Dr. Robert Milne (1849-1922), Chief Medical Officer for Barnardo's (1880-1919),
attending patients in Her Majesty's Hospital for Sick Children, Stepney (opened 1888).

No family has had a closer, more enduring or more honourable association with Barnardo's (founded 1867) than the Milnes, five members of which served the charity over a period of over 90 years, from 1880 to 1972. The association started with Dr. Robert Milne (1849-1922) who was Chief Medical Officer from 1880 to 1919, a period of 39 years, and continued with three of his children, Dr. James Milne (1878-1950), Medical Officer from 1904 to 1944, a period of 40 years, Surgeon Rear-Admiral Robert Milne (1881-1949), Honorary Consultant Surgeon to Barnardo's, Nurse Mary Milne OBE (1892-1972), a Member of the Council from 1952 to 1969 and Vice-President from 1969, and one of his grandchildren, Dr. [Robert] Ian Milne (1916-1969), son of the younger Robert, a Member of the Council from 1959, Deputy Chairman from 1962 and later Chairman of the Council.

The following is from 'Night and Day', Autumn 1951

'On May 10th a plaque was unveiled in our Garden City chapel* below a window commemorating the work of Dr. Robert Milne, Senior Medical Officer of Barnardo's Homes from 1870-1910 [actually 1880-1919], his wife, Mary, and his sons, Dr. James. A. Milne, Medical Officer 1904-1944, and Robert Milne Esq., Honorary Consulting Surgeon for many years. Mr. W. W. Hind Smith, a member of our Council appointed by Dr. Barnardo, performing the unveiling, said that the monument to the Milne family was to be found in the hearts and lives of countless Barnardo children.'

*Now in the grounds of the Prince Regent Hotel, Manor Road, Woodford Bridge, Essex IG8 8AE. The window was confirmed to be still there as at February 2005. The plaque is with Barnardo's.

Part of the window dedicated to the Milne family in the Garden City chapel.

Dr. Robert Milne (1849-1922)

Dr. Robert Milne (1849-1922), Chief Medical Officer for Barnardo's (1880-1919)

The following article was published in 'Night And Day' in June 1919.


'It is with very deep regret that we have to announce that Dr. Robert Milne is resigning his duties as Medical Superintendent in connection with the Homes. No one who has come in contact with our beloved physician will ever recall him other than with respect, esteem and affection. His memory lives in the hearts of the thousands of children who have passed through his hands. They have nothing but gratitude for his uniform kindness and devotion. He has not only wonderful powers of healing the body, but the power that is only given to the saints of God in being able to appeal to the heart. His departure will sever another of those links in the chain that binds us to the glorious past of this great enterprise. Not merely for his medical and surgical ability, but for his sterling Christian character Dr. Milne has made his mark amongst us all these years. His power of winning the confidence of the children and of leading them tenderly to the Great Physician has marked his whole career. In this respect he has exercised a ministry beyond price.

For the last few years the good Doctor's health has not been quite satisfactory, and our Council recognise that he is entitled to a well-merited rest. It is some thirty-nine years since Dr. Robert Milne came down from Aberdeen to interview Dr. Barnardo in regard to taking up the medical oversight of the Stepney Causeway Home. When Dr. Milne found his way into the poor little back yard of the Boys' Home and asked for Dr. Barnardo, he was directed to go to a young man who looked little more than a boy. "Is your name Barnardo?" said he. On being assured that it was, Dr. Milne in all good faith inquired if he could see the young man's father, not thinking for a moment that the veritable Dr .Barnardo stood before him!

There have passed through Dr. Milne's hands-many thousands of children of whom not a few have come in only to die, and have passed out into the Great Beyond feeling the grip of the Doctor's strong hand and listening to his words of comfort and hope. It is a great satisfaction to the Council that Dr. Milne has consented still to continue to act as Consultant to the Homes, and it is their wish that an Illuminated Address shall be prepared and presented to him as a permanent record of their deep sense of appreciation of a life-work of loyal and devoted service in the care of suffering children.'

The following article was published in 'Night and Day' in March 1923.


'With profound regret we notify our readers of the death of our "beloved physician" Dr. Robert Milne. It took place just after the last issue of our Magazine, and there has been no opportunity until now to put upon re­cord the passing of one who represented almost more than any surviving co-worker with the Founder of the Homes the "Barnardo tradition." For 39 years he was the Chief Medical Officer of our Homes. In 1919 he retired. A year ago symptoms of failing health de­veloped; his stal­wart frame began to stoop, and his "good grey head" was bent. Ultim­ately an operation for internal ulcer was found to be necessary. The patient rallied excel­lently afterwards; but within 24 hours haemorrhage set in: the good doctor gradually sank and finally he passed away on 8th November, 1922.

