Born in Norwich. Son of Harriet Futter and Philip Barnes, architect and founder of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Regent's Park. Educated at home in Norwich and at Bruges, Belgium. Apprenticed to a local surgeon aged 15.
Studied medicine at University College London and St George's Hospital; qualified in 1842. Stayed in Paris for a year teaching English following his qualification before entering general practice at Notting Hill. Assistant obstetric physician at the London Hospital 1859, obstetric physician 1863. Obstetric physician at St Thomas's 1865; lecturer on midwifery. Also worked at the Seamen's Hospital, the East London Hospital for Children and the Royal Maternity Hospital.
Obstetric physician-surgeon 1875-1885 at St George's Hospital, consulting obstetric physician 1885-1907.
Published widely on obstetrics and gynecology. Lettsomian lecturer at the Medical Society of London, Lumleian lecturer and censor at the Royal College of Physicians.
Married twice, first Eliza Fawkener; they had two daughters and a son. Married Alice Maria Hughes in 1880; they had one daughter and one son. Retired to Eastbourne. Died in 1907 aged 90.