Medical Connections

John Joseph Johnstone was my 3 times great grandfather on my father’s side.  He was my father’s grandmother’s grandfather.  I should have stated that in my last blog.  He was a surgeon but his children and their children married into families that were also involved in the medical field.

His youngest daughter Arabella married Robert Cunyngham Brown, C.B.E., M.D.  He was born in 1867, the second son of Reverend Robert Brown, of Paisley, Scotland.  ‘He was educated at the Universities of Glasgow, Durham, and Frankfurt…’.  After holding several hospital residencies and a few years in private practice he went to Frankfurt a.M., Germany and worked under Karl Weigert in his neuropathological laboratory.  He spent 12 years in the prison service as deputy medical directory from 1899.  The family was living on the Isle of Wight at the time of the 1901 and 1911 censuses of England.   He was then transferred to Scotland as the Deputy Commissioner in Lunacy.  In 1915 he was seconded to the Royal Army Medical Corp (R.A.M.C.) and given the rank of Major.  He spent time in ‘Macedonia with the 37th British Hospital attached to the Serbian Army and as a mental specialist to the Salonika Command’.  After the war he was transferred to the Ministry of Pensions where he was the Deputy Director General of Medical Services.  He retired in 1925, then for the next six years was a Commissioner at the Board of Control.  His services during WW1 ‘were recognized by decorations from the Portuguese and Serbian Governments and he was mentioned in dispatches’.  He wrote and co-authored a number of medial papers.  A friend characterized him as’ a son of the manse, he had a good brain, a handsome and imposing presence, and a sweetness and generosity of disposition …’.  He was also known for his absent-mindedness.  He died on October 7, 1945.

John Joseph’s grandson, Charles Scarf, married Hilda Lucy Robins, the daughter of Benjamin Savage Robins, a surgeon.  Robins studied at the General Hospital, Birmingham.  He was house surgeon to Oliver Pemberton, who was the consulting surgeon to the General Hospital, Birmingham and the coroner for Birmingham.  Robins later held a similar position at the Wolverhampton Hospital.  For many years he was the medical officer and public vaccinator for the Aston Union and for forty years was a certifying surgeon under the Factory Act.  He was the second son of Mr. John Robins of Dunsley Hall, Kinver, Staffordshire.  He married Lucy Dabbs.

John Joseph’s grandson, Frederick Scarf, married Gwendolin Browne, the daughter of Dr. Henry William Langley Browne, O.B.E., M.D.  He was the son of Dr. Benjamin Stocks Browne of Bishop Auckland, Lancashire.  His sister was Dame Sidney Browne.  His younger brother Benjamin Sidney Browne was also a physician and surgeon.  Henry was educated at Sydenham College and Birmingham General Hospital.  He spent most of his life in West Bromwich, Staffordshire where he practiced for fifty years fro 1870 to 1920.  He held many offices in the British Medical Association including that of Chairman of the Council of the Association.  He was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his work in and out of the association.   He was a life member of the court of governors of the University of Birmingham, he was a member of the West Bromwich town council for many years and a Justice of the Peace for the county of Stafford, plus many other public positions.  Golf was a favorite leisure activity and he was one of the founders and secretary of the Sandwell Park Golf Club. His granddaughter, Emily Scarf married Henry Samuel Ware, a physician, son of a Rector.

