Honouring Janet Coutts

Giver of Bursaries and Scholarships

Last year, at the Founders and Benefactors’ Service, College expressed its grateful memory of Mrs Janet Coutts, whose bequest of the equivalent of $2 million in 1914 provided needy and deserving students with bursaries and scholarships. In May 2015, Brad Robinson, a collateral descendant, and his wife, Jen Meadows, who has been researching the family, came to lunch at College and shared their knowledge of the Aberdonian farming community into which Janet Grant was born in 1821. We now understand how many of her siblings, nephews and nieces joined the Scottish migration to Australia and, together with the Coutts family, established pastoral properties and entered the professions, the church and medicine.

Janet Coutts nee Grant 2 Fixed

Janet left her Scottish farm when she was twenty and celebrated her twenty-first birthday on board the Spartan en route to Australia in 1842. Within a year she had married John Coutts, a successful Scottish-Australian grazier whom she had met on the Spartan. By 1879 Janet Coutts had outlived her husband and her four children. She was a wealthy, feisty and well-connected woman who spent the rest of a long life travelling the world, visiting relatives and friends. Like her brother-in-law, the learned Presbyterian minister, James Coutts, Janet supported the University of Sydney and endowed awards for students at the University, Women’s College and St Andrew’s. As her residual legatee in 1914, St Andrew’s got by far the largest share of Janet’s fortune. The income doubled the funds available to assist students at the end of World War I and set the College on the trajectory which the Council has consolidated into scholarships and bursaries worth $1 million in 2015.

Click here to read Janet’s full biography

Professor Ian Jack
Senior Fellow and Archivist