In 1853 the Catholic Institute was founded by Father James Nugent at a time when barely five percent of Catholic children received any education at all. An early visitor to the CI, based in Hope Street near the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, was Cardinal Wiseman, who formally opened the school.
The Institute progressed through the nineteenth century, but by the beginning of the Twentieth Century the school was in decline. In 1909 Bishop Whiteside approached the Irish Christian Brothers to invite them to take over the running of the school.
The Irish Christian Brothers, founded by Edmund Rice in Waterford, had first arrived in Liverpool in 1837, but had closed their school to avoid clerical control. Not surprisingly, the Catholic Institute made rapid strides, pupil numbers swelled, and the school's reputation grew.
By 1920 the Catholic Institute was outgrowing its existing building with little hope of expansion at that location. At the same time, the Diocese decided to move the Junior Seminary from St Edward's College, Everton, to the site of the Senior Seminary at St Joseph's College, Upholland. The seminarians took with them the statue of St Edward, which had been presented to the College in the 1840s (the statue is now back with the College on indefinite loan). The Catholic Institute took over the vacated buildings, as well as the name.
The original St Edward's College had been established as a boarding school in 1848 in a large mansion called St Domingo House; named after the Isle of San Domingo, where one George Campbell, a privateer and subsequently Mayor of Liverpool, had captured a rich prize.
The change of name from the Catholic Institute to St Edward's College was not hugely popular, especially amongst former pupils of the CI, many of whose friends had been killed during the First World War. To this day, the Association of former pupils is called the CIEA (Catholic Institute Edwardian Association).
During the 1930s the Christian Brothers sought to relocate the College and in 1936 purchased the properties of Runnymede and St Clare. Despite opposition, the new College buildings were erected and on the 19 September 1938 pupils walked from St Domingo Road for classes in Sandfield Park.
The outset of the Second World War saw the evacuation of pupils to Llanelli in South Wales. Although the inception of rugby had already began at St Edward's College before the evacuation, it is reported that, as a result of matches in soccer and rugby between the boys of Llanelli Grammar School and St Edward's, the College pupils returned and the rugby tradition began in earnest.
Since 1938 the Sandfield Park site has been considerably enhanced - laboratories were built in the 1950s and a swimming pool and running track in the 1960s. A Sixth Form Centre and Sports Hall were added in the 1970s. A Design Centre was built in the 1980s. The John Morgan Sports Complex and Dining Hall and Performing Arts facilities were added in the 1990s. The turn of the century saw the complete refurbishment of one of the original properties, St Clare, into the new Upper School Centre.
The College had always been a fee paying school, although for many pupils payments were kept low. After the end of the Second World War, the 1944 Education Act saw the College become a Direct Grant Grammar School, with fees paid by local authorities for most pupils.
In the late 1970s the College reverted to full independence, with many pupils receiving support under the Assisted Places Scheme. However, the 1993 Education Act enabled the College to become a self governing Maintained School. After a lengthy consultation and statutory process, St Edward's College became a Grant Maintained School on 1 September 1997. As a result of the abolition of Grant Maintained Status by the 1998 Education Act, the College became a Voluntary Aided School in 1999.
Simultaneously, other important changes occurred. Runnymede, which had started as a preparatory department, became a wholly separate fee-paying school. The College authorities abandoned admission at 11+ based on academic ability and the Christian Brothers became Trustees of the College and no longer the Governing Body. Coincidentally, in the same year, the Congregation of Christian Brothers decided to close the community house at St Clare, bringing an end to a direct relationship which had lasted for 95 years.
The College became an Academy in May 2011.
In the early 1980s, the College authorities, under pressure from parents, decided to admit girls into the Sixth Form. Whilst a great success, it was inevitable that this would be only the start and, in 1991, the College began to admit boys and girls at the age of 11 into Year Seven. By the time that the first co-educational cohort had left the College in 1998, St Edward's had become an established co-educational school.
The Cathedral was completed in 1967 with two Old Edwardians, Philip Duffy and Terence Duffy, as Master of the Music and Organist respectively. In 1975 the College became the Choir School and all Senior Choristers are educated at the College. The Cathedral Girls’ Choir was introduced in 2008, members of which are educated at St Edward's College.
Viriliter Age and Courage Through Faith
The motto (both versions) has its origins in the last verse of Psalm 27. When the Bible was first translated from Hebrew into Latin by Jerome in the 4th century he translated the verse as follows: Expecta Dominum viriliter age et confortetur cor tuum et sustine Dominum
However, translations of the Psalm from Hebrew to English give:
Be strong and let your heart take courage, Wait for the Lord! (New Revised Standard Version)
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord (King James Version).
Therefore the original College motto, whilst correctly translated from Latin to English as Act Manfully was itself an incorrect translation from Hebrew to Latin.
>In 1997 the College decided that, in seeking to be an academically respectable school, it could no longer base the school motto on an incorrect translation from the 4th century. The Old Testament scholar who advised the College on this reported that the sense in the original psalm was of courage based on faith hence Courage through Faith.