[APG Public List] "jug distemper"

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 4 19:55:00 MDT 2010

On Oct 4, 2010, at 1:19 PM, Maria Hopper wrote:

> Anyone ever hear of "Jug distemper" listed as a cause of death in an 
> 1836 NJ diary? Couldn't find in in the archaic medical terms sights. Ree

     I'm not sure if I've run across this exact term before. I certainly don't have a source and am too rushed to hunt one down. (I got two different results - four total - for "jug distemper" - all in Google Books - and neither of these results offered any hint of a meaning, even in context.)
     But, if I were reading a diary from this period, and read the term "jug distemper", in the context of a cause of death, my working assumption would be that the person "drank themselves to death". However, I don't think this is a medical term, or suggests a precise medical cause. It would be more colloquial in nature, I think. That assumption is borne out by the fact it only appears in Google Books four times - three of those being duplicated _and_ an obvious list of colloquialisms,  and the additional hit including "jug, distemper" is clearly not using this phrase.
     Of course, a careful reading of the diary may reveal previous entries which state _or suggest_ this person was drinking or drunk on various occasions. Or it might not, depending on how important the individual was in the life of the diarist, or how circumspect they usually tended to be.
                        Ray Beere Johnson II


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