The experience of Bilston in the cholera epidemic of 1831–32

Historian article

By Alannah Tomkins, published 28th June 2021

A melancholy pre-eminence in the catalogue of suffering

Alannah Tomkins introduces a well-chronicled early example of how a local community dealt with cholera.

In September 1832 James Holmes, the governor of the workhouse at Bilston in Staffordshire wrote a letter to the salaried parish overseer of Uttoxeter. The initial impetus for the letter came from the two parishes’ shared interest in a troublesome pauper –John Smith, a genealogist’s ‘nightmare’, was making spurious claims to relief in Uttoxeter when his family was in good health in Bilston - but the second half of the letter related to the dramatic sufferings of Bilston’s inhabitants from cholera... 

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