Annotated bibliography of works related to the London Bills of Mortality

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Compiled in conjunction with the spring 2018 symposium organized by Vanessa Harding and Kristin Heitman, The London Bills of Mortality, this bibliography contextualizes the parish-by-parish reporting of deaths.

Secondary Readings and Other Resources

Kristin Heitman produced "Of Counts and Causes: The Emergence of the London Bills of Morality" for the Folger's research blog, The Collation.

Angus, John, “Old and New Bills of Mortality; Movement of the Population; Deaths and Fatal Diseases in London During the Last Fourteen Years,” Journal of the Statistical Society of London, 17.2 (1854), 117-42.

Archer, Ian, The Pursuit of Stability: Social Relations in Elizabethan London (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Archer, Ian, “Social networks in Restoration London: The evidence of Samuel Pepys' diary,” in Communities in Early Modern England: Networks, Place, Rhetoric, ed. by Alexandra Shepard and Phil Withington, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp. 76-94.

Berry, Herbert, “A London Plague Bill for 1592, Crich, and Goodwyffe Hurde,” English Literary Renaissance, 25.1 (1995), 3-25.

Biller, Peter, The Measure of Multitude: Population in Medieval Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Brett-James, Norman G., “The London bills of mortality in the 17th century,” Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 6.2 (1930), 284-309.

Channing, Walter, “Bills of Mortality,” New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery, 15.3 (1826), 225-34.

Christie, James, Some account of parish clerks, more especially of the Ancient Fraternity (Bretherne and Sisterne) of S. Nicholas, now known as the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks (London: privately published, 1893) <>

Cipolla, C. M., “The ‘Bills of Mortality’ of Florence,” Population Studies, 32.3 (1978), 543-548.

Clark, Oswald, “The Ancient Office of Parish Clerk and the Parish Clerks Company of London,” Ecclesiastical Law Journal, 8.38 (2006), 307-322.

Deringer, William, Calculated Values: Finance, Politics, and the Quantitative Age (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2018) [introduction].

Dobson, Mary J., Contours of Death and Disease in Early Modern England (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Forbes, Thomas R., Chronicle from Aldgate: Life and Death in Shakespeare’s London (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971).

Forbes, Thomas R., “By What Disease or Casualty: The Changing Face of Death in London,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 31.4 (1976), 395-420; in Health, Medicine and Mortality in the Sixteenth Century, ed. by Charles Webster (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 117-139.

Forbes, Thomas R., “The searchers,” Bulletin of the New York Medical Academy of Medicine, 50.9 (1974), 1031-1038.

Greenberg, Stephen, “Plague, the Printing Press, and Public Health in Seventeenth-Century London,” The Huntington Library Quarterly, 67.4 (2004), 508-527.

Griffiths, Paul, “Secrecy and Authority in Late Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century London,” The Historical Journal, 40.4 (1997), 925-951.

Griffiths, Paul, “Local Arithmetic: Information Cultures in Early Modern England,” in Remaking English Society: Social Relations and Social Change in Early Modern England, ed. by Steve Handle, Alexandra Shepard, and John Walter (Suffolk: Boydell Press 2013), pp. 113-134.

Hamlin, Christopher, “Predisposing Causes and Public Health in Early Nineteenth-Century Medical Thought,” Social History of Medicine, 5.1 (1992), 43-70.

Harness, Deborah E., “A View from the Streets: Women and Medical Work in Elizabethan London,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 82.1 (2008), 52-85.

Heitman, Kristin, “Of counts and causes: The emergence of the London Bills of Mortality,” The Collation: Research and Exploration at The Folger, 13 March, 2018 <>.

Henry, Wanda S., “Women Searchers of the Dead in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century London,” Social History of Medicine, 29.3 (2016), 445-466.

Hess, Volker and J. Andrew Mendelsohn, “Case and Series: Medical Knowledge and Paper Technology, 1600-1900,” History of Science, 48.1 (2010), 287-314.

Historical Manuscripts Commission, “Table of mortality [for unnamed town, possibly Manchester, 30 June-7 July 1625],” in 14th Report, Appendix P1 IV (1894) ‘The Manuscripts of Lord Kenyon,’ Lancashire Archives, ref. DDKE/acc. 7840 HMC/76.

Jenner, Mark S.R., “Plague on a Page: Lord Have Mercy Upon Us in Early Modern London,” Seventeenth Century, 27.3 (2012), 255-286.

Kreager, Philip, “Death and Method: The Rhetorical Space of 17th-century Vital Measure¬¬ment,” Clio Medica, 67.1 (2002), 1-35; in The Road to Medical Statistics, ed. by Eileen Magnello and Anne Hardy (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002), pp. 1-36.

Kreager, Philip, “Aristotle and Open Population Thinking,” Population and Development Review, 34.4 (2008), 599-629.

