Why is there bread in the Bills?

We have talked on the blog about some of the datasets we are transcribing from the Bills of Mortality – the counts of death by parish, causes of death, and christening and burial numbers. Some of the bills have even more information on them: the price of bread (and eventually other foodstuffs). But why would state-mandated bread prices be included in the Bills of Mortality? To find out, we need to look more closely at the role of bread in early modern England. Regulating the price of bread? The price of bread had been set in England through the Assize of Bread for centuries before the Bills began. In fourteenth century London, “four honest men” would annually buy wheat and have it baked into bread to assay, or test, the quality and weight of bread being baked in the city. These bread assayers were assessing […]