An excellent little biographical note on Dr. Robert Milne appeared in the columns of the British Medical Journal, founded on data supplied by his son, Dr. James A. Milne. Born on a Deeside farm in Aberdeenshire in 1849 he received his medical education at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he graduated M.B., C.M., in 1874, and M.D. in 1886. He began professional work in Edinburgh. At his first meeting with our Founder the young doctors were attracted to each other. They kept in touch; and in 1880 Dr. Milne was appointed Medical Officer to the rising Homes.

Barnardo workers who knew Dr. Milne will long remember the profound impression made upon them by the spiritual addresses which he was wont to give at the Workers' Prayer Meeting and elsewhere, and by those earnest prayers uttered in his deep and moving voice. "To me to live is Christ " is set out as his life motto in an early diary and the motto pervaded and shaped his career. The Doctor's knowledge of chil­dren from the medi­cal point of view was probably unique. At a broad estimate some 50,000 children had passed under his hands for examin­ation and treat­ment. The "Milne method" of treat­ing Scarlet Fever is named after him. It does away with the need of isolation and it is gaining ground both in Great Britain and on the Continent, particularly in France.

Dr. Milne has left three sons. Dr. James A. Milne has for many years been our resident Doctor at Stepney (now at Woodford Bridge); Dr. Robert Milne is lecturer and surgeon at the London Hospital; and Mr. [later Dr.] George Gordon Milne [father of Denys Gordon Milne, C.B.E. and Professor Eric Milne, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Ed.)], medical student. Five daughters also survive their father, as well as Mrs. [Mary] Milne, his widow. Of Dr. Milne's daughters, Miss Margaret Milne is principal of the Domestic Science Ladies' Training College, Leeds; a second [Elsie Milne] is Mrs. Stanley Bishop, of Ware; Miss Clementina Milne is Art Mistress in the Wakefield High School; Miss Mary Milne is Sister Tutor in the General Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Miss Ella Milne, A.R.C.A., is a Teacher in Hammersmith Art School. We shall deeply miss Dr. Milne's genial and kindly presence and Christian-like character and example.'

[Dr. Robert Milne (1849-1922) was the fourth son of James Milne (b. 6 Jan 1809 d. 11 Feb 1875), farmer, of South Lasts, Peterculter and Midmar and his wife, Elspet Gordon (d. 3 Apr 1879). James Milne was the fourth son of Robert Milne (b. 1770 d. 8 Jul 1838), farmer, of West Boat, Kirkton of Durris, who was the second son of Robert Milne (b. 1733 d. 30 Apr 1823), farmer, of West Boat, Kirkton of Durris.]

The Milne Family about 1898-1899

Standing: Mary Elizabeth Gordon Milne (b. 1892), Dr. Robert Milne (1849-1922), Robert Milne (1881-1949), James Alexander Milne (1878-1950)
Sitting on chairs: Margaret Thomson Milne (1883-1924), Dorothea Ella Gordon Milne (b. 1895), Mary Stuart Milne nee Thomson (1854-1925), Elsie Gordon Milne (b. 1885)
Sitting on ground: George Gordon Milne (1894-1942), William Thomson Milne (1887-1904), Clementina Isabella Gordon Milne (b. 1889)

Not in picture: Mary Thomson Milne (b. 14 Oct 1879 d. 30 Sep 1880); Thomas Gordon Milne (b. 15 Apr 1882 d. 7 Nov 1882).

The Robert Milne Family Centre

Robert Milne House now The Robert Milne Family Centre at 333 Felixstowe Rd, Ipswich was named after Dr. Robert Milne.

Robert Milne House was opened in November 1967 as a nursery home for children up to five years of age. In July 1970 a day care unit was opened. Robert Milne House was closed in June 1981 and is now run as a Family Centre by the Ormiston Children & Families Trust, a member of NCVCCO (The National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations).

The following article was published in the British Medical Journal on 25 November 1922 (p. 1050)

Medical Officer of Dr. Barnardo's Homes and Hospitals.

DR. ROBERT MILNE, whose death on November 8th we regret to announce, was born on a Deeside farm in Aberdeenshire [South Lasts, Peterculter] in 1849. He was educated at the Aberdeen Grammar School, and received his medical education at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he graduated M.B., C.M. in 1874, and M.D. in 1886. For some months he was assistant to Dr. Burns Thomson of Edinburgh, with the idea of going out as a medical missionary to China, but while in Edinburgh he began to have symptoms which were diagnosed as tuberculosis of the hip-joint. He returned to Midmar, Aberdeenshire, where he was confined to bed for a year, and in 1876, while still walking with crutches, he started practising in Midmar. In February 1880 he accepted an urgent invitation from the late Dr. T. J. Barnardo to come to London to assist in dealing with an outbreak of scarlet fever at the Girls' Village Home, Barkingside, and in the following May he became medical officer to Dr. Barnardo's Homes. Since that time - for nearly forty years - he remained their chief medical officer; he retired at the end of 1919. During those forty years the Barnardo Homes greatly increased, and now have over 7,000 children under their care. Dr. Milne was beloved by the children and most highly esteemed by every worker with whom he came in contact. His was a many sided post, especially in the early days, and many a child owes his life and limb to his surgical skill, while to many another death lost its terrors through his Christian and kindly ministry.

