Gilchrist Educational Trust Archive

Scope and Content

Papers of the Gilchrist Educational Trust, 1805-1999, including minutes, 1865-1995; annual reports, 1874-1940; Secretary's reports to the Trustees, 1941-1948; Trustees accounts, 1865-1979, and other financial papers, 1890-1977; legal papers, 1841-1955, including probate copy of the will of John Borthwick Gilchrist, 1841 and deeds of appointment of Trustees, 1911-1999; papers relating to John Borthwick Gilchrist, 1805-1948 including Grants of Arms to Gilchrist, photographs, engraving from a picture of Gilchrist painted by Sir Henry Raeburn and papers relating to Gilchrist's tomb; minutes of special meetings of the Trustees; Trustee's correspondence; memoranda and reports to the Trustees; papers relating to the Fison Memorial Fund, 1925-1965, including agreements for publications of lectures; balance sheets, annual accounts and pass book; publications by and about the Trust, 1881-1976 and correspondence, 1880-1984.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Gilchrist Educational Trust was founded on the bequest of Dr John Borthwick Gilchrist (1759-1841) who left the residue of his estate to the Trustees 'for the benefit advancement and propagation of education and learning in every part of the world as far as circumstances will permit'. After long litigation procedures the Educational Trust was founded in 1865. The principle which guided the Trustees in the administration of the funds under their control was that of doing pioneering work, such as seeking to fill up educational gaps; making some provision for the educational needs of classes of persons not already provided for; aiding new educational movements which, for lack of public support at their initiation, needed financial help to enable them to grow in strength. They began by establishing scholarships to bring natives of India to England for a University education that would fit them to undertake public work on their return. These, later taken over by the Government of India, were followed by similar scholarships in the (then) Colonies which were, in turn, taken over by the appropriate authorities. There followed scholarships in England for women at the time when Women's Colleges were being established. The Trust is perhaps best known for its establishment of the Gilchrist Lectures, 1867-1939, which were given in industrial communities by eminent men and were attended by many thousands of people. After the Lectures began, the University Extension movement started to develop; the Trust worked in close association with it and, later, with the Workers' Educational Association.


Arranged into the following sections: Minutes, annual reports and accounts; Accounts; Legal papers; Papers relating to John Borthwick Gilchrist; Papers relating to the Trustees; Fison Memorial Fund and Publications by and about the Trust.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Received from the Gilchrist Educational Trust in two accessions in 2001 and 2006.

Other Finding Aids

A basic list is available online. A more detailed hardcopy list is available. Please contact Special Collections for further information .

Custodial History

Some items were discovered in the Royal Astronomical Society and sent to the Gilchrist Educational Trust.