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History of the Rhodes Trust

The will of Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) created the Rhodes Scholarships, managed by the Rhodes Trust.

The Rhodes Trust is a global organisation and we use our deep connections across the world to bring together people of different backgrounds and viewpoints. We encourage them to openly debate, challenge each other’s thinking and generate new ideas.

Three generations of Wardens

Three generations of Wardens. Standing, from left to right: Lady Wylie and Sir Francis Wylie, Sir Carleton Allen and Lady Allen, and seated, Lady and Sir Edgar (Bill) Williams.

Cecil Rhodes expected his Trustees to adapt his plans to respond effectively to changing circumstances. Soon after his death his Trustees created several more Scholarships for Canada than he had done. The adaptation continued through three Acts of the British Parliament and other important changes to his will – for example, during World War I, abolishing the German Scholarships, which were twice re-created by his Trustees (in 1929-30 and 1969-70); in 1929, wholly remaking the geographic basis on which the Scholarships are awarded in the United States; opening up all but four of the Scholarships to women as well as to men in 1976; the opening up of those four remaining Scholarships (for named schools in South Africa) to women in recent years. During the first century of the Rhodes Scholarship, the Trustees added at one time or another nearly another 40 Scholarships, though not all have continued.

In 2003 to mark the centenary of the Rhodes Scholarships and to continue the historic commitment of the Rhodes Trust to Africa and specifically to leadership development for Africa, the Rhodes Trust joined in the creation of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation. The Rhodes Trust is a forward-looking organisation. As Nelson Mandela said at the launch of that Foundation in 2003, there is “a chance to close the circle of history”. We do not shy away from history but use it to challenge the status quo.

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Nelson Mandela with Rhodes Scholars

In its second century the Rhodes Trust has also partnered with several other remarkable individuals and organisations to create the Atlantic Institute, the Schmidt Science Fellows Program and Rise.

There are many books and articles about the Rhodes Scholarships. Some of particular interest are: