William Colville (d. 1675)

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William Colville was Principal of Edinburgh University from 1662 to 1675.


Also know as William Colvill; the date of his birth is unknown, but he was educated at St. Andrews University, obtaining his MA in 1631. He was ordained into the ministry with his first appointment at Cramond, Edinburgh in 1635, and then to the newly built Tron Church in Edinburgh in 1642. Colville was suspended, together with Andrew Ramsay, in 1648 under suspicion of trying to obtain support from the French and Dutch against Charles I, and in 1649 he was completely removed from office because of this. He subsequently took up a ministerial post in Utrecht.

With a change in the political climate, the Edinburgh Town Council, in 1652, wished to have him appointed as the Principal of Edinburgh University, which was opposed by the Edinburgh ministers. Colville had accepted the post, but the opposition prevented Colville from taking up the appointment, which went to Leighton. Colville was compensated by the Town Council for his disappointment, but his position eased when he was accepted back into the Church in 1654, and given a ministry in Perth.

When Robert Leighton resigned his post of Principal in 1662, the Town Council again approached Colville to become Principal, and he accepted. His work for the University included producing a new set of Regulations regarding the discipline of the College in 1668. In 1672 he was one of a number of inter-university delegates who put forward a motion that only professors of universities could teach students.


Colville was married twice, with four children from the first marriage, and a son from the second. He died in Edinburgh in 1675.


  • Refreshing streams flowing from the fulnesse of Jesus Christ (London, 1655)
  • Philosophia moralis christiana (1670)
  • The righteous branch growing out of the root of Jesse, and healing the nations (Edinburgh, 1673)
  • Submission to the censures of suspension and deposition, exemplify'd in the case of the very Reverend Mr. Will. Colvill


  • Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884)
  • A. S. Wayne Pearce, 'Colville, William (d. 1675)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)[[1], accessed 23 July 2010]