The Repository of all Things Historical for the Ancient Welsh Town of Carnarvon

  Castle Square, Carnarvon. Published by Williams & Hughes, Bridge Steet, 1850



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Thomas Sydenham
Thomas Sydenham

Scarlet Fever (or Scarlatina) is a highly contagious disease, usually encountered in childhood, caused by hemolytic streptococus. It is spread through the air or through contaminated food, and was virtually untreatable before the development of antibiotics, although penicillin and gamma globulin have made it much less common in the twentieth century.

Scarlet fever's onset is sudden (typically two to seven days after exposure), beginning with a sore throat, shivering, and a headache. It develops on the second day into a rash behind the ears, which spreads to the arms and legs. Thomas Sydenham, a physician of the late seventeenth century, describes its symptoms thus: "The skin is marked with small, red spots, more frequent, more diffuse, and more red than in measles. These last two or three days. They then disappear, leaving the skin covered with brawny squamulae [scales], as if powdered with meal." Scarlet fever leaves the glands swollen and often sensitive; in some cases, the squamulae on parts of the patient's skin peel off.

The greatest threats arise from complications. Sinus infections, abcesses of the ear, and mastoiditis are common. In a few cases, scarlet fever leads to arthritis, rheumatic fever, or kidney failure.

Scarlatina Anginosa, (which was the recorded cause of death in two of the cases in Carnarvon), is a more severe form of the fever, particularly as regards the throat symptoms. The rash may be well marked or not, but it is often slow in developing and in subsiding. There is intense inflammation of the throat, the tonsils, uvula and soft palate being swollen and ulcerated, or having upon them membranous patches not unlike those of diphtheria, while externally the gland tissues in the neck are enlarged and indurated and not unfrequently become the seat of abscesses. There is difficulty in opening the mouth; an acrid discharge exudes from the nostrils and excoriates the lips; and the countenance is pale and waxy-looking. This form of the disease is marked by great exhaustion and the gradual development of the symptoms of acute septicaemia, with sweating, albuminuria, delirium and septic rash.

Jules Bordet
Jules Bordet

Whooping Cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious disease that was one of the leading causes of infant deaths. The disease was recognizably described as early as 1578, and its causative organism, Bordetella pertussis, was isolated in pure culture in 1906 by Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou.

The disease is characterized by a cough, fever, sneezing, and runny nose. After several weeks the cough changes character, with paroxysms of coughing followed by an inspiratory "whooping" sound. Coughing fits may be followed by vomiting, which in severe cases leads to malnutrition. Other complications of the disease include pneumonia, encephalitis, and secondary bacterial infection.

The disease is spread by contact with airborne discharges from the mucous membranes of infected people. Treatment of the disease with antibiotics results in the person becoming less infectious but probably does not significantly alter the outcome of the disease.

As if the town had not suffered enough through the cholera, on the 7th. of October, ten days after the last Cholera victim died, 6 week old Jane Roberts of Treffynon became the first victim of an outbreak of Whooping Cough. Five days later, on the 12th., four year old Elizabeth Jones of Pentre Newydd died of Scarlet Fever. Within two weeks of the cholera, the town was in the grip of not one, but two killer diseases.

Again, no mention of the town's trials were made in the Herald, and to all intents and purposes it appeared to the outside world that all was well in Carnarvon. But 40 deaths, all of children of between 6 weeks and 7 years old, gives a truer picture of the reality to face the town's inhabitants. A high profile victim was 8 month old Emily Davey Humphreys, of Castle Square, who exemplified the old adage that disease respected neither wealth nor class, as she was the daughter of Hugh Humphreys, printer and publisher, and later Mayor of Carnarvon in 1875. Humphreys was to fight for election on to the Town Council by calling himself "Dr. Cholera," and indeed, is listed in some trade directories as a Homeopathic Chemist.

To the onlooker, forty infant deaths does not appear to be outside the realms of expectation for the time, but a look at the Llanbeblig Burial Registers for a few years previously reveals that this was considerably higher than the norm.

Year Deaths

The outbreak seems to have been concentrated mainly in the Pool Street/Pool Side/Penyllyn to Twthill area, highlighting the crowded and insanitary conditions so conducive to the spread of disease that prevailed in these poorer areas of town. It is noticeable that victims in any number from the more affluent areas are conspicious by their absence.

