Not sure if you can help with this. I received the death certificate of my 3rd Great Uncle today. He died on 15th July 1851 in Bulford, Wiltshire, England and sadly was only 14 days old.

I know that his mother was buried on the same day (19th July 1851) but I have not ordered her death certificate yet.

The cause of his death reads:

Cause death

I think that is saying:

Convulsions 24 hours

Do you agree? I notice that on Ancestry it says there was an epidemic of cholera in the UK during 1851. I don't know if convulsions is a symptom of that? I was hoping his death certificate would shed more light since he died at the same time as mum (or thereabouts).


Just to let you know I received his mothers death certificate today. Her cause of death (on the same day) was:

Puerperal Fever

According to these various links this is related to chilbirth:

Article 1 Article 2

How this fever affects a baby that has been born I can't say.

  • 1
    'Convulsions' could also mean epilepsy. They aren't usually associated with cholera, and I'd expect a doctor in the 1850s to recognise the symptoms of cholera. Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:00
  • @sempaiscuba OK. So I guess the key is to see what the mother died of too. Because it seems strange for them to both get epilepsy? Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:11
  • 2
    It's possible that the mother died of birth-related problems which don't necessarily correlate with the child's illness. You'll need her cert to find out though.
    – AndyW
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 23:33
  • 3
    Convulsions in a baby that age is often a result of high temperature. And the cause of high temperature could be any number of things, including an infection of some sort.
    – user6485
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 7:38
  • 2
    Puerperal fever is essentially sepsis.
    – user6485
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


Cholera often leads to derailments in the electrolyte balance of the body, which can also lead to neurological symptoms. According to Sack (The Lancet, 2004), "severe muscle cramps of arms and legs are common."

As there are other causes of convulsions in infancy (fever cramps, early-child epilepsies, epileptic seizures in the context of systemic diseases, ...), it remains unclear whether the child suffered from cholera.

  • OK, thanks for your answer. I think I will order his mothers death certificate too then and see what information her certificate provides. I will update my question in due course. Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 17:24
  • Hi. I have updated the question with more information. Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 15:20

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