Founder: Dr. John Borthwick Gilchrist (1759-1841). During medical service with the East India Company, Dr. Gilchrist developed an interest in oriental languages which was to become a motivating force in his life. Obtaining leave of absence, he lived among the local population until he had acquired a good colloquial knowledge of Hindustani and then wrote a grammar and dictionary, believed to be the first of their kind. After resigning his medical post, he became successively Professor of Oriental Languages at the Marquis of Wellesley’s College, Calcutta , Lecturer on Oriental Languages and Literature in London and Edinburgh and Professor of Hindustani at University College , London . He was also an ardent promoter of popular education and worked with Dr. Birkbeck in establishing the London Mechanics Institution (later Birkbeck College ); he was associated with Hume and other prominent men of the time in establishing University College in 1826 and also took a leading part in the establishment of the London Oriental Institution.

Under the terms of his Will, Dr. Gilchrist left the residue of his estate to the Trustees for the benefit, advancement and propagation of education.

The Trust is perhaps best known for its establishment of the Gilchrist Lecturers, 1867-1939, which were given in industrial communities by eminent men and were attended by many thousands of people. After the Lectures began the University Extension movement started to develop; the Trust worked in close association with it and, later, with the Workers’ Educational Association.

Since its inception, the Trust has been fortunate to have as Trustees men and women prominent in the field of education or in public life.  

Registered Charity No. 313877