quinsy 7 (22)
|Rising of the
St Anthony's Fire 8
Scald head 2 (6)
Scarlet fever 3
Small pox 1440
Sores and ulcers 32
Spotted fever 66 (13)
Stone 59 (23)
Stop in stomach 125
Strangury 10 (24)
Surfeit 8 (14)
Twisting of the Guts77
Water in the Head 110
White swelling 1 (9)
|Broken leg 2
Excessive drinking 18
|Found dead 21
Kill'd accidently 47
Kill'd by falls 13
Kill'd with a sword 3
(1) St Anthony's Fire is an old term for ergotism or
ergot poisoning leading to gangrene (eg from eating bread made with rye on which
a certain fungus is growing) although it was also more commonly used for
erysipelas, an infection of the face caused by streptococcal bacteria. Ergot (Claviceps
purpea) is a fungus that affects rye and sometimes other grains. Ergot contains
lysergic acid, the active principle of the psychedelic drug LSD. In Medieval
timesoutbreaks of St. Anthony's Fire were common in countries where populations
subsisted on rye bread. St. Anthony's Fire is a toxic condition whose symptoms
include hallucinations, disorientation, muscle cramps, convulsions,
miscarriages, and gangrene and may result in death. It affects both humans and
animals. Some beneficial drugs are also provided by ergot, used to treat
migraines, to induce labour and to control uterine bleeding.
(2) Tissick - a cough. Tuberculosis.
(3) Chin cough - whooping cough.
(4) Bloody flux - dysentery.
(5) Fistula - a narrow passage or
duct formed by disease or injury, as one leading from an abcess to a free
surface, or from one cavity to another.
(6) Scald head - Seborrhoeic eczema
of the scalp. (Can you die of this???)
Rising of the lights - Lights is an old term for the lungs, so
this means choking or breathlessness..
Tympany - There are three terms that are similar to this one, and
they are all to do with the ear. A tumour.
White swelling - Tuberculosis of the bone or joints.
Gravel - Passage of small stones formed in the kidneys with the
Mortification - Gangrene, necrosis or severe infection.
Purples - Purpura, this is a rash due to spontaneous bleeding in
to the skin.
Spotted Fever - Typhus.
Surfeit - Means vomiting from overeating or gluttony.
(15) Horse shoe head - Water on the
Planet-struck seems to be a "sudden and apparently causeless
stroke of disease" for example, epilepsy, paralysis or lunacy.
Apoplexy - stroke.
(18) Bursten - Rupture.
Chrisom - child who died before baptism or shortly after.
Impostume - cyst or abscess.
Liver grown - enlarged liver.
Quinsy - throat inflammation.
Stone - gallstones.
Stranguary - urinary disease.
(25) French Pox - I think we all know what
this is. I believe the French used to call it the English Pox!
If you still want to find out more, here is
a list of useful sites:-
MEDICAL TERMS FROM DAYS OF OLD
Medical Terms - Links to Medical Terminology sites
For a glossary of historic disease names, see: