Young Men’s Friendly Society, St. Mary’s Branch, Glasgow, Debating Society


Members of this debating society were most likely members of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, which was located on Great Western Road, in the West End of Glasgow. (For a history of this church, see ‘History‘, on the St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow webpage.)

The meetings of the Young Men’s Friendly Society were held at Burnbank Hall (St. Mary’s Church hall) on 236 Great Western Road. The hall itself was was open every evening.

Information on this society is given in a printed brochure for the inaugural meeting of the St. Mary’s Branch of the Young Men’s Friendly Society, which was held at 7.30pm on Saturday, October 13th [1894?], in Burnbank Hall. Although this group was for young men, young women were also encouraged to attend this opening meeting.

In the brochure, the society announced its plans, or ‘Work Arranged For The Winter Season’, in the form of several types of classes and societies that were organised for its members. Amongst them were a Musical Society, and ‘Improvement Classes, &.’, which included classes in shorthand, English literature, carving, ambulance (presumably a first-aid class), and fencing.

On the next page is a syllabus for the group’s debating society . The syllabus for this winter session is a good example of the typical variety of essays read and debates that were held by many literary societies in during this period. According to the schedule, the members of this society would have heard a lecture on ‘The Brain and its Functions’, given by Dr. C. O. Hawthorne (18 October), a debate ‘That Parliamentary Suffrage should be granted to Women’ (8 November), a lecture on ‘Tennyson as an Onomatopeist, Word Painter, and Lyric Poet’ (15 November), a debate ‘That the House of Lords should be abolished’ (6 December), a lecture on Jane Austen (13 December), and a debate ‘That Single Life is preferable to Married Life’ (27 December). In addition to the lectures and debates, a smoking concert (i.e. usually a musical performance at which the audience–in this case restricted to men–was allowed to smoke) and a soiree were planned.

Date of Existence

13 October [1894?]-?

Source of Information

(Syllabus for Debating Society, October-December (1894?), includes notice of Musical Society, and list of ‘Improvement Classes &c’ including English Literature, and ‘Rules for Conduct of Lectures and Debates’)


Mitchell Library Special Collections (MLSC)

Reference Number

Glasgow Scrapbooks, No. 23 (p. 261)

Additional Notes

See also Scotch Girls Friendly Society.