Source 8

Letter from a citizen of Ipswich to the General Board of Health, 21 September 1853, Catalogue ref: MH 13/100. 

Ipswich, Trinity Terrace 

[Honourable] Sir, 

I deem it important to call the attention of the Board of Health to the existence of a manure factory in the poor and populous district of the Parish of St. Clements, Ipswich; carried on by the firm of E. Packard & [Company] and that there arise from the said factory such an unwholesome effluvia [unpleasant or harmful odour] as to render it almost insufferable living in the vicinity and further that in the opinion of medical men practising in the neighbourhood its tendency is to generate disease. 

Should that fearful scourge the cholera be permitted to visit us, there is reason to fear that such a nuisance would play a heavy part in intensifying its malignity [evil] and in widening its sphere [spread of disease]. 

Will the Board of Health, therefore cause such enquiries to be made as shall either remove the offensive factory or show that its operations are not deleterious [harmful] to public health. 

I am, [Honourable] Sir, 

Your most [Obedient] Servant 

John Peachey 


To C. Austin Esquire 

September 21st, 1853 

« Return to Coping with Cholera

This is an example of a ‘nuisance letter’, many  of these were written to the Board of Health in London at the outbreak of cholera, others outside the capital wrote too as fear of the disease spread. The authorities did fine offenders for not clearing away rubbish and waste, however not that harshly as they were unwilling to interfere with trade and business. 

  1. What is the writer of the letter complaining about? 
  2. What does this letter reveal common understanding about the cause of cholera in 1853? 
  3. What does this letter reveal about overcrowding in towns? 
  4. How does the writer expect the General Board of Health to deal with the problem? 
  5. What links can you see between this letter and Source 7?