Dr John Borthwick Gilchrist was born in Edinburgh in 1759. His studies included medicine, so in 1783 he went to India in the health service of the East India Company.  His great achievements there were to learn Hindustani and Urdu, persuade the British authorities that civil servants should use these vernacular languages, and to teach and publish extensively about them.  Ill-health caused his return in 1804.  Settling in Edinburgh, its university gave him a LL D doctorate for his linguistic work; and he and others tried unsuccessfully to launch a bank.  Dr Gilchrist moved to London, where in 1818 the East India Company made him a professor of Indian languages at its new Oriental Institution, where he taught until 1825.  He died in Paris in 1841.

The Gilchrist Educational Trust  was established in 1865, under the terms of a codicil to the Will of Dr Gilchrist who left the residue of his estate to his Trustees .

Once operational, the Trust was faithful to the aims of Dr Gilchrist and for many years it sponsored scholarships to Britain for students from India, Canada and Australia; scholarships and fellowships for women at Oxford and Cambridge; travelling studentships for secondary-school teachers; an annual series of public lectures in British industrial centres;  and grants to the Workers’ Educational Association and for university extension courses. 

The work of the Trust gradually evolved along different lines.  For some time the Trust helped promising sixth-form school children;  but with the coming of ‘free’ education it was decided that its limited resources  could be better employed by assisting adult students.  Applications are considered from those who have made proper provision to fund a degree or higher education course but find themselves facing unexpected financial difficulties which may prevent completion of it.  Applicants will normally be in the last year of the course.  Travel Grants
from students who need to spend a short period studying abroad as a part of their course; funds are offered to recognised small British  expeditions (usually university-based) with three or more members proposing to carry out research of a scientific nature;  organisations from any country (but registered in the  U.K.) seeking small grants to help with costs for particular academic educational projects.

In 1990 the first Gilchrist Fieldwork Award was offered to support high-level research by senior, salaried scientists.   Initially this award had a value of £10,000.  In alternate years the Trust now offers an award of £15,000 to support original and challenging overseas fieldwork carried out by small teams of university academics and researchers.

Although the Gilchrist Educational Trust is only small, it has provided good and varied work in the field of education over the last 150 years. 

The Chairmen of the Trust since 1898:
1898-1932            Lord (Ughtred) Shuttleworth
1932-1946            Lord (Richard) Cavendish
1946-1955            Professor James Gray
1955-1983            Humphrey Whitbread
1983-2000            Lord (Richard) Holderness
2000-2013            Lord (Charles) Shuttleworth
2013-                    Charles Whitbread

Other distinguished trustees included  Sir Michael Sadler, Lord Cavendish, the Earl of Halifax, Dr C P (later Lord) Snow, Lord Wolfenden, Professor William Mead.


Registered Charity No. 313877