Edwin Chadwick was born in 1800 near Manchester. Moving to London, he became a lawyer and also began writing for the Morning Herald and other newspapers. In 1832, he became Assistant Commissioner to the Poor Law Commission and was promoted to Chief Commissioner the following year. He was also chief author of a report that recommended limiting children's work to 6 hours a day.
Chadwick first became involved in sanitary reform in 1839 when the authorities in Whitechapel requested his help while dealing with a local epidemic disease. Later, he embarked on a nationwide investigation into public health. He published his findings at his own expense, in the Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain in 1842.
In 1847, after an inquiry into the health of London, Chadwick began a campaign that resulted in the passage of the Public Health Act of 1848. He was also a commissioner of the Board of Health from 1848 until he retired in 1854. He was recognised for his public services and gained a knighthood in 1889.
This source is an extract from Chadwick's Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. It reveals data about the number of deaths occurring in a population divided by class.
- What trends are visible in this data?
- Do you find this data shocking? Why?
- Do you think this is a situation that could happen again?