Newspaper cutting and handwritten account of the Cholera outbreak, 1831 from ‘Collection relative to the cholera at Gateshead, in the county of Durham Vol I (Rare Books, RB 616.932 BEL)
This page from the Cholera scrapbook details circumstances around George Foster Smith, who sold some of his spirits to people on Christmas Day. It explains that nearly all of those that consumed the liquor from Smith’s establishment were those with whom Cholera first broke out in Gateshead. The Cholera outbreak occurred in Gateshead and lasted from 1831-2.
See another page from Cholera scrapbook Volume I, in Door No. 9 of the Special Collections Christmas Calendar.
George Foster Smith, then a considerable linen draper NoG(?)4. side, Newcastle with his spare cash began a cheap spirit shop in Tyne Bridge End Buildings in the last week of November 1831. – to gain custom with cheap spirit drinkers he gave to a number of persons some of his spirits, particularly on Christmas day, and strange to say the whole or very nearly the whole of the persons with whom the Cholera first broke out in Gateshead were proved to have been at, and partaken of this cheap spirit, the day before. – he and his spirits were much blamed. – the expected great trade of the spirit shop became nought, and his large linen drapery concern dwindled down to a Haberdashery shop, when he took himself drinking and died at his house in Leazes Terrace the 22. September 1846 aged 57 years
Letter describing the outbreak of Cholera in Gateshead, 1832 from ‘Collection relative to the cholera at Gateshead, in the county of Durham Vol I (Rare Books, RB 616.932 BEL)
This letter is contained within the first of two scrapbook volumes containing information about the outbreak of cholera in Gateshead in 1831-2. It was written on Boxing Day, 26th December 1831. It details that Cholera had broken out in Gateshead, with the death of 6 persons in Beggars entry, 2 in Hillgate, 1 in Jacksons Chair and several more falling ill in Gateshead.
Cholera is a bacterial infection caused by contaminated water or food, but at the time of this outbreak people didn’t know that! Throughout the 1831-2 outbreak, no cure was found, nor would it be until the English physician, John Snow, proved that it was a water borne disease caused by infected water during an 1854 Cholera outbreak in London.
This gruesome cartoon is by the caricaturist and portrait painter Robert Cruikshank (1789-1856). It reflects the generally negative feeling that people in this country harboured towards doctors during the cholera outbreak of 1831-32. The cartoon contains many references to death, reflecting the lack of knowledge amongst doctors the world over about the cause and cure of cholera. It also highlights the ineffectiveness of the newly created Board of Health in preventing the spread of cholera.
The cartoon is part of a collection of broadsides, cartoons and other archival material relating to the cholera epidemic of 1831-32 in Gateshead, where two hundred and twenty people lost their lives to this horrific disease. Along with other sources from Special Collections, it is currently being used as part of Newcastle University Library’s education project, which aims to promote Special Collections materials to teachers and school children through visits, structured learning activities and the development of online learning resources using original sources. This particular source will feature in an online cholera-based resource which will tell the story of the cholera outbreak – from how it got here to the grisly symptoms, from ineffective quarantines to praying for miracle cures – through primary sources, interactive games, audio and much more.