| November 7, 2023

Death by Numbers: the Monarchical Bills of Mortality, 1665-1669

By Katie Kania and Jessica Otis in analysis tagged kania, otis, visualization, geography, monarchical bills

During the early modern period, the city of London produced weekly mortality reports called bills of mortality. These bills—printed from 1603 onward—detail the number of deaths per parish; plague deaths per parish; and deaths citywide by cause of death. However printed bills were actually summaries of manuscript bills produced for the monarch, which contain a parish-by-parish breakdown of every cause of death throughout the city of London for the preceding week. The monarchical bills enable us to study not just plague deaths by parish, but also every type of death that Londoners tracked in the bills of mortality.

Explore the causes of death that were recorded in the monarch’s bills between 1665 and 1669 in the interactive graphic below. Every circle is a different parish, with the smaller circles indicating the count and cause of deaths for each. The size of the circles corresponds to the number of deaths recorded, with larger circles indicating a greater sum and smaller circles indicating a lower sum. You can filter the results by year, or see a sum for the years 1665-1669, by clicking on the respective year in the filter bar at the top of the graph.