Records of Madras College, St Andrews

Scope and Content

The records of the Trustees, Governors and Endowment Trust of Madras College, St Andrews are made up of bound volumes of minutes and accounts, loose papers, photographs, plans and other material.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Madras College takes its name from the system of education devised by the school's founder the Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell. He was born in St. Andrews in 1753, the son of a local magistrate and wig-maker. He studied at the University of St Andrews where he distinguished himself in mathematics and then spent time in Virginia as a tutor to a prominent plantation family, returning home on the outbreak of the American War of Independence. He was ordained by the Church of England and took up an appointment as the chaplain to the regiments of the East India Company in Madras, India. One of his duties was to educate the soldiers' children. Since there was a shortage of teachers, he used the older boys, who had been taught the lesson by the master, to instruct the younger pupils. The pupils who assisted the teacher were called 'monitors'. This method of education became widely used in schools at home and abroad. After his return from India, Dr. Bell made it his life's work to travel the country and encourage schools to adopt 'the Madras system', as it had come to be known. By the time of his death in 1832, over 10,000 schools were using his methods.

To make sure that his educational ideas would be preserved for the future, he made arrangements for the fortune his success had brought him to be used to found a school in his native town St Andrews. By selling some land he owned he was also able to give money to the neighbouring town of Cupar so that in the end he founded two schools, Bell Baxter High School in Cupar, which was originally called Madras Academy and Madras College in St. Andrews. The senior part of the St Andrews school is still on the original site in South Street where modern school buildings have grown up behind the impressive 1833 quadrangle.

Madras College in its present form is the result of two amalgamations of St. Andrews schools. The first took place in 1833 when the old Grammar School (which stood on the grounds between Blackfriars' Church and Lade Braes Lane) amalgamated with the "English' school (located behind the Church of Holy Trinity) to form the original Madras College. The school building in South Street served as a secondary school for St Andrews and beyond until 1889, when the Burgh School in Abbey Walk was erected by the School Board. From 1889-1963 the two schools existed side by side, the Burgh School being the junior secondary, and Madras College the senior secondary.

In 1963 Fife Council decided that all secondary schools should become comprehensive and the Burgh School and Madras College were joined to form the present Madras College. In the 1950s and 1960s major extensions were added to the original building in South Street. It now accommodates about 750 S4, S5 and S6 pupils. In 1962 it was decided to rehouse the old Burgh School in the Kilrymont area on the south side of the town. Madras College, Kilrymont Road, a fine modern building with adjacent playing fields, was opened in 1967. It is attended by over 1,000, S1, S2 and S3 pupils.


ms37601-2 Minutes of trustees, 1-2, 1831-1846, 1846-1879;ms37601-2 Minutes of trustees, 1-2, 1831-1846, 1846-1879;ms37603 Minutes of governors, 1, 1888-1907;ms37603 Minutes of governors, 1, 1888-1907;ms37604 Index to minute books of governors, from 1888;ms37604 Index to minute books of governors, from 1888;ms37605-37612/1 Endowment Trust letter books, 1-7, 1888-1926; 10, 1938-1957;ms37605-37612/1 Endowment Trust letter books, 1-7, 1888-1926; 10, 1938-1957;ms37612/2 Management trust letter book, 1928-1934;ms37612/2 Management trust letter book, 1928-1934;ms37613 Endowment trust cash ledger, 1928-1940;ms37613 Endowment trust cash ledger, 1928-1940;ms37614-37627 Miscellaneous papers, 14 boxes;ms37614-37627 Miscellaneous papers, 14 boxes;

ms38438:ms38438:Minutes of trustees, 3, 1879-1889;Minutes of trustees, 3, 1879-1889;Minutes of governors, 2-3, 1908-1929;Minutes of governors, 2-3, 1908-1929;Ledgers, 2-5, 1898-1928;Ledgers, 2-5, 1898-1928;Cash books, 1-2, 1905-1928;Cash books, 1-2, 1905-1928;

ms38375 Specification of work for Master's house, 1834;

ms38495:ms38495:Additional material which had been returned to School by solicitor in 1999: Contents of deed box including trust deeds, leases, inventories, papers relating to Dundee Royal Asylum, land for dam and railway at Cairns, Pipeland farmhouse, medals.

msdep13:msdep13:2 boxes of bundled papers including correspondence of Andrew Bell, ca. 1830-ca. 1900;2 boxes of bundled papers including correspondence of Andrew Bell, ca. 1830-ca. 1900;3 boxes of unlisted papers including much printed material, photographs, file on 1933 centenary, slate etc.3 boxes of unlisted papers including much printed material, photographs, file on 1933 centenary, slate etc.Roll of plans of building, 1831.

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted. Special conditions apply to photographs.


The school is creating an archive beginning with printed material from 1834. It has a website and an active acquisitions policy.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is largely unlisted.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Custodial History

Much of the material was deposited by a firm of solicitors in St Andrews who had acted for the Trustees. Other items were transferred by the Rector (head) of the School.

Related Material

GB 227 msdep113/53 Madrascal magazines, 1950-1953.GB 227 ms37628-37746; ms38437-38443 Records of Pagan, Osborne and Grace, solicitors, St Andrews.