Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard (1817-1894) was an internationalist at birth. His nativity was the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, one time under French domination, but in 1817, an English possession. Charles-Édouard's father, from Ireland or Philadelphia (the record remains unclear), a captain in the Merchant Marine, died before the birth of his son, leaving no estate. His mother was French. Elementary schooling was sought at the Pensionnat Singery, but formal education was abandoned at the age of 15 to help with the family finances by clerking in the general store. The store served as the local bistro and a meeting place of poets, writers, and dramatists. The intellectual elite recognized Charles-Édouard's talents of the mind and gave him moral stimulus as well as financial backing for higher education in France.
Having passed the baccalaureate in letters in Paris, he enrolled in the École de Médecine. Prior to this scholastic accomplishment,