Extracts from Daniel Defoe’s Account of London

Selected by Pat Rogers
Introduction and Contents

Estimate of London’s Population

The guesses that are made at the number of inhabitants, have been variously form’d; Sir William Petty, famous for his political arithmetick, supposed the city, at his last calculation, to contain a million of people, and this he judges from the number of births and burials; and by this rule, as well by what is well known of the increase of the said births and burials, as of the prodigious increase of buildings, it may be very reasonable to conclude, the present number of inhabitants within the circumference I have mentioned, to amount to, at least, fifteen hundred thousand, with this addition, that it is still prodigiously increasing.

Nor is it hard to account for this increase of people, as well as buildings in London; but the discourse seems too political to belong to this work, which, rather, relates to the fact than the reason of it, and is properly to describe the thing, not to shew why it is so, for which reason I omit entring into the enquiry.