Uncivil war

In the seven years between 1642 and 1649 astaggering one in ten of the adult male population of the British Isles died.This was more than three times the proportion that died in the First World Warand more than five times the proportion that died in World War Two.


If disease, dislocation and famine are added tobattle deaths, and the timeframe extended to include the Cromwellian conquestof Ireland (1649 – 1653) the totalnumber of dead could be as high as 868,000. The vast majority of these werein Ireland in the later period (with up to 600,000 deaths).

The English Civil War is poorly named on two maincounts – it had an even greater impact on Ireland, Wales and Scotland and wasas much warfare between these countries as it was internal strife. As apercentage Ireland was most affected (losingup to 40% of its population), followed by Scotland (6%) and England (3.7%).The total number of civil war deaths in Great Britain is estimated to be around185,000 – around 4% of the total population (compared to the First World War’s2.19% and the Second World War’s 0.94%).

Other pre-twentieth century conflicts resulted in asmaller proportional death toll, largely because the fighting took place farfrom the island fortress. Britain lostbetween 250,000 and 300,000 in the Napoleonic Wars (1803 – 1815)(representing just 1.875% of Britain’s growing population) and only 22,000 inthe Crimean War.