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

DATEEPIDEMICS & 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 – 1651The ‘new disease’ emerges in Britain.  Uncertain what it is – possibly typhus
1670Jan – June measles epidemic (London) followed by smallpox epidemic, mention of ‘hooping cough’; high diarrhoea in infants
1674Jan – June measles epidemic (London)
1675Influenza first identified in London written records – Europe wide epidemic
1679‘hooping cough’ again recorded
1700sEarly 1700s influenza occurs in Winter; later 1700s occurs all seasons.  Note the generational flare up of epidemics throughout the 1700s
1700Smallpox = 2000 deaths per year (London); 25% of all those infected; city disease most fatalities in children; basically a city disease therefore spread limited
1705Measles epidemic (London)
1706Measles epidemic (London)
1708Exceptionally cold winter; crops affected throughout that year
1710Smallpox
1717Smallpox epidemic (Manchester – 8000)
1718Measles epidemic (London); smallpox (London); influenza epidemic
1719Measles epidemic (London); smallpox epidemic (London) followed by severe influenza
1721Measles epidemic (York); general smallpox epidemic severe in Halifax, Ripon, York
1722General smallpox epidemic severe in Halifax, Ripon, York
1723Smallpox.  Inoculation developed & gaining acceptance
1726Measles (Ripon) followed by whooping cough & scarlatina /diphtheria (Ripon)
1727Scarlatina /diphtheria epidemic (Ripon)
1728Scarlatina /diphtheria epidemic (York & Plymouth)
1730Whooping cough especially in London; measles epidemic
1733Measles epidemic; smallpox especially severe in York
1734Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon
1735Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon
1736Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon; smallpox
1739Intensely cold winter; scarlatina (London)
1740Intensely cold winter; scarlatina (London)
1741Severe typhus (London)
1742Severe typhus (London); measles epidemic
1745Scarlatina (Sheffield)
1746Scarlatina especially severe in London; smallpox
1747Scarlatina especially severe in London
1748Scarlatina especially severe in London & epidemic in Cornwall, Kidderminster, St Albans although present across country; typhus epidemic
1749Scarlatina especially severe in London & epidemic in Cornwall, Kidderminster, St Albans although present across country; typhus epidemic
1750Widespread Scarlatina epidemics rife throughout the 1750s Scarlatina (Plymouth, London, Kidderminster epidemic)
1751Scarlatina (Plymouth, London, Kidderminster epidemic)
1752Smallpox
1755Measles epidemic
1757Smallpox (Manchester 19,839)
1758Influenza type epidemic
1759Measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic (Newcastle, Yorkshire)
1760Measles epidemic; Influenza type epidemic recorded in horses
1763Smallpox
1766Paving Act improved health in some cities
1768Measles epidemic (London)
1770Scarlatina epidemic (London)
1773Typhus epidemic in Chester; smallpox epidemic (Manchester 27,246)
1777Scarlatina epidemic (Worcestershire)
1778Scarlatina epidemic (Worcestershire); typhus epidemic
1779Typhus 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
1783Laki volcano erupts (Iceland) volcanic winter follows; Typhus epidemic; dysentery; ‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley
1784‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley
1785Measles epidemic; dysentery; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London)
1786Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London)
1787Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year
1788Extremely hot summer; scarlet fever; ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); scarlatina epidemic; typhus 3124 deaths a year
1789Scarlet 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
1795Typhus 3124 deaths a year
1796Measles epidemics more frequent & becoming more severe; typhus 3124 deaths a year; smallpox epidemic; measles followed & recorded as becoming more severe in its effects
1797Influenza like epidemic amongst cats
1798Influenza like epidemic amongst cats
1799Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic spreads from London to rest of country
1800Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic
1801Severe measles epidemic (Middlesex); scarlatina epidemic (Middlesex) then rest of country (Suffolk, Northampton)
1802Severe measles epidemic (Middlesex)
1803Influenza (London, British troops in Ireland, Bath, Chester) – spreads along coach roads; scarlatina (Yorkshire Quaker schools especially hit)
1804Scarlatina epidemic (south west, Manchester)
1805Scarlatina epidemic (south west, Manchester)
1807Scarlatina severe outbreaks
1808Severe measles epidemic (London) exceeds smallpox as killer of children, adult deaths also significant especially London; Scarlatina severe outbreaks
