Papers of Major Finlay McDonald Urquhart, 1889-1943, warden of Maclay Halls, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

These are the papers Miss Ida Brown had collected together as Executrix of Major Urquhart's will, and also some photographs of residents of Maclay Hall during her time as Matron.

  • Papers and correspondence of Finlay McDonald Urquhart and family (includes certificates; legal papers; photographs; miscellaneous German currency), 1859-1946;
  • Papers relating to the winding up of his estate, 1939-1946;
  • Photographs of Maclay Hall residents, 1960s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Finlay McDonald Urquhart was born on the 31 October  1889  in Swatow [Shantou], Guangdong, China. His father Finlay was a marine engineer. He attended village school at Alness, Ross-shire, Scotland and went on to study at Glasgow High School, Scotland. He excelled at school and won various prizes including the Wellpark Gold Medal for modern languages. He then attended the  University of Glasgow from  1907-1914  and again from  1922-1924  as a student, his study being interrupted by active service during the First World War.

Finlay studied first for an MA degree, graduating in 1912, and from 1911/12 he was also taking law subjects for both the MA degree and LLB degree, and completed his law degree after the war. He took the following subjects: Latin and Maths in 1907-1908; French and Logic in 1908-1909; Political Economy, Chemistry and Zoology in 1910-1911; Constitutional Law and Civil Law in 1911-1912 (despite winning prizes in both classes, he did not pass the exams, but subsequently passed both in March 1913); Law of Nations (Public International Law) 1912-1913; he matriculated to study Scots Law and Forensic Medicine in 1913-1914, but these subjects do not appear on his LLB schedule for 1913-1914.

In 1922 he returned to the University to finish his LLB degree studies, graduating in 1924. In 1922-1923 he studied Jurisprudence and also the Law of Nations course again. In 1923-1924 he took The Law of Scotland, Conveyancing, Evidence and Procedure. While he was at the legal firm of Andersons & Pattison he matriculated in 1924-1925 to take International Private Law in the summer session of 1925, and Forensic Medicine in 1925-1926, but his name does not appear in the class roll for the Forensic Medicine class.

He distinguished himself at University winning several prizes: certificate of distinction in Humanity (Latin) in 1908; 1st class certificate of merit in the Ordinary French Language and Literature class, 1909; one of the nine proxime accesserunt in the Political Economy class 1911; 4th prize and 1st class certificate for Civil (or Roman) Law, 1912; 4th prize in Ordinary class of Constitutional Law and History, 1912; Scots Law, Honours class, 1924; 3rd prize and certificate of merit in Evidence and Procedure class, summer session 1924; 1st and Guthrie Memorial prizes for International Private Law in 1925.

While at University he was involved in the Officer Training Corps, training as an engineer in the Senior Division until 1913. From 1914 Finlay Urquhart served in the Highland Light Infantry. He served throughout the First World War, but chiefly in the East where he took part in the final campaign for the relief of Kut-el-Amara, Iraq in 1917. He then served on the staff in India during the Afghan War, afterwards retiring to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers.

He became a solicitor and latterly worked at the firm of Carruthers, Gemmill & McKillop. He was also appointed an assistant lecturer in International Law in the Department of Law at the University of Glasgow as from 1 Oct 1939, but by 12 Oct he was away on military service.

His main interest though was in the movement for University residential facilities. In   June 1927  he was appointed the Warden of Maclay Hall, a position he held until he rejoined the Army in 1939. The Hall had opened in 1922 and Major Urquhart had been one of the original residents as a student, and in 1927 was resident there as a post-graduate student studying for the Scottish Bar. During his time as Warden he successfully campaigned to extend and improve the Hall. The purchase of adjoining properties and the erection of a new wing extended the Hall to four times its original size. In 1937 the late Mr W W Strain, impressed with the success of Maclay Hall, bequeathed a property in Park Terrace to the University for residential purposes, resulting in the opening of Strain Hall in 1938, which amalgamated with Maclay Hall. The improved facilities included several reading rooms and a sports annexe comprising squash rackets and playing courts, gymnasium, and Tennis room.

Major Urquhart travelled widely, visiting Asia, North Africa, Canada, the USA and over 20 European countries. Since his family came from Alness, Ross-shire, he took a keen interest in the betterment of the Highlands and was Glasgow secretary of the Highland Development League.

He rejoined his regiment, the Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment), 2nd battalion, at the outbreak of the Second World War and died whilst on active service on 24 October  1943 . After some family bequests, he left his estate to Miss Ida Stortz Hanbidge Brown, who had been a fellow worker in the legal profession and afterwards was Matron of Maclay Hall. He also directed that £50 was to be divided among those Maclay Hall residents and staff whom Miss Brown considered to "to have given meritorious service during the present war or any part of it". Major Urquhart is buried in the Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery, Tunisia and is listed on the University of Glasgow Rolls of Honour for both  1914-1919  and  1939-1945 .


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift: John Brown: January 1988: ACCN 1019

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History

Collected together and kept by Miss Ida Storz Hanbidge Brown, the Executrix and chief beneficiary in his Will.


None expected

Related Material

GB 0248 UGC 024 Maclay Hall of Residence, student hall of residence, University of Glasgow, Scotland.

GB 0248 DC 099 Glasgow University Officers'Training Corps,

Location of Originals

Originals of birth, death and marriage certificates will be available at New Register House, Edinburgh, or at the National Archives, Kew.


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Fonds level compiled by Hannah Westall, Archives Assistant, 30 May 2000 and revised by Janice Miller, Archives Assistant, 18 July 2003. Lower levels converted to Encoded Archival Description by Michael Beesley, Archive Assistant, July 2013.

Geographical Names