It was 1 May 1863 when George Britton Halford (1824–1910) started as the first professor of anatomy, physiology and pathology, at the Medical School. There were three students, Patrick Moloney (1843-1904), Alexander Mackie(1839-1892) and William Carey Rees (1843–1879), and classes were held in a shed erected at the back of Professor Halford’s private rooms.
In 1876 the faculty of medicine was established and took over administration of courses from the Medical School Committee. Halford was elected Dean and held office until 1886 and again in 1890-96.
Halford recommended as early as 1871, while president of the professorial board, that women who passed the relevant examinations sign the matriculation book should be admitted to the University of Melbourne. However, Vice-Chancellor A.C. Brownless’s (1817–1897) view of university education did not extend to the inclusion of women; he actively opposed the motion to admit women to the University of Melbourne in 1879, and to admit women to medicine in 1887.
In 1928 members of the family of George Britton Halford, M.D., created an endowment ‘to commemorate the work and research’ of their father, ‘to bring before the public some recent work in the Medical Sciences’. Administered from 1928 until 1947 by the Commonwealth of Australia through the Institute of Anatomy at Canberra to endow as the Halford Oration. In 1948 this was transferred to the University of Melbourne.