Department of Oriental Languages

Scope and Content

Student records 1877-1907.

Administrative / Biographical History

Oriental languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Syriac) have been taught at Glasgow University since the sixteenth century. The reforming Principal Andrew Melville took on the responsibility for teaching Oriental Languages himself. The University's new Charter, the Nova Erectio in 1577  , confirmed that it was the Principal's responsibility to teach languages, particularly Hebrew and Syriac. The Principal was also confirmed as holder of the Chair of Divinity founded under the Charter. However as a result of the heavy workload, it became customary to appoint one of the Regents as 'professor of Hebrew' to assist the Principal.

The Principal's responsibilities were further lightened with the founding in 1640  of a second Chair of Divinity, with the first holder being David Dickson ( 1640-1650  ). In 1642  a third Chair of Divinity was founded specifically for the teaching of Oriental Languages. The first man to be appointed to the Chair was Robert Baillie ( 1642-1662  ). A full list of the University's professors from 1451  to 2001  can be found at  . However after 1674  the teaching of Oriental Languages declined and passed into the hands of the Regent.

In 1709  the Chair of Oriental Languages was founded at Glasgow University by Queen Anne , as part of the Faculty of Divinity, the first professor being Charles Morthland ( 1709-1745  ). Notable occupants of the Chair have included John Anderson ( 1755-1757  ), James Buchanan ( 1757-1761  ), and James Robertson ( 1877-1907  ) founder of the Glasgow University Oriental Society . In 1893  the Chair was renamed the Chair of Hebrew and Semitic Languages, and Hebrew and Arabic were included as subjects for the Ordinary MA Degree. The Aramaic and Syriac classes expanded, and in 1902 Thomas Hunter Weir was appointed as full-time lecturer in Arabic. In 1903  an Honours Degree in Semitic Languages was instituted.

As of 2002  the languages of Hebrew and Arabic are taught by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies within the Faculty of Divinity.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Related Material

No related material

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

University of Glasgow

Subfonds level description compiled by Natalie Milne, archives assistant, January 2002  and John O'Brien, archives assistant, October 2002  .