Aberdeen's 'Toun College': Marischal College, 1593-1623

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Reid, S.J. (2007)
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
  • Subject: DA

While debate has arisen in the past two decades regarding the foundation of Edinburgh University, by contrast the foundation and early development of Marischal College, Aberdeen, has received little attention. This is particularly surprising when one considers it is perhaps the closest Scottish parallel to the Edinburgh foundation. Founded in April 1593 by George Keith, fifth Earl Marischal in the burgh of New Aberdeen ‘to do the utmost good to the Church, the Country and the Commonwealth’,1 like Edinburgh Marischal was a new type of institution that had more in common with the Protestant ‘arts colleges’ springing up across the continent than with the papally sanctioned Scottish universities of St Andrews, Glasgow and King's College in Old Aberdeen.2 James Kirk is the most recent in a long line of historians to argue that the impetus for founding ‘ane college of theologe’ in Edinburgh in 1579 was carried forward by the radical presbyterian James Lawson, which led to the eventual opening on 14 October 1583 of a liberal arts college in the burgh, as part of an educational reform programme devised and rolled out across the Scottish universities by the divine and educational reformer, Andrew Melville.3
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