[The following passage from the Chambers Gazetteer of Scotland appears on page 473-77. — George P. Landow.]

The University

At the middle of the High Street, on its east side, is situated the suit of buildings adapted to the use of the university, and which are entered by an arched gateway under the chief edifice. This passage leads into a small quadrangular court, from whence there is an entrance to a large piece of ground behind, called the College Gardens, though now only kept in grass, and used by the students as a place of recreation. More immediately behind the College, stands a remarkably beautiful building, planned by the late Mr. Stark, after the model of a Grecian temple, containing the Hunterian Museum.

As already noticed, the College of Glasgow was founded by Bishop Turnbull, 1452-3 — At the request of James II. this learned prelate received from Pope Nicholas V. a bull, constituting it a university, or "studium generale, tarn in theologid, et in jure canonum et civili, quam in artibus et in quacunque licita Jacultate." Its pious founder and patron did not leave it to languish from lack of support. He endowed it out of his own revenues, establishing a chancellor, rector, dean of faculty, a principal who taught theology, and three professors of philosophy. At the Reformation, the institution was almost annihilated. Its functionaries died out, or fled to foreign countries, and its revenues, as a matter of course, were seized by an avaricious and hypocritical nobility. The first who had compassion on the impoverished university was Queen Mary. For the sustenance of five scholars she gave to the College the manse and kirk of the Preaching Friars, with thirteen acres of ground adjacent. The town council of Glasgow, becoming fearful that the institution, which hitherto had distinguished their city, would soon be extinct, also granted an endowment. They gave it a part of the property of the Dominican Friars in the town, which had fallen into their hands as a part of the spoil of the Reformation. The value of this gift was, however, of small amount, and when reduced to Sterling money, would not reach beyond the sum of L.25 annually. A more effectual benefaction was made to the college in the year 1577, by James VI. in the endowment of the rectory and vicarage of the parish of Govan. With this gift, James also gave to the college a new charter, which, in its most essential articles, has continued in force to this day. It is needless to recite the system he instituted. The necessities of after-times have increased the number of professors, and partly altered the character and modes of tuition.

In the present day, the college of Glasgow is one of the most perfect and best regulated in Scotland, being hardly inferior to that of Edinburgh as a medical school; it is also highly distinguished as a philosophical and Greek seminary. Agreeably to an ancient continental usage, the students are divided into nations, of which there are four — Clydesdale, Tiviotdale, Albany, and Rothesay. Each nation chooses a procurator and assistant, and the latter officials united choose the rector annually. The functions of this officer are, nevertheless, only honorary. The affairs of the college are administered by a council of the principal and professors. The university is exempt from the jurisdiction of the town magistrates. The present average number of students is 1200 annually. They are distinguished by red gowns, and of late, the Oxford fashion of wearing square-topped caps has been partially introduced. They reside in lodgings at their own discretion throughout the town. Besides the chancellor (who is usually a nobleman) a rector, dean of faculty, and principal, there are professors of divinity, logic, anatomy, mathematics, theory and practice of physic, moral philosophy, natural philosophy, civil law, practical astronomy, church history, natural history, humanity (Latin,) surgery, chemistry, midwifery, botany, materia mediea, Oriental languages, and Greek. The crown and the college divide the presentations. Each officer should, by law, subscribe the Confession of Faith on entrance; but the moderation of recent times has, in some instances, consented to overlook this regulation.

Forty years since, the university received an endowment, consisting of a landed estate, from a Mr. Snell, in Warwickshire, for the purpose of supporting at Baliol College, Oxford, ten students, who should have previously studied for some years at the university of Glasgow, and undergone certain trials as a test of merit. This benefaction has been the means of bring. ing forward some of the most learned and able men of whom Scotland can at present boast. Recent large benefactions have also been made.

The college possesses the following bursaries, under the management of the magistrates and town-council : — Boyd's — two in number— for students of divinity, sons of burgesses of Glasgow, the name of Boyd preferred — annual payment to each L.5, Us. l|d, which may continue for two or four years, at the option of the patrons; Wilson's — two in number — candidates must be students of divinity, masters of arts, and sons of burgesses, who are unable to sustain them — annual payment L6., 13s. 4d. for four years; Struthers' — for a student of divinity — annual payment L.6, 13s. 4d. for four years; Leighton's — for students of philosophy — annual payment L.9 for four years; Gilhagie's — for students of divinity — names of Gilhagie and Somerville preferred — annual payment L.9. for four years.

The university of Glasgow possesses a good collection of books, enriched by various bequests, and the addition of a copy of every book printed in Great Britain. The late Dr. William Hunter, bequeathed to it his valuable museum of curiosities, anatomical preparations, and books, which are well arranged in the building already noticed, where they are open to public inspection for a small fee.

Anderson's University

In addition to the chartered College of Glasgow, the city boasts a somewhat similar establishment, of a modem character and great respectability, under the above title. This institution occupies a handsome building on the north side of George's Street, containing a theatre or great hall, capable of accommodating 400 persons, a museum, a library, laboratory, and apparatus apartments. It was established in 1796, pursuant to the will of the deceased Mr. John Anderson, professor of natural philosophy, and placed under the curatory of the magistrates and eighty-one trustees, composed of nine different classes of persons, in equal proportions, who elect a president, secretary, treasurer, and other functionaries. Since its institution, the routine of education has been altered, and is now on a judicious footing. There are thirteen professors, who deliver lectures on natural philosophy, chemistry, anatomy, surgery, veterinary-surgery, materia mediea, midwifery, pharmacy, mathematics, geography, experimental philosophy, natural history, logic, ethics, and modem languages. The establishment has met with the most complete success, and has been of incalculable advantage in disseminating useful knowledge among classes of persons who would otherwise have remained ignorant of the subjects treated of. The fees of attendance are moderate. The institution is now provided with a museum of natural history, which is very extensive and valuable, and is placed in a suit of apartments, the principal of which is a rotunda fifty-two feet in diameter, and thirty feet high. The public have access to it on the same terms as to the Hunterian museum. Soire'es, for literary and scientific conversation, are held regularly at the university during winter. The Andersonian Institution has been fortunate in possessing a number of professors of distinguished eminence, and among others, Dr. Thomas Garnet, Dr. George Birkbeck, and Dr. Andrew Ure.

Classes for Mechanics

The Andersonian Institution has a class for the education of mechanics or others in the humbler walks of life, which is well attended; there is a similar class in another establishment entitled the Glasgow Mechanics' Institution. The latter was opened in November 1823, and its origin was as peculiar as its success has been distinguished. Long prior to its commencement, there existed a Mechanics' Class in connexion with the Andersonian Institution, — the first class of the kind known, not merely in Britain, but in the world. Dissatisfaction having arisen among its members with respect to its particular management, resolutions were proposed and carried, at several public meetings, that a secession should take place, and a new institution, upon more popular principles, be established. The time chosen for carrying such resolutions into effect was most propitious. The trade and commerce of the country were highly prosperous, and a sort of mania had seized the public mind upon the subjects of mechanics and chemistry, as if a knowledge of these constituted the chief, if not the sole, basis of man's happiness, and of a nation's prosperity. The establishment of mechanics' institutions, and of periodicals devoted exclusively to science, became the order of the day. Under such a concurrence of circumstances, this new institution excited an interest, perhaps unprecedented in the history of such establishrment? It depended for its foundation entirely upon the donations of private individuals, in money, books, or apparatus, and in this way a stock of property was speedily accumulated to the amount of upwards of L.1000. Dr. Birkbeck was solicited, and gave his consent, to become honorary patron of this infant establishment, and before the month of November, 1823, premises had been procured, lecturers appointed, and all things put in readiness for a regular and important system of popular scientific instruction. The system of instruction at first contemplated was pretty extensive, and accordingly lecturers were appointed for natural and chemical philosophy, popular anatomy, mathematics and geography, natural history and architectural drawing. No class on the last of these subjects, we believe, was ever formed; the mathematical class continued for two sessions only; and that for natural history for one. The only permanent classes have been those of natural philosophy and chemistry, and popular anatomy. One course of lectures was delivered on political economy, and two upon geography, but the want of liberal encouragement caused them subsequently to be given up. During the first year of its existence, the institution had upon its rolls more than a thousand students. Such success, however, was not calculated to be permanent, and the numbers, partly in consequence of a general reaction in the public taste, partly owing to the excessive fluctuations in trade, and not a little, it is said, owing to the unpopularity of some of the lecturers in the department of natural philosophy and chemistry, who were, in consequence, frequently changed, — gradually fell off, till, for the last three or four years, they have not averaged above two hundred and fifty, or three hundred. The management of the institution is vested in a committee of sixteen, chosen from and by the class, the one half retiring annually. Too great success at first was the cause of much subsequent embarrassment, and the institution has been for some years in very great pecuniary difficulties, in consequence of debts contracted at its formation, and which it was thought a few years would be sufficient to liquidate, but which the causes already mentioned rendered it impossible to effect. Its prospects have, however, at length begun to brighten. An appeal to the liberal public of Glasgow has been made in its behalf, and a sum has been collected sufficient to discharge existing encumbrances, and establish it upon a more permanent basis. The lectureships on natural philosophy and chemistry have been detached with much benefit to the establishment, some new lectureships have been instituted for the purpose of extending the system of instruction, and such other alterations made in the general management, as were thought calculated to add to its permanency and usefulness as a public seminary. The stock of apparatus belonging to this institution is not very extensive, though much of it is highly valuable, being admirably adapted for the illustration of scientific subjects. The library, to which the members of all the classes have access, though only those of the mechanical and chemical classes have any share in the general management, consists of nearly 2o00 volumes of the most important works in the English language on science, art, and literature.

