|Admin history||The University of St Andrews was established between 1410 and 1413. St Leonard's College was the second of the three endowed collegiate societies within the University. In 1512 Alexander Stewart, Archbishop of St Andrews, and John Hepburn, Prior of St Andrews founded the College of St Leonard. The Archbishop, as Chancellor, wanted to reorganise the Pedagogy of the University and erect it into a proper college. However, he was diverted from his intention by the Prior and the new college came to be a 'college of poor clerks' associated with the Priory of St Andrews, primarily intended for the education, in arts and theology, of novices of the Augustinian Order. The Prior appointed one of the canons as Principal of the college and regents, chaplains and bursars were appointed by Prior and Principal together. The charter of 1512 reveals that the college was a new incarnation of 'the Hospital and the Church of St Leonard joined thereto', which antedated the Cathedral, being already in existence in 1144 when Bishop Robert transferred it from the Culdees to the Augustinians. The hospital or hospice seems to have been used by pilgrims to the shrine of St Andrew. Its location was on the western edge of the ecclesiastical settlement to the south of the eastmost part of South Street. The earliest reference to St Leonard seems to be in 1248. The chapel is first mentioned in 1413 as 'the parish church of St Leonard within the city of St Andrews', served by a chaplain attached first to the hospital and latterly to the College under the title of 'curate'. St Leonard's Church was one of the buildings used for the earliest meetings of the University of St Andrews from 1411. There are references to the hospital or almshouse of St Leonard between 1421 and 1511 but the nature of the institution at that time is obscure.|
In its first form St Leonard's College consisted of a Principal, four chaplains of whom two were to function as regents or teaching masters and one as curate of the parish, twenty scholars in arts and six in theology. The foundation was slightly altered in the revised college statutes of 1544. In 1545 a fresh charter was issued to the college by Cardinal David Beaton, reserving ultimate control of the College to the Priory, although in practice the management of its finances as well as the regulation of its community life was conducted by the Principal and his senior colleagues. They also had a role in the wider university as officials and examiners.
At the Reformation of 1559-1560 the Priory remained in being under its titular head the Commendator and its rights over St Leonard's College were maintained by the Sub-Prior John Winram. The great humanist George Buchanan (1506-82) was Principal of the College from 1566-1570. In 1579 the 'New Foundation' of the colleges of the university restructured the teaching in the university and focussed theology on St Mary's College, with St Salvator's College and St Leonard's College becoming primarily 'colleges of philosophy' or arts. The principal of St Leonard's was to lecture on the philosophy of Plato. In the 17th century, St Leonard's College included among its students members of the nobility such as the first Marquis of Argyle, the first Duke of Lauderdale and the second Earl of Buccleuch. Many of its regents achieved prominence later in their careers, such as John Strang as Principal of Glasgow University, John Wedderburn as physician to King Charles I and James Sharp as Archbishop of St Andrews. By the re-annexation of the Priory to the Archbishopric in 1661 the last also became Patron of the college.
In 1620 Sir John Scott of Scotstarvit instituted a professorship of humanity, to teach the Latin necessary to enable the students to participate in the work of the philosophical courses. Eventually this professor found a place on the foundation but the other professors taught all the subjects of the four year curriculum to one 'class' in turn despite the requirement of the New Foundation that they should specialise. In 1702 Greek and in 1727 Natural Philosophy became 'fixed' professorships but it was not until 1744 that complete specialisation was achieved. Renewal and extension of the college buildings from the early seventeenth century meant that the college could house some three-quarters of its average undergraduate membership of about 100 during the 1650s. Sons of the nobility, with their private tutors or 'pedagogues' might be allowed to lodge in town. The buildings of the college continued to comprise church, hall, library, lecture-rooms or 'schools' and student rooms.
During the early years of the eighteenth century the College was seen as strongly Jacobite. A commission sent to visit the university facilitated the reconstruction of the College where the hall and other buildings had been destroyed by fire in 1702 and never rebuilt. The north side of the court was rebuilt as schools and students lodgings. Students completed their four years ' course in Arts but final examinations and disputations had fallen out of use. Very few took the degree of Master of Arts. Student numbers declined and the disrepair of the buildings and small salaries for the professors led to the amalgamation of the two philosophy colleges. This took place on 24 June 1747, creating the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard in the University of St Andrews.
St Salvator's site was chosen to be the seat of the combined foundation. As a result, although both the name and the historic identity of St Leonard's College were continued within the United College, the fact that its buildings were abandoned meant that its contribution to the character of the foundation was significantly reduced. St Leonard's buildings were used by members of the United College until 1757 while repairs were being made to St Salvator's. The United College became permanently installed in St Salvator's in 1759 and the parochial congregation of St Leonard's followed when, in 1761, St Salvator's Church was brought back into use as St Leonard's parish church. It performed this function until 1904 when a new church was provided on a site to the west of the town which had formed part of the patrimony of the ancient hospital and college and had thus been included within the parish from its creation. The buildings of St Leonards were sold off, the detached site in the Priory in 1754, the college buildings other than the chapel (which was retained by the University) in 1772. The latter were divided into St Leonard's East and St Leonard's West and in the mid nineteenth century had notable owners such as Sir David Brewster, Principal of the United College (1838-1859) and Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair, Provost of St Andrews, both of whom improved the property. After 1861 these buildings were leased back for use as a collegiate residence for students as 'St Leonard's Hall', an initiative of James David Forbes, Principal of the United College, 1859-1868. The success with the leased property encouraged Forbes to proceed with the erection of a new Hall (1868) but it was not financially viable, the increased student numbers hoped for did not materialise and there was trouble over discipline. It closed in 1874 and was sold to Bishop Wordsworth who named it 'Bishopshall'. In 1881 the old residential buildings were bought by St Andrews School for Girls (founded in 1877) which, after its arrival on the site, assumed the traditional name (St Leonard's School) and which eventually acquired all the adjacent property other than St Leonard's Church. The church had been reduced to bare walls in 1761 but was re-roofed and re-glazed by the University in 1910. It was completely renovated in 1948-52.
The College of St Leonard was reconstituted in 1974 to care for the interests of all postgraduate workers in the University. The membership of the College still consists of research students and research fellows and a number of members of the academic and administrative staff of the University who have been appointed members of the College. The aim of the College is to foster intellectual and social contact between research workers of different disciplines and to further the lot of research, and of research workers, in the University. Although the present College is a notional entity and has no buildings, it retains its spiritual focus around the restored Chapel of the medieval College and Deans Court, converted into a residence for research students in 1952. The Provost of St Leonard's College remains the vice-principal of the University with oversight of the post-graduate community.
(See R Cant and RN Smart, "St Leonard's College and Deans Court", (University of St Andrews, 1977).)
|Archival history||Retained in the custody of the University of St Andrews.|
|Publication note||RG Cant and RN Smart, "St Leonard's College and Dean's Court", (St Andrews, 1977), RG Cant, "The University of St Andrews: A Short History" (3rd ed., St Andrews, 1992), J Herkless and RK Hannay, "The College of St Leonard" (Edinburgh, 1905), RG Cant, "St Leonard's Chapel: the Kirk and College of St Leonard: a short account of the building and its history", (St Andrews, 1970), "Evidence, oral and documentary, taken and received by the Commissioners& for visiting the Universities of Scotland, vol. III, St Andrews", (London, 1837). W Croft Dickinson, "Two Students at St Andrews, 1711-1716", (St Andrews University Publications, 1, 1952) gives an interesting account of student life at St Leonard's College.|