1810Typhus epidemic; scarlatina (Nottingham, Suffolk)
1811Measles epidemic
1812Measles epidemic
1814Severe winter; measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic
1815Measles epidemic
1816Year 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)
1824Measles epidemic south especially Exeter
1826Excessively high temperatures also excessive rains followed by the Great Drought; general ‘fevers’ epidemic; typhus (Manchester over 31,474)
1827High temperatures also excessive rains followed by drought
1828High temperatures also excessive rains followed by drought
1830Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic
1831First 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
1832Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic
1833Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic
1834Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic
1836Excessively wet winter
1837Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic (London, Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 18,775; smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate)
1838Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate); typhus epidemic (London, Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 15,666; in London 18,775
1839Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate); scarlatina epidemic; typhus epidemic (Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 17,177; in London 15,666
1840Smallpox 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
1841Typhus epidemic (London 14,846)
1842Typhus epidemic (London 16,201)
1844The Great Scarlatina epidemic
1846Excessively 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
1847Famine; typhus epidemic (30,320);
1848Good 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
1853Cholera epidemic (north, Newcastle 26,000, London 10,000); vaccination against smallpox made compulsorybut not always done (see death rate for 1870)
1854Cholera 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.
1856Typhus epidemic (London) followed returning soldiers from Crimean War; diphtheria epidemic
1857Diphtheria epidemic
1858Diphtheria epidemic; scarlatina epidemic
1859Scarlatina epidemic
1861American cotton crop fails Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns
1862Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns
1863Scarlatina epidemic (South West) followed by chronic measles epidemic; Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns
1864Scarlatina epidemic  (South West) followed by chronic measles epidemic; Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns
1865Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns
1866Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns; whooping cough epidemic; cholera epidemic 14,000
1867Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns; cholera epidemic 14,000
1868Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London)
1869Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford)
1870Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford,); smallpox 23,100; decline of tuberculosis also decline in typhus
1871Smallpox 19,000
1872Smallpox
1873Smallpox
1874Severe scarlatina epidemic; smallpox
1875Smallpox
1878Whooping cough epidemic
1879Severe measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic
1880Severe measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic
1881Smallpox epidemic; hospital ships moored in Thames
1883Krackatoa eruption; Measles epidemic
1885Measles epidemic
1887Measles epidemic
1888Severe measles epidemic in Staffordshire
1889Measles 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
1890Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.
1891Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.
1892Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.
1894Severe measles epidemic amongst infants (London)
1918Influenza pandemic 50 million die world wide
1919Influenza 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 fevertyphus, relapsing fever
‘new disease’ (1663)typhus
Spotted typhusvirulent typhus strain (especially 1830 – 34)
‘Irish disease’typhus, possibly relapsing fever
Putrid fevertyphus
Gaol fevertyphus
Hospital fevertyphus
Enteric fevertyphoid
‘purpyles’scrlatina/diptheria
Military feverscarlatina/diphtheria
‘New distempers’influenza? Influenza type respiratory disease
‘Plague ague’ (late 1700s)unclear Malaria???
Chin coughwhooping cough?
Convulsionswhooping cough?
Kinkwhooping cough
Griping in the gutsdiarrhoea
Gripediarrhoea or cholera symptons
Epidemic catarrhinfluenza? Bronchitis
Croupdiphtheria
Consumptiontuberculosis
Wasting sicknesstuberculosis
Tertiansmalaria
Intermittentsrecurring fever
Aguesfever
Great poxsyphilis

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