Miss Campbell

no-picture-square3Miss Campbell is a real puzzle, and we will now post information on a number of candidates.  First choice (and this is a change) is Dr Helen Young Campbell, 52, LRCP LCRS Ed. LFPS Glas. (1880-1940), a highly respected child health specialist, the Medical Officer for Children in Bradford, Yorkshire, who was also a member of Lady Rhondda’s Women’s Health Watching Council in 1919-20.

puzzle-piece2-50Second choice (and until Dr Helen Young Campbell appeared on the scene, our main choice) is Dame Janet Mary Campbell, a very distinguished medical officer and supporter of suffrage. But we still don’t have convincing evidence that she was the Miss Campbell at the dinner.  But she has a good story to tell so we will continue to host her story on the Dinner Puzzle (see below).

puzzle-piece2-50And finally there are some other choices, (listed at the end of this long “page”) both medics and non medics (though a strong medical theme has emerged for this table, where only one person was listed with her initials).  Table 16 remains a puzzle in many ways.


We start with our new arrival, who started her career in South Africa, the country of her birth, and then went on to dedicate herself to the children of Bradford in Yorkshire.


On a table of four this hardly matters: perhaps Helen may have been in touch before with Dr. Desirée Gross, who was at the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Hull from 1929 – Hull and Bradford both being in Yorkshire albeit almost 80 miles apart.


Now living in St. Andrews, Helen may have appreciated the opportunity to meet up with new and old faces, in her early years of retirement.  To attend the dinner would have meant a trip down from Scotland, perhaps visiting her sister Patience in Hertfordshire and Natalie in London?


Helen Young Campbell was born on 27th May 1880 in Durban, Natal, South Africa, the eldest of five children, the daughter of Exeter, Devon, born Fanny Matilda née Clifford and William Young Campbell, barrister/mining director.  Her brother Clifford (1882-1917), married in 1910 and died in Devon in 1917.  Her sister Natalie Alice (1884-1935) was a professional soprano singer, living in London, though there are no reports I can see of performances after 1919.  The third sister, Marian Patience (1887-1954), was a supervisor for a hospital savings association (in 1939, at least), in Braughing, Herts, NW of Bishops Stortford, living with their mother Fanny Matilda.  It looks like, on returning to UK, they gravitated back to the Bishops Stortford area where her grandfather, a Charles Clifford, was born in the early 1800s, probably having relatives living there. The youngest of the five siblings, William Allen (1889- ), emigrated to Canada in 1909 and married in 1916.

Helen’s father, William Young Campbell, Vice President of the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg, cited in an interview when on a 1892 visit to London as “one of the best authorities on the gold industry of the Transvaal”, died in April 1899 while staying at the Hotel Braganza, Lisbon (noted for hosting the intellectual Algonquin Society meetings of Lisbon).[1]  The telegrams to the London press reporting his death described him as “a gentleman well-known in South Africa”. At that time he was living in South Kensington and in March had been elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.[2]

Helen qualified with the Scottish triple qualification, L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S. Ed. L.F.P.S. Glas., and also studied at Durham. She practised first in South Africa, in partnership with Ann Fenton Cleaver (also Natal born), who had qualified in 1903 from the London School of Medicine for Women with Eva Mary Handley-Read (Table 14), another medical pioneer. At this time Helen wrote “Practical Motherhood” for mothers who lived in the remote backveldt.  In 1910 their practice was at 50, Abel-rd. Berea, Johannesburg, Transvaal.

Ann Fenton Cleaver
Ann Fenton Cleaver [3]
Ann was the first South African woman to be appointed a medical inspector for schools, pioneering in the same field as Helen and going out to help the poorest in the society. Perhaps Helen gained much of her early start and inspiration from Ann, who was fourteen years her senior, though Ann had qualified only four years earlier than Helen.

