Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 26, 2019
Webpage updated: January 04, 2020




Richard Rugg Monk was born in Plymouth in 1845.

He served his apprenticeship as a watchmaker with Mr W A Jeffery of Whimple Street.  In 1867 he commenced his own business as jeweller, pawnbroker and watchmaker at 26 Frankfort Street.

Just a couple of years later, in 1870, he started to stand for election as a councillor for the Frankfort Ward of the Town Council.  There was a terrific battle in the Ward elections in 1888.  He and Mr F J Kerswill represented the Liberal (Home Rule) party while Mr John Goad fought for the Conservatives and Mr J R Lake for the Unionists.  But there were a large number of Irish electors in the Frankfort Ward and although the two latter gentlemen joined forces they were still ousted by Mr  Monk with 1,051 votes and Mr Kerswill with 1,041.  However, it was a very close fight, as Mr Goad got 1,021 votes and Mr Lake, exactly 1,000.

He failed to get re-elected in 1891 and again in 1893 but in 1896 he was was nominated for one of the three seats in the Saint Andrew's Ward.   There were five candidates for the three seats and a very close poll but Mr Monk was unsuccessful.

His luck changed in 1901, when he once again found himself representing the Frankfort Ward on the Council and he was elected as chairman of the Tramways Committee.  By the dint of careful and economical management he had the satisfaction of seeing the tramways freed from a hampering suspense account.  He was unopposed at the 1904 election.

In his youth Richard was very much a sporting person, although he did become one of the first members of the Shakespeare Literary Society.   He was a capable oarsman, often taking part in the Plymouth Regatta, and was at various times the secretary and the treasurer of the Port of Plymouth Swimming Association.   In fact he was apparently regarded as the "father" of the bathing community.  He was founder and first captain of the South Devon Tricycling Club.

But Mr Rugg Monk is today more well known for the unique collection of photographs that he bequeathed to the City Museum.  He was the first secretary of the Plymouth Photographic Club and took between 60 and 70 photographs of the construction of the Burrator Reservoir.

He retired from business in 1901 but continued as a local magistrate.

Mr Richard Rugg Monk died on Saturday September 27th 1924 at his home in Saint Lawrence Road, Plymouth.  He was 79 years old.  He was survived by his second wife, Jessie, whom he had married at Saint Matthias Church on March 16th 1912, one son, Richard G Monk, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Ethel, all by his first marriage to Maria Jane.  His funeral took place at Saint Andrew's Church on Wednesday September 31st 1924.