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The late Col. Joseph L. Chester, in a letter written the year before his death to the Editor of the REGISTER (REGISTER, xxxvi. 319), says that he had carried about with him daily for many years a bit of pedigree of Harvard in the hope of being able to perfect it; that he thought he had found the will of the father of John Harvard, but could not yet prove it; that he disliked to put forward a mere theory, but hoped to come upon further evidence some day.
At a meeting of the New England Historic Genealogical Society held in Boston, June 3, 1885, a paper by Miss Frances B. James of Cambridge, Mass., was read, on "John Harvard's English Home, a Caveat in Behalf of Devonshire." It contained the results of some researches made by her in the summer of 1883, in Plymtree, co. Devon, England, where there formerly lived a family of Harward or Harvard, but no claim was made by her that any relationship could be shown to exist between this family and that of John Harvard.
Mr. William Rendle, in an article in the "Genealogist" for April, 1884, "Harvard University, U.S., and the Harvards of Southwark," gives a list of certain Harvards of the Parish of St. Saviour's noted by him, but he failed to find the baptism of John Harvard, and was unable to connect him with this family of Harvards. In the South London Press for April 11, 1885, and in the Athenæum for April 18, 1885, Mr. Rendle has something further to say about the Harvards. He gives the date of baptism of a John Harvye, whom he says he believes to be the founder of Harvard College, but is unable to prove the fact, and offers no evidence to support it. These articles, however, contain nothing new. Everything of importance in them had been previously made known to us by Mr. Waters. The record of this very baptism had been already found by him, and a copy of it sent to the Committee. Mr. Rendle's knowledge of it seems to have been obtained from a person to whom Mr. Waters had mentioned it as a discovery of his own, and its appropriation by Mr. Rendle without acknowledgment and its publication in this manner was certainly a most extraordinary proceeding.
It had long been known that there was a family of Harvards in St. Saviour's Parish, Southwark; that John, son of Richard, was baptized there 11 Dec., 1606; another John, son of Robert, baptized 29 Nov., 1607; another John, son of John, baptized 2 Feb., 1611; and still another John, son of John, baptized 10 April, 1614: but whether the benefactor of the College was one of these, or whether he was of Southwark at all, has not been known, until now at last the proof is presented to us by Mr. Waters. Col. Chester, as we have seen, years ago surmised that he was the son of Robert Harvard, but, like a true genealogist, waited for evidence before making a positive statement. Probably nearly every one in America who was interested in Harvard and had given the subject much thought, suspected, at least, if not believed, that he was the son of Robert Harvard of Southwark. So that Mr. Rendle offers nothing new and merely adds his belief to theirs, for which he fails to offer evidence. That Southwark was a field for persecution and therefore its people must have been ready to emigrate to New England, carries no weight, for there was persecution in other parts of England; and it would be difficult for Mr. Rendle or any other investigator to show that more people came to New England for religion's sake from the county of Surrey than from the counties of Somerset, Dorset or Wilts, in all of which Harvards were to be found. Could he say that John Harvard was not from either of these counties, or from St. Katherine's near the Tower in co. Middlesex where a family of Harvards
lived, or that he was not the son of Robert Harvey, alias Harverde of Rugby in Warwickshire?
Mr. Waters, however, is the first to show conclusively that John Harvard, from whom the College takes its name, was one of the sons of Robert Harvard of the parish of St. Saviour's, Southwark, London, and Katherine (Rogers) Harvard his wife, and that he was baptized in that Parish Nov. 29, 1607. Ample proof of this is afforded by the documentary evidence now for the first time published, to which the attention of the reader is directed. The parentage of John Harvard is no longer a mystery. Waters gives us here, among others, the wills of his father and mother, his brother Thomas Harvard, his uncle Thomas Harvard, his aunt by marriage Margaret Harvard, his step-fathers John Elletson and Richard Yearwood, and his father-in-law John Sadler.