In 1911 Helen, age 30, was living in a four room apartment, 86 King Henry’s Road, Hampstead,  and Ann Fenton Cleaver was listed as a visitor at the time of the census.  Helen’s sister Natalie was living in a one room flat in the house next door, No 84.  Sadly Ann died in 1922, at the age of 56, her heart having been weakened by the 1918 flu epidemic when she had worked constantly with her patients in South Africa.

In 1912 Helen took up the position of Medical Officer for Infants in Bradford, Yorkshire, where the Council had just taken on responsibility for the “Babies Welcome” club set up earlier.  She stayed for the rest of her working life in Bradford, overcoming the prejudices faced by women in medicine, as her story relates from the outset – beginning with the stormy meeting at the Bradford City Council when her appointment was being discussed, as reported in The Bradford Weekly Telegraph:

Bradford City Council meeting

EQUALITY OF SEX QUESTION.  The question of equal rights for men and women was introduced.  The Health Committee recommended the appointment of Dr Helen Young Campbell as medical officer of the “Babies Welcome,” at a salary of £250 a year. 

Mr. C. A. Glyde moved as an amendment that the matter be referred back to the committee, with instructions that the salary be £350.  Mr. Glyde said the minutes recommended the appointment of a male doctor at £350 and there was an important principle at stake — the question of taking away the penalty that was being imposed on a lady doctor.  It was proposed that she should be paid £100 a year less because she was a lady.  He stood for equal rights and equal pay for women if they did the same work as men.  If Dr. Campbell started with the committee at the salary proposed, the probability was that she would be handicapped during the whole of her connection with the Corporation.  In this position he had taken up he should have the majority of thinking people of the country on his side. 

In fact, it was said that an organisation of ladies would put in a stained glass window to his memory.  (Laughter.)  He was sure his own managing director at home – (laughter) – would support him.  He further pointed out that a baby wanted more attention than a grown-up child attending the clinic, where more salary was paid.  The reason for much of the trouble that had arisen over the subject of votes for women was because women were beginning to realise that they were handicapped and penalised because men had been the bosses too long.  Only when courting did the men make the women believe they were somebody – (laughter) – but immediately they got married the women were “also rans” or “never was’s.”   If the women came out on strike the men would have to give in within twenty-four hours; they could not last a week.  It was such things as the present proposal with its inequalities that caused women to break windows. [4]

Later, it seems, some members of the Council, without approval, bought her a house to live in as some offset.  In 1915 she was living at 30, Victor Road, Manningham, Bradford, and in 1920 – 1925, at least, at 20 Edmund Street, Bradford, the latter today being a Day HIV drop in centre, still a strong community health link.

There were of course many stakeholders in these debates: a long article on the BMJ in January 1912, on the proposal by the Bradford local authorities to replaces the current “Babies Welcome” services, run privately from 4 locations, was coming up against some resistance from the (private) medical profession who often clashed with local authorities.[5]

Within a year she was being acclaimed by the local Shipley Times as “One of the cleverest doctors in the kingdom.” [6]

In 1916 she offered her resignation over her salary dispute, and her two assistants resigned in sympathy.  It had been agreed a year earlier, when a salary increase from £350 to £400 had been proposed, that it would be postponed for a year and then raised to £450.  When the time came, the chairman of the finance committee (and local MP) went back on his promise, saying when he had said “in a year’s time” he really meant when the war was over, which he thought it would be by then.  As it wasn’t he wanted to postpone the rise until the war was over, due to shortage of funds.[7]  The Lord Mayor tried to intervene, the finance chairman said the budget had been voted on so he wasn’t backing down, a doctor from the local infirmary weighed in making unfounded charges against the clinic, and finally Helen took the high ground, and withdrew her resignation so she could show them just how wrong they all were.

I think the phrase today would be “Atta Girl!” or something like that.

