Biography of Augustine Birrell
Augustine Birrell (1850-1933) was University Rector from 1911 to 1914.
Born near Liverpool, Birrell studied Law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, was called to the Bar, and was Professor of Law at University College London from 1896 to 1899. He became a Liberal MP in 1889 and as Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1908 to 1916, he was responsible for co-ordinating the government's response to the increasingly violent political developments in Ireland. He was the architect of the Irish Universities Act of 1908 which created the National University of Ireland (with colleges in Dublin, Galway, and Cork) and Queen's University, Belfast (previously Queen's College).
Birrell had lost the 1896 rectorial election to Joseph Chamberlain. In 1911 he defeated the Conservative candidate Lord Charles Beresford. His installation ceremony at St Andrew's Hall was disrupted by suffragettes who heckled during the ceremony, calling out for votes for women. Several women were ejected from the hall.
On 8 October 1913, Birrell unveiled the statue of Lord Kelvin in Kelvingrove Park. After the ceremony, the freedom of the city of Glasgow was conferred on him and on Sir John Stirling Maxwell.