Dr. Susan Heydon (University of Otago, New Zealand)
March 9th 2016,
The Department of History and the Centre for Global Health Histories
Berrick Saul Building BS/120
University of York
In November 1816 the King of Nepal died from smallpox during an epidemic. Following defeat in the Anglo-Gorkha War (1814-16) the government of Nepal was obliged to agree to the presence of a permanent British representative. This was unpopular. While the king’s death is widely known, it is not mentioned in any account that in the months leading up to the young king’s death the recently established British Residency staff obtained a vaccine from India and offered vaccination to the government and people of Nepal – a move that was also a diplomatic strategy towards establishing better relations between Nepal and British India. The events and wider context in 1816 tell us not only about the early nineteenth century but remained relevant 150 years later during the global smallpox eradication programme.