Mary Ann Baxter

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Mary Ann Baxter

19th Century

1801 – 1884

A very rich lady and a deeply religious person from a family of wealthy linen manufacturers, Miss Baxter supported missionary work abroad and good works in Dundee – but she never gave money away indiscriminately.

Then, at the age of 80, she founded University College, the forerunner of the University of Dundee, to promote the education of both sexes. The plaque is on the entrance gates of the University on Perth Road.

Miss Baxter insisted that the College should not be absorbed into St Andrews; that it should have enough money to be independent; and that it should teach every subject but divinity. Miss Baxter also insisted that no-one associated with the College should have to declare their religious opinions.

Even McGonagall had something to say:

Good people of Dundee, your voices raise
And to Miss Baxter give great praise;
Rejoice and sing and dance with glee
Because she has founded a College in Bonnie Dundee

The Inauguration of University College Dundee (verse one):
William Topaz McGonagall

Painted portrait reproduced with kind permission from University of Dundee Archive Services

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