William Ridgeway

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Sir William Ridgeway, FBA (6 August 1853 – 12 August 1926) was an Anglo-Irish classical scholar and the Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge University.[1]


Ridgeway was born 6 August 1853, at Ballydermot, King's County, Ireland,[2] the son of Rev. John Henry Ridgeway and Marianne Ridgeway.[1] He was a direct descendant of one of Cromwell's settlers in Ireland. He was educated at Portarlington School and Trinity College, Dublin, after which he studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge then Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, completing the Classical tripos there in 1880.[3]

In 1883, Ridgeway was elected Professor of Greek at Queen's College, Cork, then Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge in 1892. He also held tenure as Gifford lecturer in Religion at Aberdeen University from 1909 to 1911 from which was published The Evolution of Religions of Ancient Greece and Rome.[4]

He contributed articles to the Encyclopedia Biblica (1903), Encyclopædia Britannica (1911) and wrote The Origin of Metallic Currency and Weight Standards (1892), and The Early Age of Greece (1901) which were significant works in Archaeology and Anthropology.

Ridgeway was President of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1908-1910 and was instrumental in the foundation of the Cambridge school of Anthropology.[5]

Ridgeway received an honorary Doctorate of Letters (D.Litt.) from the University of Dublin in June 1902.[6] He was elected a Fellow of the British Association in 1904. For his research on horses he received in 1909 the Sc.D. of Cambridge.[7][3] He was knighted in the 1919 Birthday Honours list.[8]

In 1880, Ridgeway married Lucinda Maria Kate Samuels in Rathdown, County Dublin. Their daughter Lucy Marion Ridgeway (1882–1958) married economist John Archibald Venn in 1906.[9]

Selected publications[edit]


  • The Greek trade-routes to Britain. 1899.
  • The date of the first shaping of the Cuchulainn saga. 1905.
  • Who were the Romans?. 1907.
  • Minos the destroyer rather than the creator of the so-called 'Minoan' culture of Cnossus. 1910.



  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Sir William Ridgeway – A Scholar of Wide Range". The Times. 13 August 1926. p. 12.
  2. ^ "Dictionary of Irish Biography - Cambridge University Press". dib.cambridge.org.
  3. ^ a b "Ridgeway, William (RGWY877W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ "William Ridgeway". The Gifford Lectures.
  5. ^ "Ridgeway, William". Who's Who: 2079. 1919.
  6. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36783). London. 2 June 1902. p. 9.
  7. ^ Haddon, A. C. (21 August 1926). "Obituary. Sir William Ridgeway". Nature. 118: 275–276. doi:10.1038/118275a0.
  8. ^ "No. 13440". The Edinburgh Gazette. 2 May 1919. p. 1592.
  9. ^ Lucy Marion Ridgeway Venn at Find a Grave
  10. ^ Myres, J. L., William Ridgeway, and John L. Myres (1902). "Ridgeway's Early Age of Greece". The Classical Review. 16: 68–94.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) (The article consists of Myres's book review on pp. 68–77, a reply by Ridgeway on pp. 78–91, and a rejoinder by Myres on pp. 91–94.)
  11. ^ "Review of The Origin and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse by William Ridgeway". The Athenaeum (4088): 255–256. 3 March 1906.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
George Forrest Browne
Disney Professor of Archaeology, Cambridge University
1892 - 1926
Succeeded by
Sir Ellis Minns