Frank Adcock

Sir Frank Adcock
Born (1886-04-15)15 April 1886
Desford, Leicestershire, England
Died 22 February 1968(1968-02-22) (aged 81)
Nationality British
Title Professor of Ancient History
Academic work
Discipline Ancient History
Institutions King's College, Cambridge
University of Cambridge

Sir Frank Ezra Adcock, OBE, FBA (15 April 1886 22 February 1968) was a British classical historian who was Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cambridge between 1925 and 1951. In addition to his academic work, he also served as a cryptographer in both World War I and World War II.

Early life and education

Adcock was born in Desford, Leicester, Leicestershire, on 15 April 1886. He was the son of Thomas Draper Adcock, the head of Desford Industrial School, and Mary Esther Adcock (née Coltman).[1] He was educated at Wyggeston School, a grammar school in Leicester. He went on to study classics at King’s College, University of Cambridge.[2]


Academic career

In 1911, Adcock was elected as a fellow and lecturer of King's College, Cambridge. He held the Chair of Ancient History at the University Cambridge from 1925 to 1951 when he retired. With J. B. Bury and S. A. Cook he edited the Cambridge Ancient History, which was published from 1923 to 1939, and also wrote ten chapters of it.

Adcock was President of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies from 1929 to 1931. He was President of the Classical Association from 1947 to 1948.[2]

Military service

Between 1915 and 1919, during World War I, Adcock worked for the Intelligence Division, Royal Navy. He also served as a Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve from 1917 to 1919.[2] His main role was as an interpreter of codes and ciphers, and as such he was based in Room 40 of the Admiralty.[1]

He worked at Bletchley Park from 1939 to 1943.


In the 1918 King's Birthday Honours, Adcock was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) 'for services in connection with the War'.[3] He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 1936.[4] In the 1954 New Year Honours, it was announced that he would be made a Knight Bachelor.[5] On 16 February 1954, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace.[6]

Later life

On 22 February 1968, Adcock died at King's College, Cambridge.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 J. A. Crook (2004). "Adcock, Sir Frank Ezra (1886–1968)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 "ADCOCK, Sir Frank (Ezra)". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. April 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  3. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30730. pp. 6685–6694. 4 June 1918. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  4. "British Academy Fellows". Deceased Fellows. The British Academy. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40053. p. 2. 29 December 1953. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 40105. p. 1077. 19 February 1954. Retrieved 4 December 2012.

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