Amongst the Local Archive Collections is this account book for John Walters of Swansea, undertaker. The accounts cover 1865 to 1872, which includes the outbreak of cholera between July and October 1866. The first death attributed to cholera is that of John Fox, who died aged 40 in July; the last is Ellen Cummins, aged 30, who lived at 3 Ann Street. In four months over 150 people are recorded as having died from cholera.
As well as recording the everyday business of making coffins and the costs involved, the account book provides a wealth of information about life in Swansea in the mid-nineteenth century. Detail can be extracted about people of all walks of life, and the entries usually record the name, address and age of the deceased together with information about what was entailed in the undertakers work. For example one of the entries for August 1866 is for an unknown woman thought to be in her twenties who was found drowned, Cardiff Arms, Strand, and the undertaker's costs include the grave and the conveyance. This simple affair is a stark contrast to the arrangements for Caroline Elizabeth Vivian, wife of Henry Hussey Vivian, who died in January 1868. The accounts cover one and a half pages, listing items such as a coffin with a two inch mattress and satin lining, as well as black silk velvet and an inscription. The funeral procession included hearse with four horses and other coaches, and Caroline Elizabeth Vivian was finally laid to rest in the large family vault at St Paul's Sketty.