Our History

King William's College was born from the great vision of Bishop Barrow, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, who arrived in the Isle of Man shortly after his consecration in 1663. He was described as 'a man of public spirit and great designs for the good of the Church.' It is from his name that the term 'Barrovian' is coined and used to describe both Buchan and King Williams College alumni. 

The Buchan School and King Williams College have always been closely linked, and to understand why, it is necessary to examine briefly Barrow's intentions and the subsequent educational legacy he left behind. 

Barrow had a very strong sense of what he wanted to do shortly after arriving in the Island. He realised that he had to institute an education system for the Isle of Man and establish primary schools for both boys and girls in every parish. He also wanted to find and educate intelligent boys who could in turn serve the Church and help improve pastoral care in the Island. 

Barrow's extraordinary energy and drive led to the establishment of a substantial educational bequest and the eventual foundation, two centuries later, of King William's College in 1830. 

Forty-five years after King William's College's foundation a progressive girls' school was founded, thanks to the generosity and influence of Laura, Lady Buchan, her cousin Mrs Eliza Newton, Lady Gell and the help of a number of King William's College trustees. 

Lady Buchan was keen to promote a 'higher class female education' and to do this 'if possible in connection with King William's College'. She saw the trustees of King William's College as facilitators of this vision and hoped that a site could be found on Barrow trust land. The trustees were given just five years to set up a girls' school, otherwise the money was to be used to fund King William's College scholarships. 

King William's College's trustees, teachers and parents were very keen that their daughters should receive a good education, which was not forthcoming elsewhere, and wholeheartedly supported the establishment of a new girls' school. The School's first governing body included four King William's College trustees. And so Lady Buchan's school, from the beginning, had close ties with King William's College. 

It was not until 1991 that The Buchan School and King William's College were physically merged, with the establishment of co-ed prep and senior schools. The catalyst to this merger was the discontinuation of government funding for The Buchan School, which ended in that same year. 

Today King William's College and The Buchan School operate as one School on two sites. This partnership is reflected in the Barrovian Alumni and Barrovian Foundation logo, where the coats of arms of King William's College's and The Buchan School sit side by side.

Some Buchaneers (pre 1991 alumni) may struggle to identify with the concept of being a Barrovian, but it is important to remember that the roots of both Schools were born out of the same sentiment – to improve and extend educational standards and allow ordinary children to achieve great things in a dynamic and fast changing world. 

Just like their predecessors, modern Barrovians are equipped with a rounded, first class education enabling them to reach their full potential and make a positive impact in both their professional and personal lives. Barrovians are agents of change, just like Bishop Barrow and Lady Buchan. 

by Anna Templer

“OKWs around the world share a common background of having spent some of the most memorable times together on the Isle of Man. Those memories and values we share due to our time at King William’s College are unique.”

OKW