Sutherland, John


ALS from Florence Nightingale’s closest collaborator on public sanitation, to reformer Thomas Beggs


Autograph ID: 6230
Condition: Very good, minor mount remnants on right side of back page
Description: “(1808-1891) British physician, promoter of sanitary science. Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh licentiate 1827, awarded MD 1831. His wife was a friend of Florence Nightingale, and he became Nightingale's closest collaborator, the two an effective public health reform team. They had a common philosophy of applying the best available science to problems at hand, then ongoing monitoring to ensure results were beneficial. Sutherland acted at times as Nightingale’s research assistant, finding crucial material for her; sometimes he was her secretary, reading correspondence and drafting replies for her. They shared ambitious, faith-based, goals for reform. He drafted some of her boldest statements about quality hospital care made available to the poorest, as good as that received by private patients. In 1848, he entered public service as an inspector in the 1st Board of Health and conducted a special inquiry into the 1848–49 cholera epidemic. He led a commission sent to foreign countries to examine burial laws and practices. In 1851, Sutherland was appointed British medical delegate to the 1st International Sanitary Conference (a/k/a Cholera Conference or Quarantine Conference). In 1855, at the reorganized General Board of Health, he became head of the Sanitary Commission sent to the Crimean War to deal with massive sanitary defects of the war hospitals. The Commission began work in March 1855 on the worst Scutari hospitals and brought death rates down. On 25 August 1855 he was summoned to inform the Queen of steps taken to benefit the troops. After the War he helped prepare the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army's 1858 report and the 1863 report on the State of the Army in India. Most of his recommendations were carried out, including appointing the Barrack and Hospital Improvement Commission, which visited every barrack and hospital in Britain, sanitary arrangements of each reported on, defects brought to light and remedied; health of the troops consequently improved. As a member of the Royal Commission on the Crimean War, became the "active member" of the 4 sub-commissions within the War Office, to ensure Royal Commission recommendations were implemented. According to Nightingale, he "wrote nearly the whole" of the report which benefited the Army and "the whole native population—all that has been done for them sprang from this commission". The Barrack and Hospital Improvement Commission was reconstituted in 1862 with Sutherland a prominent member; it became the Army Sanitary Committee in 1865. On his 1888 retirement, he was appointed a Medical Superintending Inspector-General of the Board of Health and Home Office.

ALS, 2pp (1st & 2nd pps of folded sheet), 7 1/4 x 4 1/2, Liverpool, May 24, no year, to Mr. (Thomas)Beggs. Sutherland has read proofs of Beggs' correspondence and Mr. Hale's paper, and states they "smashed the city tolerably." Sutherland has sent a proof of Beggs' previous article to the printer and asks if it could be held over for a month so as not make the Journal appear to "heavy." If Beggs thinks it will overcrowd the Journal's columns on one subject, then he asks Beggs to contact the printer at Covent Garden. Note: the subject is likely to do with cholera.
THOMAS BEGGS (?) variously secretary of the Health of Towns' Association and secretary of the Complete Suffrage Association. In 1846 he published "Three Lectures on the Moral Elevation of the People" and, in 1849, an essay on "The Cholera: the Claims of the Poor Upon the Rich". His 1849 " An inquiry into the Extent and Causes of Juvenile Depravity" recognized the close relationship between poverty and social deprivation on the one hand and crime on the other, but identified particularly the destructive results of intemperance.”
Type: Letter

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