Ruthven, Annette Jocelyn Otway- (1909–89), historian, was born 7 November 1909 at 63 Lower Baggot St., Dublin, third child among one son and three daughters of Capt. Robert Mervyn Bermingham Otway-Ruthven (1867–1919), Royal Artillery, of Castle Otway, Co. Tipperary, and Margaret Casement (d. 1953), of Cronroe, Co. Wicklow. Her childhood was spent mainly in Dublin, where she attended the Hall School, Monkstown. She entered TCD in 1927 to read history under Edmund Curtis (qv), Walter Alison Phillips (qv), and Constantia Maxwell (qv). Elected a non-foundation scholar in 1929, she graduated BA in 1931 with first-class honours, a large gold medal for exceptional merit, and a moderatorship prize enabling her to undertake research as assistant to Phillips till 1932. The next few years were based at Girton College, Cambridge, under the direction of Helen Cam, culminating in publication of her definitive The king's secretary and the signet office in the XV century (1939), for which the University of Cambridge awarded her the 1937 Thirlwall prize and a Ph.D. After a year researching in Paris, she returned to TCD in 1938 as lecturer in medieval and modern history and in economic history – posts that she held till 1951, when she succeeded Maxwell as Lecky professor. Her teaching thereafter concentrated on medieval Europe, the British constitution, and palatinate jurisdictions – the last dovetailing with her personal research on medieval Irish institutions. A series of seminal articles preceded her authoritative A history of medieval Ireland (1968), a landmark in Irish historiography. Meticulous attention to original sources was evident in translations of the Cambridgeshire Domesday (1941) and Liber primus Kilkenniensis (1961), editions of several shorter documents, and a project to reconstruct lost Irish chancery rolls from transcripts in London. Appointed to the Irish Manuscripts Commission in 1943, she published Dowdall deeds (1960) and brought a calendar of the Talbot de Malahide papers close to completion. She was elected FRHS (1941), MRIA (1951), and member of the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions, and in 1968 TCD made her one of its first women fellows. From 1965 she headed a new department of medieval history and was dean of Arts (Humanities) 1969–73, pro-dean of Arts (Letters) 1969–71, and a committee member of the Irish Federation of University Teachers. Relentless determination and an incisive mind made her a formidable opponent, but she was a hospitable friend and inspiring teacher. Active in several horticultural societies, she contributed rare alpines, raised from seed in her garden at Rathgar, to the Talbot collection at Malahide Castle. Visitors also witnessed her proficiency in needlework. Retirement (September 1980) was followed in March 1981 by a severe stroke which left her paralysed and near-speechless. After some months in the Adelaide Hospital and St James's Hospital the rest of her life was spent in Lansdowne House Nursing Home, Dublin, where she died on 18 March 1989. Her ashes were interred in the family vault at Templederry church, Co. Tipperary, and a memorial service was held in the chapel of TCD on 6 April. Her portrait (1976) with Frances Moran (qv) by Derek Hill (qv) hangs in TCD, where her papers are deposited.
Dublin University Calendar, 1928/9–1979/80; Historical register of the University of Cambridge: supplement, 1931–40 (1942); Burke, LGI (1958); Mary Maher, ‘Dr Otway-Ruthven’, Ir. Times, 8 Feb. 1968; Edward Malins and Patrick Bowe, Irish gardens and demesnes from 1830 (1980), 172; P. W. A. Asplin, ‘The writings of Professor A. J. Otway-Ruthven to 1980’, Lydon, Eng. & Ire. (1981), 255–63; F. S. L. Lyons, ‘Foreword’, Lydon, Eng. & Ire. (1981), pp xi–xii; ‘Prof. J. Otway-Ruthven: historian of medieval Ireland’, Times, 25 Mar. 1989; J. F. Lydon, ‘Professor Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven’, Independent, 29 Mar. 1989; F. X. Martin, ‘Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven: an appreciation’, Ir. Times, 6 Apr. 1989; Christine Meek, ‘Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven’, Trinity Trust News, xiv (1989), 10; Anne Crookshank and David Webb, Paintings and sculptures in Trinity College Dublin (1990), 99; J. F. Lydon, ‘Obituary’, Anal. Hib., xxxv (1992), p. x; D. A. Webb, Trinity College Dublin record volume 1991 (1992); Office of the Registrar General, Dublin; Salters Sterling, ‘In retrospect: Annette Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven’, Search: a Church of Ireland journal, xxiv (2001), 60–64; id., ‘Professor Otway-Ruthven, FTCD, Lecky professor of history, 1951–81’, S. M. Parkes (ed.), A danger to the men? a history of women in Trinity College Dublin 1904–2004 (2004), 263–7; information from W. Salters Sterling; personal knowledge