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Disease in Glamorgan

The following notes were contributed by Clive Blakemore to the Glamorgan mailing list and are based on 'A Sanitary Survey of Glamorganshire' by William Williams M.A., M.D., D.P.H. (Oxon), County Medical Officer. Published in Cardiff, 1895.

  • In 1839 Typhus Fever was prevalent in the Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil and Neath divisions.
  • In 1854, at Cowbridge, 40 families were attacked with Typhus Fever, which originated at a ball, where the guests supped over a stable and on premises which were in a filthy state from want of drainage.


  • In 1840, 54 deaths from Small-pox occurred in Merthyr Tydfil.
  • The hills and valleys of Wales were traversed by the disease.


  • In 1849 Cholera raged with severity in Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, and other localities, where the insalubrious circumstances known to be pernicious had been culpably allowed to remain.
  • In the last quarter of 1849, 1,876 lives were destroyed through Cholera in the Merthyr Tydfil division. (The mortality was 2.5 per cent higher than in some of the worst districts of London)
  • In Neath the deaths from Cholera in 1849 were 888, a mortality in excess of 2 per cent of the population.
  • Between the 17th and 25th of March in the same year seven fatal cases of Sporadic Cholera occurred in Cardiff.
  • In the Spring of 1866 Cholera again prevailed in Great Britain, and Glamorgan did not escape.
  • Deaths from Cholera:
    1849 --- Merthyr = 1,682; Bridgend = 87; Neath = 738; Cardiff = 396
    1866 --- Merthyr = 229; Bridgend = 80; Neath = 520; Cardiff = 76
  • In the Summer of 1870 Scarlet Fever was prevalent at Merthyr Tydfil, Margam, Neath, Llansamlet, Llangyfelach, and Swansea; also very fatal at Cardiff, Pontypridd and Aberdare.
  • There was an outbreak of Diphtheria in 1889 in Pontypridd Rural District.
  • In 1890 there was an epidemic of Scarlatina in the Neath Rural Sanitary District. At first, mild, afterwards very severe and fatal. There were 181 attacks and 31 deaths in 1890.

Clive Blakemore, May 2002

[Last Updated : 26 Sept 2002 - Gareth Hicks]