But although so much has been accomplished that a few months ago would have been thought impossible, much remains to be done. There are other fields of research as yet unexplored, which will richly repay all the expenditure of time and labor which a thorough investigation of them will require.
The expense of the search thus far has been met by voluntary contributions of the Alumni, particularly the Harvard Club of New York.
The article in the REGISTER for October, 1885 (xxxix. 325) (pp. 134-145 this book), was introduced by the following note:
The following is the tenth in the remarkable series of papers contributed to the REGISTER by Mr. Waters, and modestly styled by him "Genealogical Gleanings in England." The article on "John Harvard and his Ancestry," published in the REGISTER for July last, although it appears under a separate title, was the ninth in that series.
There is no need to enlarge upon the importance of Mr. Waters's discoveries in relation to John Harvard; but it will not be out of place to make the announcement here that Harvard College, in grateful recognition of his patient labors in these investigations, conferred upon him on Commencement Day, June 24, 1885, the honorary degree of Master of Arts. The words of President Eliot on that occasion were:
Henricum Fitz-Gilbert Waters investigatorem antiquitatis curiosum, de Universitate ob genus Johannis Harvard feliciter exquisitum bene meritum, artium magistrum causa honoris.
At the Commencement Dinner President Eliot said:
The class of 1855, this day thirty years out of college, the class which boasts Agassiz the naturalist, Francis C. Barlow the general, Theodore Lyman the independent, and Phillips Brooks the great preacher and large minded man, has won a new distinction this year. One of its members, Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, genealogist and antiquarian, has discovered, by most patient and ingenious research, the family of John Harvard. We have only known about our first benefactor that he was a master of arts of Emmanuel College, and a nonconforming minister, that he had a well chosen library of three hundred volumes and some property, and that he was admitted a freeman in this colony in November, 1637, and died at Charlestown within a year, leaving his library and half of his estate to the infant college at Cambridge, which was thereafter called by his name. Nothing has been known about his family or the sources of his property, until now, when Mr. Waters has brought to light the wills of his father, two step-fathers, mother, brother, uncle, aunt and father-in-law, besides other documents of importance in connection with these wills.
John Harvard, whose faith and piety planted this institution, was baptized in the parish of St. Saviour's, Southwark, London, November 29, 1607, being the son of Robert Harvard, a well-to-do butcher, and Katherine Rogers. The mother's maiden name was discovered through the will of William Ward, a goldsmith, who, in 1624, bequeathed a ring of gold to the value of 203. to his brother Robert Harvard. Rose Rogers, the wife of William Ward, was the sister of Katherine Rogers, John Harvard's mother, so that William Ward could speak of Robert Harvard as his brother. The father, youngest brother and older brother of our benefactor died in 1625, perhaps of the plague which raged that year in London, and the father disposed by will of a property considerable for those days, the widow and her two surviving sons receiving most of it. Katherine Harvard married John Elletson, a cooper, in January, 1626; but he died in the following June, leaving another considerable property to his widow Katherine. In December, 1627, John Harvard was entered at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, at the age of twenty, presumably by the advice of the Rev. Mr. Morton or the Rev. Mr. Archer, ministers of the parish of St. Saviour's, both of whom are remembered in the will of John Harvard's mother and in that of his brother Thomas. Five years later this mother appears as the widow and principal heir of Richard Yearwood, a grocer, who was mentioned in the will of her first husband, Robert Harvard, as my good neighbor aud friend Richard Yearwood." In July, 1635, Katherine (Harvard) (Elletson) Yearwood made her will and died, leaving her property, which had been derived from her three husbands, the butcher, the cooper and the grocer, chiefly to her two sons, John and Thomas Harvard, with a preference, however, for the elder son, "John Harvard, clarke." In this year John took his master's degree at Cambridge. In February, 1637, he appears married to Ann Sadler, seven years younger than himself, and the daughter of a clergyman settled at Ringmer in Sussex. In July, 1636, John's younger brother Thomas, a cloth worker, being "sick and weak in body," made his will, in which he disposed of a fair property, a good portion of which he gave to his well beloved brother John. The executors named in this will were his brother John and Nicholas Morton, preacher; but when the will was proved on the 5th of May, 1637, only Mr. Morton appeared, John Harvard having sailed with his young wife for New England. In 1638, the young minister at Charlestown, dying at thirty years of age, became the first private benefactor of this college, started in the New World a stream of beneficence which has never ceased to flow in ever widening channels, and won for himself, and now at last for his family, an enduring remembrance.
