Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Ellen Barron (1875–1951)

by Glenda Law

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Florence Chatfield

Florence Chatfield (1867-1949), and Ellen Barron (1875-1951), were nurses. Florence Chatfield was born on 1 February 1867 at Worthing, Sussex, England, daughter of William Chatfield, confectioner, and his wife Jane, née Porter. Educated in Worthing and London, she and her sister Emily migrated to Queensland as domestic servants, arriving on 3 June 1885 by the Chyebassa. Her widowed father brought out the rest of the family two years later.

With her sisters Florence trained in nursing at Brisbane General Hospital in 1889-92; for a short time she was personal nurse to Dr E. Sandford Jackson, and in 1892-96 she was a charge nurse there, then became deputy matron. From 1900 to 1934 she was matron and then superintendent of the Diamantina Hospital for Chronic Diseases; her work showed a 'very broad outlook and great human sympathy'. She was also supervisor and organizer of the Queensland Government Baby Clinics from their inception in 1918, and in 1920 investigated infant welfare in the southern States. She relinquished the position in 1923 to Ellen Barron, as the Diamantina Hospital had expanded from 32 to 216 beds. She was appointed O.B.E. in 1932.

Miss Barron was born in 1875 at Abingdon, Berkshire, England, daughter of John Joseph Barron, railway stationmaster, and his wife Annie, née Cox. Migrating to Queensland with her parents in or before 1884, she trained as a nurse at the Brisbane General Hospital in 1896-99 and was a staff nurse there until 1901. Head nurse at the Maryborough General Hospital in 1902-04, she trained in obstetrics at the Women's Hospital, Rockhampton, in 1904-05, and was matron of the Lady Musgrave Hospital, Maryborough, in 1906-08 and of the Chillagoe Hospital in 1909. She returned to England in 1912-13, won the certificate of the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses, and became a life member of the Chartered Society of Massage and Medical Gymnastics.

Late in 1914 Miss Barron returned to Australia and on 1 May 1915 enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service. As a staff nurse in the 3rd Australian General Hospital, she nursed Anzac casualties on Lemnos and served in England and France. Discharged on 18 April 1917, she began work in Brisbane in 1918 under Miss Chatfield in the baby clinics. Four years later she was sent to the Karitane training school in Dunedin, New Zealand, to work under (Sir Frederic) Truby King. On her return in 1923, she became superintendent of the baby clinics and started a training course for clinic nursing staffs. She retired as superintendent in 1939.

Florence Chatfield and Ellen Barron worked tirelessly for their profession of nursing throughout their lives. Miss Chatfield presided over the founding meeting in 1904 of the Queensland Branch of the Australasian Trained Nurses' Association (now Royal Australian Nursing Federation), and worked for it in many ways for over forty years. Both women were members of its council for many years, and were joint honorary secretaries in 1922-33; Miss Chatfield then became vice-president. Both served on the federal council of the association, the Australasian Nurses' Federation. They were foundation members and trustees of the Nurses' Rest Home and Benevolent Fund, Miss Chatfield becoming president, Miss Barron secretary. They were also members of the Queensland Nurses and Masseurs Registration Board. Miss Chatfield served in 1912-21 and was an examiner for many years; from 1930 she also chaired a board providing lectures for student nurses.

Tall and distinguished-looking, the two nurses lived together for part of their retirement and were seen frequently at Brisbane theatres. Florence Chatfield died on 5 November 1949 in Nundah Private Hospital. Ellen Barron died in the War Veterans' Home at Caboolture on 8 July 1951. Both were cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • A Biographical Register of Queensland Women (Brisb, 1939)
  • Parliamentary Papers (Queensland), 1930, 1, 645
  • Australasian Nurses' Journal, Feb 1932, Oct 1951
  • Brisbane Courier, 1 Jan 1932, 28 June 1934
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 7 Nov 1949
  • History of the Maternal and Child Welfare Service, Queensland (Maternal and Child Welfare Division, Brisbane)
  • Australian Trained Nurses' Association, Council minutes, 1904, 1922-45, and Annual Report, 1922-35 (Royal Australian Nurses' Federation, Queensland Branch Brisbane)
  • Health and Home Affairs correspondence (Queensland State Archives)
  • Immigrant lists, IMM 120, 122 (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

Glenda Law, 'Barron, Ellen (1875–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 18 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Abingdon, Berkshire, England


8 July, 1951 (aged ~ 76)
Caboolture, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.