1935: Report of Address by Lord Lothian, Founder of Newbattle Abbey College

The value of adult education was emphasised by the Marquess of Lothian, C.H., in an address at the annual meeting of the Council of the Edinburgh University Settlement Association, held in Kirk O’Field College, Drummond Place, last night.

Professor D. P. D. Wilkie, M.D., Ch.M., Chairman of Council, who presided, referred to Lord Lothian’s generous gift of Newbattle Abbey to be a home for adult  education. They hoped they might be able to feed that home from Kirk o’ Field College and also from the Craigmillar College in Niddrie.

Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian (1882-1940). Founder of Newbattle Abbey adult education college in 1937.
Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian (1882-1940). Founder of Newbattle Abbey adult education college in 1937.

Essential To Democracy

Lord Lothian said one of the reasons why nation after nation had surrendered to dictatorship after the war was because there was an inadequate number of people who could think and act for themselves. Education was essential to democracy. But democracy to succeed depended on moral and intellectual initiative in enough of its citizens.
Anything which tended to take the more alert, the more active-minded, the more intelligent of the youth of  the country, and especially those who had not had the advantage of a University education, and give them the elements of a liberal education was, to his mind, one of the most important things that could be done to preserve the fundamentals of their institutions.
He became very much interested in adult education as being a contribution to what was the most  important thing in the world— the preservation of those traditions that had made this country what it was.   Adult education was not only valuable to the individual, but was also essential to  successful  democracy.

Newbattle Abbey College. Founded 1937.
Newbattle Abbey College. Founded 1937.

Challenge to Scotland’s Position

He believed there was immense room for specific adult education, especially in Scotland. In 1911 he pointed out that there was one student in the Universities in Scotland for every 700 of the population; in Wales one for every 1800; and in England one for every 2000. Scotland had then a very considerable advantage.
In 1934, however, the proportion was much less favourable. Scotland had one University student for every 450 of the population, Wales one for every 850, and England one for every 1000 of the population; so that the Scottish advantage was lessening.

In the non-full University course the contrast was very striking. In 1931 there were 48,880 students in tutorial, W.E.A., and similar adult classes in England as compared with 5321 in Scotland. More striking still was the difference in the three-year courses.

In England the number in 1931-32 was 10,000; in Wales, 1800; and in Scotland practically none. In closing, Lord Lothian made a brief reference to the Newbattle scheme, and said that an announcement would be made at a meeting of the General Committee next week. On the motion – of Mr Henry Wade, C.M.G., I D.S.O., F.R.C.S.E., a vote of thanks was accorded to Lord Lothian.

Settlement Office Bearers

On the motion of Dr Alexander Darling, the following office-bearers were appointed:

  • Honorary President—Professor D. .P. D. Wilkie, M.D., Ch.M.
  • Honorary Vice-Presidents – Hector Munro Ferguson; Ex-Warden – Professor Sir Ludovic J. Grant, Bart., LL.D.; Professor Sir Robert W. Philip, M.A., M.D., LL.D.
  • Chairman of Council—Professor Wilkie
  • Chairman of Executive Committee—James Watt, LL.D., W.S.
  • Convener of Appeal Committee—Professor Wilkie
  • Convener of Finance Committee—J. Hamilton Craig, C.A.
  • Convener of House Committee—Miss A. G.Blair
  • Honorary Treasurer—F. W. Christie, C.A.
  • Honorary Auditor—-R. H. Wallace Williamson, C.A.
  • Warden and Secretary—Miss Grace Drysdale.


This is part of the Edinburgh Settlements digital archive collaboration with Ragged University:

Edinburgh Settlements Digital Archive

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