Records of the Principal

Scope and Content

Apart from a few records surviving from the late seventeenth century the bulk of the Principal's records date from the end of the nineteenth century. The records of the Principal's filing system are the main semi-current records for the twentieth century. Apart from the specific references given here other relevant records may be found scattered throughout the series known as the inventory series. The records of the Principal's Office is material mainly of an administrative nature including letters and correspondence, papers, agendas, minutes and reports and speeches. The records of the individual principals (those with the references DC) also consist of material other than that relating to their role as University Principal.

  • Principal's memorandum book  1684-1702  (  GB 0248 GUA 26630  )
  • Principal's meeting minutes  1690-1694  (  GB 0248 GUA 26622  )
  • Principal's papers  1896-1936  (  GB 0248 GUA 73384-73427  )
  • Records of Robert Herbert Story  1898-1907  (  GB 0248 DC 021  )
  • Records of Sir Hector James Wright Hetherington  1935-1963  (  GB 0248 DC 008  )
  • Records of Sir Charles Haynes Wilson  1937-1972  (  GB 0248 DC 191  )
  • Records of Sir Alwyn Williams  1964-1989  (  GB 0248 DC 223  )
  • Records of the Principal's Filing System  1945-1995  (P)

Administrative / Biographical History

The Principal's Office is part of the Management Services Division (MSD) of the University's Central Administrative Planning Unit (CAPU) and aims to provide administrative support to the Principal. The office of Principal Regent, or Principal of the College, dates from the beginning of the University when he was responsible for the day-to-day administration of the College, whereas the Rector had overall responsibility. The office has changed many times over the centuries. For example, under the Nova Erectio of 1577 the role was reconstituted and the Principal had to preach at the church of Govan every Sunday as the College enjoyed the revenues of the parish. The Principal was at that time forbidden to take any extended journey without the permission of the Rector, Dean and regents and being absent for three consecutive days without permission was tantamount to resignation. This practice soon became burdensome and in 1621 the Principal was freed from the arrangement. Until the passing of the The Universities (Scotland) Act of 1858 the Principal was required to be a clergyman of the Church of Scotland but following the passing of this act the position was open to laymen. Although for centuries the Principal was nominated by the Crown, the appointment is now made by the University Court to whom the Principal is responsible for the running of the University. From 1972 Vice Principals have been appointed. The role of Principal today can be likened to that of chief executive of the University. The Principal sits on the University Court, chairs the Management Group and is President of the Senate. In modern times the Principal has also been Vice Chancellor and carries out the task of conferring degrees in the Chancellor's absence, although this power may also be delegated to Depute vice-chancellors.

A L Brown and Michael Moss . The University of Glasgow: 1451-1996 . Edinburgh :  Edinburgh University Press  ,  1996  .


Most of this material is arranged in series, which consist of numbers of items related by format and/or function. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically. The records of the Principal's Filing System on arrival at the Glasgow University Archives and Business Records Centre have been arranged into a basic filing system and are to be listed.

Access Information

By appointment - access to recent official records and records containing confidential information is restricted in accordance with University policies and relevant legislation.

Acquisition Information

These records were received from the Principal's Office

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Owned by the University of Glasgow.

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 except for the records of the Principal's Filing System which are awaiting appraisal

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

Records relating to individual Principals of the University of Glasgow can be found at Glasgow University Library Special Collections ( GB 247  )


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

University of Glasgow

This material is original.

Subfonds level description compiled by Emily Woolmore, GASHE project archivist , 11 April 2000  . Amended by Lesley Richmond, October 2002  .