Sticks, Stones, and Broken Bones: Examining Health-Related Care Practices of a 17th-19th Century London Cemetery

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University of Alabama Libraries

Providing care to individuals who are affected by illness or injury is one of the most common human behaviors; however, the types of care tend to be overlooked for working class or prison populations. Background: The characteristics of care provided by these groups can reflect the motivation and commitment of the caretakers among the underprivileged, lower social status members of society. This may be especially so for the working class of 17-19th century London, whose remains are analyzed in this thesis. Methods: Through the examination of a cemetery population consisting of individuals who were of low socioeconomic status and likely from the Fleet prison and Bridewell workhouse, my thesis is centered around examining the amount of care exhibited in the individuals interred within St. Bride’s lower churchyard cemetery. The goal of my thesis is to determine how many individuals were affected by pathological conditions and trauma that required care provisioning and how these disabilities impacted both the individuals receiving care and those providing it. Results: Much of the population (56%) required care for survival, and five specific cases are focused on including descriptions of ailments and illnesses, and potential care practices they may have received. Conclusion: The individuals in the St. Bride’s lower churchyard cemetery likely lived a very taxing life and, thus, had more stressors over the course of their lives. This, combined with the environmental stressors and disparate access to healthcare, likely influenced the health-related care they were able to receive during their life.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Archaeology, Bioarchaeology of Care, Biological Anthropology, Health-related care, London, Pathology