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Who Was Betsi Cadwaladr?

Betsi CadwaladrBetsi, from Bala, was a Crimean War nurse who worked with Florence Nightingale and was later buried a pauper.   
She was born Elizabeth Cadwaladr in 1789 as one of 16 children.  The daughter of a Methodist preacher she moved to Liverpool age 14, then travelled around the world before eventually settling in London.  It is said she changed her surname to Davis as Cadwaladr could not be easily pronounced by English people, and her father's name was Dafydd.

Learning of the conditions suffered by the British soldiers wounded in the Crimean War (1853-1856), Betsi joined the military nursing service. Her first post was in Scutari, working at a hospital run by Florence Nightingale. After working there for many weeks Betsi ran out of patience with the bureaucracy and red tape and made her way nearer to the frontline at Balaclava, falling out with Nightingale in the process.

Working in Balaclava, Betsi made progress against the unhygienic conditions and red tape that hampered her and impressed Nightingale.

In 1855, one year before the war ended, Betsi eventually returned home in suffering from cholera and dysentery. She died five years later in 1860. 

Last updated: 26 April 2013