Skip main navigation

Mother Seacole

This poem about Mary Seacole is an example of how CARGO Classroom uses poetry to inspire learning.

Written By Lawrence Hoo
Performed By Sophia Harari

Watch this poem being read and then use the comments section to answer the questions below.

You can read the poem below and download the transcript using the link provided.


When I ask most people to name a famous nurse from history
Florence Nightingale is remembered while Mary Seacole is a mystery

Mary Seacole was a pioneering nurse and heroine of the Crimean war
Who achieved so much its surprising that we weren’t taught more

Mary Seacole was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1805
At a time when slavery was still very much alive

Mary Seacole war not born enslaved she was born free
Which enabled Mary Seacole to create her own destiny

Mary Seacole learnt nursing skills at the hands of her mother
Who showed her that nature had many healing properties to offer

This knowledge of nature’s healing properties came from African traditions
Which had been passed down from parent to child for many generations

Mary Seacole used this knowledge to treat lots of illnesses and diseases
From cholera, yellow fever and malaria to just common sneezes

In 1854 Mary Seacole travelled to England to ask to join the British Army to serve as a nurse in the Crimean war
The War Office refused her requests to join, due to their prejudice, they believed her skills would be poor

Mary Seacole faced many obstacles due to her race and gender
But her will to help others meant that she would never surrender

Mary Seacole funded her own trip to the Crimea and set up a boarding house to help the sick
From this base Mary Seacole would go onto the battlefield to treat soldiers who need help quick

Mary Seacole become known as Mother Seacole by British soldiers in Crimea
They were so grateful for all her help and were always glad to see her

When the war was over Mary Seacole returned to England, where she was awarded several medals for her bravery
These stand as a record of what she achieved as a free woman, instead of living a life bound in slavery

In life we have people who give their all for others
Like the unconditional love children receive from their mothers

Mary Seacole was one such person who fitted this mould
That is why her story deserves to be told

Using the comments section, answer these questions.

  1. Make a list of Mary Seacole’s experiences.
  2. Share three things she achieved in her lifetime.
  3. Describe two barriers and two challenges Mary Seacole faced in her lifetime. and explain how Mary Seacole overcame these barriers and challenges.
This article is from the free online

Practical Skills for Teaching Inclusive History: CARGO Classroom

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now