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Ships Surgeons on Convict Ships 1787-1868$39.60 AUDby Jack Walton with Lesley Williams & Sam Mellick
Over 160,000 convicts were transported in sailing ships from England to Australia before this practice ceased in 1868. Each vessel had its own surgeon who acted more as a general practitioner than a surgeon - a doctor whose patients were always with him and whose resources were limited to those he brought on board at the beginning of voyages of half a year or more.
The passages to Australia were frequently hazardous, sometimes involving mutiny, assaults, shipwrecks, and always the danger of being infected by the diseases often rife on the ship. Some surgeons died of scurvy and dysentery and others were afflicted with bronchitis which remained with them for the rest of their lives.
The expression ‘Go to sea for your health’s sake’ would have seemed incongruous to many of these surgeons, but frequently it was observed that convicts often seemed healthier at the end of the passage to Australia than at the beginning. The responsibility for the health of all passengers was in the hands of the ships surgeon.
Hard cover, section sewn, ISBN 978 1 876344603