Sea Surgeons, Health and England’s Maritime Expansion: the West African Trade 1553 – 1660

By J. D. Alsop, published August 1990


Alsop’s short study concentrates on the seriously life-threatening commerce with equatorial West Africa. Ships surgeons in the Royal Navy feature regularly in the historiography but those in the merchant marine rarely appear. With the expansion of long distance trade during the Tudor and early Stuart era the problems of mortality, ill health and incapacitation of the crews of merchantmen became a major problem. Alsop uses two sources of data concerning sea surgeons and mariners’ health, the depositions from legal cases heard by the High Court of Admiralty and seafarers’ wills and testaments, in which sea surgeons are frequently mentioned.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Tudors | Health at Sea
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea | Merchant Marines

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