Eliza Steele-Hutton MA 1903

Aileen Fyfe
Wednesday 6 April 2022

Elizabeth Peddie Steele Hutton was one of the first two women to graduate M.A. with Honours in History from St Andrews. She graduated with First class honours in 1903.

She spent over a decade studying at St Andrews, taking her first class in 1892 and her last in 1904. She took classes in education, logic, maths, natural philosophy, English Literature, History (including honours classes in the latter two), and then continued her studies at St Mary’s (in divinity). She won the Rector’s prize in 1900, and was the first woman to edit College Echoes.1

There is some uncertainty over her identity. The editor of the Biographical Register says that the MA graduate was born in Liverpool around 1867, and died in 1917. But there is also an Elizabeth Peddie Steele (c.1838-1906), who married David Hutton of Liverpool, and whose sister lived in St Andrews. Perhaps these identically-named women are daughter and mother?

The elder Elizabeth came from a family with strong scholarly interests. Her father, Peter Steele (1794-1871), had been a schoolmaster in Dalkeith, and later a classics lecturer at the Free Church training college in Edinburgh in the 1850s; her brother James (1836-1917) was a doctor and classical scholar who spent most of his later life in Rome and Florence; and her sister Anne was married to a classics teacher, and lived in St Andrews.2 Elizabeth was already married to David Hutton before 1871, but he predeceased her. She could have come to St Andrews to be with her sister, and, as a mature widow, become a student. Or she may have had a daughter with the same name.

  1. For her University career, see her entry in the Biographical Register ↩︎
  2. This family history is outlined in the account of her father’s grave; and also in an obituary of her brother. ↩︎

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