In 1917, further controversy occurred when a child died of meningitis, when some tried to blame the clinic, a case she successfully defended.[8]

She was clearly appreciated as the Shipley Times further reported: “Dr. Helen Campbell came to Bradford to take charge of the clinic, and her work had given Bradford a reputation for its infant services which was unique the history of the country.  Bradford was very fortunate in having obtained the services of an able and devoted woman, ‘Dr. Campbell can do anything with a baby,’ said Mr. Pullan, ‘short of raising it from the dead.’” [9] 

It is clear why Lady Rhondda would want her support for her Women’s Health Watching Council, set up in 1919, though wound up in 1920.[10] It is this connection of course that increases the possibility that Helen was indeed the Miss Campbell at the dinner: not conclusive evidence, but the only Miss Campbell so far identified with this link.

By the time of the dinner, Helen had retired from Bradford, to live in St. Andrews, Fife.  Her mother, Fanny Matilda Campbell, died the year before the dinner, on 20th October 1932.


After leaving Bradford, and from at least 1930 until her death at the age of 60, on Christmas Eve 1940, Helen was living in West Byrn Wynd, St. Andrews, Fife, a lane running alongside the University buildings, and deep in research (often aimed at showing the results of her methods, to understand and to demonstrate what delivered the best results for her patients).  She was listed, however, for one year in the London Electoral Roll, in 1938, at 42 Wimpole Street, (in London’s fashionable medical practice area), also resident being 3 single women and 3 couples.  The couples had medical qualifications, whilst the single women (including Helen) listed simply as Miss.  It is quite possible she was resident as a patient, given her increasing infirmity.

Helen’s British Medical Journal obituary noted “She exhibited the intense and eager pioneer spirit and fearless courage needed to build from humble beginnings what became an outstanding piece of preventive medicine- the City of Bradford’s Infant’s Department.  Dr. Campbell worked untiringly at her conception of a clinic-hospital run by the city for the city, where the city’s infants could be given a healthy start in life.”[11]  She campaigned to extend the supervision of children from 12 months through to school age, but this was not achieved during her time at Bradford.

It is clear she threw her whole life into the work, refusing better offers, and “her health did not stand the demands she made on it, time did not bring about the hoped for improvement, and ultimately she resigned.  She spent her retirement studying in the library of St. Andrews and writing, until latterly pain and infirmity kept her to her room.” [11]

As a pioneering woman in medicine Dr Helen Young Campbell clearly qualifies as a remarkable person of her time, and we do have one link with Lady Rhondda.  That she is listed simply as Miss could raise a question , though Drs. Gross and Blunt are listed the same way, as is also the distinguished Dr Louisa Martindale. Her story is certainly one that should be remembered a an inspiration to others. As the notices of her death in the papers wrote, “Look for her in the nurseries of Heaven”.

[1] Pall Mall Gazette, 26.2.1892 p1  and sourced from the tourism site The Mystery of the Algonquin Society of Lisbon 23.8.2016 accessed 28.10.2020

[2] St. James Gazette, 29.3.1899 p11

[3] Source: Wikitree, accessed 28.10.2020

[4] The Bradford Weekly Telegraph, 5.4 1912 p5

[5] Shipley Times and Express 7.3.1913 p3

[6]  British Medical Journal, 20.1.1912 p157

[7]  Leeds Mercury, 11.2.1916

[8] Leeds Mercury, 5.12.1917 p4

[9]  Shipley Times and Express, 21.10.1921 p2

[10] Western Mail, 18.5.1920 p4

[10]  British Medical Journal, 11.1.1941


Dame Campbell.jpg
Dame Janet Campbell, Portrait by Stanley Reed 1908 – 1978[1]
Dame Janet Mary Campbell, 56, (1877-1954), was a pioneering senior medical officer. The niggling doubt is twofold: first “Miss Campbell” is a common name and there may well be other candidates; secondly, though she is still a Miss (she married in 1934), Janet was awarded her DBE in 1924 so it is surprising that even if not listed as Dame Campbell, a DBE would have been likely, as shown with others and their OBEs CH etc. and /or as Dr Campbell. In her favour she is both a high flying pioneer and suffrage supporter. And of course the welfare of women and children was important to Lady Rhondda and her Six Point Group.

