Sir Alexander Grant, 10th Baronet

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Bust of Sir Alexander Grant by Charles McBride, Old College, University of Edinburgh

Sir Alexander Grant, 10th Baronet of Dalvey FRSE LLD (23 September 1826 – 30 November 1884) was a British educationalist and principal of the University of Edinburgh. He had strong links to India, especially Bombay.


Early life[edit]

He was born in New York City the son of Sir Robert Innes Grant, 9th Baronet of Dalvey, and his wife, Judith Towers Battelle.[1]

He was educated at Harrow, before becoming a student in Balliol College at Oxford. He later held a fellowship at Oriel from 1849 to 1860. He made a special study of the Aristotelian philosophy, and in 1857 published an edition of the The Ethics of Aristotle: Illustrated with Essays and Notes (4th ed. 1885) which became a standard text-book at Oxford. In 1855 he was one of the examiners for the Indian Civil Service, and in 1856 a public examiner in classics at Oxford.

In 1856, following the death of his father in 1854, he succeeded to his baronetcy, becoming 10th Baronet.[2]


In 1859 he went to Madras with Sir Charles Trevelyan, and was appointed inspector of schools; the next year he moved to Bombay, to fill the post of Professor of History and Political Economy in the Elphinstone College. Of this he became Principal in 1862; and, a year later, vice-chancellor of Bombay University, a post he held from 1863 to 1865 and again from 1865 to 1868. In 1865 he was appointed Director of Public Instruction for Bombay. In 1866 he served as Vice Chancellor of Bombay University. In 1868 he was appointed a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Bombay (MLA).

Edinburgh and Final Years[edit]

In 1868, upon the death of Sir David Brewster, he was appointed Principal of Edinburgh University. From that time till his death, much of his energies were devoted to the well-being of the University. The institution of the new medical school in the University (at Teviot Place) was almost solely due to his initiative; and the Tercentenary Festival, celebrated in 1884, was the result of his enthusiasm. In that year he published The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years.

In 1869 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, his proposer being Sir Robert Christison. He served as Vice President of the Society 1876-1881.[3]

From 1872 (following the Scottish Education Act of that year) he was a Member of the Board of Education, overseeing a huge programme of school construction across Scotland. He sat on the board until 1878, by which time the construction period was drawing to an end.[4]

He died at his Edinburgh address of 21 Lansdowne Crescent in the west end of the city.[5]

He is buried in Dean Cemetery in western Edinburgh.[6]

Honorary degrees[edit]


In 1859 Grant was married to Susan Ferrier, daughter of James Frederick Ferrier. They had eight children. Their two first sons died in infancy. The six remaining children were:

Personal life[edit]

A keen golfer, Grant was a regular at the Elie Golf Club and was caddied by a young Archie Simpson for many years, his favourite.[7]


Grant is remembered at the University of Edinburgh to this day with two buildings named after him: Grant House in Pollock Halls of Residence, and the Grant Institute (Geology).


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office directory 1883-84
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Archie Simpson". Retrieved 5 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
David Brewster
Edinburgh University Principals
Succeeded by
Sir William Muir