Saturday, 26 September 2020

Plagues, diseases and disasters

That we are living in interesting times is clear, but it may be of some use, both in terms of looking for likely causes of death of our ancestors - particularly when several members of a family die at the same time - but also to realise that all of our direct ancestors lived through numerous epidemics or pandemics and must have survived, at least long enough to produce those from whom we are descended, or we wouldn't be here now. 

My own great-grandmother, Laura White, died from Influenza, in Ireland, in 1917 - the year before the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic - presumably, due to the underlying condition of Leukemia, which her death certificate states she'd been suffering from for four years. Had she survived that year, well ... 

Laura was my great-grandfather's second wife: he had lost his first wife and two of their children, all at the same time in 1891, to typhoid fever

My 2x great-grandfather, Thomas Jones, was a sailor and coastguard, born in 1817 and died in 1873 due to heart disease. Throughout his career, he had travelled all over the world on ships - inevitably in very close quarters. When I began to compile a timeline of his life, I decided to add events alongside it to put it into context, like the reigns of the various kings and queens, wars and epidemics. He had lived through no less than four Cholera Pandemics.

So, I'm working on a list of plagues, diseases and disasters (based on this list) for future reference. Here is a first draft (mostly, as yet, unverified).

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If you're related to any of the people written about, I'm guessing you'll recognise them from the surnames. If you are, do please get in touch.