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Biographical entry Barrett, James William (1862 - 1945)

27 February 1862
Emerald Hill, Victoria, Australia
6 April 1945
Toorak, Victoria, Australia
Physician and Medical scientist


Sir William Barrett practised as an oculist in Melbourne and was a lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of Melbourne. He was later Vice-Chancellor 1931-1935, and then Chancellor 1935-1939.


Born Emerald Hill, Victoria, 27 February 1862. Died Toorak, Victoria, 6 April 1945. KBE, CB, Egyptian order during World War I. Educated University of Melbourne (MB 1881, ChB 1882, MD 1887, ChM 1888) and King's College London (MRCS 1884, FRCS 1887). Resident medical officer, Melbourne Hospital 1882-83; research and teaching, London 1883-86; private practice, Melbourne from 1886; part-time demonstrator in physiology and histology, University of Melbourne from 1887; research into the eyes of animals; associated with the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital from 1888; lecturer in the physiology of the special senses, University of Melbourne 1897-1937; war service with Australian Imperial Force at 1st Australian General Hospital 1914-15; war service with British Army in Royal Army Medical Corps 1916-19; vice-chancellor, University of Melbourne 1931-34, deputy-chancellor 1934, chancellor 1935-39. President, British Medical Association 1935; first president, Ophthalmological Society of Australia 1939. Founded the Bush Nursing Association with his sister Edith (q.v) 1910.

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • James William Barrett - Records, 1882 - 1942; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Booth, Angela, The prophylaxis of venereal disease: a reply to Sir James Barrett (Melbourne: Association to Combat the Social Evil, 1915?), 15 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Murray-Smith, S., 'Barrett, Sir James William (1862-1945), opthalmologist and publicist' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle, eds, vol. 7 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1979), pp. 186-189. Details

Journal Articles

  • Barrett, J.; Robertson, R. N., 'Max Rudolf Lemberg', Records of the Australian Academy of Science, 4 (1) (1979), 133-156. Details
  • Barrett, James W., 'Illustrations of the picric acid test for albumen and sugar in the urine', The Australian Medical Journal (See Medical Times and Gazette, March 24, 1883) (1883), 343-344. Details
  • Flesch, Juliet and McPhee, Peter, '150 Years, 150 Stories: James William Barrett', Uni News, 12 (12) (2003), 4. Details
  • Medley, J. D. G., 'Obituary: Sir James Barrett', Australian Journal of Science, 7 (6) (1945), 169-170. Details


See also

  • Flesch, Juliet and McPhee, Peter, 150 years, 150 stories: brief biographies of one hundred and fifty remarkable people associated with the University of Melbourne (Melbourne: Department of History, University of Melbourne, 2003), 168 pp. Details

McCarthy, G.J.