Nelson's Surgeon

William Beatty, Naval Medicine, and the Battle of Trafalgar
Author(s): 
Brockliss, Laurence
Author(s): 
Cardwell, John
Author(s): 
Moss, Michael
ISBN: 
9780199541355
Date published: 
July 2008
Paperback
Price: 
£19.99

Despite the significant role played by the health and fitness of the British crews in Nelson's defeat of the Combined Fleet in 1805, little has been written hitherto about the naval surgeon in the era of the long war against France. This book is intended to fill the gap. Sir William Beatty (1773-1842) was surgeon of the Victory at Trafalgar. An Ulsterman from Londonderry, he had joined the navy in 1791. Before being warranted to Nelson's flagship, Beatty had served upon ten other warships, and survived a yellow fever epidemic, court martial, and shipwreck to share in the capture of a Spanish treasure ship. After Trafalgar, he became Physician of the Channel Fleet, based at Plymouth, and eventually Physician to Greenwich Hospital, where he served until his retirement in 1838. As the book makes clear in drawing upon an extensive prosopographical database, Beatty's career until 1805 was representative of the experience of the approximately 2,000 naval surgeons who joined the navy in the course of the war.