Mary Seacole (1805 – 1881) was a Jamaican nurse who became well known in the Victorian period for her nursing efforts during the Crimean War. Her achievements stayed unrecognized in the Western world for over a century — though she was memorialized in Jamaica, where significant buildings were named after her in the 1950s. As she wrote in her autobiography, “Indeed, my experience of the world…leads me to the conclusion that it is by no means the hard bad world which some selfish people would have us believe it.”. She would never marry again. After the war she returned to England destitute and in ill health. Mary Seacole, 1869 Queen Victoria awarded her with an engraved brooch and prize of 250,000 pounds, which she used to establish the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. The following year, she traveled to the isthmus of Panama to visit her half-brother, Edward, for a short time, building a shop and working as a healer in Cruces. From her father, Seacole acquired a passion for war. Although technically 'free', being of mixed race, Mary and her family had few civil rights - they could not vote, hold public office or enter the professions. Seacole was a pioneering nurse and heroine of the Crimean War, who as a woman of mixed race overcame a double prejudice. Also known as: Mother Seacole . And although both women did incredible work during the war, Nightingale’s name lives on, while Seacole’s does not. “War, I know, is a serious game, but sometimes very humble actors are of great use in it,” wrote Mary Seacole. Full name: Mary Jane Grant Born: 1805 Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica Occupation: Nurse and business woman Died: 14 May 1881 Best known for: Her work in helping the sick and wounded – particularly during the Crimean War. Those who could pay paid her handsomely, and those who couldn’t she treated for free. After settling back in Kingston, Mary Seacole started practicing medicine, and she soon gained a reputation as a doctress that far exceeded that of her mother. National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia CommonsMary Seacole, painted by Albert Charles Challen in 1869. Seacole met up with a friend of hers, Thomas Day, in Balaclava, where she began helping doctors transfer sick and wounded soldiers from ambulances to hospitals. At this time, Mary Seacole was living in England and was eager to help. This shop became known as the British Hotel and it was a place that soldiers could go for fresh food and rest. In 1836, Mary married Edwin Seacole but the marriage was short-lived as he died in 1844. The military doctors were familiar with her and allowed her to join them in helping injured soldiers from both sides of the battlefield — often while they were under fire. Injured British soldiers during the Crimean War. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. After a few more failed attempts to travel to Crimea with the British forces, Seacole decided to fund her own trip. Dudley 'Mushmouth' Morton: The Ambitious American Submarine Ace Who Sank 19 Japanese Ships, Jules Brunet, The Military Officer Behind The True Story Of 'The Last Samurai', What Stephen Hawking Thinks Threatens Humankind The Most, 27 Raw Images Of When Punk Ruled New York, Join The All That's Interesting Weekly Dispatch, National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons. The statue of Mary Seacole is unveiled in London in June 2016. Mary Seacole, the Jamaican doctress that treated hundreds of soldiers during the Crimean War. Although slavery in Jamaica wouldn’t be abolished for another three decades, Seacole was technically free. It was the first autobiography written by a black woman in Britain, and it quickly became a bestseller. Updated August 23, 2019. Racism was — of course — the reason. The doctress often returned to Kingston, where she was loved and honored. … There is also a museum erected in her honor, which stands at the site of the original nurse school. Indeed she did. Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty ImagesA battle during the Crimean War. Now that you know the story of heroic doctress Mary Seacole, read about 15 other fascinating people that history forgot. Seacole and her partner could not sell their supplies. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. As soon as the peace treaty was signed, on March 30, 1856, the troops began to leave. Her reputation rivalled that of Florence Nightingale. Mary Seacole, painted by Albert Charles Challen in 1869. On these trips she complemented her knowledge of traditional medicine with European medical ideas. Nightingale’s story is vastly different than Mary Seacole’s, despite the fact that they were championing for the same cause at the same moment in history. “I made up my mind that if the army wanted nurses, they would be glad of me….If the authorities had allowed me, I would willingly have given them my services as a nurse; but as they declined them, should I not open an hotel for invalids in the Crimea in my own way?”. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Read more. Hannah McKennett is a Dublin-based freelance writer that is dedicated to traveling the world while writing about it. The Kingdom of Sardinia followed suit in 1855. A cartoon that mocks Mary Seacole and belittles her heroic acts in the Crimean War. Her father was a Scottish soldier, and her mother a Jamaican. Circa 1855. Wikimedia CommonsInjured British soldiers during the Crimean War. Despite her acts of heroism, however, her name was lost to history for more than a century. She slept on a ship, fighting off thieves, and began to build a shop just outside of the town. In 1855, the Russians withdrew from Sevastopol and began talks of peace. Mary Seacole, or “Mother Seacole” as many of the soldiers called her, treated the men that came to her hotel as well as the men on the battlefield. “Was it possible that American prejudices against colour had some root here? Surely not.”. Finally, in 2004, Seacole was restored to history when she was voted the top Black Briton for her heroic efforts during the Crimean War. Jamaican soldiers set sail for Europe, and she knew she needed to help them. Mary Seacole, or “Mother Seacole” … Read more. In 1854, Seacole travelled to England again, and approached the War Office, asking to be sent as an army nurse to the Crimea where there was known to be poor medical facilities for wounded soldiers. Wikimedia CommonsMary Seacole, the Jamaican doctress that treated hundreds of soldiers during the Crimean War. Born in 1820 to a wealthy family, Nightingale pursued nursing as a young woman. She slept on a ship, fighting off thieves, and began to build a shop just outside of the town. The Treaty of Paris was at last signed on March 30, 1856, and Seacole returned to London. A nurse, businesswoman, and war hero, Mary Seacole was born in 1805 in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Scottish father and Jamaican mother. Mary Jane Seacole (née Grant; 23 November 1805 – 14 May 1881) was a British-Jamaican business woman and nurse who set up the "British Hotel" behind the lines during the Crimean War.She described this as "a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers", and provided succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield.
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