The diseases quickly took hold, and the toll grew through November, peaking in December, when thirteen deaths occurred. Ten of these came in the two week period leading up to Christmas. Gradually things settled down during January, with only eight deaths, and there was but one solitary death in February. Just over two months later, on the 30th. of April and 4th. of May, another two Scarlet Fever victims died, and these were to be the final casualties of the outbreak.

Name Abode Date of Death Date of Burial Age Cause of Death
Jane Roberts Treffynnon October 07 October 10 06 weeks Whooping Cough
Elizabeth Jones Pentre Newydd October 12 October 15 04 Scarlatina
Catherine Hughes Snowden Street October 15 October 18 01 Whooping Cough
Samuel Williams Court Sion Owen 1 October 20 October 22 06 Whooping Cough
Anne Williams Pool Street October 28 November 02 01 year 03 months Whooping Cough
Robert Evans Pentre Newydd October 30 November 02 03 years 04 months Scarlatina
Margaret Jones Pentre Newydd November 04 November 07 10 months Scarlet Fever
Ellen Jones 2 Snowden Street November 07 November 12 04 months 3 Scarlet Fever
Richard Jones 2 Snowden Street November 09 November 12 01 Scarlet Fever
William Hughes Tai Clubbers November 15 November 19 01 Whooping Cough
Henry Hulme Bangor Street November 18 November 21 07 Scarlet Fever
Ellin Jones Baptist Street November 19 November 21 01 year 08 months 4 Whooping Cough
Hannah Jones Treuan November 21 November 24 05 Scarlet Fever
Owen Hughes Baptist Street November 22 November 26 04 Scarlet Fever
Anne Evans Peny Llyn November 29 December 03 01 Whooping Cough
Ellis Thomas South Penrallt December 01 December 04 10 months Whooping Cough
Griffith Jones Treuan December 06 December 08 02 Scarlet Fever
Mary Jane Evans Pool Side 5 December 09 December 12 06 months Whooping Cough
Magdalen Roberts Pentre Newydd December 10 December 13 04 Scarlet Fever
Margaret Ellin Williams Boot Street December 14 December 18 06 weeks Whooping Cough
Anne Ellin Edwards Boot Street December 13 December 19 02 years 08 months Whooping Cough
Mary Parry Hole in the Wall Street December 15 December 19 02 Whooping Cough
John Henry Lester Pool Street December 15 December 19 01 Scarlet Fever
Thomas Prichard Tanrallt December 17 December 20 03 Whooping Cough
Mary Anne Roberts Crown Street December 18 December 21 02 Whooping Cough
Thomas Henry Hudson Pool Street 6 December 18 December 24 1 year 8 months Whooping Cough
Owen Parry Mount Pleasant December 20  7 03 Scarlet Fever
Emily Davey Humphreys Castle Square December 28 December 31 08 months Whooping Cough
Margaret Owen Crown Street December 29 January 02 02 Whooping Cough
Mary Williams Pant y Clafdy January 04  8 03 months Whooping Cough
Francis P. Jones Bangor Street January 05 January 10 07 months Whooping Cough
William Evans Court y Bragwr January 08 January 11 03 Scarlatina
John Roberts Crown Street January 09 January 14 01 year 04 months Whooping Cough
Eliza Roberts Cae Garw 9 January 13 January 16 07 months Whooping Cough
Margaret Griffith Bank Buildings January 14 January 18 09 months Whooping Cough
Elizabeth Morris Pool Street January 20 January 24 06 weeks Whooping Cough
Evan Roberts Patent Slip January 30 February 01 02 Whooping Cough
Griffith Edmunds Henwalia February 03 February 06 07 months Whooping Cough
Elizabeth Roberts 10 Castle Ditch April 30 May 04 04 Scarlatina Anginosa
Jane Roberts 10 Castle Ditch May 04 May 08 02 Scarlatina S. A.

1 North Penrallt 2 Brother & sister
3 Age in Burial Register 4 weeks 4 Age in Burial Register 1 year 9 months
5 Pool Hill in Burial Register 6 New Street in Burial Register
7 Not buried at Llanbeblig 8 Not buried at Llanbeblig
9 Coed Mawr in Burial Register 10 Sisters


Llanbeblig Parish Burial Registers.
General Register Office - Register of Deaths.

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