Health, Medicine and the Sea: Australian Voyages, c.1815-1860.

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Health, Medicine, and the Sea examines how convicts, emigrants and the surgeons responsible for their welfare created medical knowledge at sea in the first half of the nineteenth century.

What was it like for Eliza Baldwinson, a young London thief, to experience (and survive) cholera, fever and scurvy as she sailed through strange oceans? What possessed Charles Cameron, an eager naval surgeon, to pillage his ship’s gunpowder stores in an attempt to cure scurvy? How did ships gain their own medical histories? This lively and carefully researched book focuses on individual and collective stories to offer a new framework for understanding the importance of health to the maritime history of colonial settlement.

Ordinary people became colonists during their time at sea. To show how sailing through different regions of the world’s oceans profoundly affected understandings of migrants’ health, the narrative follows the voyage route from the ports of Britain and Ireland, around Africa, through the Atlantic and southern hemisphere oceans, to the shores of the Australian colonies. The book touches on themes including environmental knowledge, invalidity, epidemics, penal reform, sailor’s culture, working-class mistrust of medical men and their experiments, and the politics of immigration.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press, Manchester
Number of pages250
ISBN (Print)9780719085710
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Australia
  • medicine
  • maritime history
  • colonial health
  • disease
  • convicts
  • emigration
  • nineteenth century
  • naval medicine


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