Surgeons at Sea – Royal Navy surgeons’ 1793-1880 journals

Surgeons at Sea

Royal Navy Medical Officers’ journals

About the project

The ADM 101 series consists of journals and diaries compiled by Royal Navy surgeons and assistant surgeons who served on HM ships, hospitals, naval brigades, shore parties and on emigrant and convict ships in the period 1793 to 1880.

Medical officers serving in the Royal Navy were required to submit detailed records of the health, treatment and survival rates of their charges. This has provided us with journals which exhibit a completeness, consistency and coherence unlikely to exist elsewhere for this period.

In June 2008, The National Archives was successful in its bid for a grant under the Wellcome Trust’s Research Resources in Medical History programme, to catalogue the journals. The key objective of this funded project was to open up this under-utilised resource for researchers by fully cataloguing over a thousand journals.

As a result of this extensive work the records can be easily searched by the name of the medical officer, the patient, the ship or even by disease or ailment. The cataloguing also revealed some unexpected “bonus” material contained in the journals. For example, the presence of watercolour illustrations, sketches, hand-drawn maps, charts showing details of the climate, details about the lay-out of the vessels and ideas about ventilation, and details of the countries visited and people encountered.

The journals include a variety of colourful tales of 18th and 19th century ship life, from drunken rum-related incidents, venereal disease, scurvy, shark bites and tarantulas, to lightning strikes, gun fights, mutiny, arrests and court martial – not to mention ship wrecks and even murder.

These files have been digitised to celebrate the Archive Awareness Campaign’s latest nationwide theme, ‘Discovery – Archives in Science, Technology and Medicine’. Details of scientific exhibitions, open days a


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Three Wise Women versus Three Wise Men

Wise Men Visit Jesus

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king [Herod], they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  Matthew 2:1-12

Wise Women Visit Jesus

The Wise Women asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.

What does Jesus prefer?

The story of Martha and her sister Mary gives us a hint.

10:38 Now as they [the disciples] went on their way, he [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 10:39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 10:40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.10:41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 10:42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

Martha is the doer, getting the food on the table for everybody, hosting the party, and would like a little help with the work from her sister Mary.  Mary is learning and worshiping at the Lord’s feet – doing that which is of everlasting value.

The Wise Women, the Marthas, are so busy doing that they neglect to worship the baby King of Kings.  The Wise Men, the Mary contingent, brought costly gifts to honor and worship the newborn Lord of Lords.

As individuals seeking our way in this world, we need to do both, not forgetting that which has eternal value in the midst of our hectic lives and urgent responsibilities.  That is the Jane Austen way.


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Extending the Jane Austen Brand — Volvo, Subaru, Ford

One of the happiest times of my life was visiting Göteborg – the Swedish name of Gothenburg.   This lovely city, stuffed full of great museums [Lisa and I had a fascinating visit to a coat hanger exhibit– really], a world-class botanical garden, the Liseberg amusement park, and many wonderful places to eat, is the home of Volvo.  The JANE AUSTEN Limited Edition styling package would be a natural fit as well as a huge marketing success.

The JANE AUSTEN Limited Edition would include serviceable cloth upholstery with genuine leather trim — durable and practical, with a hint of dash — cupholder, trash bag and electric outlet at every seat; and unique book bins installed in the door panels for carrying paperback copies of the JA canon.  The best platform would be the Volvo S50Versatility/Estate model, noted as a compact executive car.  Other likely candidates include the Subaru Forester, an all-wheel drive crossover station wagon (aka Compact Sports Utility Vehicle) or the Ford Escape, a compact crossover SUV.  Several of these platforms come in alternative or dual fuel configurations, very eco-aware, if not exactly eco-sensitive.  Jane Austen was nothing if not aware of her environment!


Favorite customized Jane Austen Limited Edition motifs:

The Mrs. Elton — lace paint job in three colors, nearly as good as what her sister has at Barton Park.

The Sir John Middleton — a gun rack, food and wine hampers custom built for the roof rack, built-in dog kennels opening to the tailgate.

The Lady Catherine de Burgh — don’t be silly, she would not be seen in anything less than a large saloon from a prestigious marquee.





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Ratafia: Wear it, drink it or wrap packages with it?

Ratafia is a flavored alcoholic drink, and can be used to make a sort of tiny macaroon.  The flavor can come from herbs or peach or cherry pits, or bitter almonds. Care must be taken in preparing the liquer since peach and cherry pits and bitter almonds contain appreciable amounts of hydrogen cyanide!  Otherwise, enjoy!

In Catalonia, your author tasted a herb-flavored variety that was served as an apertif.

Make your own ratafia cakes:

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Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane, you are one amazing woman!  Looking good at 235, with world-wide domination of the entertainment industry, and untold legions of cult members.  Your shrines at Bath, Chawton and Winchester are visited by millions, and rival Mecca or the Ganges as sites for zealous devotion.  Sorry about the lack of candles on the cake, but it would be a fire hazard.  We raise our glasses of champagne in toast to you, the Birthday Girl!  Long may you reign! You go, girl!

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Negus — What is it? Why do old ladies like to drink it?

Negus is a drink, a style of spiced warmed wine.  Cyrille Hanson kindly shared this recipe as part of her presentation to the Jane Austen Society of North America–Southwest, held at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in June 1999.

Cyrille’s Negus Recipe

Take 1 quart of port, 1 1/2 Tbl. sugar, grated lemon peel, juice of 2 lemons, 6 cloves, 1 nutmeg, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 quart boiling water;

Warm the wine — do not boil;

Pour into heated jug with sugar. lemon, spices;

Let stand for 10-15 minutes;

Add the boiling water, stir well and serve piping hot.

You can see why old ladies might like to sit by the fireside on a cold winter’s night, sipping their negus!


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“We were no longer ‘good society'”

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