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200 year timeline from 1805, the year Mary Seacole was born to 2005,  the bicentenary of her birth

1805 - born in Jamaica, then a British colony (her exact date of birth of is currently unknown).  Mother was a free Black Jamaican, father was a Scottish army officer.

1820 - Florence Nightingale born on 12 May

1836 - married Edwin Horatio Hamilton Seacole, godson of Admiral Horatio Nelson

1838 - 1st August, emancipation of all  slaves in Jamaica (known as 'full free') became a reality.  This followed on from the limited nature of the emancipation of slaves that was announced in August 1834. National Library of Jamaica

1844 - death of her husband, followed shortly after by her mother

1850 - travelled to gold prospecting town in Panama to visit her brother and cared single-handedly with a cholera epidemic when the American doctor fled from the scene

1853 - cared for victims of a yellow fever epidemic in Jamaica.  Invited to supervise nursing services at Up-Park Camp in Kingston, headquarters of the British army

1853 - war breaks out in the Crimea

1854 - arrived in England in October and repeatedly offered her services to those in charge of the campaign to recruit nurses to join Florence Nightingale who was based in Scutari.  Mary was rejected several times

1855 - Mary refused to have her dreams of caring for her beloved British soldiers thwarted.  In collaboration with Mr Thomas Day, a relative of her late husband,  Mary successfully raised funds to pay for her passage to the Crimea where she set up the British Hotel.  This provided soldiers with accommodation, food, other provisions and nursing care.   In September was the first woman to enter Sevastopol from the English lines.

Circa 1855: Sketch of Mary Seacole by Crimean War artist William Simpson.

1856  -  in March the Crimean war suddenly ends and Mary finds herself in severe financial difficulties.  In November she and Mr Day are declared bankrupt in a London court.  The Times  publishes several letters from well wishers who hear of her plight.   On the 6 December Punch  publishes a poem 'A Stir for Seacole' to be sung to the tune of the nursery rhyme 'Old King Cole'.

1857 -  court declares that Mary is no longer a debtor.  In July Mary publishes a best selling autobiography entitled 'Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in many lands'. In May and June Punch   magazine publish articles  about Mary.   A  gala in honour of Mary Seacole is held over four nights between the 27 and 30th July  at the Royal Surrey Gardens, on the banks of the River Thames in London.  Over 80,000 people attend.

1858 - Reprint of Mary's autobiography

1859 - Henry Weekes sculpted a bust of Mary Seacole that is now housed in The Getty Centre, Los Angeles  This was possibly the same bust that was exhibited in the same year at the Royal Academy and entitled The African Head.   I am very grateful to Mr Bruce Lindsay of Harris Lindsay Ltd [who sold the sculpture to the Getty Museum in 1995] for providing the information concerning the Royal Academy.

1867 -  another fund was established which had the backing of Queen Victoria

1871 - sculpture of Mary Seacole undertaken by Count Gleichen, nephew of Queen Victoria

1873 -  Mary was a masseuse to the Princess of Wales.  Circa 1873: Photo taken of Mary Seacole for a carte de visite by Maull and Company.

1881 - Mary Seacole became ill in April and died in London on the 14th May after a short illness.  On her death certificate  the cause was registered as ‘Apoplexy 16 days, Coma 3 days’. Obituaries appeared in the Times and the Jamaican  Daily Gleaner   newspapers and a notice of her death appeared in the Manchester Guardian. The obituary in the Daily Gleaner, dated  June 9,  stated that Mrs. Seacole received 'English, French, Russian and Turkish decorations'.   Following the instructions in her will,  Mary was buried in St Mary's Catholic Cemetery, 679-681 Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London NW10 5NY.  Nearest Tube Station is Kensal Green.  Tel:
020 8969 1145.  Office open 9-4.30pm - they have a fact sheet on Mary and are happy to direct to the grave.  Mary Seacole's grave number is 6830.  To find her grave once at the main Cemetery,  turn right into the Catholic Cemetery, carry on until you reach the chapel (on the right), turn left at the  chapel and follow the path to the first crossroad, then turn right and walk a small way (look for graves numbered around 6829)  and Mary's grave is over to the right - it stands out from many of the others as it has a renovated headstone. 

1910 - Florence Nightingale dies on 13 August

1915 - Crimean War Memorial erected near the junction of Lower Regent Street and Pall Mall in London - it included a statue of Florence Nightingale but not one for Mary Seacole

1954 - in this year, a century after the British involvement in the Crimean War, Jamaica formally recognised Mary Seacole in various ways. The Jamaican General Trained Nurses' Association (now the Jamaican Nurses' Association) decided to name their proposed Kingston headquarters Mary Seacole House - it was opened in 1960. 

1956 - a ward in Kingston Public Hospital is named after her

1957 - a residence hall at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica is named Seacole Hall

1973 - on November 20, a  ceremony was held to re-consecrate the grave of Mary Seacole

1980 -  a touring exhibition called 'Roots in Britain' included information on Mary Seacole

1981 - a memorial service was held on May 14  to mark the centenary of her death.  This is now an annual event organised by the Mary Seacole Memorial Association (formerly know as Friends of Mary Seacole).

1984 - the autobiography of Mary Seacole is once again in print courtesy of the efforts of  Ziggi Alexander and Audrey Dewjee, editors of this edition that was published by Falling Wall Press

1985 - 9th March the former GLC (Greater  London Council) put up a blue plaque commemorating the home of Mary Seacole at 157 George Street, London W1.  This was subsequently removed in 1998 following the demolition of this building.   See our news update page for current status.

1990 - Ziggi Alexander has an article published in Gender & History   Vol 2 (No 1): pages 22-33, entitled 'Let it Lie Upon the Table: The Status of Black Women's Biography in the UK'.  It brings to light a letter (dated 5 August 1870) from Florence Nightingale to her brother-in-law Sir Harry Verney where she makes clear her very mixed views about Mary Seacole.  Ziggi's paper is well worth a read!

2000 -  4 September, the then named BBC Knowledge (Digital) TV channel show a 30 minute documentary  about Mary Seacole in the Hidden History series that they had commissioned from October Films.  Those involved, including Professor Anionwu, were verbally informed that it was planned to be shown on BBC 2 in the early part of 2001.

2001 -  July, Professor Anionwu receives a written reply from the BBC that there were no plans to show it on either  BBC 2  or BBC 1

2002 -  A campaign commences for the BBC  to show this film to a much wider audience on either BBC 1 or BBC 2.   Outcome is that BBC 2 broadcast it on 7 March 2005.

2003 -  a statue appeal launched in November by Clive Soley,  then MP, now Lord Soley and chairman of the Appeal, to erect a statue of Mary Seacole in central London.  Click on The Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal [],  a registered charity,  for more details and to donate online.

2004 - 9 February: Mary Seacole comes first in the 100 Great Black Britons online survey.  150th anniversary of the British involvement in the Crimean war

2005 - the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mary Seacole. Click on Mary Seacole 2005  to view the bicentennial tribute by Ziggi Alexander, co-editor of the 1984 edition of Mary's autobiography. 

Click here and then here to see pages concerning the 2005 commemorative stamps issued in Jamaica

Click on the appropriate word to find out more about:  1) Books;  2)  Resources;  3) Latest News and 4) Forthcoming Events about Mary Seacole.  

Click here to link to the very detailed Wikipedia entry on Mary Seacole [].

Last updated: 16/05/2011

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