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"To Perform their Quarantine"
My esteemed colleague Archiver has been researching the Cholera pandemic of the 1830s and discovered this letter in the Kirkwall Town Council minutes which mentions proposed quarantine measures by Samuel Laing, the Provost of Kirkwall.
|page from Kirkwall Town Council Minute book 1823-1850|
Copy Letter from the Provost to the Town Clerk referred to in the foregoing minute:-
Edinburgh, Hill side Crescent
8 November 1831
In consequence of the cholera having made it appearance at Newcastle and Sunderland the Magistrates of touns in Scotland are making arrangements to prevent if possible the disease from spreading within their jurisdiction; and we would be justly blamed in Kirkwall if our Magistracy and Council were remiss in meeting and taking such precautionary Measures as are within their power.
I would beg leave to suggest to the Magistrates and Council
1. That no Vessel coming from Sea should be allowed to run inside of the Pier head but should bring upon the Roads until the Custom house officers are satisfied of the Health of the Crew and Port that the Vessel last sailed from. Vessels from Shields and Sunderland are to perform Quarantine by order to the Custom House Department from Government and to prevent illegal communication it might be proper to request the Custom House authorities to send such Vessels to Deersound to perform their Quarantine.
2. It would be proper to appoint a Committee to act with the Medical Gentlemen of the place and with the Committee of the Destitute Sick Society in enforcing cleanliness in the lanes, closes, yards and suburbs by removing brevi manu[i] all rubbish, dung heaps and dirt collected for Manure within the precincts of the Toun.
3. It would be proper in case of need to point out some House – say the Old Manse to which the Medical Gentlemen could order a patient to be removed if they judge it necessary to do so for preventing the disorder from spreading in any crowded neighbourhood, and to authorize all necessary expences. The details of such measures can only be left to a Committee acting with the Medical Gentlemen and authorized to give at once every aid under their sanction.
As far as I can learn measures similar to these viz. the appointment of two Committees – one for enforcing cleanliness and one for acting with the Medical Gentlemen in separating the infected from the healthy, if the disease break out and each with the fullest powers to act and incur the necessary expences – are the measures taking in other Towns. I lose no time in submitting the subject to the consideration of the Toun Council. – As Individuals we may feel satisfied that there is in Orkney no great reason to apprehend any infections disorder of the nature of Cholera, but we are bound to act as others differently situated think it necessary to act for the security of the Public Health.
I remain, Dear Sir, Yours very sincerely, [signed] Samuel Laing
[i] brevi manu – meaning without delay