Under the British Raj Government College was opened on 1 January 1864 in part of the Palace of Raja Dhyan Singh Haveli. The institution was affiliated with the University of Calcutta for examination. Along with the establishment of the college, Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner (professor of Arabic and Islamic Law at King's College in London) was nominated as principal of college. Later, he was instrumental in founding University of the Punjab, established in 1882. The first class consisted of nine students, all of whom matriculated from the University of Calcutta. In April 1871, the college moved to its present site. Eric C. Dickinson became its Principal. He taught English at the Aligarh Muslim University.