Mary Jane Seacole was a British-Jamaican nurse, healer and businesswoman who set up the "British Hotel" behind the lines during the Crimean War. She described this as "a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers", and provided succour for wounded service men on the battlefield, and nursed many of them back to health. She had met the most famous nurse in history Florence Nightingale for 5 minutes during the Crimean War. Coming from a tradition of Jamaican and West African "doctresses", Seacole displayed "compassion, skills and bravery while nursing soldiers during the Crimean War", through the use of herbal remedies. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004, she was voted the greatest black Briton.
Mary Seacole relied on her skill and experience as a healer and a female doctor from Jamaica. Schools of nursing in England were only set up after the Crimean war, the first being the Florence Nightingale Training School, in 1860 at St Thomas' Hospital in London. Seacole was arguably the first nurse practitioner.