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Title: The alumni of the Scots colleges abroad, 1575-1799
Author: McInally, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0001 3624 7812
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2008
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The small cemetery is all that remains ofthe Snow Kirk! in Old Aberdeen. The church itself fell into ruin in the eighteenth century having been used bythe Catholic community since the Reformation? The churchyard, however, continued to be used ' for Catholic burials into the twentieth century. Two wall plaques record the burial there ofthe brothers, John and James Sharp both priests who had worked on the mission in Scotland for many years? The funeral monuments attest to their piety and in John's case state that he hadbeen educated at the colleges at Scalan in Upper Glenlivet and Valhido'lid in Spain.4 Praise follows for his great learning and for his personal culture and manners:s the implicatIOn being that he owed these qualities to .. his education at the colleges. It is particularly charming that,the epitaph pll\~es equal emphasis on learning and urbanity. He had been trained at a Scots College abroad in the penal times when it was illegal to receive such an education in Scotland. While his . . memorial tablet commemorates his achievements the majority of Scots Catholics who attended the colleges abroad during the penal times have gone unrecorded.6 This dissertation will attempt to identify those students who through their contributions to cultural life of Scotland and elsewhere deserve greater academic attention. Historians have written on aspects of Catholic history during these times. Alphons Bellesheim7 , J F S Gordon8 and William Forbes-Leith9 have produced histories ofthe Catho~.ic Church in Scotland. Their accounts, though ofgreat value, are more than a century old with consequent short-comings. Bellesheim, the German historian, wrote his four volumes on the history ofthe Church in Scotland from the earliest times. Volume 4 deals with post-Reformation history and concentrates on missionary work, particularly that of the Jesuits, in Scotland. The style is anecdotal and his approach is hagiographical. Gordon wrote his history in anticipation of the reestablishment ofthe Scottish hierarchy in 1878. The main part of his text is devoted to ', supporting this and the Penal Times are covered only in an extensive foreword in which he attempts a broad sweep ofthe subject and like Bellesheim relies heavily on unreferenced source material. Both ofForbes-Leith's major works are heavily dependent on the accounts ofthe troubles of Catholic individuals from the late sixteenth to the eighteenth century. In nature they are family histories dominated by a small number ofnorthern families including:tJordon, Forbes and Leith. In all these histories passing reference is made to the Scots colleges abroad but no asse~~mentof their impact is attempted. More recently Mark DilworthlO , Maurice Taylorll and Brian M Halloranl2 have produced histories of individual Scots colleges and an anthology ofessays on the Pontifical Scots College in Rome was produced to' celebrate its 400th anniversary.13 The Innes Review continues to produce scholarly articles on many aspects of Scottish CathoIicism.14 However, the vast majority ofthese accounts are focused exclusively on religious matters as is unsurprising since almost all ofthe historians involved are ordained priests, secular and regular, and therefore writing from a professional or vocational perspective. IS The impact ofthe Scots Catholic colleges in Europe during ,' this period has not yet been addressed as a whole, either in terms ofsecular history or ofthe wider influence ofthe alumni ofthe colleges. This dissertation has two foci. The first is a statistical analysis ofthe prosopographical information contained in the college registers ofstudents. Together with other archival material this gives a view ofpatterns of attendance and trends sustained over time. The main details covered with regard to the students are age, family background (social and occupational), geographical origin and relationships with wider Catholic and Scottish networks. This is all original work based on primary sources.16 The last comprehensive review ofthis college material was organised by P J Anderson17 more than a century ago and consisted ofthe assembly ofprimary material without translation or analysis. More recent attempts at prosopography have been those ofHalloran (a partial reconstruction ofthe missing Paris college records) . and Dilworth (a listing ofthe known members ofthe Wiirzburg Schottenkloster). In neither case was any analysis ofthe data attempted. My data base ofstudents was produced after rigorous examination or re-examination of original college archival material surviving in Scotland and on the continent. Wherever possible corroborative cross referencing was made with other archives - particularly those ofthe Society of Jesus18 and the Congregation ofPropaganth'FideJ9 in Rome - and therefore represents a significant advance on any earlier work attempted in the field.• , A second focus ofthe dissertation is on the cultural impact that the colleges achieved through their alumni. In the compass of a doctoral dissertation it is simply impossible to give a full account of the cultural or political activities ofso many individuals active over such a geographical area and a span ofcenturies. The overview attempted is only indicative ofthe scope and degree of influence achieved and in no way intended to be comprehensive or definitive. It is supported quantitatively, however, by the statistical analysis ofthe data base which establishes the minimum numbers of Scottish alumni active in various fields such as the Church, military and state service, commerce, academic research, humanities, art and architecture A number ofthe most famous students ofthe colleges have been evaluated .already as contributors to their own field of endeavour either in biographies21 or within general histories.22 In each case they have been treated as individuals with little suggestion that they belonged to a corpus ofalumni that benefited from the unique privileges which attendance at a Scots college conferred. This omission becomes more regrettable when an assessment is made ofthe other students ofthe colleges in more than two centuries who have escaped the attention of historians or have received only the most peremptory ofaccounts. In a preliminary way this dissertation attempts to sketch some ofthe connections which emerge when these individuals are viewed in context. Again the constraints of space have limited the background which I have been able to provide. What is offered is inte.tfded only to aid the reader in having some .A sense ofthe world in which the Scots alumni existed. It is in .no way . primar; the dissertation or fundamental to its purpose or claims. In my researches I have had access to a number of archives of primary materials. As well as those ofthe Jesuits and Propaganda Fide already mentioned were the MadridlValladolid College (now in Salamanca) and the Roman College: also the Archivio Segreto Vaticano and Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana were examined for relevant material. The University of WUrzburg kindly allowed me access to surviving manuscripts from that city's Schottenkloster. I have made extensive use ofthe Scottish Catholic Archives in Edinburgh and found valuable material in the Special Collections ofthe University ofAberdeen and in the City ofAberdeen's archives.. ,. The methodology which I have adopted in constructing this dissertation is to have discussed in order the following: the founding ofthe colleges; the basis oftheir academic success; the numbers and backgrounds ofstudents who attended; their contributions to the Catholic mission in Scotland; further contributions to the wider Catholic Church; those alumni who took up significant positions in Military or State service; those who were prominent in scholarly or academic life; and those noted for scientific, business or.artistic excellence. In all cases, where relevant, statistical analysis ofthe data base has been used to support any conclusions drawn. One more point requires to be made in this preface: to declare my personal viewpoint. By confession I am a Catholic, Scottish but ofIrish ancestry. This has driven much ofmy interest in this research but I have striven to avoid it colouring my objectivity. I sta~ed the research in a state of almost complete ignorance and was driven by curiosity which only intensified the more I learned. If! have weighed evidence more lightly or exaggerated outcomes more than a totally objective commentator from a wholly secular background might have done then in my defence I might claim that I have done no more than partially to rectify the imbalance shown by past historians in their almost total neglect or denial ofthe substantial contributions to cultural developments achieved by the Scots Colleges abroad.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Universities and colleges ; Catholic theological seminaries