In 1857 a boy named William Wallace stood proudly in a St Andrews school as he was presented with his dux medal, having overcome personal tragedy.
Roll on 164 years, and staff were stunned to open the day’s mail and find young William’s medal back in the auspices of Madras College – having been returned with a letter from his descendants in Canada.
William Wallace’s great grandchildren also told the school the story of their forebear as they donated his prize to the school’s heritage collection.
Young William was sent to Madras College – established 24 years before his dux glory – by the Earl of Leven when he inherited his father’s property and fortune after a fatal accident.
He was only 10 years old when his father John, a farmer, was wounded in the stomach by a shot from his own gun and died.
Aged 16, he was named dux in English – meaning he was top of the class – and given the medal which would be passed down through his family until his granddaughter Mary Maxwell Condon posthumously granted it to his old school.
Madras College rector Avril McNeill was delighted to receive the donation.
She said: “I’m a historian so for me this was really special in terms of the history of the school.
I’m a historian so for me this was really special in terms of the history of the school.”
Avril McNeill, Madras College rector
“It will go into our archive and we may use it in future as part of prize-giving ceremonies and in assemblies.
“We are getting it valued, as was requested by the family.”
The letter accompanying the medal from his great-grandson also told how William, born in Largo, and three of his nine children emigrated to Canada in 1887, followed by wife Alice and three more of their children five years later.
Their farm was the one of the first in western Canada to ship two-row barley to London, in 1895.
The Madras College dux medal will be packed away with other relics and artefacts from the historic school, to go on display in the new school building which pupils will move to in August.
Look out for our special report next week on the move from the old Madras College to the new.