Typhus and Cholera
There were Typhus epidemics (“Irish Fever”) in Glasgow in 1832, 1837, 1847 and 1851-52. Cholera epidemics took hold in 1832, 1848-49, and 1853-54 and a Relapsing Fever epidemic was recorded in 1843.
Causes of Fever Epidemics
Overcrowding into tiny flats without sanitation was trouble waiting to flare up. The River Clyde was not only the source of drinking water, but it was also the bathing area and the sewer. 1848 saw a major cholera epidemic, but that left the clergy untouched this time, though the same cannot be said for the people.
The City Fathers were moved to begin the Loch Katrine project to bring fresh drinking water to the city.
Underneath the Sacred Heart Chapel is the crypt of Saint Mary’s. Until Saint Andrew’s Cathedral added a crypt in 1980 which renovated in 1999, Saint Mary’s was the only church in the Archdiocese to have a crypt.
Bishop Scott was first to be buried in the crypt in 1846. In 1847 the crypt was opened no less than four or five times to receive the remains of assistant priests in the parish who had died in the fever epidemic of that year.There are fifteen coffins there.
Typhus was known (somewhat unkindly) as Irish Fever. Several of the priests who died in Saint Mary’s in the 1847 outbreak had come here from Ireland to serve the people of Glasgow.