London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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City of London 1856

Report on the sanitary condition of the City of London for the year 1855-56

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with shoemakers, cabmen, laborers, and needlewomen;
and though a large mortality from fever
occurs among domestic servants and nurses, yet this
is easily explained by considering the infectious
character of the disease, and the circumstances
under which the subjects of it are placed.
That home influences alone have much to do
with the shortening of life is also evident from the
fact that the wives of the several classes to which I
have alluded are correspondingly short.lived. In
the case of the laborer there is an apparent exception,
for the longevity of the wife is greater
than that of the shopkeeper; but this is explained
by the fact that the laborer's wife is generally unprovided
for at the death of her husband, and she
seeks an asylum in the workhouse, where she
reaches to a good old age: in fact about 30 per
cent, of the deaths among the wives of laborers
occurred in the workhouse; and their average age
at death was 65.
This reminds me that it would not be an uninteresting
inquiry to determine what proportions of the
several classes of the community die in the workhouses;
for such an investigation might throw a
light on the amount of widowhood and orphanage
that are occasioned not only by improvident habits,
but also by other controlable circumstances which
beggar the community. During the past year the