Elizabeth G. K. Hewat

The first woman to graduate with BD and PhD degrees from New College.

Elizabeth Glendinning Kirkwood Hewat was educated at Wellington School, Ayr, and the University of Edinburgh. She had outstanding intellectual gifts: one of the first women to study theology at New College, she was also the first to graduate BD in 1926, as well as being New College's first female doctoral graduate in 1934.

Elizabeth then graduated with an MA in history and philosophy, and was assistant lecturer in history at the University of St Andrews. She also taught at the United Free Church Women's Missionary College in Edinburgh from 1921 until 1926.

Elizabeth G. K. Hewat
Elizabeth G. K. Hewat

Her desire to be ordained led to a debate on women's ordination during the 1926 UFC General Assembly, and, although the motion failed, Elizabeth Hewat subsequently joined her sister as a missionary in China.

Moving to India after her doctorate, she became Professor of History at Wilson College Bombay (Mumbai) in 1935-36, where she was ordained as an elder in the United Church of North India. For many years she was editorial assistant and contributor to the International Review of Missions.

After returning to Scotland, she wrote the official history of the Church of Scotland Missions, Vision and Achievement, 1796-1956 (1960), and served as National Vice-President of the Women's Guild. In 1966 she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Edinburgh.

Hewat was a passionate supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, deeply involved in the growing international ecumenical movement, and a life-long advocate of equality in church and society. She also, of course, provided inspiration and support for the women who, in the 1960s, led the final phase of the movement for ordination to ministry in the Church of Scotland.

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