Mortifications (bursaries and endowments) for education in Aberdeen 1593-1660 and their implementation in the seventeenth century
The educational ideals of late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Scotland were informed both by an appreciation of the needs of the godly commonwealth and by familiarity with pedagogical developments on the continent of Europe. The achievement of these ideals was hampered by the exacerbation of inherent problems in the funding of Scottish education by the effects of the Reformation of 1560, necessitating additional endowment by private individuals. In this context, the foundation of Marischal College in 1593, partly because of its flaws, offered a focus for and a stimulus to civic piety in the burgh of Aberdeen. The motivations of those who made mortifications (benefactions in perpetual trust) to the College and to the grammar school of Aberdeen, and the forms their benefactions took, were conditioned not only by experience of educational practices abroad, but also by the complex religious and social sanctions operating in a reformed society. The implementation of these benefactions was affected by the political, religious and economic crises engulfing seventeenth century Scotland, but not to the extent that the goals of benefactors were abandoned. While what was achieved fell short of the ideal, the mortifications ensured a degree of provision of scholars and teaching in the burgh which might not otherwise have been possible.