Mary Seacole was a Jamaican businesswoman, nurse, and world traveler who provided sustenance and care for British soldiers at the battlefront during the Crimean War.
She was born Mary Jane Grant on November 23, 1805, in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Scottish soldier father and a free black Jamaican woman who was a ‘doctress’ skilled in traditional medicine.
Seacole was a doctress herself and also a businesswoman who set up hotels and shops throughout her life.
She married Edwin Horatio Hamilton Seacole, a white British merchant, in 1836, and he passed away in 1844.
Seacole gained nursing experience during a cholera epidemic in Panama and cared for yellow fever victims in Jamaica, many of whom were British soldiers.
In 1854, she was in London when reports of the lack of necessities and breakdown of nursing care for soldiers in the Crimean War began to be made public.
Despite her experience, her offers to serve as an army nurse were refused, and she attributed her rejection to racial prejudice.
In 1855, with the help of a relative of her husband, she went to Crimea as a sutler, setting up the British Hotel to sell food, supplies, and medicines to the troops.
Seacole’s autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, was published in 1857 and became a bestseller.
She is celebrated as a ‘Black Briton’ in the United Kingdom and was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1990.
In 2004, Seacole was voted the greatest black Briton in a survey.
Mary Seacole cause of death
Seacole died on May 14, 1881, at her home in Paddington, London, England.
The cause of her death was noted as ‘apoplexy’.
What is apoplexy?
Apoplexy is a medical term that refers to a sudden loss of consciousness or ability to move caused by bleeding or impaired blood flow to the brain.
It is often used interchangeably with the term ‘stroke.’
Apoplexy can be caused by a variety of factors, including a ruptured blood vessel in the brain, a blood clot, or a blockage in a blood vessel.
Symptoms of apoplexy can include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, severe headache and loss of vision.
If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of apoplexy, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as prompt treatment can help minimize the damage caused by the condition.
What was Mary Seacole famous for?
Seacole was a Jamaican businesswoman, nurse, and author who is best known for her work as a nurse during the Crimean War.
She provided sustenance and care for British soldiers at the battlefront, and her compassion and dedication earned her the nickname ‘Mother Seacole’.
Some of her other notable achievements include being an intrepid traveler and the first-ever free black woman in the British Empire to publish an autobiography, titled ‘Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands’.
Setting up hotels and shops throughout her life, demonstrating her entrepreneurial spirit.
Gaining nursing experience during a cholera epidemic in Panama and caring for yellow fever victims in Jamaica, many of whom were British soldiers.
Her autobiography, published in 1857, became an instant bestseller, and a fundraising gala was held in her honor, attended by over 80,000 people.
Being awarded the Order of Merit posthumously by the government of Jamaica and celebrated as a ‘Black Briton’ in the United Kingdom.
How did Mary Seacole change the world?
Seacole made significant contributions to the world during her lifetime and continues to inspire people today.
Providing care during the Crimean War
Seacole is best known for her work as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she provided sustenance and care for British soldiers at the battlefront.
Her compassion and dedication earned her the nickname ‘Mother Seacole’.
Seacole’s work as a nurse was nearly as celebrated as Florence Nightingale’s, and the newspapers wrote that each woman was ‘The Mother of the Army’.
Breaking social rules and prejudices
As a mixed-race woman living in the 19th century, Mary Seacole defied social expectations and overcame racial prejudice to travel the world, run businesses, and help those in need, even in the most dangerous places.
She was a great role model, demonstrating values of good citizenship, entrepreneurship and achievement.
Writing an autobiography
In 1857, Seacole published her autobiography, ‘Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands,’ which became a bestseller.
Her book provided insights into her life and experiences, helping to preserve her legacy and inspire future generations.
Inspiring recognition and commemoration
Although Seacole was forgotten in history after her death in 1881, her story was rediscovered by historians in 1980.
In 2004, she was voted the Greatest Black Briton, and in 2016, a statue was erected in her honor in London.
Seacole’s life and achievements continue to be celebrated, inspiring people to challenge social norms and make a difference in the world.