School of Economics

Passing of Donald Rutherford

The School of Economics is saddened to share the news that a former colleague, Donald Rutherford, who retired on 30 September of 2009, has passed away. Donald spent the majority of his career at the University of Edinburgh.

Donald Rutherford, a long serving member of the School of Economics and, prior to that, the Department of Economics, at the University of Edinburgh, has passed away shortly before his 81 st birthday. His long career in Economics at Edinburgh began when he took up a lectureship in 1969. He retired in 2009. In addition to his lecturing duties, he was for many years an Associate Dean and his early years at Edinburgh also saw him acting as a warden at the Pollock Halls of residence. Donald was a leading expert on the history of economic thought. He left behind a highly regarded Dictionary of Economics (now in its third edition) as well as the popular work Economics: Key Concepts. A monograph, entitled In the Shadow of Adam Smith, explored the impact of Smith’s work on later economists. His last book, Suspicions of Markets: Critical Attacks from Aristotle to the Twenty-First Century, is an historical tour de force. Donald was also the editor of the masterful two volume Dictionary of British Economists. His colleagues will remember him as a sociable and intellectually stimulating colleague. In a discipline that became increasingly specialised over his career, he stood out for his breadth of knowledge and his deep understanding of the foundations and principles of economics. His students will remember him for the many popular courses he created. He was particularly proud of his History of Economic Thought course which he continued to teach during his retirement up to 2017. He also supervised many dissertations over the years. His broad interests and knowledge meant he supervised students on topics which ran from Adam Smith, through Christian economics to the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Community. In his retirement he continued to write books and recently helped design an economicsthemed walking tour of Edinburgh which covered almost 300 years of economic thought in the city. Beginning at Riddle Court (the home of David Hume) and ending at Buccleuch Place (where the Edinburgh Review was founded and the home of the current School of Economics), it reflected Donald’s wide interests and love of Edinburgh and the history of economics. Donald was a member of the Tuesday Club, an Edinburgh dining and debating society, as well as the New Club, a members’ Club on Princes Street. He was a member of the congregation of St Michael & All Saints’ Church, Edinburgh, and served a term on the vestry (its governing body). He was a regular reader of the Church Times and contributed from time to time to its letters page. Donald enjoyed visiting English Cathedral cities and was a member of the Friends of several Cathedrals. Donald’s undergraduate studies were at the Queen’s College, Oxford. Whilst he was an undergraduate, he founded the College Rambling Club. Donald graduated from Oxford in 1962 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He left Oxford to pursue a career in the City of London. He was employed for a while by stockbrokers Kitkat & Aitken and by the Evening Standard newspaper. Donald was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on the fifth of September 1942 to parents Lilian and George. He had two brothers, one of whom, Malcolm, tragically died in childhood. His other brother, David, lived in Norfolk until his death earlier this year. His sister-in-law, Moira, and his niece, Karyn, both live in Turkey. He will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues. 


Donald’s funeral will be on Friday 15th September at 1 pm at St Michael & All Saints Church, Brougham Place, Tollcross.