Records of St John's College and the Pedagogy in the University of St Andrews

Scope and Content

There are no surviving records from the College of St John the Evangelist or the Pedagogy. References to these institutions occur in the early records of the University as a whole such as the first volume of minutes of the Faculty of Arts, 1413-1588.

Administrative / Biographical History

The college was founded in 1419 as a small chantry college with a chapel. The endowment was made by Robert of Montrose, rector of Cults, to found 'a college of theologians and artists' dedicated to St John the Evangelist and under Laurence of Lindores as first master. A Pedagogy for the Faculty of Arts was founded in 1430 by Bishop Henry Wardlaw on an adjacent site with a view to union with the College.

St John's College was the first building of the University and its earliest known endowment, being a tenement in South Street with certain annual rents. In 1430 Wardlaw's pedagogy was based in an adjacent tenement, to the west of the chapel of St John. Repairs were effected to the buildings between 1520 and 1525. The site of the Pedagogy and St John's College was used in 1538 as the location for St Mary's College. However, the Faculty of Arts continued to meet in the pedagogy under its new name and foundation, as St Mary's College did not take its full place among the colleges of the University until after the new charter of Archbishop John Hamilton in 1554.

St John's College was established to support the masters of the Faculties of Theology and Arts and to provide accommodation for their lectures and meetings. By 1460 the Faculty of Arts was teaching through the regenting system in a united pedagogy, which had come to be identified with the College of St John's.

In 1512 Archbishop Alexander Stewart, as Chancellor of the University, wanted to reorganise the by then decayed pedagogy and erect it into a proper college. However, he was diverted from his original purpose by Prior John Hepburn who instead promoted the new St Leonard's College. The pedagogy did continue to operate from St John's College and included among its students eminent men such as George Buchanan who matriculated in 1524.

References to the Pedagogy cease in the examination lists and matriculation rolls after 1527 as, apparently owing to the ruinous condition and repair of the buildings, the scholars were boarded out in the town and graduated under a regent in one of the other colleges. Robert Bannerman, principal regent of the Pedagogy, was instituted as first Theologian and Provost of St Mary's College in 1538.

The foundation endowment specified that the college of 1419 was to be under the supervision of Laurence of Lindores as first 'master, rector and governor'. Bishop Wardlaw intended to link his pedagogy of 1430 with the College of St John, under the unifying influence of that one master, Laurence of Lindores and two colleagues. Little is known of the later administrative structure as, in the absence of records of the college itself, detail has been extracted from other sources such as the early records of the Faculty of Arts of the University which concentrate on different aspects of the functions of the college. The college would have been supported by endowments.

Access Information

There are no surviving records.


Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids


Custodial History

No extant records

Related Material

References to the Pedagogy and the College of St John can be found within the records of the University of St Andrews at GB 227 UYUY and St Mary's College in the University of St Andrews at GB 227 UYSM.


AI Dunlop, Acta Facultatis Artium Universitatis Sanctiandree, 1413-1588, (St Andrews University Publications no. LVI. 1964).

Additional Information

No original material survives.