Roland Berrill

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Roland Berrill
Born 1897
Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died 1962
Eastbourne, Sussex, England
Nationality Australian
Parents
  • Arthur E Berrill 1865-1918
  • Clare Mary MacDermott 1869-1933

Roland Fabien Berrill (1897 – 1962) was an Australian whose claim to notability is as the co-founder (with the English barrister Lancelot Ware) of Mensa, the international society for intellectually gifted people.[1][2][3]

The founding of Mensa[edit]

Mensa was founded by Roland Berrill and Lancelot Ware at Lincoln College, Oxford, England on 1 October 1946. They originally called it the "High IQ Club". Lance Ware had the initial idea for the society, but Berrill founded Mensa in the usual sense: he supplied the start-up cash, wrote some initial idiosyncratic pamphlets and became Mensa's first Secretary.

Berrill was an unashamed elitist, who regretted the passing of an aristocratic tradition. He regarded Mensa as "an aristocracy of the intellect". He noticed with some disappointment that a majority of Mensans appeared to have come from humble homes.[4]

At an early Mensa organizational meeting, one of the people present proposed that black people be excluded from Mensa. This was met by shocked silence. Then Berrill proposed that the motion be amended to exclude "green people with yellow stripes" instead. This amended motion passed, with one vote against.[5] If the minutes of that meeting had not been lost, that statute might still be on the books of Mensa.[6]

Berrill died a few years later, having recruited in total around 400 people by self-administered IQ tests.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Berrill was born in Australia in 1897, but left with his family in 1901 and went to London. Although he was called to the bar, he never practised as a barrister but lived on the dividends of his investments.[7]

He spent most of the rest of his life in England. He had brief trips to Tangier in 1936, New York in 1937 and Durban, South Africa in 1959.[8]

Berrill was thick-set and sturdy, with a full well-tended dark beard and moustache. He had confident, protruding eyes, and firm, pleasant voice that revealed his English upper-class schooling, not his antipodean birth.[9] He believed in palmistry, phrenology, astrology and dianetics. These views were not popular within Mensa, and he was regarded by Mensans as "deficient in normal scepticism".[10]

Berrill was a member of The Men's Dress Reform Movement; he desired more colour in men's clothes, and objected to the uniformity common in those days.[11] He never married.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Victor Serebriakoff. "The Odd Way Mensa Began". Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Australian Mensa: the High IQ Society - History". Mensa Australia. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Prominent Mensans". Mensa. 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Victor Serebriakoff (1986). Mensa - The Society for the Highly Intelligent. Stein and Day. pp. 22–24. ISBN 0-8128-3091-1. 
  5. ^ "The search for intelligent life". The Independent. 2 June 2004. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Victor Serebriakoff (1986). Mensa - The Society for the Highly Intelligent. Stein and Day. pp. 25–26. ISBN 0-8128-3091-1. 
  7. ^ Victor Serebriakoff (1986). Mensa - The Society for the Highly Intelligent. Stein and Day. p. 19. ISBN 0-8128-3091-1. 
  8. ^ "Roland Fabien Berrill". ancestry.com. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Victor Serebriakoff (1986). Mensa - The Society for the Highly Intelligent. Stein and Day. p. 18. ISBN 0-8128-3091-1. 
  10. ^ a b Victor Serebriakoff (1986). Mensa - The Society for the Highly Intelligent. Stein and Day. p. 34. ISBN 0-8128-3091-1. 
  11. ^ Victor Serebriakoff (1986). Mensa - The Society for the Highly Intelligent. Stein and Day. pp. 22–23. ISBN 0-8128-3091-1.