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Detail of wooden carved doors showing GWC and Merchant Hall crests

A Brief History of George Watson and the School

George Watson's Boys' College, George Watson's Ladies' College, George Watson's College

George Watson was born in Edinburgh on 23 November 1654. After a long career as an accountant, merchant, banker and investor, he died on 3 April 1723. Although the precise location of his grave is unknown, a memorial plaque to him can be found in Greyfriars’ Kirkyard.

George Watson’s Ladies’ College was founded in George Square in 1871 and made a remarkable contribution to the education of  girls and young women for over a century before merging with the Boys’ College to form a single co-educational school at Colinton Road in the 1970s. 

We are proud of the heritage of our predecessor schools which over the centuries prepared many thousands of young people for their lives in Edinburgh, throughout Scotland and around the world, and which have contributed so much to what we know at George Watson’s College today.

The 150th Anniversary of the foundation of GWLC was celebrated throughout 2021 and 2022. You can find out more about the story of 'George Square' on the GWLC 150th Anniversary website.