Mary Seacole
(1805-1881)

Died aged c. 76

Mary Jane Seacole (née Grant; 23 November 1805 – 14 May 1881) was a British-Jamaican nurse and businesswoman who set up the "British Hotel" behind the lines during the Crimean War. She described the hotel as "a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers", and provided succour for wounded service men on the battlefield, nursing many of them back to health. Coming from a tradition of Jamaican and West African "doctresses", Seacole displayed "compassion, skills and bravery while nursing soldiers during the Crimean War", through the use of herbal remedies. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004, she was voted the greatest black Briton in a survey conducted in 2003 by the black heritage website Every Generation. It has been argued that Seacole was the first nurse practitioner (in the sense of a practising nurse with advanced medical skills). Hoping to assist with nursing the wounded on the outbreak of the Crimean War, Seacole applied to the War Office to be included among the nursing contingent but was refused, so she travelled independently and set up her hotel and tended to the battlefield wounded. She became popular among service personnel, who raised money for her when she faced destitution after the war. In 1857 a four-day fundraising gala took place in London to honour Seacole. About 40,000 attended, including veterans. She was largely forgotten for almost a century after her death. Her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), is one of the earliest autobiographies of an Afro-Caribbean woman, although some aspects of its accuracy have been questioned. The erection of a statue of her at St Thomas' Hospital, London, on 30 June 2016, describing her as a "pioneer", generated some controversy and opposition, especially among those concerned with Florence Nightingale's legacy.

DbPedia
Wikidata Wikipedia

Commemorated on 2 plaques

Mary Seacole 1805-1881 Jamaican nurse heroine of the Crimean War lived here

14 Soho Square, Westminster, W1, London, United Kingdom where they lived

Mary Seacole 1805-1881 Jamaican nurse heroine of the Crimean war lived in a house on this site

147 George Street, W1, London, United Kingdom where they lived