Belfast in the 19th had a variety of social problems, it was possible for me to examine some of these by using the given sources A – J, a previous visit to friars bush allowed me to understand and develop my understanding in the social problems of Belfast. According to source A, Cholera first broke out in the 1930’s, this outbreak lead to 400 deaths and recurring epidemics for 30 years. Records in source D state that ‘there were 2833 victims and 418 deaths’. This resulted in the opening of a ‘Cholera pit’ placed in Friar’s Bush shown in source B.
The Irish Famine arrived in 1845-50 causing many social problems. According to Cholera records ‘after the famine an wave of fever and dysentery carried off 2487’, people. Typhus and cholera were still around and this lead to the opening of the cholera pit at Friar’s Bush, shown in source A. Famine and disease caused large scale migration of rural Catholics into Belfast in search of work and a massive influx of beggars. Many migrants found employment in the city’s expanding linen factories and shipyards.
However, wages were low, and both Protestant and Catholic workers, not yet fully segregated into discrete neighbourhoods. Catholic and Protestant people were in fierce competition and this sometimes resulted in violent conflict with each other, Source A states that in 1857 the first major outbreak in sectarian fighting started. Protestants believed that Catholics brought disease with them, protestants would only hire protestants and they did not like to hire Catholics. The factors stated before were the causes of Friar’s Bush being ‘excessively over-crowded’.
Belfast could not keep up with this academic, according to source F, ‘During the last 30 years, it has attacked 62,000 inhabitants, of whom nearly 6,000 perished’. Overcrowding, poor ventilation, defective sewage systems and accumulation of filth in narrow back yards were the causes of these spreading diseases. Belfast’s population arose from 19,000 and 415,000, between 1801 and 1926. According to source F, ‘next to Dublin, no town in Ireland… Has been so severely visited. ‘
Anatomy in medical schools became compulsory, bodies became in high demand ‘a grisly trade flourished in Ulster supplying newly-buried corpses stolen from graveyards’. The newly dug up bodies were stored in barrels and packed with saw-dust, professors were making sure these men sent over these bodies accordingly, sent to the right person, so they would not get caught. Graveyards later became protected by officers to stop this grave-robbing, the grave robbers had to later turn to ‘smothering their victims rather than grave-robbing’ according to source I.
Source Bs’ plan of Friar’s Bush shows a plot of children’s graves, there were no public health services at this time in Belfast; medicine was still developing during this time of the 19th century. Many families would not have been able to support themselves and lead to starvation and not enough nutrients, babies and children would not have had the immune system to deal with the diseases. Midwives were poorly trained and mothers dieing was still common, the babies would probably not have survived without the help of their mother. Children in the 19th century did not have any vaccinations like they would today.