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University sources for the names and identification of officers, alumni and graduates:

1. The Matriculation Roll. (UYUY309: 1739 –1888 and UYUY310: 1888-89 onwards)

Andrew Lang. Photographer unknown. 1900. Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Library.  GPS-LangA-7

This contains the names of most students, although 724 have been added from other sources.   Prior to 1858-59 it is simply a list of signatures, and in only five cases is there any clue to identification apart from the signature.  Although it might be thought that signatures would be a potentially valuable source for confirming identity, it has proved less useful in practice than might be supposed for this reason: that most of the signatories are young,  relatively unpractised writers and their mature signatures may bear little resemblance to those of in many cases, their early teens.

Prior to 1858-59, however, the record does provide information as to the date and class from which students matriculate, which may be useful for biographical purposes.  Annual matriculation was introduced in 1859-60 and from then on the students are divided into years.  From 1865-66 the students are expected to state parish and shire of origin. From 1867-68 they are also asked for “age.”  In the new book, started in 1888-89, the headings are more closely defined as “name in full,” “age last birthday,” “native town or parish” and “county.”  Although this is useful in most cases, in a significant number it is clear that “native town or parish” is being interpreted as “current home address” and a few students become alarmingly younger as they progress through their courses.

2. The Graduation Roll. (UYUY309: 1739 – 1888 and UYUY340: 1889 – 1962)

Graduation was a haphazard, inadequately recorded event except for medical graduates appearing for examination in person and the graduation roll has to be supplemented by other sources like the minutes of the Senatus Academicus and the Quaestor’s accounts until new regulations brought about by Ordinances under the Universities (Scotland) Act, 1858 forced change.  It was as late as 1871 that it was decided that graduation was to be a more formal event and in 1873 that it was to take place on a fixed day at the end of the session.  In 1887 it was agreed that honorary graduates should appear in person unless there was good cause.

3. The Minutes of the Senatus Academicus. (UYUY452)

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, by Dr John Adamson. 1862.  Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Library.   ALB-8-40

This is the main and sometimes the only record for the award of many degrees, although in theory up until about 1800 the Faculty of Arts was responsible for the award of arts degrees. This record may also contain biographical information about some students and all officers.

4. The Minutes of the United College (UYUC400) and The Minutes of St Mary’s College (UYSM400).

Both these records sometimes record the father’s name, occupation and place of residence of students and in a few instances may also be a source of biographical information.

5. Library dues records.

These exist in scattered places amongst the vouchers for the Library Quaestor’s accounts and are most easily accessible in the printed transcript which appears in St Andrews University Library Bulletin 6–7 (St Andrews, 1914–17). The lists survive from 1753-54 to 1823-24 with some gaps.  Note that 1815-16 and 1816-17 which are not in the printed record are available in UYLY206/4. This record usually provides the names and total number of students in any year, the division of students into secondars and ternars and the year of study for arts students.  Prior to 1753-54, students could elect to pay a fee to use the library.  From 1753-54 a lower fee became obligatory for all students. The payment of fees at different rates for arts students existed from the early days of the University. Originally there were three rates.  The Primars, the sons of peers, paid the top rate.  Secondars, the sons of landed and upper professional fathers paid two thirds of the top rate and Ternars, the sons of artisans and tenant farmers, paid one third of the top rate.  But by this time there were two rates, in the ratio 2:1. The secondars now included the sons of peers.  How the division was determined is unclear as some ministers’ sons were classed as secondars and others as ternars.  Even in the same family, one son might pay as a secondar and another as a ternar and holders of the Ramsay bursary always paid as secondars whatever their social origin.  Despite the difficulties, this division is still a valuable guide to identification.  This differential in payment of fees was done away with in 1829.

6. Class lists.  (UYUY315/1-2  for 1783-1879 and UYUY322 for 1860-1947.)

From 1783-84 to 1826-27 the names are autograph and in some classes appear to be written alphabetically (by Christian name), secondars first, then ternars.  In some cases spaces appear to have been left for students, who, for one reason or another, failed to sign, but otherwise for the period it covers this is a virtually complete record of all students at the University.  With a few exceptions, usually to distinguish students of the same name by giving place of origin, it is not annotated.

St Salvators College Church, by D.O. Hill and R. Adamson, 1846. Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Library ALB-66-3
St Salvators College Church, by D.O. Hill and R. Adamson, 1846. Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Library. ALB-66-3

7. Separate register. (UYUY236).

This is the record decreed to be kept in 1744 when The Widows and Orphans fund for the dependants of Ministers of the Church and Professors in the Scottish Universities was set up.  From that date it records dates of induction, resignation or death of professors, together with particulars of marriage(s), births of children and dates of death which remove a potential beneficiary.  It also includes some later annotations of dates of death of individuals who had ceased to be potential beneficiaries.

8. Medical degree testimonials. (UYUY350).

These survive in fair completeness over our period until 1826. From then until 1865 only a few survive, but from 1865 until 1893 the series is fairly complete again. They vary greatly in the amount of information they provide, from full life histories to, after 1802, formulaic declarations. From 1865 testimonials usually provide personal histories and birth or baptismal certificates.

Professor Arthur Connell, University of St Andrews. Anon. 1842. Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Library. ALB-6-31-3
Professor Arthur Connell, University of St Andrews. Anon. 1842. Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Library. ALB-6-31-3

9. United College. Annual lists of students, 1854-55 – 1861-62. (UYUC310).

These eight rolls give names of students, their church affiliation, place of origin, bursary held, classes attended and fees paid for almost all United College students of the time.

10. David Gregory’s lists of students in his mathematical classes, 1739 – 64. (St AUL MS QA35.G8L4).

Gives the status of students as secondar and ternar between 1747 and 1754 when it is not available from other sources. It also includes the occasional identification clue.

11. John Lee’s class records in divinity, 1812 – 22. (UYSM310/2).

This source annotates some names with the student’s place of origin.

12. Thomas Chalmers. Class lists in moral philosophy and political economy, 1823-24 – 1827-28. (Edinburgh, New College CHA6.14.1 – 4).

These class lists are usually annotated with the place of origin of students. Chalmers’ voluminous correspondence, also preserved in Edinburgh, New College (CHA4….), is a good source of biographical information on students of his St Andrews period.

13. Bursary presentations. (UYUC695).

These often contain the name and occupation and place of residence of the presentee’s father. These facts may also be obtained from Cupar Town Council minutes (St Andrews University muniments) and Dundee town council minutes (Dundee City Archives) for the presentees to the bursaries of which they were patrons.

14. Prize lists. (First published in the Dundee Advertiser from the 1820’s and surviving at UYUC320 for 1829-30, 1832-33- 1835-36 and 1841-42 – 1863-64).

These include the place of origin of students. The lists continue in the University Calendars, but these have not been collated as the information is available elsewhere by 1864-65.