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Richard Rutt

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Richard Rutt

Cecil Richard Rutt CBE (27 August 1925 – 27 July 2011) was an English Roman Catholic priest and a former Anglican bishop.

Rutt spent almost 20 years of his life serving as an Anglican missionary in South Korea, a country for which he developed a deep affection. He was perhaps the last of the line of scholar-missionaries, beginning with Mark Napier Trollope who laid the foundations of what is now known as Korean studies. Some years after he retired as an Anglican bishop, Rutt was one of several Anglicans received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1994. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest the following year and spent the closing years of his life in Cornwall.

Early life

Rutt was the son of Cecil Rutt and Mary Hare (née Turner).[1] He was educated at Kelham Theological College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, from which he received his Master of Arts degree.

Anglican ministry

Rutt was [3] he went to South Korea as a missionary in 1954 together with Roger Tennant.[4] In 1965 he was appointed Archdeacon of West Seoul. In June 1966 he was appointed an assistant bishop of the Diocese of Daejeon by the Archbishop of Canterbury.[5] In February 1968 he became Bishop of Daejeon.[6] He was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1973.[1]

Feeling that the time had come for Koreans to take charge of their portion of the Anglican Communion, in 1973 Rutt offered his resignation as Bishop of Daejeon, intending to continue serving as a simple parish priest in the country he had come to love so much. That proved to be impossible and in January 1974 he was appointed suffragan bishop of the Church of England's Diocese of Truro with the title Bishop of St Germans.[7] While in Cornwall he learned the Cornish language to celebrate weddings in Cornish. In October 1979 he was named Bishop of Leicester.[8]

In 1982 Rutt, who was always strongly inclined to Anglo-Catholicism, voted against the unity covenant with the Methodist, Moravian and United Reformed churches.[9] In July 1985 he was introduced into the House of Lords.[10] He retired in 1990 and went to live in Falmouth, in the Cornwall he had come to love. He died in his 87th year at Treliske Hospital, Truro.[11]

Roman Catholic ministry

In 1994 Rutt became a Roman Catholic and in June 1995 he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.[12][13] He spent his last years in residence at St Mary Immaculate Parish in Falmouth.[14] In 2009 he was made a Prelate of Honour, with the title of Monsignor, by Pope Benedict XVI.[15] He was an honorary canon of Plymouth Cathedral.[15]

Korean studies and writings

While in Korea, from 1954 to 1974, Rutt studied in great depth the language, culture and history of Korea, as well as Classical Chinese. He was an active member of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch, serving on the council, overseeing its publications and serving as its president in 1974. He published six scholarly papers in the RASKB's journal, Transactions,[16] most of which reveal his deep knowledge of the Classical Chinese used in pre-modern Korea.[17] His deep affection for the traditional culture of Korea, which had in fact almost ceased to exist by the time he arrived, was particularly expressed in his very popular volume, Korean Works and Days: Notes from the Diary of a Country Priest. One of his notable works of scholarship, apart from his translations, was his annotated edition (RASKB, 1972 / 1983) of the History of the Korean People by James Scarth Gale (first published in 1927) which includes a researched biography of the author. Like Gale, Rutt was fascinated by Classical Chinese and, after his retirement, he published a new translation of a challenging ancient Chinese classic, The Book of Changes, in 1996. He later assisted the historical research of the Anglican priest Roger Tennant[18] as well as co-authoring the encyclopaedia Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary with Keith Pratt. He was a member of both the Association of Korean Studies in Europe (AKSE) founded by William E. Skillend of SOAS and the British Association for Korean Studies (BAKS). In particular, Rutt was fascinated by traditional and formal sijo and older forms of Korean poetry in general.[19][20] He owned a large collection of books related to Korea, including some rare Korean volumes, which he donated to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.[21]


Rutt developed a passionate interest in knitting and authored a history of the craft in A History of Hand Knitting (Batsford, 1987). His collection of books about knitting is now housed at the Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton).[22] Rutt was involved with the Knitting & Crochet Guild since its inception in 1978, and was its president at the time of his death.[23]

Selected works

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Rutt, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 30+ works in 70+ publications in three languages and 3,000+ library holdings[24][25]

  • 2002 — Martyrs of Korea
  • 1999 — Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary(with Keith L. Pratt)
  • 1996 — The Book of Changes (Zhouyi): A Bronze Age Document
  • 1987 — A History of Hand Knitting
  • 1980 — A Nine Cloud Dream by Man-jung Kim
  • 1974 — Virtuous Women: Three Classic Korean Novels
  • 1972 — History of the Korean People (James Scarth Gale)
  • 1971 — The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo
  • 1964 — Korean Works and Days: Notes from the Diary of a Country Priest
  • 1958 — An Introduction to the Sijo, a Form of Short Korean Poem
  • 1956 — The Church Serves Korea

Personal life

Rutt married Joan Ford (3 April 1919 – 17 September 2007) in Hong Kong in May 1969.[26] He was a bard of the Cornish Gorseth. His Korean name was Tae-yŏng No.


  1. ^ a b Debrett's People of Today (1 November 2000).
  2. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory 1975–76 London: Oxford University Press, 1976 ISBN 0-19-200008-X
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Living church 1962 – Volume 145 – Page 59 "All of my subsequent enriching experiences with the Koreans have been through Miss Roberts, the Rev. C. Roger Tennant, and the Rev. Richard Rutt. Of all the Church's work that Miss Roberts has shown me, the leper rehabilitation settlement"
  5. ^ "Assistant Bishop in Korea", The Times (11 June 1966): 12.
  6. ^ "New Bishop of Taejon", The Times (1 February 1968): 10.
  7. ^ "New Post for Korea Bishop", The Times (16 January 1974): 14.
  8. ^ "New Bishop of Leicester", The Times (1 November 1978): 19.
  9. ^ "Clergy Veto Church Unity", The Times (8 July 1982): 1.
  10. ^ "New Bishop", The Times (3 July 1985): 4.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Ruth Gledhill, "Bishops Lead Exodus to Rome – Women Priests", The Times. 24 February 1994.
  13. ^ "Catholic Church to Ordain Two Married Anglican Priests", Associated Press, 24 May 1995.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ a b "Pope Hands out Ancient Title to Retired Newquay Churchman", Cornish Guardian, 18 March 2009.
  16. ^
  17. ^ cf. Richard Rutt, "The Chinese Learning and Pleasures of a Country Scholar", 36 (1960)
  18. ^ Charles Roger Tennant A History of Korea 1996
  19. ^ The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo, ed. Richard Rutt (U. of Michigan Press, 1998)
  20. ^ Rutt, Richard. "The Translation of Korean Literature: Problems and Achievements", In Yonp'o Yi Ha-yun sonsaeng hwagap kinyom nonmunjip palgan wiwonhoe, ed.
  21. ^
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Forthcoming Marriages", The Times (10 February 1969): 10.
Church of England titles
Preceded by
John Daly
Bishop of Taejon
Succeeded by
Mark Pae
In abeyance
Title last held by
John Cornish
Bishop of St Germans
Succeeded by
Br Michael (Fisher)
Preceded by
Ronald Williams
Bishop of Leicester
Succeeded by
Tom Butler
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