Was it worth migrating to the new British industrial colony of South Australia? Evidence from skeletal pathologies and historic records of a sample of 19th-century settlers

Angela Gurr, Alan Henry Brook, Jaliya Kumaratilake, Timothy Anson, F. Donald Pate, Maciej Henneberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: To examine pathological evidence present in a sample of 19th -century settlers to South Australia in the context of an early industrial society. Materials: Skeletal remains of 20 adults and 45 nonadults from the government funded burial site (free ground) of St Mary's Anglican Church Cemetery, gravestones of privately funded burials and local parish records. Methods: Investigation of pathological manifestations of skeletal remains, church records and historic literature. Comparison with similar samples from Britain and from New South Wales. Results: Joint disease seen in 35% of adults. Porosity in bone cortices indicative of vitamin C deficiency seen in 32% of the total sample and porous lesions in the orbit (cribra orbitalia) in 7% of nonadults. Traumatic fractures identified in two adult males. Gastrointestinal conditions were the leading cause of death for nonadults, most adults died of pulmonary conditions. Life expectancy of people buried at the expense of the government was 23.8–42.6 years, those in private burials 57.1 years. Conclusion: Health of migrant settlers from the St Mary's free ground did not differ much from that of a similar population in Britain nor of settlers in New South Wales. Thus, it is characteristic for lower socioeconomic groups in early industrialised societies. Significance: St Mary's sample is a rarity due scarcity of similar Australian skeletal samples. Limitations: Small sample size and lack of similar samples for comparison. Suggestions for further research: Comprehensive investigation of dentitions in St Mary's sample and studies of more skeletal samples of early settlers in other Australian locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-52
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Paleopathology
Volume37
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Adelaide
  • Colonial industry
  • Parish records
  • St Mary's Anglican Church Cemetery

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