Dr Guthrie’s Schools, Edinburgh

One of the great joys of researching family history on behalf of others is when you encounter archives previously unknown to you in the pursuit of your quest. I’ve discovered via health board records that my client’s grandmother was resident in a Dr Guthrie’s school in the 1930’s. I previously had not encountered this name but have since become familiar with the organisation. Dr.Thomas Guthrie was a Victorian minister and philanthropist who established the Edinburgh Original Ragged Industrial Schools in 1847 to educate some of the destitute children found on the city streets.  Over time the schools evolved, coming into the state education system around 1920 and later becoming ‘approved schools’ for the care of juvenile offenders and children requiring protection.

Although some of the personal records for these schools are closed for 100 years, I’ve obtained permission for my client to access the admission registers herself at the National Records of Scotland which will hopefully give her information about the family that her grandmother came from. The NRS catalogue suggests that these registers record the pupil’s name, age, birthplace, where, when, and by whom ordered to be detained, with what charged, term of detention, when admitted, name/address/occupation of parents, birthplace, parish, state of instruction and disposal. I look forward to accompanying my client to access these records very soon. As there are no other family links available this is the only way that my client can trace her family background so we are very hopeful of a positive result.

Records of Dr Guthrie’s schools covering the period of 1852 to 1985 are kept by the National Records of Scotland under reference GD425. Details of how to get permission to access specific records is included on the NRS Catalogue

13 thoughts to “Dr Guthrie’s Schools, Edinburgh”

  1. Our visit to the NRS Historical Search Room went well. Once we had her fixed up with her Reader’s Ticket (she just needed to bring 2 photos and some ID) we were brought the Admissions Register for the Dr Guthrie’s Girls’ School, we quickly were able to find her grandmother, age 15, in the Register in 1939. She’d been referred by the RSSPCC because she was considered to be ‘In Moral Danger’ at home. It turns out that she was being looked after by a married couple described as her guardians, and they were reported to be ‘Not of Good Character’. So we’ve still not found her parents, although I’ve since found one or two clues which suggest that the wife of this couple may have been related to the girl’s mother. A search of the birth records failed to find an exact match for her grandmother taking into account her location , year of birth and her name. So the search goes on and I’m sure we’ll get there in the end.

    1. go and look in Facebook, there is a closed group in Facebook and in the group there is a few ladies who were in Dr Guthries at the time you were there.

  2. For those interested, in 1892 at least 4 girls from Dr Guthries were emigrated to Canada as “Home Children” for indentured service as follows:

    WALKER Elizabeth, age 16
    BARROWMAN Sarah, age 16
    FAIRLEY Jane, age 16
    MURRAY, M, female, age 16

    They travelled to Canada on the Sarmatian, departing Glasgow 02 July 1892, arriving Quebec 13 July 1892. They were first taken to the St. Andrews Home in Montreal, Quebec, Canada before being placed out to indentured service.

    In Canada, these children have become known as the “British Home Children”.

    LeeAnn Beer
    BHCARA BHC Registry Admin.

  3. I was in Dr Guthrie’s Girls School in the spring of 1972 for four months. Would be nice to catch up with anyone who may have been there at the same time.

    1. I was there 1969/71 my name was Susan gray and I was from Aberdeen the other girls were Carrie Joyce Cheryl Margaret

  4. Hi my name is William Mckechnie was at Dr Guthrie’s from 1965 to 1969 does anyone remember me please get in touch.thanks

    1. Dear William, I am an English woman now aged 70 who spent about 7 months in 1968/9 doing voluntary work at Dr Guthrie’s Boys in Liberton. I remember my mother down in Kent being utterly horrified by my plan to go up to Edinburgh to work there as I was only aged 18/19. Nevertheless I still went. Upon my arrival I was told that there had been a lot of trouble locally with the school so they couldn’t recruit staff so I was given the job (unpaid) as the assistant matron under Elizabeth Mackenzie, a lovely woman but very strait laced from a family of wee frees. I still remember her taking me to her church one Sunday, an unnerving experience, very formal with all the women in hats apart from me. I do have fond memories of all the staff. Was it John Millar who was the Head? A nice family.

      I have fond memories of the camp in Dunbar.Though there was a difficult day once when some of the lads stole some live crabs and let them loose on the kitchen floor! I cannot remember now what happened next. No doubt someone sorted out the problem.

      i hope you have managed to enjoy a good life. I do wish I had bothered to keep in touch with some people there but of course being young, fancy free and careless I did not ..

      My good wishes to you,
      Sally Adams
      020-8874-0643

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