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Charles Dunell Rudd (22 October 1844 – 15 November 1916) was the main business associate of Cecil John Rhodes.
He was the son of Henry Rudd (1809-1884), a ‘South African merchant’ and his first wife Mary Stanbridge.
Rudd studied at Harrow School and then entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1863, where he excelled in playing rackets. Before completing his degree, he left for Cape Colony in 1865, where he hunted with the likes of John Dunn and endeavored in various business enterprises. In the early 1870s, he worked for his brother Thomas' (1831–1902) Port Elizabeth-based trading firm. In 1872 Rudd and Rhodes became friends and partners, working diamond claims in Kimberley, dealing in diamonds and operating pumping and ice-making machinery, amongst many other odds and ends. Between 1873 and 1881, while Rhodes intermittently attended college in England, Rudd managed their interests. By 1880 they had become rich and, with others, formed the De Beers Mining Company. Rudd was one of the directors and also held large interests in the main machinery supplier for the mining fields.
In 1887 Rudd's interests had shifted to gold, the previous year discovered at the Witwatersrand. With Rhodes and him as directors, and his brother Thomas as chairman, they registered Gold Fields of South Africa Ltd in early 1887. The company was structured to enormously favor Rudd and Rhodes, with its London board unaware of most of their activities in southern Africa. On 30 October 1888 Rudd secured an agreement to the mineral rights of Matabeleland and Mashonaland from Lobengula the King of Matabeleland. The agreement became known as the Rudd Concession. Matabeleland and Mashonaland form the bulk of what is now known as Zimbabwe.
Rhodes and Rudd had duped the British government and the investing public into believing that the concession was vested in the public company and made millions of pounds when the British South Africa Company bought the concession. Rudd had disagreements with Rhodes, in 1895 proclaiming that he would no longer work with Rhodes, and perhaps was unaware of the Gold Fields' conspiracy which culminated in the disastrous Jameson raid. Still, Rudd remained a friend of Rhodes and a director of Gold Fields until 1902, after which he retired to Scotland, "enjoying the life of an Edwardian plutocrat". He bought the Ardnamurchan estate in Argyll, where he built two "houses", one of which, Glenborrodale Castle, just for his guests. He died in 1916 after an unsuccessful prostate operation in London.
Rudd's first wife, Frances Georgina Leighton Chiappini (1846-1896), died in 1896 of influenza or tuberculosis. In 1898 he married Corrie Maria Wallace, 30 years his younger, and the daughter of his partner in the machinery company in Kimberley. Rudd and Frances had a daughter, Evelyn, and three sons: Henry Percy, known as Percy; Franklyn Martin; and Charles John Lockhart, known as Jack. Percy’s son, Bevil Rudd was an olympic champion 400 metre runner .
- "Rudd, Charles Dunell (RT863CD)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Roger T. Stearn, ‘Rudd, Charles Dunell (1844–1916)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography