Temple Row, BirminghamHenry Robertson LSA London 1828 (1807 – 14 October 1881), was a British orthodox physician and surgeon who converted to homeopathy to become the Vice President of the Midland Homeopathic Medical Society. He was a Medical Officer at the Birmingham Homeopathic Hospital, a member of the British Homeopathic Society, member of the Westminster Medical Society, and a member of the Hahnemannian Medical Society.

Henry Robertson was born in British Guiana in 1807 to Gilbert Robertson (1774–1839), a Demerera plantation owner and member of the Robertson Caribbean trading family, and his wife Eliza Thomas (born c.1787), daughter of the freed slave and wealthy entrepreneur Dorothy “Doll” Kirwan (Thomas).

Robertson was educated in Scotland, possibly at the Dollar Academy near Glasgow, where Dorothy Thomas sent a number of her children and grandchildren to be educated.

In 1828 Robertson qualified with his licentiate from the Society of Apothecaries in London. This qualification required a five-year apprenticeship and at the time was the standard route to becoming a general medical practitioner.

However, he had only passed the Society’s examinations at the second attempt, seven years after he had been first indentured. He joined his father in Demerara in February 1832 and was well liked by the colonists, although his father regretted ‘… that the bent of his mind is decidedly against following the profession for which he very nearly qualified himself. If he would only agree to follow the medical profession he might ere now live respectably settled in this colony.’

In August 1832 Henry Robertson, listed in the London Gazette as “Surgeon and Apothecary, Dealer and Chapman,” with premises at Aylesbury Street, Clerkenwell, and Doughty Street, Middlesex, was declared bankrupt, presumably in absentia.

In 1841 Robertson returned to Britain, his debts no doubt discharged by his grandmother who, in 1846, left him a substantial bequest of two thousand, two hundred guilders in her will, adjusted for the money she had already spent on “his education and maintenance.”

It is unclear when or how Robertson discovered and began practicing homeopathy but, according to Edward Hamilton, in 1843 Robertson was involved in the dispute between Frederick Hervey Foster Quin and William Hering that led to the demise of Quin’s short-lived London St. James’ Homoeopathic Dispensary.

By 1853 Robertson was listed as practicing with and assisting William Hering at Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, London.

In May, 1856, he was one of the 29 attendees at the Homeopathic Congress held at the Thatched House in London.

Henry Robertson was a colleague of  James Gibbs Blake, Frederick Flint, Constantine Hering, William Hering, Henry R Irwin, Joseph Lawrence, William Henry Mayne, John Stuart Sutherland, Edward Wynne Thomas, and many others,

Robertson later practiced in Ipswich, and at Victoria Buildings, Temple Row, Birmingham, where he was medical officer to the Birmingham Homeopathic Hospital.

In 1858 Henry Robertson married Sarah Merrick. They had three children: Henry Merrick (1862 – 1937), Gilbert Robert (1866 – 1931), and Lilian Rose (1870 – 1881).

In 1859 he was one of the four medical officers at the Birmingham Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary, along with George Fearon, Joseph Lawrence, and William A. Parsons, who signed a letter of protest directed at the Birmingham and Midland Counties Medical Registration Association for excluding homeopaths from membership.

On the evening of Thursday 15 June, 1865, Henry Robertson, was one of a group of medical men who met at the Stork Hotel in Birmingham to form a new association, the Midland Homoeopathic Medical Society. Robertson was elected a member of the committee tasked with drawing up the rules of the new society, along with James Smith Ayerst, James Gibbs Blake, John Hitchman, George Moore, William Sharp, John Stuart Sutherland, and Edward Wynne Thomas.

Robertson continued to be an active member of the homeopathic medical community. In November 1870 he was the chair at the annual meeting of the Midland Homoeopathic Society, held at the Birmingham Homeopathic Hospital.

In the 1870s Robertson relocated to Shrewsbury where he died on 14 October 1881, aged 75.

Of interest:

George Robertson MB Ch M, was a homeopath in Birmingham in 1872, and in Bristol in 1873