Skip to main content

University of Edinburgh Charter

 Fonds — Box: EUA GD4; EUA CA10
Identifier: EUA GD4

Scope and Contents

The document is not strictly a charter of foundation. It confirmed and extended a previous charter signed by James's mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, on 13 March 1567, which had granted the Town of Edinburgh all the lands, buildings, and revenues formerly belonging to the monastic orders abolished during the Scottish Reformation of 1560. These were to be used for the support of the city's clergy and the poor. King James's charter ratified Mary's gift but also authorised the Town Council to spend the income from the former ecclesiastical properties on a college of higher education.


  • Creation: 1582


Conditions Governing Access

This item is not normally produced for general consultation. A good article, facsimile and translation is available in Charters of Foundation and Early Documents, (Coimbra Group,1994).

Biographical / Historical

The University of Edinburgh was established as the 'Tounis College' by a charter of novodamus from King James VI of Scotland in 1582. This gifted old ecclesiastical revenues to the burgh of Edinburgh to be used to establish a college.

Empowered by James's charter, the Town Council went on to convert Hamilton House on the site of Kirk o' Field to provide class-rooms, a college hall, and seventeen sleeping chambers for students. On 14 September 1583, they appointed Robert Rollock (1555-1599) as the first Regent of the University. One month later the newly founded university opened its doors to its first students.


1 item

Custodial History

Assumed to have been in the posession of the city until loaned to the University in November 1995.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Long term loan from Edinburgh City Archives (its ref. Historical Charter 65), Acc 96/018.

Existence and Location of Copies

Published copy in, Charters of Foundation and Early Documents, (Coimbra Group,1994)


Charters of Foundation and Early Documents, (Coimbra Group,1994)
University of Edinburgh Charter
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379