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Victorian Cholera Epedemic

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On the 10th of August, 1849, a terrible form of Asiatic cholera made its appearance in Hull. The terrible scourge lasted three months, and carried off 1,860 persons, being at the rate of one in 43 of the population.

In his "Recollections of Hull" the late Rev. James Sibree says the men employed in digging the graves had no respite, but pursued their doleful task both night and day. At first single graves were dug, for the reception of some eight or nine bodies, but the demand for room became so urgent, that double graves were constructed, in which the coffins were piled one upon another, without any earth between them. Only two of these, however, were opened; the sight was so appalling that the men refused to dig any more.

The cemetery hearse was in constant requisition to remove the stricken poor from all parts of the town. The cholera plot presented the appearance of a ploughed field, there being no time to make the graves neat. Mr. Sibree records the fact that on one "awful day" - Sunday, September 9th - he himself interred no less than 43 bodies of his fellow citizens.

The alarm spread quickly among the surrounding towns and villages, so that the principal places of concourse, on market days, were entirely deserted. The railways brought but few passengers, and those whose business compelled them to come, feared greatly as they entered the woebegone town.

A day of fasting was appointed, and special services were held in the churches:

"to acknowledge the hand of Almighty God in the present awful visitation, and to implore the removal of the existing calamity".

The directors of the Hull General Cemetery Co. erected, by private contributions, a large obelisk to commemorate this mournful visitation. The inscription states that the remains of 700 of the victims are buried near the monument.



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