Mary Jane Seacole (1805-1881)


I have a few shades of deeper brown upon my skin which shows me related to those poor mortals you once held enslaved, and whose bodies America still owns. Having this bond, and knowing what slavery is, having seen with my eyes and heard with my ears proof positive enough of its horrors, is it surprising that I should be somewhat impatient of the airs of superiority which many Americans have endeavoured to assumer over me


She was born Mary Joan Grant in Kingston, Jamaica. Fun fact she was a sagittarius! 
Her dad was a Scottish solider & her mother, from Jamaica. A “free” negro. Mary’s mother was playfully nicknamed “The Doctress”; skilled in Creole herbal medicine. With her skills she established a rooming house at East Street, Kingston; where she cared for army officials & their families. A young 12-year-old Mary was allowed to assist her mum in caring for her patients, with this she was able learn on the job. Piquing her interest in medicine.

In 1836 Mary met a man, alleged to be the godson of a British naval hero;  Edwin Horatio Seacole. They fell in love & got hitched. Edwin was described as a ‘sickly’ man. Unfortunately he passed away 8 years later. 1844 was hard year for Seacole, shortly after she also lost her mother. This left Mary with the responsibility of running the rooming house in Kingston. In 1850 Seacole became a victim of cholera during the epidemic in Jamaica. After she recovered she travelled to Panama with her brother; setting up a hotel. There, it is alleged that Mrs. Seacole diagnosed the 1st case of cholera in the region. She returned to Jamaica in 1853, offering up her skills in medicine as yellow fever tore through the country, returning to Panama the next year. Again, Mary Seacole utilized her skills while the country went through a Cholera outbreak. She was later dubbed the  ‘yellow woman from Jamaica with the cholera medicine’.

In 1853 the Crimean War began. Many soldiers were dying not only of war wounds, but other illness such as cholera & dysentery. Ding! Ding! Mary Seacole’s field of expertise. Eager to help in any way she could Seacole contacted Florence Nightingale, introducing herself & offering her services. Unfortunately her offer was unsuccessful, extremely peculiar since at the time it seemed the nurses needed all the help they could get. Some believe the rejection was probably racially motivated. Nonetheless, Mary Seacole wasn’t deterred. With her own funds she moved out to Crimea, building her own facility called The Mess-table or the ‘British Hotel’, not long after the facility was a fixture for war soldiers due to the services offered which include medicine & food.

Mary Seacole  did ‘home visits’ to campsite & went to the battlefield at dawn to provide the soldiers which much needed supplies. Anything from bandages, needles to food, wine & spirits. The war ended in 1856.

Mary Seacole returned to London in serious debt, drowning all her personal funds in the British Hotel. Does the world even deserve black women? The British Commander in Chief of the Crimea forces including the duke of Wellington & New Castle organized a 4-day music festival for Mary Seacole; giving her the proceedings to help with her debt. Mary Seacole was also a published author. Writing her autobiography titled; ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole’.

It took a decade for this nursing pioneer to get her acknowledgement for her footprint in history.

She was first honored in 1954 by the nurses of Jamaica who named their headquarters ‘Mary Seacole House’. In 2004 she was voted the greatest Black Briton & a statue was erected in her honor at St. Thomas Hospital London on June 30, 2016.
Mary Seacole passed away in 1881 in England.

Here’s to making your impact regardless.

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