Rudd studied at Harrow School and then entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1863, where he excelled in playing rackets. Between 1873 and 1881, while Rhodes intermittently attended college in England, Rudd managed their interests.
Before completing his degree, he left for Cape Colony in 1865, where he hunted with the likes of John Dunn and endeavored in various business enterprises. In 1872 Rudd and Rhodes became friends and partners, working diamond claims in Kimberley, dealing in diamonds and operating pumping and ice-making machinery, amongst many other odds and ends. By 1880 they had become rich and, with others, formed the De Beers Mining Company.
Rudd was one of the directors and also held large interests in the main machinery supplier for the mining fields.
In 1887 Rudd"s interests had shifted to gold, the previous year discovered at the Witwatersrand. On 30 October 1888 Rudd secured an agreement to the mineral rights of Matabeleland and Mashonaland from Lobengula the King of Matabeleland.
The agreement became known as the Rudd Concession. Matabeleland and Mashonaland form the bulk of what is now known as Zimbabwe.
Rhodes and Rudd had duped the British government and the investing public into believing that the concession was vested in the public company and made millions of pounds when the British South Africa Company bought the concession.
Rudd had disagreements with Rhodes, in 1895 proclaiming that he would no longer work with Rhodes, and perhaps was unaware of the Gold Fields" conspiracy which culminated in the disastrous Jameson raid. He bought the Ardnamurchan estate in Argyll, where he built two "houses", one of which, Glenborrodale Castle, just for his guests. He died in 1916 after an unsuccessful prostate operation in London.
Rudd"s first wife, Frances Georgina Leighton Chiappini(born 1846) died in 1896 of influenza or tuberculosis.