Smallpox in the Forest (General)

by anthonyworgan @, Thursday, March 26, 2020, 16:52 (186 days ago)

During this present Coronavirus crises, it made me think of past epidemics that affected our forest ancestors & wondered how they coped with such tragedies.
Last summer while searching in Blaisdon churchyard, I found the headstone of my 6 x gt grandfather, William Harper (died 1774). I knew he had a headstone from Bigland's Monumental Inscriptions for Gloucestershire, but had failed to find it on many previous occasions. To my surprise the stone next to his recorded the death of his son John from smallpox in 1757.

JOHN, the son of William Harper, died of the Smallpox June 8th 1757, in ye 25th (?) year of his age, Also Sarah Harper the daughter (possible death dates missing/eroded?), Of William Harper, Also in Memory of Margaret wife of William Harper Senior, Deceased this life the 13th (?) of June 1788, Aged 82 years

I made a google search & discovered that in the summer of 1757, a smallpox epidemic broke out in Gloucestershire. I couldn't find any specific mention of the Forest of Dean, although I did find mention of several men dying in Gloucester City on an earlier search last year. 1757 was apparently a bad year because in Manchester, 19,839 poor souls died from this dreadful disease.

Has anybody else found any forest ancestors with this cause of death inscribed on their tombstones? The parish registers for Blaisdon makes no mention of smallpox, only the date of his burial is written: e.g. 1757, 11th June, John Harper, son of William & Margaret. Nor have I ever come across a reference to a smallpox death in any Forest of Dean burial register that I have researched over many years, which is quite odd to me?

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