In the twelve years from 1625 to 1637 John Harvard had lost his father, two stepfathers, his mother and his two brothers, and almost the whole family property had fallen to him. He appears to have been the only scholar in the family, although his brother Thomas seems to have signed his name to his will. His father and mother both made their marks. The whole family connection were trades-people; but his mother, by her marriages, came into possession of property enough to give a college education to her oldest son. The education of that one delicate youth has had far-reaching consequences indeed. No prince or potentate, civil or ecclesiastical, founded this college; it sprang from the loins of the common people. It was founded by the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, and first endowed by an educated son of pious London trades-people. When I had read these Harvard wills, I asked myself how closely the college is bound-after two hundred and fifty years to the sort of people who established it. I went to the admission books in which the occupations of parents of the students are recorded, and found to my great satisfaction that more than a quarter part of its students are to-day sons of tradesmen, shopkeepers, mechanics, salesmen, foremen, laborers and farmers. I found sons of butchers, coopers, grocers and cloth workers-the Harvard trades-on the roll of its students to-day. May no exclusive policy or spirit ever separate the university which bears John Harvard's name from that laborious, frugal, selfrespecting part of the community to which he and his belonged.
Since the article on John Harvard in the REGISTER for July was printed, Mr. Dean, the Editor, has received from Mr. E. S. Shuckburgh, the librarian of Emmanuel College, a fac-simile, which is reproduced here, of Harvard's signature in 1635, when he took the degree of A.M. It is from the original University register in the custody of the Rev. H. Luard, D.D.,
registrar of the University. "There is," Mr. Shuckburgh writes, "no doubt
whatever about its genuineness. All persons admitted to a degree had to sign these books, which have been preserved since 1544-unhappily not earlier."
It is to be hoped that funds sufficient to prosecute still further these interesting investigations may be speedily obtained.
To the article in the REGISTER for January, 1886 (xl. 34). (pp. 145-158 this book), was prefixed the following note which was also printed in part in the London Athenæum for January 2d, 1886:
MR. WILLIAM RENDLE has published in the Athenæum of April 18, July 11 and Oct. 24, 1885, some communications as to the Genealogy of John Harvard, and in certain quarters allusions have been made to a versy" on the subject. There is, properly speaking, no controversy at all. There is and can be no question whatever in the minds of those conversant with the facts in the case as to who discovered the parentage and ancestry of John Harvard. The credit of this remarkable discovery belongs undeniably to Mr. Henry F. Waters, and to him alone.
The facts in the case are briefly these. Mr. Rendle seems to be a local antiquary who has, I believe, lived many years in Southwark, and who has spent much time among the records there, and has undoubtedly there done good work. But unfortunately for Mr. Rendle, there is not in this case so far a single scrap of evidence to show that there is anything whatever in the Southwark records to establish the slightest possible connection between the Harvards of that Borough and John Harvard of Emmanuel College and of New England. There were Harvards in Southwark, it is true, and perhaps in other parts of Surrey, just as there were Harvards in Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset, Wilts, Middlesex, Warwickshire, and doubtless in other parts of England. The problem was to identify, among them all, the father of John Harvard. So far as Mr. Rendle was concerned, this problem might have remained unsolved to the end of time, for there was nothing in the Southwark records which would have enabled him to solve it.
