One of the most dreaded diseases in early modern England was plague, which was present in the British Isles from 1348 until 1679. The most well-documented epidemics of the early modern era were in England’s cities, particularly London, which suffered six major epidemics in the century between 1563 and 1665, and lost an estimated 225,000 people to plague. Government officials attempted to quantify the severity of various plague outbreaks and, starting in 1603, published London’s weekly mortality statistics in broadside series known as the Bills of Mortality. The bills grew to include not just plague deaths but also dozens of other causes of death, such as childbirth, measles, syphilis, and suicide, ensuring their continued publication for decades after the final outbreak of plague in England. The weekly bills were also supplemented annually with a general account of the preceding year, published on the Thursday before Christmas. Between 1603 and 1752, almost 8,000 different weekly bills were published, chronicling plague and general mortality through the city of London. One of the major aims of the Death by Numbers project is to transcribe and publish the information in these bills in a dataset suitable for computational analysis.

Project Team

  • Jessica Otis, Principal Investigator, 2016-present
  • Megan Brett, Digital History Associate, 2021-present
  • Andrew Crooks, Advisory Board, 2021-present
  • Vanessa Harding, Advisory Board, 2021-present
  • Kristin Heitman, Advisory Board, 2020-present
  • Jason Heppler, Senior Web Developer, 2021-present
  • Dan Howlett, Graduate Student Assistant, 2021-present
  • Ted McCormick, Advisory Board, 2021-present
  • Amira Roess, Advisory Board, 2021-present
  • Janet Hammond, Graduate Student Assistant, 2021
  • Paige Kuester, Graduate Student Assistant, 2018
  • Dan Evans, Project Advisor, 2017-2018