Ruddiman, Thomas (DNB00)
|←Rudder, Samuel||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 49
RUDDIMAN, THOMAS (1674–1757), philologist, born in October 1674 in the parish of Boyndie, Banffshire, was son of James Ruddiman, tenant of the farm of Raggel, a strong royalist, and of Margaret, daughter of Andrew Simpson, a neighbouring farmer. Ruddiman gained considerable proficiency in classical studies at the parish school under George Morison, and when he was sixteen he left home, without informing his parents, to compete at Aberdeen for the annual prize given at King's College for classical learning. On his journey he was robbed by gipsies; but persevering in his purpose, he gained the prize, and, having obtained a bursary, began his studies under Professor William Black in November 1690. He graduated M.A. on 21 June 1694, and soon afterwards was chosen tutor to the son of Robert Young of Auldbar, Forfarshire. He was next appointed schoolmaster at Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, partly by Young's aid; and there, in 1699, Dr. Archibald Pitcairne (1652–1713) [q. v.], who happened to stay at the village inn, made his acquaintance, and promised to help him if he came to Edinburgh.
On Ruddiman's arrival at Edinburgh early in 1700, Pitcairne procured him employment in the Advocates' Library, where he was engaged in arranging books and copying papers. On 2 May 1702 he was made assistant librarian, at a salary of 8l. 6s. 8d. a year. His employers were so well satisfied that at the end of 1703 they gave him an extra allowance of 50l. Scots. Ruddiman also earned money by copying documents for the Glasgow University, by teaching and receiving boarders, and by revising works for the booksellers. He received 3l. for thus assisting through the press Sir Robert Sibbald's ‘Introductio ad Historiam Rerum a Romanis gestarum,’ and 5l. for like aid given to Sir Robert Spottiswood's ‘The Practiques of the Law of Scotland.’ In 1707 he also became a book auctioneer, dealing chiefly in learned works and schoolbooks; and in the same year he published an edition of Florence Wilson's ‘De Animi Tranquillitate Dialogus,’ with a new preface and life of Wilson. This was followed in 1709 by an edition of Arthur Johnston's ‘Cantici Solomonis Paraphrasis Poetica,’ dedicated to Pitcairne, who presented Ruddiman with a silver cup.
In 1710 Ruddiman saw through the press a new folio edition of Gawin Douglas's translation of Virgil's ‘Æneid,’ with an elaborate glossary by himself. For his labours in connection with the undertaking he received 8l. 6s. 8d. He applied for the rectorship of Dundee grammar school in 1711, but was induced to remain at the Advocates' Library by the offer of an additional salary of 30l. 6s. 8d. After assisting in preparing editions of the works of Drummond of Hawthornden (1711), Abercromby's ‘Martial Achievements of the Scots Nation’ (1711), and John Forrest's ‘Latin Vocabulary’ (1713), Ruddiman published his ‘Rudiments of the Latin Tongue,’ 1714, a book which passed through fifteen editions in his lifetime, and supplanted all previous works of the kind. On the death of Pitcairne he negotiated the sale of his friend's library to Peter the Great, and published, on a single sheet, verses ‘In Obitum A. Pitcarnii,’ 1713.
Ruddiman's next undertaking was an edition of George Buchanan's works, in two folio volumes, ‘Buchanani Opera Omnia,’ 1715, collected for the first time. In his Latin biographical introduction, Ruddiman adversely criticised Buchanan's character and political views, a course which involved him in a long controversy. A ‘Society of the Scholars of Edinburgh, to vindicate that incomparably learned and pious author [Buchanan] from the calumny of Mr. Thomas Ruddiman,’ was started; but their proposal to bring out a correct edition of Buchanan under Burman's editorship was not carried out. In the meantime Ruddiman added the printer's business in 1715 to his other occupations, and admitted his younger brother, Walter (1687–1770), who had been working with the printer Freebairn since 1706, as a partner. The first book printed by the new firm was the second volume of Abercromby's ‘Martial Achievements,’ 1715, and Ruddiman not infrequently edited or revised the works which he printed. He mainly devoted himself to schoolbooks and works having a ready sale. In 1718 he took an active part in founding a literary society in Edinburgh, which included the masters of the high school, and afterwards Henry Home, Lord Kames, and other eminent persons. Ruddiman helped Thomas Hearne in preparing his edition of Fordun's ‘Scotichronicon,’ 1722, and Hearne referred to him in the preface as his ‘learned friend.’ His reputation for scholarship caused him to be employed in translating into Latin various public papers; and his notebooks show that by 1736 his capital had increased to 1,985l.
