Mary Rachel Grigor

Biography of Mary Rachel Grigor

One of the first 100 women to graduate in Law from the University of Glasgow.

Mary Grigor was born in Glasgow on the 4th April 1904. Her father, James, was an Inspector of Schools. Before beginning her studies in the Law Faculty Mary completed an M.A. at Glasgow in 1924. She did well in Law, earning first class certificates in Civil Law and coming near the top of her classes in Conveyancing, International Private Law, Scots Law, Jurisprudence, Public International Law and Evidence and Procedure. She graduated LL.B in April 1927. Her undergraduate record reveals wide interests and she had begun her first year at university in 1922 by taking Nat Phil., Chemistry and Botany before settling to Arts and Law. After graduation she was drawn to both Education and Law. She became a classroom teacher in 1927 and gained a Diploma in Education on 12th January 1930. Over the same period, beginning in 1928, she matriculated once again in the Law Faculty to undertake research studies for a Ph.D. This was a very unusual path and she was the first woman law graduate to set out on it. In 1921 Lucy Agnes Carter had made history at Glasgow University by becoming the first woman to graduate Ph.D., for her research in Protozoology.

Mary Grigor's research topic was 'The State and the Child'. Her supervisor was the eminent John Glaister, Professor of Forensic Medicine. She continued to teach and study for her Dip.Ed. while researching her thesis. It proved too much. On 30th September 1930 she wrote to Professor Glaister to explain that illness, her father's and her own, had kept her away from her law studies. She assured him that she would 'accomplish a good deal in the coming winter' now that her health had improved and her tonsils had been removed. A year later, however, she wrote to the Clerk of Senate regretting that she would have to temporarily suspend her studies in Law. Mary never returned to her research. Nor did she become a solicitor. She remained an educator, moving from classroom teacher to be an Education Officer in Northumberland in the late 1930s and Sierra Leone sometime in the 1950s.

Madge Easton Anderson progressed a little further in her Ph.D. studies, begun in 1930, the autumn in which Mary Grigor's attempt ended. Examiners were selected in readiness for submission of her thesis on International Law in 1933. But she, too, was unable through circumstances to complete it. Remarkably, it was 1982 before the first woman, Rebecca Wallace, graduated Ph.D. in Law from the University of Glasgow.


Mary Rachel Grigor
Born 4 April 1904.
University Link: Graduate
GU Degree: LLB, 1927; Law,
Occupation categories: lawyers
Record last updated: 13th Aug 2020

University Connections

University Roles

  • Graduate

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