Public health in the 18th Century

Authors Avatar by carlj1986gmailcom (student)

History Assignment 1

Carl Johnson

1a) Evaluate with clear reference to evidence the nature of urban public health problems in the 18th and early 19th Centuries.

There were many public health problems during the 18th and early 19th centuries. One of the first contributing problems to poor health in the 18th century was the sale and consumption of Gin.  It was linked to a high mortality rate in London and Hogarth (1751) depicts in his drawings the damaging effect gin had on London, a nation wide campaign to ban gin was started. However due to an outcry from people it was never fully introduced.

Another major cause for the growth of urban public health problems was due to the rapid population of Great Britain. According to Fraser (1984) the population of Great Britain doubled between 1801 and 1851, then doubled again in the next 60 years. Much of the growth was in the larger urban towns and cities. Places such as London, Birmingham & Glasgow were some of the largest. These places grew at such a rapid speed for a few reasons. One of the reasons was that people were getting married at a very young age and starting large families. The average age of marriage at this time was 17.  Whilst this was a factor in the over crowding of town and cities, the biggest factor was the rapid migration of people from rural areas to towns & cities that caused even more of a problem. People were migrating to the more industrialised towns and cities in hope of work and regular wages. Such rapid growth posed enormous housing problems for the people living there.  

There was a serious lack of services and amenities in these communities. Not only were the housing developments small, cramped and overcrowded. But there was no sewerage systems, drainage or a water supply. The only real way of dealing with waste was by saving it in dung heap. These would then be collected by local businessmen and sold to farmers as fertilizer. Therefor people would be more inclined to want to save their waste in order to raise money. This waste usually stayed for weeks on end, almost always in close proximity to living quarters, gardens & alleyways.  As you can imagine this caused major problems.

Join now!

This along with peoples poor nutritional diets, poverty and poor sanitation led to the outbreak of many diseases and illness’s within these communities. Diseases such as typhus, small pox and tuberculosis were just some of the most common ones. The biggest and most lethal of diseases was the outbreak of Cholera. One of the biggest problems with Cholera was that nobody knew exactly where it stemmed from or how it was spread. Many people believed in the miasmatic theory. They believed it was formed from decaying matter lying in the streets and spread through ‘bad air’.

There ...

This is a preview of the whole essay