Our History

Over 300 years of life-changing charitable education

The story of ESMS is in fact the history of three separate institutions. In 1694, the Scottish businesswoman and philanthropist Mary Erskine founded the girls' school that would bear her name.  Melville College was founded in 1832 and Daniel Stewart's College in 1855 as a hospital for 'needy boys'.  The three institutions formally united in the 1970s and by the turn of the 21st century they had developed into the largest family of independent schools in Europe.

2013

Junior School Renamed

The Junior School is renamed ESMS Junior School.
2007

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.
2006

New Ravelston Opens

New Ravelston opens at The Mary Erskine School site to accommodate e-Plus services for children from Nursery to Primary 3.
2004

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.
1999

Twinned Houses Introduced

Introduction of twinned Houses at Stewart's Melville College and The Mary Erskine School.
1999

Joint Sixth Form Established

A joint Sixth Form is established, which completes the unique ESMS diamond structure with a co-educational final year.
1989

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.
1978

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.
1978

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.
1972

Boys' Schools Combine

Daniel Stewart's College combines with Melville College to form Daniel Stewart's and Melville College.
1966

MES Moves to Ravelston

The Mary Erskine School moves to the Ravelston site after many years of planning.
1963

Boarding at Daniel Stewart's

Boarding is introduced on the Daniel Stewart's College site for the first time, at Dean Park House.
1944

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.
1936

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.
1889

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.
1870

Daniel Stewart's Institution

The David Rhind building officially becomes Daniel Stewart's Institution with about 300 boys attending.
1870

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.
1855

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.
1835

The School Grows

By 1835, the School opened by Rev Robert Cunningham now caters for 241 boys and moves to Hill Street.
1832

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.
1818

Merchant Maidens Move

The Merchant Maiden Hospital moves to its third home at Lauriston.
1814

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.
1706

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.
1696

Girls Become Residents

The first girls take up residence in the Merchant Company's Cowgate building, lodging in the gallery above the Great Hall.
1694

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.
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