One man’s dream
Extract from the Adelaide Register, 1925
“Who’s this chap Ruff?” someone from Australia asked me once in London. “He’s the man who brings out the standard guide to the turf.” I told him. “What has he got to do with St. George? Is big game hunting for dragons another of his sports?” persisted the enquirer. Then I saw through it all. In common with a good many of us, he had been receiving communications from Howard Ruff on the subject of joining the Royal Society of St. George if English blood happened to run in his veins. Howard Ruff landed in Melbourne yesterday, and for the guidance of the ruling spirits of Australia it may be necessary to mention that he doesn’t bring out the book which tells you the name of the horse that won the Cesarewitsch or Melbourne’s Cup fifty years ago.
Although in poor health our founder travelled to Australia in 1925 to further the interests of his greatest cause where he received an enthusiastic welcome from fellow members of his Society and leading public figures of the Commonwealth.
With the foresight of this man the Royal Society of St George was founded on the 23rd April 1894. He was born on the 12th February 1851 near Wraysbury in Buckinghamshire, where his family had been associated for many generations. He spent his early life in country pursuits and was a keen sportsman and progressive agriculturist.
As a young man in his mid-thirties he was struck by the neglect of English patriotism and on each recurring St. Georges Day – England’s Day – he wrote to the press on this subject and was the first to adopt the custom of wearing an English rose on that day.
The year 1894 witnessed the beginnings of the Royal Society of St. George to which he devoted himself with unflagging zeal and enthusiasm. All his considerable energy was given to the Society in an honorary capacity at great sacrifice to his other interests.
In 1900 he gave up farming so that he could spend his time exclusively in the advancement and encouragement of his beloved Society and the reward for his efforts was undoubtly the acceptance of Their Majesties King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as Patrons. President was HRH The Prince of Wales and Vice Patrons TRH The Princess of Wales; The Duke of Connaught and Prince Arthur of Connaught.
“The English Race”, the official magazine of the Society first appeared in February 1908 and it was due mainly to the efforts and growing strength of our Society that those serving in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force now wear their national emblems on their respective saint’s days.
Howard Ruff was presented with an illuminated address and a cheque from his many friends and members within the Society in recognition of his valuable services. The cheque, with characteristic placed at the disposal of the Society. He was a man of strong generosity placed at the disposal of the Society. He was a man of strong personality and great strength of character but at the same time was kindly, generous and broadminded in his outlook.
The Memorial Cross in Wraysbury Churchyard which bears the following inscription:
“In loving remembrance of Howard Ruff, Born 12th February, 1851; Died 29th October, 1928. Founder of the Royal Society of St George – ‘He fought a good fight and being dead yet speaketh’.”
Mr Ruff was a Past Master of the Eastern Star Masonic Lodge and a member of London Rank. A staunch Protestant, he was also a Fellow of the Huguenot Society of London and a supporter of other evangelical societies. He was a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute and the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Royal Societies Club.
He took a keen interest in the small holdings movement and in all efforts for the revival of rural life and would often write on antiquarian subjects, more particularly those associated with the City of London. He was also a member of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society and served as a member of the Holborn Borough Council.
He died at his home in West Kensington, London on Monday 29th October, 1928. At that time the Society boasted a membership of over 25,000 with more than 100 branches worldwide. He was buried in Wraysbury Churchyard where a Memorial Cross was erected by members of the Royal Society of St George.
We will remember with affection our Founder, Howard Ruff, without whom, the strength of the Royal Society of St George worldwide, bringing together a brotherhood of English patriotism, would not have survived the first one hundred years.
From The English Standard