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Map of Great Croft Street, Darlaston.

Steatham Research - Asiatic Cholera


Darlaston in the early 1830s got caught up in the Second Cholera Pandemic (1829-1851).

This spread from Russia, through Hungary, then Germany reaching England in 1831.

The first pandemic in (1816-1826), had killed over 38 Million people.

In 1831 they were not still sure how it was spread, they believed that it was possible to catch it from clothes and other contact with infected objects.

We now know that Asiatic Cholera, is an infectious gastroenteritis caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Transmission to humans occurs through eating food or drinking water contaminated with Cholera Vibrios.

This simple fact was not known until 1854, when John Snow found the link between cholera and contaminated drinking water.






Asiatic Cholera Poster.



On Tuesday the 15th November 1831, a meeting was held in St Lawrence Church, Darlaston, to decide on how to combat this oncoming threat.

The poster that reports from the meeting makes interesting reading. These must have been put up all about the town.

Odd that no mention of drinking water was made.

The first death occurred in 1832, of a John Green, buried Wednesday the 25th July, at St Lawrence.

There were a further 67 deaths, out of a population of 6600.

To put the fear of Cholera into context, here is a quote

"The first stage normally comes without warning. The patient who had been in good health, suddenly develops effortless and continuous diarrhea. Profuse vomiting follows.

A state of collapse then ensued due to the tremendous loss of fluid and electrolytes.

The pulse becomes rapid and almost imperceptible; the skin cold, pale and hollow, the tongue dry and very little urine was passed. The voice turn husky, and the patient complains of severe thirst and cramps. Death often occurred at this stage.

If the patient survived, the pulse became stronger and slower, the colour improved and the skin warmed up.


Steathams living in 1831 were, Thomas Steatham (unmarried) aged 31, Joseph Steatham (unmarried) aged 25, Moses Steatham (unmarried) aged 18, and Samuel Steatham (definitely unmarried) aged 16.

Hannah had remarried just over three years ago, to a William Jones, and we can assume that the younger sons were living with her.

Checking the burial records for victims is easy, as they were marked with a 'C'.

No Steathams have been found, so this seems to have passed the Steathams by.

It is very unfortunate that the 1831 census did not include names. If it had, we could have located our Steathams, and compared where they were living, with the address given in the burial records of the victims.


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