The proof of this relationship Mr. Waters discovered after much research in the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. There he found, among others, the wills of John Harvard's father, mother, brother, uncle, aunt, two step-fathers and father-in-law. This proved the whole family connection. If Mr. Waters had stopped there and gone not a step farther, it would have been enough to completely dispel the mystery which had so long enveloped the birth and early life of the benefactor of the noble University. After thus finally solving the problem, he went to Southwark merely for supplemental evidence, not at all necessary however to substantiate his case, and there in the parish registers he found the record of the baptism of John Harvard and other collateral matter.
Information of this visit of Mr. Waters to Southwark and its successful result was communicated to several persons. That Mr. Rendle was apprised of it by one of them can be shown by evidence both direct and circumstantial.
In articles published by Mr. Rendle in the Genealogist for April and
July, 1884 (N. S. i. 107 and 182), he gives the names of the Harvards found by him in the records of St. Saviour's, Southwark. But there nowhere appears in his list the name of our John Harvard. He even quotes the late Chaplain Samuel Benson as saying that "he cannot find the name of John Harvard, the founder, but that he had no doubt he was born of this family of Harvard of St. Saviour's." Mr. Rendle then adds: "After careful, I will not say exhaustive examination, of the original books and papers, I am quite of the same opinion." On page 182 he quotes the entry in the books of Emmanuel College, where Harvard is said to be of Middlesex, and in a foot-note talks of drawing the "attention of officials of Middlesex churches to the name John Harvard, and the dates circa 1605 and after." Mr. Rendle, although fully apprised of the fact that Harvard, Harverde and Harvye were merely different forms of the same family name, had evidently overlooked the entry of Harvard's baptism, or had failed to recognize it, or to appreciate the importance of the entry, even if his eye had ever rested upon it, and was as late as July, 1884, turning to Middlesex for the record of it, having apparently given up all hope of finding it in Southwark. The "extremely diverse spelling" of the name, being already well known to him, will by no means account for this failure. On the 11th of April, 1885, a date, be it remembered, subsequent to Mr. Waters's visit to Southwark and his discovery of the record of this baptism, Mr. Rendle published in the South London Press a letter, which with some additions he again published in the Athenæum of April 18th.
In this letter he printed conspicuously in Italics the record of this baptism, and added, "I believe" him "to be the founder" of Harvard College, but he neither then nor has he since offered any proof of his own to substantiate his belief or to show any reasonable grounds for it. Sometime, therefore, between July, 1884, and April, 1885, Mr. Rendle saw a great light. He evidently does not mean to tell us how or when this flashed upon him. But he unwittingly, in the very letter above referred to, shows us the source of his information in these significant words: "The clue, or rather the result of the clue, is before me. I believe that some American friends, anxious to do honor to their benefactor and his birth-place, are now among us. It would have been pleasant to me to have known them; probably now I may." Of course he did not know "them." But when we consider that at the very time he penned these lines Mr. Rendle knew that the long search for John Harvard was over, that even the record of his baptism had been found and that Mr. Waters was the successful discoverer, the extremely disingenuous and misleading nature of this allusion to American friends can be readily seen. of which Mr. Rendle had before him?
What is the "clue" the result Does he mean to say that someThe general
body else had the clue and that he had only the result? denial made by W. D. in the Athenæum of July 11th, 1885, is altogether too vague. It should be more specific if it is expected that much weight
should be attached to it.
There seems indeed to be a confusion or haziness in Mr. Rendle's mind as to what constitutes not merely legal but even genealogical proof. Mr. Waters, on the other hand, like a true genealogist, has made a scientific treatment of the subject, and shows us step by step how he reached the successful result of his search, and on what his conclusions are based. gives us the pedigree of Harvard and the proof by which it can be substantiated. That the search was an independent one, is shown by Mr. Rendle's chief and only witness W. D., who, in the letter above referred