Romney Marsh, Kent and death by malaria 1800

+3 votes
Romney Marsh, Kent and death by malaria c 1800

The Royal Military Canal at Hythe, Kent was being built and finished in about 1809. I have members of a small family dying in and around 1800. Was it malaria from Romney Marsh or working on the construction of the canal.
in Genealogy Help by Graham Crisford G2G3 (3.9k points)
Too cold for mosquitoes.  But people just died, they didn't need much of an excuse.
Malaria in Kent
Sorry not free acesss except abstract.
Also Barry Reay; Microhistories for a quote from.an1884 medical officer of health.
( Its  serendipity have just written a 4000 word essay on the aproach to local history in this book, and had quoted that bit )
Doesn't answer the question though.
Wow.  You'd think they'd have figured it out.  Sometimes I think ancestors really were stupid.
There was a fascinating TV series called Landscape Mysteries with Professor Aubrey Manning. The episode "The Abandoned Marsh" was on Romney Marsh and they specifically discuss the malaria. It's well worth watching if you're interested in the history of the Marsh and it's currently unofficially on youtube ...

Thanks, Helen, a most useful reference as I have lived in Kent so Canterbury and Faversham also the Romney Marsh were familiar to me, but I didn't know of these events though.

1 Answer

+2 votes
If this family, or at least the head of the family, were working on the Royal Military Canal, then it is unlikely that they starved. Canal navvies tended to be relatively well paid for their extremely hard work, and were thus less likely to suffer from famine than agricultural labourers in the same district. at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Far more likely that they were the victims of some epidemic. Cholera hadn't yet arrived in the UK, and malaria. although possible, was not common. The major contenders, in my own view, are typhus fever or influenza.

Good luck with the research!
by Dave Seccull G2G6 (7.1k points)
Thanks David,
Did people really starve in those days even when living in the country?
But, there again I think some were transported for stealing bread.
Influenza - I had quite forgotten about that.
I suppose I’ve made the classic mistake of thinking in 21st terms and not putting myself in the 1700’s.
Things could be tough in the countryside back then, and in times when work was short, labourers (agricultural or otherwise) could find themselves utterly destitute, with no prospect of relief. As you say, these poor people were sometimes driven to crime simply as a means of survival. Sadly, starvation was not infrequent, especially in areas where there was no alternative to farm work, and where the enclosures of the commons had removed any scope for a little private enterprise. Projects such as the Royal Military Canal must have been very welcome to fit labourers.

Agriculture in the UK has a turbulent history, with cheap imports from the empire often causing slumps in demand for local produce from the 1700s right up to the 20th century. There was at first no social care beyond the awful Poor Laws, whose workhouses effectively imprisoned and enslaved those without the means to live otherwise, and which were shunned even by some of the few who qualified for Poor Law relief. Benevolent landlords often began allotment schemes, to ensure that their villagers would have at least some means of producing their own food.
Thanks, David,

I must say all this has been a revelation to me; I thought I knew a reasonable amount about this period, but obviously not. I will now try and find a sensible source to understand the Poor Laws unless you have something to share?

Just out of interest I have a member of my illustrious ag lab family who was such a troublemaker she was evicted from the workhouse! Surely that is quite an event, or maybe not!

Philadelphia (GLAZIER-333) Crisford. Born 1745 Hollington, Sussex died 1883 Battle, Sussex.

1826 Removal from Sedlescombe, Sussex to Battle, Sussex. I think from memory that the good folk of Sedlescombe had to pay for her upkeep from their "rates" while she was there and Philadelphia was returned to her original parish which was Hollington in the Battle area?

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