The British Empire and its effect on Plymouth

Dr James Lind

Dr James Lind was a naval surgeon who was determined to try and figure out how to deal with the deadly maritime scourge of scurvy. He left Plymouth on board HMS Salisbury in 1747 to undertake trials on the efficacy of a number of remedies. The ship was carrying 12 sailors suffering from scurvy. He gave six different treatments to try and calculate the most efficient means to combat the disease. He found that the best cure was for a man who ate two oranges and a lemon per day. The second best was for those who drank apple cider every day. On his return he recommended to the Admiralty that bottled lemon juice and berries be served daily to sailors as a preventative measure. However, his recommendations were not taken up immediately by the Admiralty. The following year saw the War of Austrian Succession break out and many more sailors died. Lind continued to make his recommendations but it was not until Gilbert Blane became physician of the Fleet in 1795 that lemon juice was issued as a daily ration - some half a century after Lind's trials from Plymouth and after thousands of sailors had died needlessly.

Image from A History of Medicine in Pictures

Empire in Your Backyard: Plymouth Article | Significant Individuals

Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe