Universities

 

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Aberdeen has always boasted of two Universities.  
But did you know we almost had three?

 

King's College and University was a pre-Reformation one, founded by a Bull from the Pope in 1494, and in the course of the next half-century had sunk into the position of a conventual school, and when Protestant doctrines had pereated the community, Earl Marischal founded a rival institution in 1593.  So, as has been well said by our latest local historian in Robbie's Aberdeen,

"It is curious and at the same time a gratifying fact that a very large part of all that is known of Scottish history, at what may be called the period of transition from the traditional to the trust worthy, has been gathered from the writings of men who were connected with the Cathedral Church or with King's College.

Two Universities so close to each other was a singular phenomenon in so poor a country, and necessarily led to some amount of rivalry, which, if in some respects unwholesome, was highly approved of, and fostered by many of the inhabitants, and notwithstanding the benefits of an extended curriculum in a united institution, the union in 1860 was long keenly resisted.

So eager were Aberdonians for guidance and instruction, that as a local writer says:-

"Oor fathers then socht for their bairns
As much o'lear as cud be gi'en;
Sae Colleges they biggit twa-
Thae braif, bauld men o' Aberdeen."

But, not content with "twa" colleges, each of which claimed to be a University - with the right of granting degrees - they actually aspired to have three, so keen freetraders were they in the matter of education.

John Farquhar, a native of Crimond in Aberdeenshire, (b 1751, d 1826), having acquired an immense fortune in India - he died worth a million and a half - offered to appropriate 100,000 to found a College in Aberdeen on the most enlarged plan of education, with a reservation on points of religion; for his admiration of the simplicity and purity of the lives of the Brahmins had deeply influenced him.  But parliamentary sanction being refused, the scheme was dropped.  While singular to relate as showing the strong desire of the natives of the district for education, Sir Alexander Fraser of Philorth obtained, in 1592, a charter for a University and College at Fraserburgh.  Parliament ratified the institution in 1597, and Charles Ferme, an Edinburgh regent, was appointed principal.  Owing to troublesome times the hostility of the Earl of Huntly, the institution fell into decay and collapsed into ruin.

Aberdeen Awa'
by George Walker
1897


Kings College