Grammar School

This excellent institution, which resembles the High School of Edinburgh in its system, is known to be of a greater antiquity than the university of the town, being probably coeval with the formation of the church of Glasgow, when placed on a regular footing. From the Reformation till the Revolution the seminary was of a respectable order, and since the latter period it has uniformly maintained a pre-eminent reputation. In the progress of years the course of education and other matters connected with it have undergone various alterations suitable to modern sentiments. One alteration, referring to a curious old custom, was carried through by the magistracy in 1782, when certain ceremonies attendant on that of giving gratuities to the teachers, called " Candlemas offerings," were abolished. On these occasions, according to Cleland, the scholars used to be convened in the common hall, when the masters being seated in their pulpits, the boys in all the classes were expected to walk up one by one to the rector, and give him an offering; having done so to go to their own master and give him also an offering. The most curious part of the procedure, was a graduated set of exclamations used by the master in reference to the extent of the oblation. When the sum given to either master was under five shillings, no notice was taken, but when it amounted to that sum, the rector said "vivat," (let him live,) on which the whole scholars gave a ruff with their feet. For ten shillings, "Floreat," (let him flourish,) when two ruffs were given. For fifteen shillings, "Jloreat bis," (let him twice flourish,) when three ruffs were given. For twenty shillings, " Jloreat ter," (let him thrice flourish,) when four ruffs were given. For a guinea and upwards, " gloriat," (let him be glorious,) when six ruffs were given. When the business was over, the rector stood up, and in an audible voice declared the victor, by mentioning the name of the boy who had given the largest sum. On this being done the victor was hailed by the whole scholars with thunders of applause.* The giving of gratuities was continued, but the crying and ruffing was ordered to be given up. Being remodelled in its arrangements at the above and a later period, the school was constituted with a rector and four masters, each of the latter bringing forward a class for four years preparatory to its coming under the rector, who teaches it one year. The institution is now one of the best conducted in the country, the utmost attention being paid to instruction and examinations. The boys draw tickets for places three times, and are examined eight times in the year, by a committee of the town council, clergy and professors. Their places are carefully marked on all these occasions, and their average rank in the class is calculated from these examinations; besides, as there are no particular days fixed for these examinations, the masters and scholars require always to be prepared. The office of Rector is now abolished, and each of the four masters has a salary of L.50 a- year, besides 10s. 6d. per quarter from each of his pupils. The scholars pay Is. towards the support of a library, Is. to the janitor, Is. to the hall-cleaner, and 2s. 6d. for coal, annually. There is a writing master, whose fees are 10s. 6d. a- quarter. With the exception of those of the writing

The Grammar School of Glasgow was once situated in a confined alley called Greyfriar's Wynd, from whence, about fifty years since, it was removed to commodious premises on the north side of George Street. These having ultimately been found too small, a new handsome edifice was raised, 1820-1, on a larger scale, on elevated ground adjoining North Montrose Street, near the former school. Adjoining to it is an excellent play ground.

* Usages of this kind were common over nearly the whole of Scotland till about the end of last century, and, in many cases, they yet survive. They seem to have originated in the offering of candles, Sue. to " Our Lady" at Candlemas, as the gifts were always made at that time, and were followed up by the boys making a bonfire, which was called the Candlemas bleeze. Instead of the phrase Victor, employed at Glasgow to designate the chief offerer, we have known the term King employed in a country school; and this fictitious monarch was always carried through the streets, after the scholars had been liberated from school, on what is called the King's Chair, — that is, a seat formed by the hands of two boys, crossed and interwoven. master, the fees are thus about a third less (even although Candlemas gratuities are given) than those charged at the High School of Edinburgh, while the routine of education is verysimilar. The number of boys in attendance is usually about 600.

Private and Free Schools

There are no parish schools in Glasgow, but the town and suburbs are well provided with numerous schools, kept by private individuals, or sustained by endowments from public bodies or others. No returns have been made up as to the number of schools since 1816, when there were 166 within the royalty, exclusive of Sunday schools, having 13,846 scholars, of whom 3563 received their education gratis; but this gives a most unsatisfactory account of scholastic education in Glasgow, for the suburbs, which are not reckoned, are as populous as the town, and are provided with a considerable number of schools. Since 1816, the number of schools must likewise have greatly increased. Assuming that there are now altogether three hundred schools in Glasgow, how different an idea have we thence of the population and intelligence of the place, from that offered by the fact, that in the year 1604, the presbytery complained to the magistrates of the plurality of schools, expressing their opinion that the grammar school and another were sufficient for the town!


Chambers, Robert. The Gazetterr of Scotland. Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1838. Internet Archive online version digitized with funding from National Library of Scotland. Web. 30 September 2018.

Last modified 30 September 2018