School of Divinity

New College

The foundation of New College was the product of the zeal that arose from religious conflict.


New College emerged out of the Disruption of 1843, when over a third of the ministers and perhaps half the lay membership left the established Church of Scotland in protest against what they perceived as state efforts to undermine the Church's spiritual independence and integrity.

Against all odds, the outgoing clergy and laity formed the Free Church of Scotland as a new national Church, free from state connection and acknowledging only the headship of Christ.

Amid the idealism and fervour aroused by the Disruption, the struggling Free Church founded New College as an institution for educating not simply a learned ministry, but a new Scottish Christian leadership.

The hope was that these new leaders would guide the nation through a new Reformation, reassert the spiritual independence of the Church, and elevate the religious and moral conditions of the Scottish people.

For a time, New College was envisaged as a free university, a citadel of conscience which would stand against the system of patronage and privilege that for centuries had enabled the Crown and members of the gentry and aristocracy to dominate the religious and intellectual life of the nation.

The University

New College merged with the Faculty of Divinity in 1935.

Further reading

More information on the history of New College.