By Tim Lambert

Her Early Life

Mary Seacole was a Jamaican nurse who treated sick and injured soldiers during the Crimean War. Mary Seacole was born Mary Jane Grant in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. (At that time Jamaica was part of the British Empire). Her father was a white Scottish soldier in the British army. Her mother was of mixed race. Her mother ran a boarding house for army officers and their families. Mary's mother made her own medicines and Mary learned from her.

Twice when she was a teenager Mary visited London. Then in 1836, she married Edwin Horatio Seacole. Unfortunately, he soon died. Afterwards, Mary ran a boarding house. In 1850 she treated people in Kingston suffering from cholera. She then went to Panama to help her brother run a hotel. She helped sick people there too. However, Mary eventually returned to Jamaica.

The Crimean War

The Crimean War was fought between 1853 and 1856. Mary sailed to England and volunteered to go to Crimea as a nurse but she was told she was not needed. However, Mary Seacole was not so easily put off. She traveled to Crimea herself in 1855. To support herself Mary ran a boarding house called the British Hotel. She also sold provisions and when she was not working there Mary worked tirelessly treating sick and injured soldiers. They called her Mother Seacole. When the war ended in 1856 Mary returned to England. In 1857 she wrote a book called Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole. Mary Seacole died on 14 May 1881 at Paddington, London. She was buried in Kensal Green Roman Catholic cemetery.

In 1991 Mary Seacole was awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit.

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