Sir Alexander Morison (1579-1631)

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Sir Alexander Morison, Lord Prestongrange (1579-1631) was the second Rector of Edinburgh University, serving from 1627 to 1631.


Morison was born in Edinburgh in 1579, son of John Morison, a bailie of the city. He studied at Edinburgh University under Henry Charteris (c1565–1628), graduating MA in 1598. He was called as an Advocate to the Scottish Bar in 1604. In 1626, he was appointed a Lord of Session and adopted the name Lord Prestongrange, after his East Lothian home.

Morison as Rector

On 5 January 1627, the Town Council of Edinburgh elected him Rector of Edinburgh University, following the resignation of Andrew Ramsay. Like Ramsay, he appears to have regarded the title as largely ceremonial. According to the University's historian Thomas Craufurd, who describes Morison as 'a very learned man':

He appeared indeed before the Council, and gave his oath de fideli administratione; but nothing more followed upon it.

Morison died on 20 September 1631, and the Rectorship remained in abeyance for nine years. When it was revived in 1640, and the post offered to Alexander Henderson (c1583–1646), the Rectorship was at last formally defined. While the Principal was responsible for the discipline, religious and moral control, and administration of the College, the Rector was to be ‘the eye of the Council of the Town’. He was to function as a supervisor or inspector on the Council’s behalf, but also as the spokesman for the College when making overtures to the Council.

Archives at Edinburgh University


  • George Brunton and David Haig, An Historical Account of the Senators of the College of Justice from its Institution in 1532 (Edinburgh: Thomas Clark, 1832)
  • A Catalogue of the Graduates in the Faculties of Arts, Divinity, and Law, of the University of Edinburgh since its Foundation (Edinburgh: Printed by Neill and Company, 1858)
  • Thomas Craufurd, History of the University of Edinburgh, from 1580 to 1646: To Which is Prefixed the Charter Granted to the College by James VI of Scotland, in 1582 (Edinburgh: Printed by A. Neill & Co., 1808)
  • Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884)
  • Sir Francis J. Grant, The Faculty of Advocates in Scotland 1532-1943: With Genealogical Notes (Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society, 1944)