Mary Seacole- Jamaican Nurse in the Crimean War
Born Mary Janet Grant, 1805 in Kingston Jamaica to a Scottish father and a Jamaican Mulatto mother. She acquired her nursing skills from her mother who kept a nursing home for injured soldiers.
In 1836, she married Edwin Seacole, who died in 1844. After his death she became an avid traveller, travelling to destinations such as, Cuba, Haiti, The Bahamas, Central America and Britain.
Mary Seacole later wrote a book about her travels, entitled, “The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Secole’s Many Lands.” In 1854 she ventured to England where she tried to enlist as a volunteer nurse in the Crimean War. However, she was rejected because of her ethnicity. Determined to use her medical skills to aid the war, she financed her own trip to the Crimea. While there, she organized The British Hotel near Baclava. It was a place where soldiers could recuperate from injuries. This accomplishment earned her the name “Mother Seacole”.
After exhausting labor of tending to the ill and wounded, she returned to England alone and sick. The media publicized her situation, and financial help was gained through a Grand Military Festival. It was supported by England’s Elite and Military Commanders. Later on she was awarded the Crimean Medal, The French Legion of Honour and a Turkish Medal.
Although she was repressed in her nursing career, due to the colour of her skin, she persevered, and became an Icon for the nursing profession. Mary Janet Seacole died in 1881.