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Smallpox deaths in London and Glasgow 1629-1882

From 1629 to 1881, the number of smallpox deaths each year in London fluctuated greatly, with the number generally increasing and then decreasing year-on-year, or every two years; the first case of an increase or decrease over three consecutive years was not observed until the 1780s. The lowest number of smallpox deaths in any of the years given was in 1666; this was the year after the Great Plague of London, and the same year as the Great Fire of London, therefore the actual number of smallpox deaths in this year was likely to be much higher. The highest number of deaths recorded was in 1871, where it reached almost 8,000 deaths during the Great Epidemic of the 1870s.

Smallpox in Glasgow

In the final decade of the eighteenth century, the population of Glasgow was estimated to be around 75,000, and smallpox was responsible for just under nineteen percent of all deaths. When compared with London, smallpox was responsible for just over nine percent of all deaths in the same decade. Scientists do not have a concrete explanation why smallpox was responsible for almost one fifth of all deaths in pre-vaccination Glasgow, whereas it caused just under one tenth of the deaths in London during the same period (as both cities had similar overall death rates).

Number of smallpox deaths in London and Glasgow between 1629 and 1882

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Release date



United Kingdom (England, Scotland)

Survey time period

1629 to 1882

Supplementary notes

*This data was compiled using information from two sources; these were "A Concise History of Small-pox and Vaccination in Europe" by E. J. Edwardes (1902), and "Expectations of Life" by H. O. Lancaster (1990). Both of these sources used data from the same 1882 study from W. A. Guy.

For the years between 1687 and 1700, measles deaths are also included in this data.

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Statistics on "Smallpox"

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