Report from Lynn McDonald, co-founder, 15 October 2018
The Latest Move on Mary Seacole — on a Banknote, Maybe
The Sunday Times (October 14) reported the possibility of Mary Seacole being chosen to appear on a new £50 banknote, the proposal of Labour MP Wes Streeting. Also in the competition is scientist Rosalind Franklin, whose research was significant in the discovery of DNA: “Plastic £50 note could feature Rosalind Franklin or Mary Seacole.” The picture shows Mary Seacole wearing 3 medals, none of which she was ever awarded, a point not noted either in the story or the caption.
Thanks to Nightingale Society member Ian Whitehouse for forwarding this. www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dna-pioneer-rosalind-franklin-and-crimean-nurse-mary-seacole-in-frame-for-plastic-50-note-qs67f5qfj
How to Respond?
Add a comment to the Sunday Times item? Shall we send a letter to the misinformed MP Streeting? Please say if you would like to co-sign the following letter:
Wes Streeting, MP
House of Commons
Dear Mr Streeting
We were concerned to see the story in the Sunday Times (October 14, 2018) that you have proposed Mary Seacole to be on the planned new £50 banknote. We suspect that you are misinformed about what Mrs Seacole actually did. Certainly she was a feisty, generous, person, but she did not do the things claimed for her in a remarkably successful political correctness campaign:
- She never nursed in any hospital anywhere, let alone was a pioneer nurse.
- She called herself “doctress,” for her herbal remedies, but which could also contain lead and mercury, and for which she acknowledged “lamentable blunders.”
- She was a businesswoman, who operated a shop, restaurant, bar, catering service, for officers, during the Crimean War; it was Florence Nightingale who provided care for ordinary soldiers.
- She published an excellent memoir, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, 1857, which deserves celebration for its glimpses on her travels and time in Crimea, but does not back up the wild claims for her as a battlefield nurse or pioneer.
- Rather, the memoir shows clearly that she did not ever submit an application to become a Crimean War nurse; that she met Nightingale once only, for a short but friendly exchange.
- She missed the first 3, great, battles of the war as she was busy in London attending to her gold investments (made while running a business in Panama).
- It devotes chapters to her menus and the interesting, important, people who were her customers.
Take the time to look at the facts. See the website: maryseacole.info.
We urge you also to consider that the Seacole campaign has detracted from the recognition of genuine minority nursing leaders, who deserve better.