Present or elsewhere: Dame Janet is worth getting to know, so do read on!


Our plan A for the table is to seat the more senior ladies, Misses Campbell and Solomon together, and perhaps Janet next to Miss Blunt, as the latter trained at the same medical school – though there not many options available of course.


No many clues, but meeting fellow medics and share experiences and current challenges perhaps. For someone at the peak of her career, who retires a year later when she marries another senior medic, hearing of the career of Lady Rhondda might have prompted her to reflect about her own achievements and perhaps things still to do.


Janet was born in Brighton on 5th March 1877 to Mary Letitia Rowe (born in Gosport, 1853, died aged 38 in 1892) and George Campbell, (1849 – 1943) Scottish born bank manager (married in 1875). Janet attended Brighton High School, later went to Germany for some months (acquiring a good knowledge of the language) which helped when pursuing a postgraduate course in Vienna. She graduated MB in London in 1901 (at the London School of Medicine for Women), and obtained MD and MS degrees in 1904 and 1905 – “a remarkable achievement”.[2] She started her career as a junior house surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, and senior medical officer at the Belgrave Hospital for Children (one of the few London hospitals to employ women). In 1904 she became an assistant school medical officer in London at a time when more attention was being paid to national physique and the need for more systematic medical inspection of children. She became Hon Secretary and later Chairman of the Dartford Physical Training College, founded by the formidable Swedish Martina Bergman Osterbury, aunt of Dr Anna Broman (Table 1). In 1907 she was the first full time woman medical officer for the Board of Education.[3]

Her fast track progress in promoting the welfare of mothers and children was by no means interrupted by participating in the “vanishing for the vote” campaign of 1911, when she was living at 86 Campden Hill Court, Campden Hill.

Other posts included being a medical member in the War Cabinet on women’s health, President of the Medical Women’s Federation a member of the Health Committee of the League of Nations and she spent six months in Australia studying child welfare.[4]

Particularly notable studies includes a 1917 report for The Carnegie UK Trust on the physical welfare of mothers and children, and a 1924 report on maternal mortality. She also helped in the preparation of the 1923 Hadow Report.

In 1919 the Mid Sussex Times noted that “Great satisfaction is felt in women’s circles in Brighton that Dr. Janet Campbell, whose father one time was Manager the North Street Branch of the Capital and Counties Bank (now Lloyd’s Bank), been appointed by the Local Government Board as one of its medical officers and given special charge of maternity and child welfare work.”[5]

In 1924 she was made a DBE and an honorary doctor of hygiene by Durham University. By 1929 her reputation was such that Britain loaned her to Australia – and she toured other Commonwealth countries.[6] [7] Common Cause didn’t want her to stay away too long:

Janet Australia

Dame Janet

By 1933, about to turn 56, she was at the peak of her influential career.


On 16th February 1934, almost a year after the dinner, Janet married the GMC Registrar Michael Heseltine in London, which required her to give up her civil service position.

In November 1937 Janet assisted in the efforts to help refugee children in the Basque region after the bombing of Guernica.[8]

Her leisure pursuits included horseriding and gardening and she was a JP in Surrey and Gloucestershire.[9] Her ODNB biographer writes: “She was the great pioneer of maternity and child welfare services and as such was universally acknowledged. It was not only the charming and rather diffident manner of this tall, good-looking, well-dressed woman which attracted the admiration and respect of those who came into contact with her. Her clear-thinking brain and her sound knowledge of her subject enabled her to grasp essentials quickly so that her wise, considered opinion and advice were sought by local authorities, medical officers, and hospitals throughout the country and by organizations far beyond the confines of the United Kingdom”.[10]

