Samantha Carter

Why I’m Interested in My Research Topic

My topic is about the access pirates had to doctors, and what happened due to shortage of that access.

I think it is interesting how they chose to deal with the problems that they faced and how they dealt with the issues that they came across.

Many of the pirates did not have any doctors aboard the ships and resorted to using other crew members to perform the tasks a doctor would, such as amputate crushed limbs.  In order to gain more knowledge in the medical field, when stealing from other boats some pirates would steal their medical equipment, books, or even kidnap the doctor if they had one.

pirate ship

The Most Interesting Facts About My Topic

One of the many interesting facts about my topic, is that many of the doctors on pirate ships were actually kidnapped from the ships of privateers.  The doctors graduating from medical schools all over Europe could not find work where they live, venturing out to other cities and having the same result, were recruited by the government to go on the ships with the privateers and when they were attacked by pirates, they took the doctors as they would anything else they found to be valuable.

Many of the injuries that came up were typical, expected injuries.  Most ranged from a splinter to a broken bone.  Occasionally, a limb had to be amputated but not quite as often as the media has portrayed it. How these injuries were treated is also interesting, considering quite a few pirate ships did not have a doctor on board.  To make up for this, the carpenter or even the cook were chosen to take on the role as the doctor and take care of all the injuries, diseases, and other issues that the pirates may have run in to. Historical Hospital



When pirates began their trips, it was quickly discovered that they had a major need for medical attention because of the injuries and diseases they encountered. Anything from splinters to crushed bones were likely to happen while out at sea (Moore). Despite this, many of the ships did not have doctors on board. The few that did were likely to be privateers working with the government who placed a doctor on the ship to handle the needs while they were gone out to sea. Very few pirates had actual doctors aboard their ships and the ones that did more than likely kidnapped them from privateers (Gibson). Thus, the pirates had to somehow make up for the lack, needing doctors all the time. So they delegated the responsibility to other crew members who had the tools that a doctor would, along with a similar skill set. For example, the carpenter was usually the person to amputate a leg when needed if there was not a doctor on the ship (Minister). All of this raises the question, if pirates could have had access to actual doctors, would ways of treatment and outcomes of treatment have been different?


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