Nurse's Crimean Courage Back in Spotlight; Wales' Florence Nightingale Honoured after 150 Years

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 2, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Nurse's Crimean Courage Back in Spotlight; Wales' Florence Nightingale Honoured after 150 Years

Byline: Madeleine Brindley

SHE is regarded as Wales' own Florence Nightingale, and yet the contribution made by Betsi Cadwaladr has almost been lost from our history.

On the 150th anniversary of her decision to nurse in the harsh battlefields of the Crimea at the age of 65, steps are now being taken to honour the Bala nurse's achievements.

As her portrait in the heart of the University Hospital of Wales suggests, despite the passage of time, those who remember Betsi regard her as a modern role model for today's Welsh nurses in much the same way that Nightingale became the face of British nursing.

Liz Hewett, director of the Royal College of Nursing Wales said, 'It is unfortunate that Betsi is not as well known as her peer Florence Nightingale.

'However, anyone who reads nursing history would know the wonderful work she carried out at Balaclava. Betsy was known for overcoming obstacles to ensure that medical supplies reached the patients.

'Even though nursing has changed, the core values of nursing inspired by Betsi is essential to the practice today.

'She is one of the unsung heroines of nursing in Wales.'

Betsi was born in 1789 and brought up near Bala, the daughter of a Calvinistic Methodist preacher and poet. Her mother died when she was five.

At the age of nine, Betsi ran away from home and entered the service of Mrs Lloyd - the wife of a clergyman and her father Dafydd's landlord. There she learned to speak English, read and write and play the harp.

By the age of 14 she had left Wales for Liverpool, and later London, to work as a domestic servant. She also changed her named to Elizabeth Davis - Cadwaladr being too much of a mouthful for English speakers.

Betsi later travelled the world on a number of ships, providing support for the captains and their families, visiting Africa, Asia, South America and Australia.

She had at least two offers of marriage, according to the account of her life by L Twiston Davies and Averyl Edwards - one to an Indian prince, which she declined, another to a Captain Harris, which she accepted - only for him to be lost at sea aboard the Perseverance.

While in London Betsi, by then middle-aged, trained as a nurse at Guy's Hospital.

While living with her sister, she read an account of the battle of the Alma in 1854 in The Times, and decided to go to Crimea to help the British soldiers who were dying in their hundreds of cholera, exposure and untreated wounds. She was 65 years old.

Initially posted to Scutari under the leadership of Florence Nightingale, Betsi did not take to the Lady of the Lamp, writing in her autobiography, 'I did not like the name Nightingale. When I first hear a name I am very apt to know by my feelings whether I shall like the person who bears it.'

She left Scutari to work at Balaclava Hospital, about which she said, 'The sights I saw, I shall never forget as long as I live.'

Twiston Davies and Edwards, in their article Elizabeth Davis: A Balaclava Nurse said, 'The men were in their last stages of exhaustion, verminous, filthy, clothed only in rags...

'Many of the wounds had received no attention for as much as six weeks and consequently they were full of maggots.

'The hand of one man fell off at the wrist as Elizabeth was about to dress it.

'A dying boy, whose clothes were literally crawling upon him and whose body was almost in pieces, expressed his most earnest gratitude to a nurse when she sponged his face.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Nurse's Crimean Courage Back in Spotlight; Wales' Florence Nightingale Honoured after 150 Years


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?