Dr. Milne's name will perhaps be best remembered by the medical profession in connexion with his advocacy of the use of inunctions of eucalyptus oil (or carbolic oil 10 per cent.) in the treatment of scarlet fever. He considered that systematic, thorough inunctions, in conjunction with the application of 10 per cent. carbolic oil to the throat during the first few days of the fever, modified the severity of the attack and rendered isolation unnecessary. He published articles on the subject in this JOURNAL (October 31st, 1908, p. 1333) and elsewhere. Much success in the treatment of scarlet fever - and also of measles - is stated to have been achieved both in this country and abroad on the lines laid down by Dr. Milne, and his own results were undoubtedly excellent. The general opinion to-day is, however, that in the present state of our knowledge Dr. Milne's views regarding the absolute efficacy of inunction with antiseptic oils in certain infectious diseases must be received with caution.

Dr. Milne's last illness was mercifully short. A gastric ulcer was found at operation on Monday, November 6th; all went well at first, but haemorrhage from the ulcer commenced, and he sank and died on November 8th. He leaves a widow, five daughters, and three sons; of the latter one is joint medical officer to Dr. Barnardo's Homes, one is surgeon to the London Hospital, and the third is studying medicine.

Dr. James Milne (1878-1950)

The following article appeared in 'The Barnardo News-Letter' dated 15th January 1950.

'News of the death of Dr. James Milne will bring sadness to the hearts of a wide circle of friends connected with Barnardo's Homes.

Ever since the year 1880 there has been a Dr. Milne on the staff of the Barnardo Homes. It was in that year that Dr. Robert Milne joined the Founder as Chief Medical Officer. For nearly forty years he was "the beloved physician" to successive generations of children. In 1904 he was joined by his eldest son, Dr. James Milne, first at Her Majesty's Hospital, Stepney, and then at the John Capel Hanbury Hospital, Boy's Garden City.

Thousands of boys and girls came under Dr. James Milne's medical care and supervision and, like his father, he endeared himself to patients and staff alike. To all he was affectionately known as "Dr. Jim". For many years he edited the "Guild Messenger" and had wide contacts with our Old Boys, in whom he took a deep interest, and kind enquiries after "Dr. Jim" were a frequent feature of Old Boys' Letters.

His brother, Dr. Robert Milne, who was Hon. Consulting Surgeon to these Homes, passed away only a few weeks ago.

A large number of staff, together with Members of Council, attended the funeral service at the Garden City Church on Wednesday, 11th January, conducted by the Rev. H. L. Hughes. Our warmest sympathy goes to the members of Dr. James Milne's family.'

See also 'Night and Day' Autumn 1950.

Dr. [Robert] Ian Milne (1916-1969)

Dr. R. Ian Milne with Mr. V. L. Cornish - The Guild Messenger, November 1969.

The following article appeared in 'Barnardo News', February 1970.

Over 500 people from all walks of life gathered at St. Saviour's Parish Church, Hampstead, on January 22 to pay their last respects to Dr. Robert Ian Milne, Deputy Chairman of Barnardo's Council, who died on December 24. People from medicine and industry, from coroners' offices and the police force, Members of Barnardo Council and past and present members of Barnardo staff, relatives and friends of Dr. Milne, who served Barnardo's for 10 years, attended a service in his memory.

The address was given by Professor Francis E. Camps, the Home Office pathologist, and prayers were offered by the Rev. J. C. Neil-Smith, M.A., Vicar of St. Saviour's, the Rev. W. E. Charles, M.A., Honorary Chaplain to Dr. Barnardo's, and by the Rev. H. L. Hughes, former member of Barnardo staff. The lesson, I Corinthians, xiii, was read by Dr. Milne's son, Mr. A. Milne. In his address Professor Camps said:

'Dr. R. Ian Milne's grandfather, another Robert, was Medical Officer to Dr. Barnardo's and a personal friend of the doctor himself, and it was, therefore, particularly fitting that at the time of his death he was Acting Chairman. This was no casual position, because he devoted a great deal of his spare time to active participation in the organisation, visiting the homes, sharing their problems and stimulating new activities such as the Adventure Training Scheme. So too, his association with the London, where he learnt his medicine, followed that of his father, who was not only a great surgeon but specialised in orthopaedic surgery, and was not limited to a benign Supervision as Coroner, because he also took an active part in teaching at post-graduate courses and was always glad to see London students in his own Court, and to help young doctors when they were giving evidence at inquests. This does not mean that he was prepared to accept shoddy preparation or appearance, for he had no hesitation in requesting the attendance of a doctor in his room to suggest an improvement in manners or appearance. No preference was shown to anyone and, on occasion, this attitude was not always appreciated, but to Ian a mistake was a mistake, regardless of who made it, and where he came from. Yet, coupled with this standard went a great deal of understanding, whether it be the old person living alone, the mother who had lost her child, or doctor with whom he felt he had been irritable.'

