Margaret Barnet, Doctor, York Public Health Service

Margaret Campbell Barnet (1917 – 2008) was born in Sunderland, daughter of Peter Campbell Barnet and his wife Margaret Bell. Educated first at Sunderland Church High School, she went on to study medicine at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland and was awarded her MB and ChB in 1941. 

Margaret began her career in Birmingham working with the public health service but in 1949 she moved to York to take up a joint appointment with the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust (JRVT) and the North Riding Health Authority continuing the investigations of Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree into the health of mothers and children in rural areas. This began a lifetime association with the Rowntree Trusts and she was also active in the affairs of Hartrigg Oaks, the retirement community in the Rowntree village of New Earswick. 

In 1955 she transferred to what was then the York public health service. She specialised in children’s health and in particular the health of disabled children, and continued this work after her move to the newly created North Yorkshire Area Health Authority in 1974. There she also became a specialist in community medicine. 

Margaret was also a writer and her works included ‘The Barber Surgeons of York’ and ‘The 1832 cholera epidemic of York’. 

Beyond the field of medicine, Dr. Barnet was churchwarden of St. Olave’s Church and Chair of the Local Committee of the Church Schools Company who founded York College for Girls in 1908, as well as a governor of the National Church Schools Company in London. 

Dr. Barnet retired in 1982 and later moved to Hartrigg Oaks. She died on 18 February 2008. 

Written by Pauline Alden


Borthwick Archives, University of York

Photo: York Press