Posts filed under “Letters from individual NSoc members”

From Harold Raugh and Colin Robins to the Trustees of the Nightingale Museum

We, the undersigned, are military historians of some standing, both Fellows of the Royal Historical Society, who have a good knowledge of the Crimean War and the personalities connected with it.

We are therefore disappointed at your museum’s repeated emphasis on, and support of, Mary Seacole, at the expense of Florence Nightingale whose memory you should be guarding against the politically-based misinformation which is so widespread.

Mary Seacole was a sutler with a shop and small restaurant in the Crimea which she set up with a partner called Day in the Spring of 1855. There is not a shred of evidence that she ran a hospital – one of the common and totally untrue stories about her – nor that she nursed in any meaningful sense. Her ‘supporters’ have been repeatedly challenged to produce evidence in support of their claims but have not been able to do so as there is none.

A distinguished Canadian professor, Lynn McDonald, has written widely exposing the myths using Mrs Seacole’s own autobiography and has defended Florence Nightingale – a task which, properly, should have been done by you. It is Florence who is paying the museum expenses and wages.

There is a heavy responsibility on all museums not to propagate falsehoods, and in our opinions you are presently falling far short of that duty.

Yours faithfully,

Harold E. Raugh, Jr, Lt Col, PhD, FRHistS, FRAS, US Army, ret.

Colin Robins (Major) OBE, MA (Cantab), FRHistS, Editor Emeritus, The War Correspondent: Journal of the Crimean War Research Society

From The Rev’d Paul Hawkins to David Cameron

To: The Prime Minister,
10 Downing Street,

From: The Nightingale Society
c/o The Rev’d Paul Hawkins
9 Buckingham Place
Bristol BS8 1LJ

16th January 2016

Dear Prime Minister,

Further to the letter from the Nightingale Society urging you to make the grant of £240,000 for the statue of Mary Seacole to be contingent on its placement at a different site, one of our members has suggested two further possible suitable venues: Windrush Square, Brixton, or outside Mary Seacole House, Clapham High Street.

But we claim no expertise on what would be the best site, simply that St Thomas’ Hospital, as the home of the Nightingale School and base for her founding the modern profession throughout the world, would therefore not be the appropriate site for the Mary Seacole statue.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hawkins

From Dr Ron Trubuhovich to Sir Ronald Kerr

Sir Ronald KERR C.B.E., Chief Executive
Dr Ian Gibbs, Medical Director
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS

Concerning the proposed statue of Mary Seacole.

Would you kindly allow me to present to you my personal objection to the proposed siting at St Thomas’ Hospital of a statue of Mary Seacole, this admired heroine of the Crimean War. It does not incorporate any belittling of the statue’s inspirational subject, nor is it an objection to the statue itself. May I mention I am well familiar with the controversy and the numerous for-and-against writings over this issue. I trust you will not disallow me from lodging yet another individual protest with you. And I can state that I have read every word of Mary Seacole’s book.

Mary Seacole’s record has inspired her supporters with great enthusiasm to seek formal recognition of her achievements, so it is their wish to honour her by the proposed statue. However, the statue’s proposed great size and height have dimensions eclipsing those of the Florence Nightingale statue already at the Hospital. And of course, it was at St Thomas’ very hospital that Florence Nightingale founded her training school for nurses, the first for the new profession she pioneered. Further, Mary Seacole had no direct link with your institution. Thus it is inappropriate for the statue to be erected within the grounds of St Thomas’. (Also, it can be noted, the location of Mary’s statue in the hospital grounds would be directly facing the Parliament buildings across the Thames River).

My expectation is that it is likely you could be unaware of the high level of veneration for the reputation of Florence Nightingale which is held today, here in New Zealand, among members of the nursing and medical professions. We are saddened that the cause for Mary Seacole has encouraged some of the statue’s ardent supporters into demeaning Florence’s reputation by denigration, in the naïve anticipation of that strengthening the Seacole credentials, thereby to further the chances of her statue being placed at St Thomas’. Such tactics are deeply upsetting to Florence Nightingale admirers, who appreciate her tremendous influence for numerous outstanding healthcare reforms.

Surely, if the Mary Seacole statue needs to be in London then a suitable site can be located outside St Thomas’ Hospital.


Ronald V Trubuhovich [Dr], ONZM
Honorary Intensive Care Specialist
Dept of Critical Care Medicine (Chairman, 1983-94)
Auckland City Hospital
Pvt Bag 92-024 Auckland
New Zealand, 1142

From Dr Ron Trubuhovich to George Osborne

To: The Rt Hon George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
HM Treasury
Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ.
From: Ron Trubuhovich
7 Bingley Av,
Epsom, Auckland, New Zealand, 1023.
Dear Chancellor
As a citizen of a country of which Queen Elizabeth is Head of State may I ask you, thereby, would you kindly allow me the liberty of writing to you? My own background has been a professional life as an intensive care specialist, I am long in retirement, with my major activity now in writing medical history. Within the time of my history studies the outstanding lesson I have learnt is how absolutely essential it is to base the conclusions one makes solely on securing genuine confirmatory evidence. Such evidence comes from and is substantiated by primary sources, instead of being repetitive of what others say or have written if it is without reference to primary sources (or if based on hearsay). This principle has relevance in what I want to comment to you about: the commitment your government has made to fund the financial shortfall needed for installation of a statue of Mary Seacole at St Thomas’ Hospital.

I applaud the noble intention for equitable recognition for the role of ‘coloured’ pioneers among nursing (and medical) personnel. As you would be well aware Mary Seacole has been advanced for such a role as a ‘black’ pioneer for nursing in Britain – as well as in her home island. The exaggerated claims made by partisan enthusiasts to reinforce such an image do not contain credence on the basis of available evidence – however worthy a person she truly was, in herself. Support of my contention lies in the effective debunking of ten current myths about Mrs Seacole, lucidly and concisely set out from primary sources in Prof Lynn McDonald’s book ‘Mary Seacole The Making of the Myth’. It was published last year and is readily available in paperback, I will ask The Book Depository to forward your office a copy, presuming you would allow me that privilege.

May I then respectfully make this suggestion to you? I would ask you to have a member of your staff who is appropriately authoritative in history to read the book then report back to you on her/his assessment. (I can of course appreciate how limited is the time the busy Chancellor of the Exchequer can have available). My expectation is for him/her to conclude that wherever in London there is a suitable site for a statue of Mary Seacole to be installed, it is not in the grounds of the hospital of the true pioneer of British nursing, i.e., Florence Nightingale, a lady much revered in my country too. It would take political courage to require that a statue, which your government is assisting with financially, be located where it is appropriate elsewhere as a condition of your continuing support by funding. I would expect that armed with the true facts of this issue, you would not hesitate to face up to that issue in its own right.

With my kind regards

Ron Trubuhovich (Dr), OMNZ.
1st Dec. 2015