Sake Deen Mahomed, who was known as the “Shampooing surgeon” was born in Patna in the state of Bihar , probably in 1759. His father was a
sepoy captain, and at the age of 11 Mahomed joined the army as the follower
of an English officer called Captain Baker. He took part in several battles
and achieved the rank of Subidar (Captain).
When Captain Baker returned to England in 1784, Sake Deen Mahomed accompanied
him, apparently out of interest “to see that part of the world”. He soon settled
in Cork , Ireland , with the family of Baker's younger brother. Here he eloped
with and married Jane Daly, “a pretty Irish girl of respectable parentage”,
and also published his first book, The Travels of Dean Mahomed .
Around 1801 he went to Brighton , a growing resort because of the increasing
popularity of sea bathing for health reasons. Mahomed opened an Indian Vapour
Baths and Shampooing Establishment on the seafront, promoting it as a treatment
for ailments from asthma to rheumatism. His treatment involved lying the patients
down in a steaming herbal bath until they sweated freely and then massaging
them. “Shampooing”, which Mahomed introduced to England for the first time,
meant massaging rather than hair-washing (from the Hindi word champi , “to
At first this new technique was met with suspicion by the Brighton public,
but Mahomed won them over by offering some free sessions, and publicising the
cures he achieved for his first clients. Interest in his establishment grew,
and he was patronised by the rich and famous including Lord Castlereagh and
Sir Robert Peel. The King gave Mahomed the title of “Shampooing Surgeon to
His Majesty George IV” and put him in charge of the Royal Baths at the Brighton
Pavilion. In 1820 a group of satisfied patients published a list of Cases
Cured by Sake Deen Mahomed , and in 1822 Mahomed wrote his own medical
work about his cures.
Mahomed opened a second Baths in 1830 at St James's, London , run by one of
his sons. Showing his versatility, he also opened a short-lived Indian Restaurant
in London in1810, the Hindoostane Coffee House in Portman Square . He retired
in 1843, leaving another son to run the famous Brighton establishment, and
died in 1851.