Lancelot Ware

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Dr. Lancelot Ware in May 1999

Lancelot Lionel Ware OBE (5 June 1915 – 15 August 2000) was an English barrister and biochemist, he is most well known as the co-founder of Mensa, the international society for intellectually gifted people, with the Australian barrister Roland Berrill in 1946. They originally called it the "High IQ Club".


Lancelot (Lance) Ware was born in Mitcham, Surrey, the eldest son of a businessman father and musical mother. He attended Steyning Grammar School and Sutton Grammar School. He then became a Royal Scholar at Imperial College London, reading mathematics, followed by a PhD in biochemistry. He undertook medical research with Sir Henry Dale at the National Institute for Medical Research in Hampstead, London, and became a non-clinical medical researcher and lecturer in biochemistry at St Thomas' Hospital in London.

During World War II, Ware worked at the Porton Down secret research establishment. He then worked as a scientist for the Boots Company in Nottingham. During this time, he learned about IQ tests. At the end of the war in 1945, he started a law degree at Lincoln College, Oxford. While at Oxford, he founded Mensa on 1 October 1946. Initially the society was intended for the top 1% of the population by intelligence, but a standard deviation computing error meant it ended up being the top 2%, and this criterion has remained since then.

In 1949, Ware was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn and he practised in the Chancery field, specialising in intellectual property, copyright and patent matters. He was also very interested in Conservative politics. He became an Alderman of the London County Council (LCC) in the 1960s. By 1950, Ware had left Mensa, largely because of his other interests in politics and law. However, after Roland Berrill died in 1961, he was persuaded to rejoin the society.

Ware joined the Athenaeum Club in 1983, a London club. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the Institute of Patentees and Inventors, which he chaired for many years. Ware retired from the Bar in 1985, when he lived in Surrey, London, Exeter and back to Surrey again, in succession.

Lance Ware died in 2000, aged 85.

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