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Harold Sugden Rudduck (1873–1964)

by Norah L. Killip

This article was published:

Harold Sugden Rudduck (1873-1964), veterinary surgeon, was born on 8 September 1873 at Westbury, Wiltshire, England, son of Rev. Joseph Benjamin Rudduck, Congregational pastor, and his wife Hannah Jane, née Hudson. He attended Mill Hill school until the family migrated to Victoria, where he was educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School from 1887. After completing a diploma of agriculture at Longerenong Agricultural College (1889-90) he won a scholarship to the Melbourne Veterinary College where he graduated with honours in 1894 and worked as assistant to W. T. Kendall.

From 1895 Rudduck had his own practice in Bourke Street, Melbourne, lectured at Dookie Agricultural College and the Working Men's College, acted as adviser to the Melbourne City Council, was veterinarian to the Williamstown Racing Club, and held the position of meat inspector for the Brighton Town Council. In this period he began supplying farmers with the 'Stock Medicine Chest', the production and sale of which was to be a basic part of his later business.

Rudduck enlisted for the South African War in the 2nd Contingent of the Victorian Mounted Rifles in 1900 with the rank of veterinary captain. He was second in charge at the veterinary hospital in Pretoria when he was asked to form and command the Pietersburg Veterinary Field Hospital. On 15 March 1902 he married his cousin Edith May Durkin (d.1951) at Woodham Mortimer, Essex, England, with Anglican rites. He completed diplomas from King's College, London, and the (Royal) Sanitary Institute, West Kensington, and before returning to his practice in Australia toured Europe and North America visiting veterinary and bacteriological establishments. A reserve officer, he was recalled to active service in Egypt in 1915, and helped to organize the sea transport of horses.

A regular contributor to the Australasian and Australian Farm and Home, Rudduck published his popular book, The Diseases of Australian Stock, in 1905. In 1923 he set up a dispensary in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, and manufactured patent medicines and veterinary surgical instruments. Here he produced the first vaccine for pulpy kidney and contagious abortion. He had developed a thriving business with a network of travellers in south-eastern Australia. In 1929 he established Rudduck & Co. Pty Ltd for himself and his five sons, one of whom became 'Uncle Peter' the radio vet. The bacteriological testing and the manufacture of veterinary medicines was taken over by Rudduck Serum Laboratories Pty Ltd in 1939 with a paid up capital of £5. At the same time an animal hospital was opened at Moorabbin, 'the largest in the southern hemisphere'.

Rudduck, who had a lifelong interest in the improvement of breeding stock, ran a Guernsey herd at Lilydale, gradually adding an Aberdeen Angus herd and several pedigree flocks. This work, though characterized by enquiry and experiment, never reached its full potential.

Edith Rudduck had returned to England in the 1920s with two sons and after her death Rudduck married Constance Alice Jean Noonan on 12 June 1951. He had moved to Narbethong, but retained ultimate control of his businesses until his death at Bentleigh on 8 May 1964; he was cremated. His wife and five sons of his first marriage survived him. An upright figure with white hair, firmly but quietly spoken, Rudduck had a sense of humour, evidenced by his use of an eponymous trade mark, the red duck. His role as a journalist and his use of patent medicines sometimes brought him into conflict with professional veterinary opinion, but made him popular with working farmers, breeders and small pet owners.

Select Bibliography

  • W. T. Reay, Australians in War (Melb, 1900)
  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • G. Rudduck, Rudduck Family History (Canb, c1973)
  • Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, Liber Melburniensis (Melb, 1965)
  • Rudduck & Co. (Cheltenham, Melb), newsclipping book, 1928-30, and Co. records
  • private information.

Citation details

Norah L. Killip, 'Rudduck, Harold Sugden (1873–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 September, 1873
Westbury, Wiltshire, England


8 May, 1964 (aged 90)
Bentleigh, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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