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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

What is the Bloomsbury Project?

The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions

Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described

This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents

John Borthwick Gilchrist (1759–1841)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

He was a physician and later a Professor of Hindustani

He founded the London Oriental Institution in 1805

He was also associated with the foundation of the London Mechanics’ Institution (Birkbeck College) and University College London

On 20 December 1827 the Education Committee of what was then the University of London (later University College London) decided to ascertain whether Dr Gilchrist was offering to teach Hindustani for free (Education Committee, 20 December 1827, Committee Minutes 1826–1827, UCL Records Office)

He was, so on 19 February 1828 the Education Committee recommended to Council to appoint him, which it duly did (Education Committee, 19 February 1828, Committee Minutes 1828–1829; Council Minutes vol. I, 23 February 1828, UCL Records Office)

On 19 November 1828, only three weeks into the very first teaching term of non-medical subjects at the new University of London (medicine having started a month earlier, in October 1828), the Education Committee noted that Gilchrist was ill (he was then aged 69) and Frederick Rosen, Professor of Oriental Literature, was to be asked ‘to equip himself’ as soon as possible to teach Hindustani in addition to his other subjects (Education Committee, 19 and 26 November 1828, Committee Minutes 1828–1829, UCL Records Office)

Gilchrist died in Paris in 1841, having never really taken up his post at the University (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929); certainly there is no further reference to him in the minutes after 1828

He left the residue of his estate to found an educational trust which eventually began operating (after much litigation) in 1865

For more general biographical information about John Borthwick Gilchrist, see his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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