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Coordinates: 57°8′55″N 2°6′9″W / 57.14861°N 2.10250°W / 57.14861; -2.10250

Robert Gordon's College
Rgc logo.jpg

AB10 1FE

TypeIndependent day school
MottoOmni nunc arte magistra which translates to 'Now Is The Time For All Of Your Masterly Skill"
FounderRobert Gordon (philanthropist)
Local authorityAberdeen City
Chairman of the GovernorsJames Hutchison
Head of Senior SchoolMike Elder
Head of Junior SchoolSarah Webb
Head of CollegeSimon Mills
Age3 to 18
HousesBlackfriars, Collyhill, Sillerton and Straloch
Colour(s)Navy and Gold
PublicationThe Gordonian
Former pupilsGordonians

Robert Gordon's College is a private co-educational day school in the heart of Aberdeen, Scotland. The school caters for pupils from Nursery through to S6.


It originally opened in 1750 as the result of a bequest by Robert Gordon, an Aberdeen merchant who made his fortune from trading with Baltic ports, and was known at foundation as Robert Gordon's Hospital. This was 19 years after Gordon had died and left his estate in a 'Deed of Mortification' to fund the foundation of the Hospital. The fine William Adam-designed building was in fact completed in 1732, but lay empty until 1745 until Gordon's foundation had sufficient funds to complete the interior. During the Jacobite rising, in 1746 the buildings were commandeered by Hanoverian troops and named Fort Cumberland.

Gordon's aim was to give the poor boys of Aberdeen a firm education, or as he put it to "found a Hospital for the Maintenance, Aliment, Entertainment and Education of young boys from the city whose parents were poor and destitute". At this point all pupils at the school were boarders, but in 1881, the Hospital became a day school known as Robert Gordon's College. In 1903, the vocational education component of the college was designated a Central Institution (which was renamed as Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology in 1965 and became the Robert Gordon University in 1992). Boarding returned in 1937 with the establishment of Sillerton House. In 1989 RGC became a co-educational school. In 2009 the school officially opened the new junior school and six years later the Wood centre for science and technology opened alongside the Craig centre for performing arts by HRH Princess Anne.[1]

The modern school is divided into a Nursery, Junior School and Senior School, and caters for boys and girls from 3 to 18 years. Robert Gordon's College follows the Scottish curriculum.

The Head of College, Simon Mills, is a member of Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Arms and mottoEdit

The coat of arms shows the boar of the Gordon family, and a fort or keep on a red background. The latter is perhaps an allusion to the very similar coat of arms of the city of Hamburg, a founding member of the Hanseatic league of Baltic trading cities. More likely however is a connection to the coat of arms of Aberdeen, which features three similar towers on a red background.

The current coat of arms dates from 1917. They were changed when it was discovered that the college had not registered the coat of arms that were previously in use as was legally required. A new college seal was produced once new arms had been approved by the Lord Lyon.

The Latin motto of the college, 'Omni nunc arte magistra' translates to 'Now is the time for all your masterly skill'; it is more commonly presented as 'Be The Best That You Can Be'. It dates from 1882, after the school had been converted into a day school and a new coat of arms and seal came into use. The motto was suggested by William Geddes, a professor of Greek at the Aberdeen University, and comes from the Aeneid, reporting the words of the god Vulcan.[2] The original seal of the hospital contained the motto "Imperat hoc natura potens," translating as "by nature's sovereign command", which was taken from the Satires of Horace.[3].

House systemEdit

The school operates four houses, to one of which each student is allocated upon entering the school. The houses compete in various activities throughout the year and gain points which contribute to the annual John Reid Trophy award.

The four houses are:

  • Blackfriars - named for the Dominican friars (or black friars due to their garb), that once had a convent adjacent to the school grounds.
  • Collyhill - named for Alexander Simpson of Collyhill who bequeathed a large sum of money to the school, which allowed for more boys to join the school.
  • Sillerton - The origin of the Sillerton house name is not clear, but it is believed that, in Robert Gordon's lifetime, he was known as Gordon of Silverton (siller being Scots for silver), and on a 1746 map, the school is identified as Sillerton Hospital.
  • Straloch - named for Robert Gordon of Straloch, one of the first graduates of Marischal College, studying humanities, mathematics and philosophy.

Notable former pupilsEdit

The "Auld Hoose" of Robert Gordon's College, by night

Former pupils include:


  1. ^ "History of RGC". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  2. ^ R. B. Strathdee, "The Seals of the Hospital and Colleges, Part II", p. 180, The Gordonian, December 1950
  3. ^ R. B. Strathdee, "The Seals of the Hospital and Colleges", p. 84, The Gordonian, June 1950
  4. ^ Webster, J. (2005) The Auld Hoose - The Story of Robert Gordon's College. ISBN 1-84502-051-0
  5. ^ ‘NIVEN, William Dickie’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 30 March 2014
  6. ^ Nicol Stephen's MSP site
  7. ^
  8. ^ Marshall, John (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of Railway Engineers. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 214. ISBN 0-7153-7489-3.
  9. ^ "'97-'98 Class List". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  10. ^ Councillor's Biography - John West
  11. ^ Kirsty Scott (13 June 2007). "Fresh-faced challenge". The Guardaian. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  12. ^ Reference to J. Michael Kosterlitz as a former RGC pupil

External linksEdit