Loss to Humankind! Alwyn Ruddock’s immense research gone down the drain! Know about her career and research and how she ‘willed’ it to be destroyed after her death!

Facts of Alwyn Ruddock

Full Name: Alwyn Ruddock
Birth Date: , 1916
Birth Place: Isle of Wight
Marital Status: Not Known
Gender: female
Profession: historian
Education: Southampton’s University College
Nationality: British
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Alwyn Ruddock seemed to have led a very interesting life. This English historian had revived research on 15th-century naval explorations, especially of John Cabot. She was a noted scholar of her times and had researched a lot on various other topics as well.

Alwyn’s birth and her education

Alwyn Ruddock was born in 1916; the exact date of birth not been known. She was born and raised on the Isle of Wight and later obtained her education from Southampton University College which later was changed to Southampton University. There is no mention of or any information that could be obtained regarding her parents, siblings, or immediate family members. It was here that she had met the Irish-born lecturer David Beers Quinn whom she assisted in his work.

Source: Puzzups (John Cabot)

Alwyn’s early work with Quinn

Alwyn was studying in the 1930s when she happened to meet Quinn and started work with him. She took to assisting him on his two-volume work on ‘The Port Books or Local Customs Accounts of Southampton (Vol 1 1937 and Vol II 1938). She also took up teaching history at Southampton College (later University). Her work was highly appreciated and published in many of the leading international journals such as English Historical ReviewEconomic History Review, and History.

Source: Slideshare (Alwyn Ruddock’s work)

In the year 1946, Alwyn migrated to Birkbeck College, the University of London were too, she continued to contribute and publish in many reputed journals. In 1952, she was promoted to a reader position and also acquired Fellowship of Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Historical Society.

Her later work

In 1965, Alwyn Ruddock managed to lay her hands on some Italian archives which mentioned about Venetian banking system and had some details about some transactions which she claimed belonged to the John Cabot’s activities. She promised that she would produce a book soon but it never happened even until she retired from service in 1976.

Others also did not venture into this line of research since they were not sure of her finds and also they felt that if they write something on this matter, her research and book on the same subject would make all their work obsolete. It was as late as in 1992 that she entered into a contract with the University of Exeter Press for a book publication. She had started writing but could not complete it and died on 21 December 2005. It is not sure what had caused so much of delay in publishing her work-was it her inability to do so or her unwillingness to do so?

Source: Slideshare (Only her proposal sent to the publisher remains of her extensive research)

The disappointing twist to the whole story

Alwyn Ruddock had some vital finds on this subject of John Cabot and she was in possession of all the papers and sources related to it. But she had put in her will that all her papers and documents and research-related material be destroyed after her death.

This work of destroying her research material was entrusted to her close friend and neighbor who took all her papers, photographs, diaries, notes, correspondences, microfilm, and book draft and shredded them. These were then put into 78 gunny bags and burned. She had not revealed any details of her research to anyone and such vital information was lost!

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