Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/University of Aberdeen

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The founder of this, one of the three universities established in Scotland in Catholic times, was William Elphinstone, who was Bishop of Aberdeen from 1483 to 1514. Early in his episcopate a petition had been sent to Rome in the name of King James IV, but probably framed by Elphinstone himself, representing the ignorance which prevailed in the greater part of his diocese, and in the northern districts of the kingdom generally. The Papal Bull for the erection of Aberdeen University was issued 24 February, 1491 (1495 according to our modern way of reckoning). Bishop Elphinstone had been a professor at Paris and at Orleans for nine years, and it was on the University of Paris, both as to form and organization, and also in its wide scope of general mental training, that the new establishment was modelled by its founder. In 1495 Elphinstone procured a royal charter assigning to academic purposes certain ecclesiastical revenues and conceding to the new university all the privileges enjoyed by the universities of Paris, St. Andrews, and Glasgow. Hector Boece, professor of philosophy at Paris, was appointed first principal of the university, which was established in what is now known as Old Aberdeen, near the ancient Cathedral of St. Machar. In 1593, George Keith, fifth Earl Marshal of Scotland, founded a second university (hence called Marischal College) in the new town of Aberdeen, and granted to it the buildings of the dispossessed Black (Dominican), Grey (Franciscan), and White (Carmelite) Friars as endowment. The two universities were united for a time (from 1640 until after the Restoration), and many schemes for their permanent reunion were promulgated in the 18th century; but it was not until 1859 that their fusion was finally affected, after much local opposition. New professorships and lectureships have been recently founded, and at Marischal College, now the seat of the faculties of science, law, and medicine, a scheme of building extension on a great scale is at present (1905) being carried out. The number of students is about 700, and the number of professors 24.

RASHDALL, History of Universities (1805) II, 309; INNES, Sketches of Early Scotch History (Edinburgh, 1871), 254.

D.O. HUNTER-BLAIR