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RICS 150

John Clutton: Founding father

John Clutton established himself as a founding father of the institution with surveying achievements including the construction of the South Eastern Railway.

24 November 2017

John Clutton was a British Surveyor of the 19th century. He was the founding father and first President of the Surveyors Institution, which would later become the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

John played a key role in establishing standards for the valuation of the Land Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845 – legislation that gives compulsory land purchase powers to the state, to be used for public benefit. John, who had previous experience in the compulsory purchase of land for the construction of the new South Eastern Railway, was considered a vital source of advice in these debates. John argued a tribunal, in which two expert surveyors gave their evaluations was the most reliable approach. Today’s law still dictates that two surveyors - one put forward by the defence and the other the prosecuting - should give evidence to a tribunal, judge or jury.

John also conducted considerable work on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In the 1840s Ecclesiastical Commissioners were concerned that their understanding of the rights and value of the lands they owned were being fed to them by biased non-experts. The commissioners decided that going forward ecclesiastical listings would be prepared by professionals. Having established status through his works for the railway, John was therefore entrusted with evaluating most church listings in the South of England and Wales.

John’s achievements in the surveying profession culminated with his foundation of the Institution. Concerned that surveying professionals were so accustomed to working and living in isolation, he created a network in which his 'professional brethren' could share their advice with one another. As the first President, John even managed to negotiate a lease on Parliament Square that to this day remains as RICS’ headquarters.

Pride in the Profession

2018 marks the 150th anniversary of RICS. To celebrate this milestone, we're launching our Pride in the Profession initiative to showcase the significant and positive impact surveyors have made to society. We've already dug into the archives to find some exceptional examples, like the one above. By promoting these incredible people and projects we want to demonstrate how varied and rewarding a surveying career can be.

To make it happen, we need you to nominate the people and projects you admire most.