'His medical academic career was curtailed by the pressure of war but there is no doubt that he had all the assets which go to make for a good doctor and even when he was young he showed a surprising maturity in dealing with patients as I saw when he was associated with the transfusion of an industrial magnate who had had a secondary haemorrhage. No doubt this was in part developed. from his outstanding ability in 'crewing', for he was in international class in 1938. Another great interest was fly fishing. I have painted this picture of lan, and what he achieved, to emphasise the other side of the picture, and what to me has established him as "great", not only because in my own field he has made a great contribution, both to the academic and practical sides of forensic medicine. On the one hand, by supporting and stimulating a move from the status quo, and on the other because of his aptitude and willingness to teach the problems which can and do beset the young doctor.'

'When he came out of the Navy, after the war, he was suffering from the effects of amoebic dysentery, and whilst recovering from this he continued to achieve not only his Cambridge M.B., but also his M.R.C.P., and for a time worked in the Medical Unit at the London. After this he went into general practice in Newquay, only to have his prospects ruined when he found that he had pulmonary tuberculosis. This was the first of a series of setbacks which dogged his life, and which exemplifies his whole character and courage. The days of specific dry treatment for tuberculosis had not yet arrived, but after a period he ended up in Midhurst. He did Medical Boards, and at one stage was part-time Registrar at Wanstead Hospital, later he was appointed Assistant Deputy Coroner. He had started reading for the Bar when once again the blow fell, and he was found to have a tuberculous spine, which warded him for some time in the Westminster Hospital. There he read for the Bar, and eventually passed the examinations with distinction, and later he became Coroner, first at Southwark and later at St. Pancras. These posts he filled with distinction.'

'Once again he was to be faced with a crisis, for after what seemed to be a simple hepatitis, an examination showed that his blood count was abnormal. In spite of this, when I talked to him I was filled with admiration that he bore no ill-will to fate, and then the final blow fell. Although even shortly before his death he was telling the nurses in University College Hospital that he was a fraud taking up their time. This truly reflected a philosophy - of kindness, realism, and faith, but above all his courage. I end by quoting Winston Churchill who said: "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality which guarantees all others."'

Miss Mary E. G. Milne O.B.E. (1892-1972)

Miss M. E. G. Milne, who recently retired from the Barnardo Council after 17 years' service, with Mr. T. F. Tucker, formerly General Superintendent of Barnardo's. Mr. Tucker, who is chairman of the Barnardo Guild Committee, presented Miss Milne with a bound copy of 'Barnardo of Stepney' at an informal reception recently, when the Guild Committee said 'thank you' to Miss Milne for her interest in the old boys and girls. - Barnardo News, November 1969.

Mary Milne trained in the Nightingale School of Nursing, St. Thomas's Hospital, from 1915 to 1918, and was awarded a Gold Medal. In 1926 Miss Milne was appointed Sister Tutor to the General Hospital, Johannesburg. Later she was offered the post of Matron at St. Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, London W2, whilst still in South Africa, and without an interview. She held this post from 1928 to 1933, and again from 1940 to 1949. In the interim period, she was assistant to the Matron-in-Chief of the London County Council, for one year, and Matron of the Leeds General Infirmary. She was an active member of the Royal College of Nursing and the Association of Hospital Matrons.

Miss Milne was a member of the Central Health Services Council and was at one time Chairman of the Nursing Services Sub-Committee. She was also a member of the Management Committee of the Paddington Group of Hospitals and the Chairman of its Nursing Sub-Committee.

In 1945 Miss Milne was awarded the Most Noble Order of the British Empire.

Miss Milne's connections with Dr. Barnardo's went back many years. Her father, Dr. Robert Milne, was the first Barnardo Medical Officer of Health, and she often recalled, as a child, visiting Stepney Causeway with her father and seeing and meeting Dr. Barnardo. In 1951 Miss Milne was invited to join the Barnardo Council and over the next 18 years she visited practically every Barnardo home in this country and on a trip to South Africa called in at the Kenya home. For many years she served on the General Purposes Committee, and when she retired from the Council in 1969 was created a Vice-President of the organization.

Miss Milne was a regular worshipper at St. Matthew's Church and at the Presbyterian Church, Bayswater (now the United Reformed Church).

See also 'For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr Barnardo's: 120 Years of Caring for Children' by June Rose (ISBN: 0340373199)