Wednesday 24th November

Jane Bowden-Dan

Resurrecting Dr John Snipe

Nelson reboarded his flagship Victory (100) on 14th September 1805 at Portsmouth and sailed to retake command of the British Mediterranean Fleet blockading Cadiz, prior to the Battle of Trafalgar.  But before leaving his home at Merton on 13th September, he wrote to the Admiralty to commend the services of Dr John Snipe, Physician to the Fleet, who had died following an illness contracted whilst visiting Messina, Sicily, in order to negotiate the supply of lemon juice for the Navy.

A study of the ‘Nelson Papers’, found deposited at Merton after the Admiral’s death, which comprise official reports to him by officers on the administration of the Fleet during the periods 1796-8 and 1803-5; confirm that Snipe was a popular and conscientious physician.  He also enjoyed Nelson’s confidence, and contributed to the Mediterranean Fleet’s success.