On August 6th in 1832, the cholera epidemic that had been sweeping through England and Europe had finally reached the shores of Jersey.
Cholera = an acute intestinal infection characterized by severe diarrhoea, cramp, etc.: caused by ingestion of water or food contaminated with the bacterium. (The Collins Concise Dictionary)
Go back through the death dates of some of your ancestors. You may find you have people in your family tree that died around this time and cholera may have been the reason of death.
Alex Glendinning writes about the Jersey epidemic here: JERSEY CHOLERA EPIDEMIC – 1832
The epidemic spread throughout the town areas first as it was high residential area and therefore spread from building to building quicker than it did in the countryside. Alex writes that…
‘When the cholera reached Jersey on August 6 1832, there had been a heavy downpour of rain the previous day and Dr Hooper theorised that the movement of all the accumulated filth in the streams helped spread the disease.
Hilgrove Lane was one of the first places to suffer outbreaks.’
The majority of my ancestors were town dwellers, so this is of interest to me. Although I have not been able to always find specific addresses for this time as it was before the first Census in 1841.
I scan through all my family trees for all the death dates during this year and only find a date match with my Davey family.
The Rabet’s didn’t arrive in Jersey from Brittany until the turn of the century in the early 1900’s.
The Lozuet’s were living in St. Ouen at this time so were relatively safe (I presume).
I find William Davey who had died on the 19th November 1832. I have written about him before:
Boxing Day marriage of Mary De France & William Davey – 1804
William Davy – died 19th November 1832
William writes his Will & Testament four days before he dies in St. helier, leaving his wife Mary Defrance as executor and his children are his heirs: Thomas, Rachel, William, Isaac, Mary Ann and George. Unfortunately his Will does not state his address unlike his son Isaac’s Will & Testament 60 years later.
It says that he is ‘of sound and disposing mind.’ I don’t have a copy of this death certificate, so I can not confirm whether he was ill from cholera. He died at the age of 52.
Alex Glendinning goes on to state that:
According to Dr Hooper’s carefully kept statistics, 803 people were taken ill and 347 died over an eleven week and five day period. The deaths were so concentrated in the poorer parts of town, that the Rector of St Helier had to inaugurate a new Strangers’ Cemetery (below Westmount) on August 27 to cope with the extra burials. On October 27, the Board of Health reported the Island free of cholera and adjourned, the very day that the first case was reported in Guernsey.
Sadly, another cholera epidemic returns 16 years later, in 1848. You can read more about it in an article in the Jersey Evening Post: Containing Cholera In The 19th Century.
My next step is to get hold of a copy of William’s death certificate from the Jersey Registry Office to confirm details of his death.
I may have had more ancestors that fell ill or died from the cholera in 1832, but I do not know many of their dates of death. This is especially the case with my female ancestors. If I do not know the surname of the man they married I cannot trace their whereabouts and therefore when they died or where.
Have you found a family death during 1832?
I recently came across a tombstone in a local cemetery that reads:
“CHOLERA VICTIMS” Resting here in unmarked graves are many victims of the epidemic of 1832 buried secretly at night they are known only to God.” The stone is in the center of an area with no other stones, only grass, of approximately 30 or 40 feet square.
It seems that if you were doing genealogy, this could be a stumbling block since it is not known who is in the grave. They were buried secretly known only to God?? We can only imagine what the family went through.
You are right. It must have been very stressful times. As it spread quickly throughout the summer of 1832. My family were living in town at the time and my ancestor William Davy made his will a few months before dying in November 1832.