Robert Rollock

First Regent and first Principal of the University.

Rollock plaque


Rollock was born in 1555 near Stirling.

He studied at St Andrews University, graduated in 1577, and remained there to pursue further studies in theology, Hebrew, and Biblical philology. He was appointed Regent in Philosophy there in 1580.

Shortly before the University of Edinburgh was established in 1583, the Town Council of Edinburgh sought a regent. They approached Rollock on the advice of the Rev. James Lawson (1538-1584), First Minister of Edinburgh, and chief promoter of the scheme to establish a university in Edinburgh. R

Under the regenting system then common in Scottish universities, Rollock assumed sole responsibility for the First Year or ‘Bajan’ class. He tutored them throughout the four years of their Master of Arts degree, teaching all subjects himself.

When his class graduated in 1587, he did not resume the regenting cycle with a new Bajan class. He had been appointed the University’s first Principal in 1586, and was now relieved of everyday tutoring duties.

In November 1587, he was appointed Professor of Theology, offering instruction in Divinity to graduates who wished to prepare for the Ministry.

Rollock saw himself not only as an educator but as a spiritual guide to his students, keeping a close eye on their personal religion.

As Principal, he conducted family worship with the students every evening, instructed them in the knowledge of God and their religious duties, every Wednesday, and on Sunday accompanied all the students to St Giles’ Cathedral for the morning and afternoon sermons.

Rollock later served as moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and as Minister of Greyfriars’ Kirk in Edinburgh.

Rollock died in 1599. His final wishes were that the University should remain first and foremost a place of spiritual advancement, and that his former pupil Henry Charteris be appointed his successor.

The plaque

Rollock's plaque is at the entrance to the main university reception on the south side of Old College quad.


In honour of Robert Rollock


The first Principal of the University