© 2016

The Surgions Mate

The First Compendium on Naval Medicine, Surgery and Drug Therapy (London 1617). Edited and Annotated by Irmgard Müller

  • Irmgard Müller
  • Presents the most important ship medicine handbook ("The Surgions Mate") in a modern reproduction

  • Includes a detailed commentary on a text that revolutionized ship medicine

  • With a comprehensive index of drugs and instruments used in 16th-17th century ship medicine


Part of the Classic Texts in the Sciences book series (CTS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vi
  2. John Woodall
    Pages 1-23
  3. John Woodall
    Pages 263-325
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 327-343

About this book


This book reproduces and comments John Woodall’s handbook which was used as standard text for medical treatment at sea in the seventeenth century and was the first instruction for medical service aboard on the whole.

In 1612 the East India Company, founded in London 1600 and invested with special royal privileges and authority, appointed John Woodall as its first surgeon-general, who had gained great medical experience at theatres of war abroad. Woodall was appointed the task to radically reform the medical aid on sailing ships and to supervise the education of talented ship doctors. He was the first one to establish standardized regulations concerning the provision of instruments and medicaments on board. To this end he wrote an instructive manual for ship surgeons with the title “The Surgions Mate”, published in 1617 in London and edited repeatedly until 1655, listing essential instruments and remedies for the use at sea and providing detailed annotations. The manual’s particularities include notes on the portion of paracelsian drugs, the first enema of tobacco, the treatment of gunshot wounds and the strong recommendation of lemon juice against scurvy. Moreover, descriptions of injuries, instruments, and many diseases as a result of Woodall’s extended personal observations at sea are given.

The present edition of this exceptional classic includes comprehensive annotations on the first medical chest and its application on sailing ships. Also, the implications of Woodall’s achievements in regard to the development of ship medicine and pharmacy in other seafaring nations are discussed. The book will appeal to historians of medicine and interested readers alike.


The Surgions Mate paracelsian drugs sea diseases sea medicine seventeenth century medicine

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.BaselSwitzerland

Editors and affiliations

  • Irmgard Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BochumWittenGermany

About the editors

Prof. Irmgard Müller is Emeritus Professor in History of Medicine at the University of Bochum and an outstanding researcher in the field.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Surgions Mate
  • Book Subtitle The First Compendium on Naval Medicine, Surgery and Drug Therapy (London 1617). Edited and Annotated by Irmgard Müller
  • Authors John Woodall
  • Editors Irmgard Müller
  • Series Title Classic Texts in the Sciences
  • Series Abbreviated Title Classic Texts in the Sciences
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Birkhäuser, Cham
  • eBook Packages Mathematics and Statistics Mathematics and Statistics (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-25572-9
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-79811-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-25574-3
  • Series ISSN 2365-9963
  • Series E-ISSN 2365-9971
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages VI, 343
  • Number of Illustrations 4 b/w illustrations, 148 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Medicine
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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