Robert Robertson

Robert Robertson (1843-1910)

Medical Practitioner

Location: CofE*T*19

The son of James Robertson and Helen née Brown, Robertson was born in 1843 at Bath, Somerset, England where he obtained his MRCS, (England) in 1868; the following year he migrated to Victoria and registered with the Medical Board of Victoria as a medical practitioner. 

In 1871 he married Fyansford-born Joanna née Norton (1849-1903), daughter of Charles Norton and Susan née Meade and they resided at St. Kilda (“a pioneer in the medical profession in St. Kilda”) where their nine children were all born; Harold (1879-1910; Brighton Cemetery), Robert (1872-1901; Cpl 5th VMR killed in action Boer War), Helen (b 1873), William (b 1875), Mary (Robbie) (q.v.) (1877-1967; nurse graduate Alfred Hospital, 1906), Ada (Aida) (b 1881), twins Gwendoline and Gertrude (b 1884) and Nina (1886-1913; Brighton Cemetery). Residing at Meremar – Queen Square, Sandringham, where he was the first resident practitioner, Robertson died on 25 January 1910 and was buried two days later with his wife. The available information is scare on Robertson; he was believed to have been a lieut-colonel with the Victorian Medical Staff (retired), city coroner and also surg-colonel with the Royal Ambulance Society (1883).  

In 1871, Robertson was appointed first surgeon to Outpatients at the Alfred Hospital, and later surgeon to Inpatients (1874) only to resign 1877 amid a public outcry after the death of a patient with advanced cancer whom Robertson had operated on in September the previous year; a routine post mortem later found that a pair of bulldog forceps and sponge in the patient. Though a subsequent coronial inquiry absolved Robertson of directly causing the patient’s death, it was found that a bitter feud in the operating theatre exacerbated Robertson’s lack of concentration.

The Argus 26 & 27 January 1910.
Brighton Southern Cross 5 February 1910.
The Herald 3 November 1876.
Research undertaken by Beth Le Page and Susan Hudson.
Information supplied from Geoffrey Down (Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) from Mitchell, A., “The Hospital south of the Yarra”.