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Robert Barnes

Born  1817
Died  1907

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English obstetrician, born September 4, 1817, Norwich; died May 12, 1907, Eastbourne, Sussex.

Biography of Robert Barnes

Robert Barnes was one of the pioneers of surgical gynaecology. He commenced his medical studies in Norwich in 1832 as an apprentice to Dr. Richard Griffin. As his parents moved to London, he completed his studies there at University College and St. Gorge’s Hospital. He became M.R.C.S. in 1842 and subsequently went to Paris for one year. On his return he settled on Notting Hill. He taught at the Hunterian School of Medicine and taught forensic medicine at the Dermott’s school on Windmill Street, while he was obstetrician at the Western General Dispensary. He was conferred doctor of medicine in 1848 and in 1859 became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

In 1859 he became obstetrical assistant, and in 1863 was appointed obstetrician in chief at the London Hospital and, in 1865, at St. Thomas’s Hospital, where he had lectured on obstetrics since 1862. In 1875 he changed to the same position at the St. George’s Hospital, to which he was elected consulting obstetrician in 1885. He was also active at the Seamen’s Hospital, at the East London Hospital for Children and at the Royal Maternity Hospital. he was one of the founders of the Obstetrical Society of London in 1858, and from 1865-1866 its president. In 1884 he founded the British Gynaecological Society, of which he was honorary chairman until his death. In 1907 both societies were fusioned as the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine.

In 1874 he gave the Lumleian lectures «On convulsive Diseases of Women; 1877-1878 censor at the College of Physicians. He was made honorary member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1883, of the Medical Society of London in 1893, and of the Royal Medical and Surgical in 1905. Of the large fortunes he amassed, he spent richly on scientific institutes, among them the pathological laboratory at the St. George’s Hospital - which bears his name.

With James Hobson Aveling (1825-1892), Robert Barnes founded the British Gynæcological Society in 1884. He published actively, and on a great variety of women's health concerns.


  • Midwives' Midwifery. The Lancet, August 31, 1844, 1: 699-700.
  • Anæsthesia in Natural Parturition. The Lancet, July 6, 1850, 2: 39-42, 82-85.
  • An Inquiry into Some of the Relations between Menstruation, Conception, and Lactation.
    The Lancet, December 4, 1852, 2: 510-514.
  • Note on the Broncho-Pneumonia of Lying-in Women.
    British Medical Journal, March 15, 1862: 292-293.
  • Obstetrical Operation. 1870.
  • Medical and Surgical Diseases of Women. 1873.
  • Obstetric Medicine and Surgery. With his son Fancourt Barnes. 2 volumes, 1884.

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