My ancestor studied in Glasgow but I cannot find them listed

If you are having problems finding details of a graduate of the University of Glasgow (from 1451 to 1914) on the University of Glasgow Story it will be worthwhile considering the following:

Try browsing the records

From 1451 to 1727 the first names and surnames of graduates were written in the Graduation albums in their Latin form. They also appear in Latin on the University of Glasgow Story. Work allowing the search facility to capture Latin and non-standard spellings is ongoing, so it is worthwhile browsing the records to check for alternative spellings.

You could also carry out a search on your ancestor's first name.

See our Latin names help for more information.

There are years where no graduations are recorded

No graduations are recorded for the following years:

  • 1452-1453
  • 1501: No examinations were held during this year on account of a plague in Glasgow
  • 1503-1505
  • 1510-1535: The records of the Faculty of Arts for this period have not survived
  • 1537
  • 1541-1550
  • 1552-1577
  • 1677-1694
  • 1696-1706

Where no explanation is given, the reason is unknown.

Your ancestor studied at the University of Glasgow but did not graduate

Throughout this period, and particularly from the foundation of the University in 1451 until the introduction of compulsory matriculation in 1858, it was not uncommon for students to undertake a course of study at the University but not graduate. There is no record of why this is the case for individual students, but for this period the most likely reasons were:

  • Letters of recommendation from professors were enough so the student did not need to go to the added expense of graduating. The graduation certificate was not as important at that time as it is today.
  • The student came from a religious background which meant they preferred not to take a graduation oath that referred to the Church of Scotland.
  • The student took some classes here but graduated from another University or College.
  • The student was unable to pass the required examinations

Your ancestor studied for a medical qualification before 1858

During the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the training of surgeons was conducted through a system of apprenticeship, lasting on average between 3-5 years. The apprentice pledged his services and paid an agreed fee to his master who in return was bound to teach him his trade. The surgical apprentice learned his craft by visiting patients with his master i.e. through observation and asking questions. In due course he would have been expected to acquire knowledge of materia medica, pharmacy and the ability to perform small surgical operations - this may have been undertaken through formal University based teaching but could equally have been undertaken just by reading and observation. The system was regulated by guilds or faculties such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, which would examine apprentices during different stages of their training. Requirements were set out by individual institutions and therefore varied throughout Scotland and elsewhere in the UK until the requirement for a medical degree or licence to practice was formalised by Act of Parliament in 1858. Therefore, it was common for medical students to take classes at the University (or any other medical school) paying a fee directly to the professor and so leaving no written record behind.

Your ancestor studied for a medical qualification after 1858

From the late eighteenth century onwards more formal classroom and hospital-based teaching emerged. Subjects like anatomy, physiology, materia medica (pharmacology), surgery and medicine were taught both by universities and by private medical schools. Some of the private medical schools were based at a hospital, like St Mungo's College at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Others were set up by prominent medical practitioners as businesses. Students collected a certificate for each class or course that they took. These certificates are sometimes referred to as class tickets. When they had a sufficient range of class tickets, students could present themselves as candidates for examination either at a university (seeking a degree) or a medical corporation/royal college (seeking a licence to practise medicine). It was common for students to travel between the great centres of medical education in the British Isles - Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London - accumulating class tickets as they travelled.

The Scottish regulatory guilds and faculties may be able to assist your research:

Your ancestor studied for the Triple Qualification at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

The Triple Qualification was instituted in 1884 and was a licence to practice medicine which was granted conjointly by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Faculty (later Royal College) of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. Triple Qualification students in Glasgow could study in the extramural colleges (such as Anderson's College Medical School or St Mungo's College) and could combine this with attendance at University of Glasgow classes and study elsewhere before receiving their licence. Records of those who obtained the Triple Qualification are held by the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow Archive.

Your ancestor studied in Glasgow but not at the University of Glasgow

There were a number of higher education institutions in Glasgow throughout this period. Details of these institutions can be found on the Gateway to the Archives of Scottish Higher Education.

Your ancestor was female

The first female graduates of the University of Glasgow were Marion Gilchrist and Alice Lily Cumming who both graduated with medical degrees in 1894. In 1895 Isabella Blacklock became the first female MA graduate. Prior to this, women were educated at Queen Margaret College, founded in 1883. It was the first college to provide higher education for women. For more information see Women in the University.