Spearman, C.E..JPG

NameSpearman; Charles Edward (1863-1945); Professor; FRS, HonFBPsS
ForenamesCharles Edward
EpithetFRS, HonFBPsS
Other NamesCharles Edward Spearman
DatesAndPlacesBorn 10 September 1863 London, died 17 September 1945 London
London 1863-?1870
Leamington Spa ?1870-1882
U.K. and India 1882-1897
Germany 1897-1907
Guernsey (briefly) 1900-1902
London 1907-1931
Chicago 1931-?
London 1931-1945
RelationshipsYounger of the two sons of Alexander Young Spearman (1832-1865), man of independent means and his second wife, Louisa Anne Caroline Amelia (? 1842-1933) daughter of Edward Pellew Mainwaring of Whitmore, Staffordshire. Grandson of Sir Alexander Young Spearman. In 1870 the widowed Louisa Spearman married Henry Harrington Molyneux-Seel, an official of the College of Arms.
Married Frances Henrietta Priaulx (188?-1955), daughter of John Aikman MD on 4 September 1901. They had five children, 4 daughters; Fan Caroline (b1902), Alice Louisa Jean (Strong, b 1903 d 2000), Ivy Joy (Barnes, 1912), Ann (de Perez)Mainwaring (1918) and 1 son Alexander Louis Charles John (b 1916 d 1941)
ActivityEducated from the age of twelve to eighteen as a day boy at Leamington College,Warwickshire.

On leaving school in 1882 Spearman embarked on military service joining the Royal Munster Fusiliers where he mostly served in India.

Shortly after completing a two-year course at the Army Staff College, Camberley, in December 1896 Captain Spearman resigned his commission to study experimental psychology in Wilhelm Wundt's laboratory at Leipzig University.

Spearman's studies were interrupted by the Second South African War when the army recalled him to serve as deputy assistant adjutant-general to Guernsey where he met and married his wife Frances.

During the few months between his release from military duties and returning to Germany in late 1902 Spearman embarked on the pioneering work which led to his two-factor theory of human intelligence.

The correlation method that he devised at this time to demonstrate the existence of g was the earliest version of the statistical method now known as factor analysis.This work attracted considerable critical attention when it was published in 1904. His remaining five years in Germany was spent interesting himself in spatial perception for which he obtained a PhD from Leipzig in 1906.

On his return to England in 1907 the two-factor theory, and its theoretical implications for psychology, became the focus of his research.This work, which reached its zenith in 1927 with the publication of The Abilities of Man, was gradually eclipsed by more complex representations of the structure of human intelligence.Defending the two-factor theory however against its many detractors kept Spearman and his myriad recruits busy for the best part of three decades.

Spearman had returned home in 1907 to a part-time appointment as reader and head of the small psychological laboratory at University College, London, a post relinquished by his acquaintance William McDougall.
Apart from service during the First World War, Spearman remained at UCL until his retirement in 1931, having become Grote Professor of mind and logic and head of psychology in 1911, then Professor of psychology in 1928 and finally Emeritus Professor.

Spearman founded the soi-disant London school of psychology distinguished by its scientifically and statistically rigorous approach to studying human ability. Students came from all over the world to work with Spearman's carefully co-ordinated research programme, thereby creating the one of the first centre's of psychological research in Britain.

Spearman received many honours including Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1924, and an Hon. LLD from Wittenberg, USA.

Spearman served as President of the British Psychological Society from 1923-1926 and of section J (psychology) of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1925.

In 1934 he was elected an Honorary Member of the British Psychological Society.

Spearman's health deteriorated in the early 1940's; besides the loss of a son, killed in action in Crete, he suffered frequent fainting fits. He developed pneumonia after a bad fall during one of these blackouts and was admitted to University College Hospital, London.
Spearman died after throwing himself from a fourth floor window of the hospital.

Sources: P.Lovie and A.D.Lovie, Spearman, Charles Edward (1863-1945) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [accessed 15 Dec 2004]: <available at>
Royal Society obituary 1947 Vol.5 pt 15 pp 372-385

For more information concerning Spearman please see: 50th anniversary of the death of C.E. Spearman guest edited by Pat Lovie Published 1995 by British Psychological Society in London . Series British Journal of mathematical and statistical psychology -- vol.48 (2).

Compiled by Mike Maskill, BPS Archivist for the History of Psychology Centre.
OtherInfoSpearman was associated with the Eugenics movement
PublishedWorksOver 40 years Spearman published six books and more than a hundred journal articles including:

1904 General Intelligence Objectively Determined and Measured. American Journal of Psychology 15:201-293.

(1923) 1927 The Nature of Intelligence and the Principle of Cognition. 2d ed. London: Macmillan.

1927 The Abilities of Man: Their Nature and Measurement. London: Macmillan.

(1930) 1931 Creative Mind. New York: Appleton.

1937 Psychology Down the Ages. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

1950 Spearman, C. E.; and Jones, Llewellyn W. Human Ability. London: Macmillan. A continuation of Spearman’s The Abilities of Man (1927).
SourceSources: P.Lovie and A.D.Lovie, Spearman, Charles Edward (1863-1945) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [accessed 15 Dec 2004]: <available at>
Royal Society obituary 1947 Vol.5 pt 15 pp 372-385
ConventionsInternational Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families - ISAAR(CPF) - Ottawa 1996 ISBN ISBN 0-9696035-3-3
National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997

Show related catalogue records.

SPEAR/1Spearman, Charles Edward (1863-1945) papers1906-1942
PHO/001/06/04/10Spearman, Charles Edward - Photograph20th century
AUD/001/46/05Rusk, Robert R (1879-1972) - Interview Transcript29/08/1968
PHO/001/02/493Spearman, Charles Edward - Photographs20th century
SPEAR/1/1/10Spearman-Burt, Correspondence1909-1939
BPS/001/3/02/01/01BPS Council Papers 19461946
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2019