Foundation of New College, 1846

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New College was founded in 1846 as a result of the Disruption, a schism in the Church of Scotland, which led to the creation of the Free Church.

In 1843, almost a third of the clergy of the Church of Scotland and perhaps half its membership left the established Kirk in protest against what they perceived as state efforts to undermine its spiritual independence and integrity. The Free Church of Scotland was formed under the leadership of Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) and David Welsh (1793-1845). Both were members of the Faculty of Theology of Edinburgh University and demitted their posts on 5 June 1843.

A new college was required to train ministers for the Free Church. Chalmers was appointed Principal and Professor of Divinity, and Welsh Professor of Divinity and Church History, the roles that they had previously held at Edinburgh University. Both gave classes to trainee ministers at Free St George's Church, George Street, from October 1843, but on 3 June 1846, Chalmers laid the foundation stone for an entirely new building at the head of the Mound.

New College remained the College of the Free Church of Scotland, and subsequently the United Free Church of Scotland, until the Reunification of the Church of Scotland in 1929. The Universities (Scotland) Act 1932 paved the way for the merger of the United Free Church College and Edinburgh University's Faculty of Divinity which was completed in 1935. In 1937, New College became the official seat of the enlarged Faculty of Divinity.

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