A Cholera outbreak occurred in Alnwick in 1849 lasting for a month from 23rd September during the 4th of the 7 major cholera worldwide pandemics. Although short lived, it claimed over 140 lives, peaking at 17 dying on the 29th. There were 155 deaths recorded in that period, more of these may have died from cholera although not officially declared.
Alnwick at that time was a closely-knit town of around 7,000 population (Rawlinson). The outbreak was centred largely in the Clayport Street area.
Robert Rawlinson in his Preliminary Inquiry report to the General Board of Health in October, towards the end of the outbreak, commented that “The previously crowded churchyard was dotted over with new mounds, and in one month the average mortality of a year had taken place.” The Newcastle Guardian and Tyne Mercury of October 20th 1849 reported that “The church-yard presents an appearance of desolation, about sixty graves —newly filled—, covered with quicklime …” John Davison, Surgeon, in his report to the Inquiry noted that “the proportion of deaths was exceedingly small as compared with the mortality that ensued in other places”.
Many of those who died were interred in un-marked graves but thirty seven are commemorated on headstones.