HC Deb 05 April 1894 vol 22 cc1441-2

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether the Rev. John Herkless, who has just been appointed to the Chair of Ecclesiastical History in the University of St. Andrews, has take na degree at any University, or whether he has otherwise gained distinction in literature, divinity, or general scholarship as a qualification for a Professorial Chair? Since I placed the question on the Paper I have discovered that I have been misinformed as to the facts; but, as the question appears, I think it only right to put it.


Mr. Herkless, to use the words of the Very Reverend the Principal of the University of Glasgow, was one of the most distinguished students of his time at that University. Dr. Caird writes— Seldom, if over, has it fallen to any student as in his case, to be equally eminent in the Faculties of Arts, of Theology, and of Medicine. He is as this University record indicates, a man of wide and varied knowledge; and any productions from his pen which I have seen show him to be possessed of no little literary faculty. His book on Cardinal Beaton, according to the Reverend Herbert Storey, Professor of Church History in the University of Glasgow, is marked by great historical accuracy, critical acuteness, and freshness of presentment. The Reverend Alexander Mitchell, the predecessor of Mr. Herkless in the Chair of St. Andrews, writes— I have always heard from my friends in Glasgow University that Mr. John Herkless was one of the very foremost students of his time, and carried off an amount of University honours in Philosophy, Science, and Theology such as falls to the lot of few. In the Class of Biblical Criticism he especially distinguished himself, and since leaving Glasgow University he has had ample opportunities of prosecuting that and other favourite studies, first by residence at the German Universities, and latterly in his quiet country manse. I do not think that the House would expect me to read a long list of testimonials from men admirably capable of judging, of which these are a specimen. When at Glasgow Mr. Herkless obtained by way of University honours:—The Cleland Gold Medal in Theology, the Rae Wilson Gold Medal in Theology, the University Medal in Mental Philosophy, the John Hunter Medal in Science, the Henderson Prize in Theology (equal), the Marshall Bursary in Divinity, the Smith Prize, given to the best student of the year in the Glasgow Presbytery, and in class work he won seven highest prizes in Divinity, four highest prizes and one second prize in Church History, four highest prizes in Biblical Criticism, three prizes in Moral Philosophy, and others which I need not recapitulate. I do not very well see how Mr. Herkless could have had a more distinguished University career. I have written to ask him what his degree is. He is not, I think, a Doctor of Divinity.