Presidency College is an arts, law and science college in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India. Established as the Madras Preparatory School on October 15, 1840 and later, upgraded to a high school and then, graduate college, the Presidency College is one of the oldest government arts colleges in India. It is one of the two Presidency colleges established by the British in India, the other being the Presidency College, Kolkata.
At the behest of Sir Thomas Munro, a Committee of Public Instruction was formed in 1826. In 1836, the duties of the Committee were taken over by a "Committee of Native Education". The plans drawn up by the Committee did not commend themselves to the Governor of Madras, Lord Elphinstone, who in turn proposed nineteen resolutions which were passed unanimously.
As first Principal, the choice of Elphinstone fell on E. B. Powell, a University of Cambridge Wrangler in Mathematics, who accepted the post. Powell reached Mumbai (Bombay) on 20 September 1840 but did not arrive at Chennai (Madras) until 24 November, the journey from Bombay to Madras taking some four weeks. In the mean time, the Committee had invited a Mr Cooper, from the Hoogly College, Kolkata (Calcutta), to carry out the duties of Principal temporarily, at a salary of Rs. 400 a month. Cooper accepted the invitation and came to Chennai (Madras). He and his staff opened Presidency School, a preparatory school, in a rented building in Egmore known as Edinburgh Home on 15 October 1840. Cooper remained in the preparatory school for only a few months. Soon after Eyre Burton Powell's arrival and before the opening of the high school department in April 1841, he returned to Kolkata (Calcutta). The preparatory School was shifted to Popham's Broadway in 1841.
In 1870, the college moved to its present location in Kamaraj Salai, opposite Marina Beach.