Robert Rainy (1826-1906)

Colour photo of the plaque dedicated to Robert Rainy in Rainy Hall

Eminent historian and theologian of Christianity, Robert Rainy was Professor of Church History from 1862-1901 at New College and Principal 1874-1906. In 1887 he was at the centre of Free Church life serving as Moderator for the first of three occasions. Rainy was also a leading figure in Victorian Scottish religious and political life.


John Cochran: Yours truly Robert Rainy

An assortment of press clippings relating to Rainy’s death (MS Rai 5) testify to his considerable influence in nineteenth-century society. The cover of the Scottish Review’s special Rainy Memorial edition, published on 27 December 1906, advertised tributes to Rainy from both the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury. A more conflicted picture emerges from other coverage, with The Times observing that Rainy ‘was neither a great scholar nor a deep or original thinker’. Conversely, the Scotsman noted that ‘No one, seeing Principal Rainy, could mistake him for an ordinary man. His noticeably large head was stamped with intellectuality’.

New College’s Rainy Hall was named in his honour.

Read about Rainy Hall