Kreager, Philip, “The Emergence of Population” in Reproduction: From Antiquity to the Present, ed. by Nick Hopwood, Rebecca Fleming, and Lauren Kassell (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, in publication 2018).

Kuriyama, Shigehisa, The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2002).

McCormick, Ted, “Population: Modes of Seventeenth-Century Demographic Thought,” in Mercantilism Reimagined: Political Economy in Early Modern Britain and Its Empire, ed. by Philip J. Stern and Carl Wennerlind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 25-45.

McCormick, Ted, “Who Were the Pre-Malthusians?,” in New Perspectives on Malthus, ed. by Robert Mayhew (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 25-51.

Monteyne, Joseph, The Printed Image in Early Modern London: Urban Space, Visual Representa¬tion, and Social Exchange (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2007) [esp. 73-112].

Munkhoff, Richelle, “Searchers of the Dead: Authority, Marginality, and the Interpretation of Plague in England, 1574-1665,” Gender & History, 11.1 (1999), 1-29.

Munkhoff, Richelle, “Reckoning Death: Women Searchers and the Bills of Mortality in Early Modern London,” in Rhetorics of Bodily Disease and Health in Medieval and Early Modern England, ed. by Jennifer C. Vaught (London: Routledge, 2010).

Munkhoff, Richelle, “Poor women and parish public health in sixteenth-century London,” Renaissance Studies, 28.4 (2014), 579-596.

Otis, Jessica, “‘Set Them to the Ciphering Schoole’: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetical Education, circa 1540-1700,’ Journal of British Studies, 56.3 (2017), 453-482.

Pelling, Margaret, “Far too many women? John Graunt, the sex ratio, and the cultural determ-ination of number in seventeenth-century England,” The Historical Journal, 59.3 (2016), 695-719.

Pelling, Margaret, “John Graunt, the Hartlib circle and child mortality in mid-seventeenth-century London,” Continuity and Change, 31.3 (2016), 335-359.

Robertson, James C., “Reckoning with London: Interpreting the Bills of Mortality before John Graunt,” Urban History, 23.3 (1996), 325-50.

Rusnock, Andrea, Vital Accounts: Quantifying Health and Population in Eighteenth-Century England and France (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Short, Thomas, New Observations…on City, Town and Country Bills of Mortality (London: privately published, 1750; London: Farnborough, 1973).

Siena, Kevin, “Searchers of the Dead in Long Eighteenth-Century London,” in Worth and Repute: Valuing Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by Kim Kippen and Lori Woods (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2011), pp. 123-52.

Siena, Kevin, “Pliable Bodies: The Moral Biology of Health and Disease,” in A Cultural History of the Human Body in the Age of Enlightenment, ed. by Carole Reeves (Berg, 2010), pp. 33-52.

Slack, Paul, “William Petty, the multiplication of mankind, and demographic discourse in seventeenth-century England,” The Historical Journal, 61.2 (2018), 301-325.

Slack, Paul, “Government and Information in Seventeenth-Century England,” Past and Present 184.3 (2004), 33-68.

Slauter, Will, “WRITE UP YOUR DEAD: The bills of mortality and the London plague of 1665,” Media History, 17.1 (2011), 1-15.

Spence, Craig, “An analysis of non-pathological deaths from the weekly Bills of Mortality: London, 1662-90” (MA dissertation, University of London, 1990).

Sullivan, Erin, “Physical and Spiritual Illness: Narrative Appropriations of the Bills of Mortality,” in Representing the Plague in Early Modern London, ed. by Rebecca Totaro and Earnest B. Gilman (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 76-94.

Sutherland, Ian, “Parish registers and the London Bills of Mortality,” Journal of the Society of Archivists, 4.1 (1970), 65.

Totaro, Rebecca, Meteorology and Physiology in Early Modern Culture: Earthquakes, Human Identity, and Textual Representation (London: Routledge, 2017).

Totaro, Rebecca, The Plague in Print: Essential Elizabethan Sources, 1558-1603 (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press 2010).

Totaro, Rebecca and Ernest B. Gilman, eds., Representing the Plague in Early Modern England, London: Routledge 2011).

Totaro, Rebecca, Suffering in Paradise: The Bubonic Plague in English Literature from More to Milton (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press 2005).

Walford, Cornelius, “Early bills of mortality,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 7 (1878), 212-48.

Webster, Charles, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform 1626-1660 (London: Duckworth, 1975; Oxford: Peter Lang, 2002)

Wilson, F.P., The Plague in Shakespeare’s London (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927).

Wrightson, Keith, Ralph Tailor’s Summer: A Scrivener, His City and the Plague (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).

Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks, London Bills of Mortality, 1701-1829, ed. by Paul Laxton (Cambridge, UK: Chadwyck-Healey, 1984 [Bodleian Libraries, microfiche].

Download the PDF of Supplemental Readings here.