Medicine cabinet used to treat Lord Nelson for sale in New Forest – Daily Echo

27th December 2020

The medicine cabinet that belonged to Lord Nelson’s surgeon Sir William Beatty who attended him as he died has emerged for sale in the New Forest.

It is dated 1803, just two years before the Battle of Trafalgar during which Nelson was fatally shot on board his flagship HMS Victory.

And Charles Wallrock, who runs Wick Antiques in Lymington, has put it up for sale.

Sir Beatty was unable to save Nelson who died knowing that his forces had defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets.

The cabinet would have contained a variety of tinctures from laudanum to cures for venereal disease.

Mr Wallrock said: “This is a wonderful survivor from the Napoleonic wars.

“It is dated 1803 so it is very likely that it was on board Victory at Trafalgar.

“The case is portable with a handle on top so Beatty was able to carry it around. On it is written his details: ‘William Beatty, warranted surgeon. RN. 1803.’

“Beatty was with Nelson from when he was brought down below decks after being shot to when he died. Both Nelson and Beatty knew there was no hope of survival.

“The surgeon wrote a detailed account of what happened and insisted that Nelson’s final words were ‘thank God I have done my duty’.”

He added: “This cabinet would have been full of tinctures, potions and medicines that were required as a matter of routine on a man o’ war such as Victory.

“It is a fascinating glimpse into the past, not only of naval history but medical history.

“Beatty was an Irish surgeon who rose through the ranks and served on a number of ships before becoming the surgeon on Victory just over a year before Trafalgar.

“He went on to become Physician of the Channel Fleet and was active in promoting the new vaccine against smallpox.

“He served on the committee that organised the building of Nelson’s column and remained an important member of London’s business and scientific community. He died in 1842 aged 68.

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