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  1. #1
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    Default Infant Mortality

    I have married ancestors who had 9 children between 1870 and 1883. 7 of those children died in infancy. Most died within the 1st year and the oldest was 5 when he died. I know that infant mortality was high but does anyone know whether this mortality rate was unusually high even for the time in question? The reason I am curious is that the father was known to have a violent temper and spent time in prison for violently assaulting his 6 year old son from an earlier marriage.
    "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.” Edmund Burke

  2. #2
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    While high, it is not impossible and might not be suspicious. Have you checked how close together the deaths were? I have in mind a possible epidemic such as measles or diphtheria or? which decimated families and villages if it got hold. Or it might be a congenital problem which meant they didn't thrive and so died within the first year. While transcribing a death register for WiltsBMD I had one family where the husband died, the wife had a child which also died, and then she died as well, all within a month.Family thus deleted. Also, where did they live? An urban environment might be more prone to infections or bad water than a country one. pwholt

  3. #3
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    Thank you. The births were evenly spread within the 13 year time span i.e. every couple of years or so. They lived in a variety of poor quality houses (from what I can deduce) in an inner-city area, probably heavily industrialised but not heavy industry.
    "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.” Edmund Burke

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    The only way you would know for certain would be to get the death certificates for each child to see the given cause.
    I have one branch where over a 10 year period in Merthyr Tydfil all 5 children died from different diseases such as scarlet fever, diphtheria, meningitis, TB etc., the latter disease also killing the father. In the last year of this saga the mother gave birth, buried her 2 surviving children, buried her husband and was made homeless because the house went with his job.

  5. #5
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    Wow Megan! Things were obviously tough in Merthyr Tydfil even in those days!

    You're correct of course that death certificates might give me the answers but I would assume that if anything suspicious were noted by the doctors certifying the deaths they would inform the coroner/police and the parents might be investigated. I'm not going to name the father here but I've written about him before on this forum. He was sent to prison at least twice and also used an alias again at least twice to escape some sort of retribution, whether official or unofficial I don't know. He was violent and at least two of his sons who survived into adulthood also spent time in prison. That's why I'm suspicious of the apparently high mortality rate even though it was a time of high infant mortality and he worked in an inner city where conditions would have been squalid. Not sure I'm prepared to shell out on 7 death certificates though!
    "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.” Edmund Burke

  6. #6

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    Tony, are there any Medical Officer of health reports for the area and the period concerned? There are for some areas of London and these are most illuminating giving details of reportable diseases for quite small areas of the borough.
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    One quite common cause of high infant mortality within the same family could be congenital syphilis - it may not be mentioned on the death certificates of the children, but can sometimes become apparent when you look for the cause of death of the parents (usually the father).

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the idea Ed. I've looked and can't find any but I'll continue to bear your idea in mind.

    Antony I have heard that syphilis could be a common cause. As I admitted to Megan above, I have not paid for the death certificates yet but I do have them for the mother and father and neither indicates this as a cause of death. The father was married twice and his former wife (not the mother of the children) died of TB so I guess that this is a good indicator of the kind of conditions the families lived in.
    "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.” Edmund Burke

  9. #9
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    Tony, don't forget that you can get black-and-white PDF certificates for those years. Still quite a wodge of cash if you buy all seven, but a couple at seven quid each isn't too bad.

    Pam
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony vines View Post
    I have married ancestors who had 9 children between 1870 and 1883. 7 of those children died in infancy. Most died within the 1st year and the oldest was 5 when he died. I know that infant mortality was high but does anyone know whether this mortality rate was unusually high even for the time in question? The reason I am curious is that the father was known to have a violent temper and spent time in prison for violently assaulting his 6 year old son from an earlier marriage.
    Mortality Rates are shown in the Registrar General's reports see-
    https://www.rootschat.com/links/01oxm/

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    Guy
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