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The Lottery of Life

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

It amazes me that since my interest in Genealogy started there is a type of realisation about how much of a lottery life really is!

As you research through generations of Ancestors you quickly realise that they lived in much harder times than we do. Times that see people short of work, money and food and with the latest epidemic just around the corner families lived in fear that it might strike someone in the family down at any time.

As I have mentioned in a previous post I am currently carrying out transcription work at New Monkland Churchyard and so often you see instances where perhaps the Mother and Father of a family die relatively close together in their early 30s leaving their young family behind, I could not imagine losing my parents at such a young age but unfortunately some did and still do.

Another instance I recently came across was a family who lost five of their children in a space of two months. We all know the struggle loss can bring when we lose just one person from our family, but it is inconceivable how any of us could imagine so much loss in such a short time.

A walk round a Churchyard can also identify potential epidemics that may have struck a parish as it is possible to spot a high number of people dying during the same time period. Epidemics like Scarlet Fever, typhoid, Influenza & Cholera to name but a few could spread like wild fire given the often-unsanitary conditions that some families were sadly living in.

Epidemics would be publicised in the local newspapers so that members of the public would be aware of the current situation and could take precautions. Some newspapers also published weekly causes of death within the Burgh.

On the 9th January 1886 the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser details that the annual death rate in the Burgh for 1885 as being 268 persons which equated to 19.2 per 1000.

Of these deaths 13 were attributed to Phthisis, 34 Bronchitis, 8 Paralysis, 49 Children’s Diseases, 13 Pneumonia, 7 Phythsis Pulmonalis, 9 Marasmus, 20 Meningitis, 3 Diarrhoea, 1 Consumption, 3 Disease of the Liver, 11 Apoplexy, 1 Enteric Fever, 6 Cardiac Disease, 4 Congestion of Lungs, 2 Gastritis, 14 Debility, 5 Pulmonary Consumption, 1 Gastric Fever, 1 Diphtheria, 2 Affection of the Bowels, 3 Senility, 1 Scarlet Fever, 1 Bright’s disease, 2 Heart Disease, 1 Tuberculosis, 1 Affection of the Brain and 49 miscellaneous.

From the above deaths:-

▪ 92 were under the age of 1 year

▪ 26 were between 1 & 10 years

▪ 10 were between 10 & 15 years

▪ 25 were between 15 & 20 years

▪ 21 were between 20 & 40 years

▪ 20 were between 40 & 50 years

▪ 24 were between 50 & 60 years

▪ 24 were between 60 & 70 years

▪ 20 were between 70 & 80 years

▪ 6 were between 80 & 90 years

Despite the risks that go along with living during earlier time periods and when you think that if just one of your ancestors had died young, never married or been subjected to some other twist of fate we perhaps might not have been born!

Was there always a chance that we might be born into another family that perhaps was richer or poorer than the one we are with now…how different would life have been then?

I appreciate the gift of life that I have been given, it is important to live life to the full!

After all some never did win the lottery that is life!


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