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These two examples from the Stamford map inquests for 1712 also illustrate how informative these can be about wider social conditions. When 27-year-old John Markall died, while in prison for debt, his inquest stated he had ‘for some time past had been in a deep consumption’ and declared it a visitation of God. Margaret Latten, on the other hand, died at the age of 25,‘While taking physick with Mary Levett, to cure themselves of the itch, they both took some powder of Mary Pooley, none of them knowing it was yellow arsenic’. Newspaper reports into inquests and accidents, and obituaries and death notices, can add much more detail. The card indexes at the three Stamford
offices include numerous death notices as well as details of news reports into epidemics such as smallpox and cholera. The online transcripts on GENUKI Stamford, to the death notices in the Beccles and Bungay Weekly News show items such as the death of Mary Lock, widow of Samuel, in the Loddon and Clavering Union Workhouse in 1862 at the age of 105. This reveals that, despite being blind and deaf, she enjoyed her faculties to the last.

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The newspaper card indexes at Stamford are particularly helpful as they are cross-referenced by subject and place names. Nevertheless, it is possible to pick up some local patterns and episodes using the online indexes by putting a place name or type of event in the extra information box and omitting names. Although not strictly a health issue, incidents of body snatching were a related phenomenon. Cases were reported across the region at various times, presumably for the purposes of dissection. Reports into the case of Elizabeth Watts, who was buried in Lakenham in November 1830, illustrate how common it was for more than one young person in a family to die. It was only discovered that her body had been taken when her brother died later the same month and was to be buried with his sister. Local newspapers reported an interesting dispute over the issue of dissection in 1872.

The guardians of the Stamford workhouse had a ‘long and acrimonious discussion, before agreeing to the request of a Professor Humphrey, of Cambridge to supply him with the bodies of unclaimed persons who had died in the workhouse for the purposes of dissection’. Some fascinating insights into wider health issues can be found in parish records and on monumental inscriptions. The controversial issue of inoculation has a long history dating back to the early 1700s. In Norfolk, a local initiative is recorded in a memorandum in the parish registers for Thorpe Market which noted the inoculations of paupers with cowpox in 1805 paid for by a local benefactress. Another sad reference is the monument on the wall of Tacolneston church that says: Thomas Knipe Gobbett, son of the abovesaid Knipe Gobbett and Jane his wife, daughter of Thomas Woode, Esq, late of Bracon Ash, died of the small-pox by inoculation, 12th April, 1762, in the fourth year of his age. There are numerous examples of buildings and structures associated with charities, almshouses and hospitals across the region. Some have been converted into other uses while others, some in historic buildings, such as the Great Hospital in Norwich, are still in use as residential and sheltered accommodation, but allow visits on designated open days each year.

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