This much admired, “tall, good looking well-dressed woman”, died after a long and painful illness at a nursing home in Highgate (still there today) on 27th September 1954 aged 77. [11] [12] [13] [14]

It would be hard to find a more highly qualified candidate to be the “Miss Campbell” of the dinner of 1933.  Yet we may well have one in Dr. Helen Campbell.


puzzle-piece2-50Are there other candidates out there? There are many Miss Campbells. Of course, she is not necessarily a medic, even though we have a good collection. Other non-medical candidates who might gain traction are: a Miss Campbell who in 1913 was the secretary of the Lewisham WSPU, at 1 Lewis Grove, Lewisham; a Jean Campbell, a founding member of the Clerks WPSU, of 28 Berlin Road, Catford; and a Christina Campbell said to be at the same address.

puzzle-piece2-50There are three further credible medical candidates.  Dr Janet Russell Campbell, MB. CB. Glasgow (1898-1972) was a rising doctor at the North Middlesex Hospital, who qualified MB. and CB. in 1922 and DPH (Doctor of Public Health) in 1924, and had previously worked in Southampton and in Chesterfield. She would probably have been known to fellow table guest Matron Winifred Solomon who was working at Colindale Hospital, not that far away. At the time of the dinner, at the age of 34,  Dr Janet was the assistant Medical Officer for Middlesex County Council, later becoming the Middlesex Medical Officer of Health herself.

puzzle-piece2-50Dr Helen Campbell, born 10th July 1897, was based in Romford, Essex, and had worked around the country, in Birmingham, Warrington,  and co-authored a paper in The Lancet in 1929.  Trained in 1920 and 1923, she was Senior Assistant Medical Officer for Maternity and Child Welfare in West Ham at the time of the dinner and was in the same position in 1942. She also may well have met with Winifred Solomon.  She would however have been just too junior to be the Dr. Helen Campbell on Lady Rhondda’s Women’s Health Watching Council in 1920.

puzzle-piece2-50Dr Kathleen Sybil Campbell, MB, ChB Ed 1923 (1907-), of 81 Rochester Row, London, SW1, and later Medical Officer for the Zurich Insurance Co. and Medical Officer for the Overseas Settlement of British Women, and Dr. Annie Renwick Campbell, MB, ChB St. Andrews 1917, in Highgate, North London also could fit.

“Miss Campbell” doesn’t have to be working in London… and again, may not be in the world of medicine, but it is quite probable with three other medics on the table.


[1] Bid To Art website accessed 23.2.2019

[2] Dame Janet Mary Campbell, 1877 – 1954, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23rd May 2006, accessed online 1.3.2018. 

[3] Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 10.1.1934 

[4] Gloucestershire Echo, 17.2.1934 p1 

[5] Mid Sussex Times, 11.3.1919 

[6] Common Cause 24.5.1929 p2

[7] Daily Herald 26.11.1929 p10

[8] P.P. Anderson, (2017) The Struggle over the Evacuation to the United Kingdom and Repatriation of Basque Refugee Children in the Spanish Civil War: Symbols and Souls. Journal of Contemporary History, 52 (2). pp297-318. ISSN 0022-0094 accessed online 23.2.2019 

[9] Kent and Sussex Courier 18.12.1936 

[10] Dame Janet Mary Campbell, 1877 – 1954, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23rd May 2006, accessed online 1.3.2018.  

[11] Daily Herald, 26.2.1929, ©Mirrorpix, Image created courtesy of the British Library Board, accessed from BNA(www.britishnewpaperarchive.co.uk)

[12] Janet Mary Campbell, Wikipedia

[13] The Lancet Volume 223, Issue 5759 p89, 13.1.1934 Access by subscription

[14] Royal Society for Public Health, Presidential Address, by Dame Janet Campbell, D.B.E., M.D., M.S., a Senior Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, First Published 1st August 1932 . Website accessed 23.2.2019 

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