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John Harvard

Born: 26-Nov-1607
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 14-Sep-1638
Location of death: Boston, MA
Cause of death: Tuberculosis
Remains: Buried, Phipps Street Cemetery, Boston, MA

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion, Philanthropist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Bequest to Harvard College

John Harvard, namesake and founder of Harvard University, was raised in the Southwark section of London, mere blocks from the Globe Theatre. There is some speculation but no confirmation that his father may have known William Shakespeare. The spelling of family name was not yet settled, and Harver, Harverd, Harverde, Harvoy, Harvye, and Harwood were all acceptable and interchangeably used.

The plague struck in 1625, killing 18-year-old Harvard's father and four of his siblings, and Harvard inherited 300 from his father's estate. This was a respectable sum, and he was again an heir eleven years later at the death of his mother, who had remarried a affluent barrel-maker. Harvard, devoutly Puritan, studied for the ministry at Cambridge, then fled the religious repression of England for America, sailing with his wife and brother, who died en route, leaving a third sizable fortune for John Harvard.

He settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1637, accepting responsibilities assisting in the church there. He died barely a year after arriving in America, leaving no letters, papers, or sermons, and no written will. Witnesses at his deathbed said he had requested his world possessions -- about 1,600 -- be evenly divided between his widow and a fund for a new college, already planned for the village of Newtown (renamed Cambridge). After his death Harvard's widow married the executor of his estate, and in 1639 the college was named in Harvard's memory.

Father: Robert Harvard (butcher, b. 1562, d. 1625 bubonic plague)
Mother: Katherine Rogers Harvard Elletson Yearwood (b. 1584, d. 1635)
Brother: Thomas Harvard (d. 1637)
Father: John Elletson (stepfather, cooper, b. 1580, d. 1626)
Father: Richard Yearwood (stepfather, b. 1580, d. 1632)
Wife: Ann Sadler Harvard Allen (b. 1614, m. 19-Apr-1636, d. 1655, no children)

    High School: St Saviour's Grammar School, London, UK
    University: BA, Emmanuel College, Cambridge University (1631)
    University: MA, Emmanuel College, Cambridge University (1635)
    Administrator: Original Benefactor, Harvard University

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #2191 (56 cents, issued 3-Sep-1986)

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