Ruddiman had begun, in 1724, to print the revived ‘Caledonian Mercury’ for its proprietor, Rolland, and in 1729 he acquired the whole interest in that paper, which continued in his family until 1772. This periodical was an organ of Prince Charles Edward during the rising of 1745 (History of the ‘Mercurius Caledonius’, Edinburgh, 1861). In 1728 Ruddiman and James Davidson were appointed printers to the university of Edinburgh, the patent running until the death of the survivor; and in 1730 Ruddiman, on the death of John Spottiswood, became chief librarian to the Society of Advocates, which he had so long served as assistant. The promotion, however, was not accompanied by any increase in salary.
In 1742 he brought out, with the assistance of Walter Goodall (1706?–1766) [q. v.], the first volume of a catalogue of the Advocates' Library. On 13 Aug. 1739 Ruddiman resigned half of the printing business to his son Thomas, and about the same time bought, for 300l., a house in Parliament Square, close to the Advocates' Library. William Lauder's ‘Collection of Sacred Poems,’ 1739, contained three poems by Ruddiman, besides notes. In the same year he wrote a lengthy introduction for James Anderson's ‘Selectus Diplomatum et Numismatum Scotiæ Thesaurus.’ A translation of this introduction was published separately in 1773. In 1740 he wrote, but did not print, ‘Critical Remarks upon Peter Burman's Notes on Ovid's Works,’ and in 1742 he published a sermon on Psalm xi. 7 by John Scott, D.D., with a preface by himself urging the need of genuine devotion.
During the troubles of 1745 Ruddiman lived in retirement in the country, and published ‘A Vindication of Mr. George Buchanan's Paraphrase of the Book of Psalms from the Objections raised against it by William Benson, esq.’ [see Benson, William, (1682–1754)]. He also prepared a ‘Pars Tertia’ of his ‘Grammaticæ Latinæ Institutiones,’ but did not print it, fearing that the sale would not cover the expenses. An abstract of this work was afterwards added to the ‘Shorter Grammar.’
In the meantime Ruddiman had become involved in a controversy with the Rev. George Logan [q. v.] on the subject of hereditary succession to the throne, arising out of Ruddiman's Jacobitical notes to Buchanan. Logan's ‘Treatise on Government, showing that the Right of the Kings of Scotland to the Crown was not strictly and absolutely hereditary, against … the learned antiquarian, Mr. Thomas Ruddiman,’ appeared in 1746, and was followed by Ruddiman's ‘An Answer to the Rev. Mr. George Logan's late “Treatise on Government,”’ 1747. Logan's reply, ‘The Finishing Stroke, or Mr. Ruddiman self-condemned,’ was answered by Ruddiman's ‘Dissertation concerning the Competition for the Crown of Scotland between Lord Robert Bruce and Lord John Baliol,’ 1748. In April and May 1749 Logan brought out ‘The Doctrine of the Jure-Divino-ship of Hereditary indefeasible monarchy enquired into and exploded, in a letter to Mr. Thomas Ruddiman,’ and ‘A Second Letter from Mr. George Logan to Mr. Thomas Ruddiman.’ In May Ruddiman's friend, John Love (1695–1750) [q. v.], wrote in defence of Buchanan, and was answered in July by Ruddiman's ‘Animadversions on a late pamphlet intitled “A Vindication of Mr. George Buchanan.”’ On Love's death next year, Ruddiman forgot their differences, and eulogised Love in the ‘Caledonian Mercury.’
