Macphail, Earle Monteith

Reference code(s): GB 0237 Edinburgh University Library Gen. 2044-73 and MSS 2592-2593 and Edinburgh University New College Library MSS MCP
Held at: Edinburgh University New College Library
Title: Macphail, Earle Monteith
Date(s) of contents: 1869-1936
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 2 boxes, 31 volumes and 1 box of notebooks at Edinburgh Special Collections and 16 volumes at New College.


Name of creator(s): Macphail, Earle Monteith (1861-1937)

Administrative/Biographical history: Earle Monteith Macphail, Scottish missionary to India, was born in 1861 in Aberdeen the son of James Macphail, D.D., of Pilrig Church, Edinburgh. He was educated at Edinburgh University (M.A. 1883, B.D. 1890) where he was one of the founders of Edinburgh University Students' Representative Council and he was Cunningham Fellow at New College in 1889. He also attended universities in Jena, Tübingen and Berlin, Germany. From 1886-1887 Macphail had been an acting professor at Madras Christian College and, after being ordained as a United Free Church of Scotland missionary in 1890, he returned to Madras as a professor of History and Economics. In 1899 Macphail became a fellow of Madras University and later its principal (1921) and vice-chancellor (1923-5). He sat on the Legislative Council between 1919 and 1922 and was a member of the Council of State in 1924. Between 1925 and 1927 Macphail represented the European constituency of Madras in the Legislative Assembly of India of which he was deputy chairman in 1927. He retired in 1927. Macphail was made CBE in 1919 and CIE in 1924. He was awarded an honorary D.D. from Edinburgh in 1922 and LL.D from Madras in 1932. He died on 19 January 1937 in Edinburgh.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: The New College Library volumes were given by Macphail's son J.G. Stewart Macphail in 1972. The Edinburgh University volumes came from the same source in 1978 with an additional two volumes (MSS 2073* 1-2) in 1979. The material in the boxes MSS 2592 and 2593 came to the Library at a later date.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection consists of two boxes of correspondence and printed items relating mainly to Edinburgh University and New College in particular to societies such as the Dialectic Society and the Diagnostic Society, to the Students' Representative Council, to Edinburgh University Union and to University anniversaries (1879-1934). The material also includes two items relating to Macphail's schooling (1869, 1875), material from his time in Germany, a file on Madras Christian College almost solely concerned with his visit there from 1886-1887, and photographs of Madras and Macphail's family. In addition there are 39 notebooks containing lecture notes made by Macphail while studying for his MA (1878-1883) and political economy (1889-1990) at Edinburgh University and 16 notebooks while studying divinity at New College (1883-1890).

System of arrangement: The collection is split between the two libraries. At Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives is the correspondence and printed material (MSS 2592-2593) and the Edinburgh University notebooks (Gen. 2044-2073). The New College notebooks are at New College Library (MSS MCP).


Language: English and German.

Conditions governing access: Contact the repository for details.

Conditions governing reproduction: Contact the repository for details.

Finding aids: The alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives and the Index to Manuscripts and the Inventory of Manuscripts at New College Library mention the collection. A list of the notebooks held by Special Collections was prepared by J. G. Stewart Macphail in 1978 and is filed in box Gen. 2073.


Related material: The National Library of Scotland has an extensive missionary collection including some Macphail correspondence.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brown, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives.

Note: The biographical details were compiled from: (1) Who Was Who 1929-1940 (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1941). (2) Information from the collection.

Date(s) of descriptions: 7 July 2000


Personal names
Macphail | Earle Monteith | 1861-1937

Corporate names
Edinburgh University
Madras Christian College

South Asia