Dame Sidney Browne was educated at home and began nursing when she was 28 at the Guest Hospital, Dudley before transferring to the West Bromwich District Hospital where she did three years formal nursing training.  She worked briefly at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London before joining the army nursing service in 1883.  She was an army sister at a time there were only twenty sisters in the army service.  She served in the Sudan wars and was awarded the khedive’s star and the Egyptian medal and bar.  She served at Woolwich, Malta, Curragh camp, Ireland and at the Herbert Hospital, Woolwich.  She served for three years in South Africa from 1899 during the war there.  She was the superintending sister at three different base hospitals there and was awarded the Royal Red Cross.  After the South African war (Boer war) fundamental reforms were taken of the medical services.  Sidney Browne was recalled to England and given the position of matron-in-chief of the new nursing service, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.  She argued successfully for members of the service to hold officer rank.  She retired in 1906 and was then closely involved with the formation of the Territorial Force Nursing Service.  The idea was to recruit civilian nurses that would be used in military hospitals at home in the event of war.  When WW1 broke out she was responsible for the mobilization of the service and saw its rapid growth from 3000 to 7000 members.  Many served at the war front.  She was matron-in-chief and traveled all over the country and abroad.  After the war the College of Nursing was formed to ensure standardized training and examination.  Sidney was the first president and first nurse honorary treasurer of the college.  Her work was recognized at the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition of Women’s War Work where her portrait hung alongside those of Dr Garrett Anderson and Dr Flora Murray.  ‘She received many tributes for her war work, including a bar
to her Royal Red Cross and her appointment as DBE; the University of Leeds awarded her an honorary nursing diploma, the League of Red Cross Societies awarded her the international Florence Nightingale medal, and she was the first woman to receive the freedom of the city of West Bromwich’.  When she died in 1941 at the age of ninety-one she was described as ‘the modern Florence Nightingale’.

Henry’s brother, Rev. Douglas Powell married Mary Jane Octavia Sankey daughter of Dr. William Henry Octavius Sankey M.D. Lond., F.R.C.P.  William Sankey was educated at Christ College and in Brussels.  He studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and practiced at Margate for a while.  He became the medical officer of the London Fever Hospital and helped build, then opened and was in charge of the ‘new’ Fever Hospital in Liverpool Road, Islington in 1849.  He left there in 1854 and took charge of the female department of the Hanwell Asylum.  He did ‘everything in his power to establish the more humane treatment of the insane’.  Not a very robust man the work at Hanwell took its toll on him.  After ten years he practiced privately at the Sandywell Park Lunatic Asylum in Gloucestershire.  He was Lecturer on Mental Diseases at University College, London for many years.  He was one time president of the Gloucestershire branch of the Medical Association then president of the Shopshire and Mid-Wales branch, he was Fellow of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society, President of the Medical-Psychological Association, member of the Medical-Psychological Associations of London and Paris and the Medico-Legal Society of New York, etc.  During his life he made many contributions to medical journals in England and France and published his Lectures on Mental Disease.

Dr William Henry Octavius Sankey was the son of William Sankey, also a medical practitioner.  He practiced firstly in Eythorne then in Wingham, Kent.  He was married firstly to Susanna Boteler the daughter of Richard Boteler, surgeon in Eythorne.  Richard was baptised in Eastry, Kent to Thomas Boteler and Elizabeth Philpott.  Richard was married to Anne Jager, daughter of Robert Jager of Canterbury.  She had first been married to Jacob Wood.  He then took over the practice of a Dr Wood in Wingham, a relative of his first wife, Susanna Boteler.  Possibly from her mother’s first marriage to Jacob Wood.

John Joseph’s granddaughter Madeline Scarf married Robert Alfred Wilson, a surgeon.  He studied at Durham University.  He was the son of Thomas Wilson, also a surgeon and medical officer.  His mother was Sarah Hassal Huntley the daughter of George Hassal Huntley, also a surgeon.  In an article in the Spectator on August 7, 1858 it was written that in April that year George Hassal Huntley had taken out a life insurance policy for 2000 pounds.  ‘He was an active, robust, ruddy-faced, man, fond of strong exercise, and taking a great deal of it, given to dancing and field sports. He was a vegetarian in diet, rarely taking meat, moderate in eating and abstemious in drinking’.  However in June, 1857 he died and his widow claimed the 2000 pounds.  The insurance company disputed the claim, saying that the doctor had not been a sober man and at the time he took out the policy was suffering from Bright’s disease and heart disease.  There were conflicting reports by surgeons as to which was the true version.  The jury found for the plaintiff and she was awarded the 2000 pounds less the half yearly fee of just over 600 pounds.



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