Ruddiman assisted his friend Ames in the ‘Typographical Antiquities’ of 1749, and published an edition of Livy in four small volumes in 1751. But his sight was now failing, and early in 1752 he resigned the post of keeper of the Advocates' Library, where he was succeeded by David Hume (1711–1776) [q. v.] In 1753 the attack on Ruddiman was resumed in ‘A Censure and Examination of Mr. Thomas Ruddiman's Philological Notes on the Works of the great Buchanan,’ by James Man [q. v.] Man said that Ruddiman was a finished pedant and a furious calumniator. Ruddiman, who complained that his enemies would not let him pass his few remaining years in peace, brought out ‘Anticrisis, or a Discussion of a Scurrilous and Malicious Libel published by one Mr. James Man,’ 1754; and when the ‘Monthly Review’ in some measure supported Man, Ruddiman printed ‘Audi Alteram Partem, or a further Vindication of Mr. Thomas Ruddiman's edition of Buchanan's Works from the many gross and vile reproaches unjustly thrown upon it by Mr. James Man,’ 1756. Soon afterwards (19 Jan. 1757) Ruddiman died at Edinburgh, in his eighty-third year, and was buried in the Greyfriars churchyard. A tablet to his memory was erected in the New Greyfriars Church in 1806 by his relative, Dr. William Ruddiman. A catalogue of his library, which was sold at Edinburgh in February 1758, was compiled by Ruddiman under the title ‘Bibliotheca Romana,’ 1757. Two portraits of Ruddiman are in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; one is anonymous, and the other, perhaps a copy of the first, is by the Earl of Buchan. A portrait, engraved by Bartolozzi from a painting by De Nune, is given in Chalmers's ‘Life of Ruddiman.’
In 1756 Ruddiman had obtained a patent for the sole printing of his ‘Rudiments’ and ‘Latin Grammar.’ In 1758 Rivington published a pirated edition of the ‘Rudiments;’ but on being threatened with chancery proceedings, he handed over all the copies to Ruddiman's widow. The seventeenth edition (twenty thousand copies) was printed shortly before Mrs. Ruddiman's death in October 1769, and next year John Robertson of Edinburgh printed ten thousand copies, contending that the patent of 1756, for fourteen years, had expired. The trustees, who said they had a right at common law, brought an action against Robertson in 1771 (Information for John Mackenzie of Delvine, &c., trustees, 30 Nov. 1771). In his reply Robertson said that much of Ruddiman's work was taken from older writers without alteration.
Dr. Johnson directed that a copy of the ‘Rambler’ should be sent to Ruddiman, ‘of whom I hear that his learning is not his highest excellence.’ Boswell thought of writing a life of Ruddiman, and Johnson said, ‘I should take pleasure in helping you to do honour to him.’ In 1773 Boswell and Johnson visited Laurencekirk, and ‘respectfully remembered that excellent man and eminent scholar,’ Ruddiman, who had taught there.
Ruddiman was thrice married: first, in 1701, Barbara Scollay, daughter of a gentleman in the Orkneys (she died in 1710, and her two children, who survived her, died in infancy); secondly, in 1711, Janet (d. 1727), daughter of John Horsburgh, sheriff-clerk of Fifeshire (by her, who died in 1727, Ruddiman had a son Thomas Ruddiman, born on 4 Jan. 1714–1747, who became principal manager of the ‘Caledonian Mercury’ and was imprisoned in 1746 because of its advocacy of the Jacobite cause; his discharge was obtained by his father's friends, but he died on 9 Sept. 1747 from disease contracted in prison,) Ruddiman married, on 29 Sept. 1729, his third wife, Anne Smith, daughter of an Edinburgh woollendraper, who survived him.[The best account of Ruddiman is contained in the very diffuse life published by George Chalmers in 1794. See also Scots Magazine, 1747 p. 455, 1757 p. 54, 1770 p. 458; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vii. 280; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 622, 693, and Lit. Illustr. iv. 235–9; Boswell's Johnson; Chambers's Eminent Scotsmen; Jervise's Epitaphs and Inscriptions in the North-East of Scotland, i. 11, 201, 289; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 532, 5th Rep. p. 627. A letter from Ruddiman to a bookseller to whom he had rendered literary assitance is in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 4317, No. 71.]