Frederick William Rudler, I.S.O.; b. July 8th, 1840, d. January 40 23rd, 1915; aet. 75.   

I esteem it a sad privilege to be invited and permitted to contribute to MAN a brief obituary notice of a friend and colleague of long standing, Mr. Frederick William Rudler, whose association with the literary and executive work of the Anthropological Institute was intimate and sustained. It commenced with his appointment as assistant secretary of the Ethnological Society of London and sub-editor of its Journal in 1869, in which year he also joined the British Association. He was at that time in the public service in the Department of the Royal School of Mines, and was known to be a competent geologist. The then honorary secretary of the Ethnological Society, Colonel Lane Fox, expressed a high opinion of his work, and Rudler was induced to continue his editorial services to the Anthropological Institute when it was founded in 1871. He joined it in that year as a Fellow, and in 1873 was elected on the Council. In 1875 he was elected Director, jointly with myself. We were colleagues in that capacity for a single year only, as about that time he accepted a Professorship in the University of Wales, at Aberystwith. His literary merits and sound scientific knowledge had become widely known. He did much work as an editor of text-books and writer in encyclopaedias, and he was on the staff of contributors to The Athenaeum newspaper. In the Anthropological Department of the British Association, which was then attached to the Biological Section, he served as secretary from 1872 to 1879, and was chairman of that department in 1880 at Swansea, where he delivered a valuable address on the Keltic question, in the course of which he made an eloquent and feeling reference to the then recent death of Broca, by whom and by Dr. Topinard Rudler had not long before been most kindly received in Paris, and conducted over his laboratory and what is now the Musée Broca. Rudler had in the meanwhile been re-elected on the Council of the Anthropological Institute in each year from 1877, and in 1880 was made a Vice-President. That post he vacated in the following year in order to take up the work of Director on my resignation, and in that capacity (the title of the office being changed to “Secretary” in 1887) he continued to serve until 1891, when, and in the two following years, he was elected a Vice-President. He was again a member of Council until 1898, when he became President of the Institute. In the British Association, he acted as chairman of the Conference of Delegates of Corresponding Societies in 1901, and was the efficient secretary of that body for several years from 1903. He also served on some occasions on the Committee of Recommendations, which is an essential organ in the activities of the Association. He was well equipped as a lecturer for the University Extension Society and other bodies, having a clear voice, a distinct enunciation, and a marvellous memory. On one occasion, during the presidency of Francis Galton, when lectures on anthropological subjects were organised at South Kensington, I recollect listening for more than an hour to an address by Rudler full of technical matter and delivered without a single note or a moment’s hesitation.

He had not been very long in his Professorship at Aberystwith before he was recalled to the public service, and appointed, in 1879, Registrar of the Royal School of Mines and Curator Librarian of the Museum of Practical Geology. He retired in 1902. His great services were acknowledged by the conferment upon him of the decoration of King Edward VIPs Imperial Service Order.

I revere my friend’s memory as that of a man of high character and conspicuous ability.    


This obituary first appeared as: Brabrook, Edward. 1915. 'Frederick William Rudler, I.S.O.; b. July 8th, 1840, d. January 23rd, 1915; aet.75'. Man Vol. 15, pp. 33. Reproduced with permission.


To cite this article:

BRABROOK, EDWARD. 1915. 'Frederick William Rudler, I.S.O.; b. July 8th, 1840, d. January 23rd, 1915; aet.75'. (available on-line: