The Madras College Archive


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Originally there was no Rector in overall charge of the school, each department being run by a head.  However, from 1889 a Rector was in overall charge of the school

Up to the time of writing (2011), Madras College has had ten Rectors. A brief comparison of their careers shows interesting similarities in the routes they followed to reach the top, although some of these may be no more than coincidences.

J MacKenzie
J Moore
H F Martin
J D McPetrie
N MacLeod
J Thompson
I D Gilroy
D D Galloway
L S G Matheson
I S Jones

Connections and Coincidences – Similarities in the Route to the Top.

A survey of their subject disciplines gives the following result:

Classics – 5 (Mackenzie, Martin, McPetrie, MacLeod, Galloway);     English – 1 (Gilroy);
French – 1 (Moore);            History – 2 (Thomson, Matheson);         Science – 1 (Jones).

The preponderance of Classicists may be explained by the fact that in the early days the Rector not only managed the school, but also acted as Principal Teacher of Classics. Of course, for much of that time there was a fairly widespread assumption that Classicists were particularly well suited to administrative tasks.

Three Rectors (McPetrie, MacLeod, Galloway) taught at Bell Baxter High School, Cupar.
Two of them (MacLeod, Galloway) were Depute Rectors of Bell Baxter High School.

Three Rectors had connections with Daniel Stewart’s College (now Stewart’s Melville College) in Edinburgh. Martin went on from Madras to be Rector of Dollar Academy, but subsequently returned to Edinburgh to be Headmaster of Daniel Stewart’s, which he had himself attended as a pupil. Before coming to Madras, Thomson was Principal Teacher of History at Stewart’s. The third Rector links the other two. Galloway attended Stewart’s College as a pupil. At the beginning of his time there, Martin was still Headmaster and then, in S4–S6, Thomson was his History teacher.

Although it was possible to be promoted straight from Principal Teacher to Rector as happened with Moore and Thomson, this was exceptional, especially for a school of the size and status of Madras. Even promotion from a Depute Rector’s post would be unusual, although the two Madras examples are mentioned above. Before becoming Rector of Madras, the successful applicant would almost certainly have gained direct experience of senior management as Rector of a smaller school elsewhere. This is the route to the top followed by:

Mackenzie – Elgin Academy;
McPetrie – Alva Academy and Keith Grammar School;
Gilroy - Mackie Academy, Stonehaven;
Matheson – Milne’s High School, Fochabers;
Jones – Menzieshill High School, Dundee.

However, the Rector’s post was not necessarily a career summit. One Rector (Moore) went on to lecture in French at Edinburgh University (1920) where he later became Professor of French (1930).

D D Galloway 2011