Popular enquiries: tracing ancestors who attended the Veterinary College

Here at Archive Services, we often receive enquiries from all over the world about our collections. We recently received an enquiry from a researcher in Australia regarding her ancestor, Patrick Daniel Kelly, who attended the Glasgow Veterinary College. From our records of the University of Glasgow students from this era, we were able to discover various details about Patrick’s time at the University which has helped this researcher discover more about her family history.

The Glasgow Veterinary College had quite a history before it became part of the University of Glasgow in the October of 1945- prior to this, the College initially prepared students for the Highland & Agricultural Society’s Certificate. In 1863, a Royal Warrant was granted which prepared students for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ MRCVS exams.  After the merger with the University of Glasgow was fully completed in 1949, veterinary students began to matriculate at the University like other students of the University. While Patrick Daniel Kelly’s period of study with the Veterinary College was before it became fully implemented with the University, we are still in a great position to discover more about him.

According to our records (our ref: DC144/3/1/1), Patrick Daniel Kelly was born in 1857 and originated from Carhue, Cooraclare, Ireland.  From these records we know that Patrick came to the Veterinary College at the age of 22, and that he studied at the College from 1879 – 1882. Because the records from this era are different to our more recent records from the Veterinary College, this is all of the information we have. However, the enquirer from Australia has in her possession a gold medal offered as a prize to Patrick Kelly, and this corresponds with the dates which we know Patrick attended the College. The medal was most likely offered to Patrick as a prize for his results, and the inscription from the medal confirms the name of the recipient and that it originated from the Glasgow Veterinary College. This gives another insight into his time at the College, and the indication is that he was a great student!

Among other items from the enquirer are the following photos, which she believes to be of her ancestor Patrick Daniel Kelly, given that the photographer’s business address is in Glasgow. The same is also true of another photograph, which may be of a graduating class. While unfortunately we have nothing in our records to confirm this, these photos illustrate the artefacts often handed down by generations which can prompt others to research their family history and solve these kinds of puzzles! As you can see, these original photos have naturally faded over time, making the figures more difficult to identify and the quality of the images decline.A possible photograph of our researcher's ancestor, Patrick Daniel Kelly

A possible photograph of our researcher’s ancestor, Patrick Daniel Kelly
Another photograph from our researcher, possibly of Patrick Kelly's graduating class

Another photograph from our researcher, possibly of Patrick Kelly’s graduating class

As previously mentioned, because the records we hold for the Veterinary College differ depending on the period of the College’s history, the information that we hold for particular students varies. We are lucky that despite the fact that Patrick Kelly attended the College over 130 years ago, we are still able to find out when he attended and where he originated from. Just after this period, between 1885 – 1919 for example, we hold very little information and enquirers would be redirected to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Trust Library (or RCVS Trust Library for short) at library@rcvstrust.org.uk for more guidance.

It’s great being able to give someone key information on their ancestors who studied at the University- if you are interested in learning more about our student collections or you know your ancestor studied at the University of Glasgow and you’d like to find out more, please visit our enquiry and research services here.

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