Our History

Over 300 years of life-changing charitable education

Find out more about the rich tapestry of our schools' history by scrolling through our timeline below.


Junior School Renamed

The Junior School is renamed ESMS Junior School.

Performing Arts Centre Opens

The new Erskine Stewart's Melville Performing Arts Centre opens. This is later officially named the Tom Fleming Centre for the Performing Arts, in memory of distinguished Scottish actor and Daniel Stewart's Former Pupil Tom Fleming.

New Ravelston Opens

New Ravelston opens at The Mary Erskine School site to accommodate e-Plus services for children from Nursery to Primary 3.

The Solway Centre Opens

The Solway Centre is opened by Princess Anne to accommodate e-Plus after school and holiday provision on the Stewart's Melville Queensferry Road site.

Joint Sixth Form Established

A joint Sixth Form is established, which completes the unique ESMS diamond structure with a co-educational final year.

Twinned Houses Introduced

Introduction of twinned Houses at Stewart's Melville College and The Mary Erskine School.

New Junior School Name

The Junior School is renamed The Mary Erskine and Stewart's Melville Junior School and becomes fully coeducational up to Primary 7. Easter Ravelston opens for children in Nursery and Primary 1.

The Junior Schools Combine

The Junior School incorporates a new Nursery and becomes coeducational up to Primary 5. It is now called The Combined Junior School of The Mary Erskine School and Stewart's Melville College.

Boys' and Girls' Schools Merge

The Mary Erskine School and Daniel Stewart's and Melville College merge. The Senior Schools remain in their respective buildings, but their timetables are synchronised.

Boys' Schools Combine

Daniel Stewart's College combines with Melville College to form Daniel Stewart's and Melville College.

MES Moves to Ravelston

The Mary Erskine School moves to the Ravelston site after many years of planning.

Boarding at Daniel Stewart's

Boarding is introduced on the Daniel Stewart's College site for the first time, at Dean Park House.

The Mary Erskine School

The School's current name, The Mary Erskine School, is used for the first time on the 250th anniversary of its creation in honour of original co-founding benefactor, Mary Erskine.

Creation of Melville College

After moving to Melville Street in 1920, Rev Robert Cunningham's School is renamed Melville College in 1936 - to better reflect the institution that it is.

Edinburgh Ladies' College

The Merchant Maiden Hospital is renamed the Edinburgh Ladies' College and is now recognised as one of the most renowned schools of its day.

The Girls' School Evolves

The Merchant Maiden Hospital becomes the Edinburgh Educational Institution for Young Ladies. In the same year, the Institution moves to the western end of Queen Street to look after the education of rapidly growing pupil numbers.

Daniel Stewart's Institution

The David Rhind building officially becomes Daniel Stewart's Institution with about 300 boys attending.

First Boys at Daniel Stewart's

Daniel Stewart's money allows the first 50 boys to take up residence in the magnificent David Rhind building on Queensferry Road.

The School Grows

By 1835, the School opened by Rev Robert Cunningham now caters for 241 boys and moves to Hill Street.

Robert Cunningham Opens School

The Rev Robert Cunningham founds the Edinburgh Institution for Mathematics and Language at 59 George Street, which will become Melville College. 60 boys attend.

Merchant Maidens Move

The Merchant Maiden Hospital moves to its third home at Lauriston.

Daniel Stewart Bequeaths Money

Daniel Stewart bequeaths a substantial sum of money for the foundation of a school for orphan and destitute boys. He entrusts its 'perpetual management' to the Merchant Company of the City of Edinburgh.

A New Home for the Hospital

Mary Erskine purchases a substantial house for the Hospital in the Bristo area allowing the school to move out of their lodging in the Merchant Company's Great Hall and into a space of their own. Meanwhile, the constitution obtains statutory ratification by the Scottish Parliament.

Girls Become Residents

The first girls take up residence in the Merchant Company's Cowgate building, lodging in the gallery above the Great Hall.

Merchant Maiden Hospital Opens

Mary Erskine and the Company of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh co-found the Merchant Maiden Hospital to house and educate the destitute daughters of Edinburgh's merchants. 'Hospital' was a term given to an endowed charitable foundation at this time.
Change a child's life by supporting Access to Excellence Give Now