Records of the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins
Early New England educational institutions benefitted from the bequests of wealthy donors. The 1657 will of Connecticut Governor Edward Hopkins allocated money for New England schools, and a 1713 British decree established the Charity of Edward Hopkins to manage the Hopkins legacy and to allocate funds to support students at Harvard College and a Cambridge grammar school. The records of the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins contain documents created and collected by the Trustees in their management and oversight of the income from the bequest of Edward Hopkins. The records delve into the founding of the Charity, the creation and administration of the town of Hopkinton Mass., investment management, and the disbursement of income to Harvard College and Cambridge's grammar schools. The collection also contains a small set of personal papers of Henry A. Peirce, United States Minister to the Hawaiian Islands from 1869 until 1875, of unknown provenance. The collection is an important resource for information on the history of the town of Hopkinton and the management of extensive property holdings in colonial New England.
- Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins. (Organization)
The Records of the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins are open for research with the following exceptions: Harvard University records in this collection are restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. Personnel and student records in this collection are closed for research through 80 years from the date of creation. Specific restrictions are noted in the inventory.
Copying of fragile materials may be limited.
Extent12.77 cubic feet (20 flat boxes, 14 volumes, 3 document boxes, 13 legal document boxes, 2 half legal document boxes, and 6 oversized folders)
The records of the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins contain documents created and collected by the Trustees in their management and oversight of the income from the bequest of Edward Hopkins. Records include correspondence, reports, legal records, copies of legislative records, petitions, land indentures, deeds, surveyor plans, financial accounts, meeting minutes, committee reports, the papers of the Secretaries of the Trustees, and histories of the Trust. The records are arranged in nine series that delve into the founding of the Charity, the creation and administration of the town of Hopkinton Mass., investment management, ans the disbursement of income to Harvard College and Cambridge's grammar schools. The collection also contains a small set of personal papers of Henry A. Peirce, United States Minister to the Hawaiian Islands from 1869 until 1875, of unknown provenance. The collection includes 19th century copies of earlier Trustee documents, likely copied by Charles Bowditch in his research for An Account of the Trust Administered by the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins.
The Charity's earliest records document the English legal process of collecting on a bequest and the creation and management of a New England charity in the early 1700s. Documents in the collection offer information on the involvement of the Massachusetts General Court as a governing entity in the Charity's affairs. The Hopkinton records are a vital resource for information on the town's founding and early history, and provide insight into the legal, interpersonal, and financial challenges of managing extensive property holdings in colonial New England including issues establishing legal ownership of land, tenant-land owner relationships, and interactions with local Native Americans. The records also provide insight into the income received by Harvard College and Cambridge grammar schools, including the names of Hopkins Scholars.
Within the finding aid, the "The Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins" are identified as the "Trustees." The collection includes an affadivit signed by Trustee James Savage indicating that a "volume of original records of the Trustees for perpetuating the charity of Edward Hopkins" was destroyed by fire in 1825.
Records of the Trustees dating from after 1800 are listed in the finding aid, but have not been fully described.
It should be noted that some documents whose dates are between January 1 and March 25 in the years prior to 1752 have been cited with the double date convention, e.g. February 27, 1658/9. This convention has been followed only when the document itself indicates the date in such a manner. This convention was used in England and the North American colonies between 1582 and 1752. The first date refers to the year according to the Julian calendar, which began on March 25, while the second refers to the year according to the Gregorian calendar, which began on January 1.
Early New England educational institutions benefitted from the bequests of wealthy donors. The 1657 will of Connecticut Governor Edward Hopkins allocated money for New England schools, and a 1713 British decree established the Charity of Edward Hopkins to manage the Hopkins legacy and to allocate funds to support students at Harvard College and a Cambridge grammar school.
Edward Hopkins was born in 1600 in Shropshire, England. He arrived in the New Haven Colony in 1637 and was elected the governor of Connecticut in 1640, serving alternately with John Haynes (due to the colony's restrictions on gubernatorial consecutive terms) through 1655. Hopkins traveled to England regularly and died there in March 1657.
Hopkins’s will bequeathed money for “the breading up of Hopefull youth in the way of Learning both at ye Gramar School & College for the public Service of the Country in future times,” and on the death of Hopkins's wife, the will called for additional donations. When Anne Yale Hopkins died in 1698, she had not only outlived her husband by forty-one years, but she had also outlived the trustees of her husband's estate. Consequently, the stipulations in her husband's will went unfulfilled for more than a decade.
In 1709 the English Court of Chancery ruled that £500 of the estate should be recovered for donation to a “school or college in New England for the breeding up of scholars in the study of Divinity.” A decree signed March 19, 1712/13 by the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Great Britain directed the money to be invested in property with three fourths of the net income from the land given to Harvard College, and the remaining quarter to be donated to a Cambridge school to prepare students for entry to Harvard. The Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins, recommended in 1712 by the Attorney General to administer the Hopkins Fund, were approved in the decree.
One of the first transactions of the Trustees was the purchase of land known as Maguntaquog from the Natick Indians on October 11, 1715. The land was incorporated as Hopkinton, Mass. on December 13, 1715. The Trustees were actively involved as land owners and municipal administrators of Hopkinton until 1832, when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the tenants jointly paid the Trustees for release of their land rights. Following more than a century of unofficial titles, the Trustees were officially named "The Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins," by an act of incorporation passed on May 3, 1827 in the Massachusetts Legislature.
Harvard College was engaged with the Charity from its inception, both as a recipient of scholarship money for "Hopkins Scholars," and through the involvement of its administrators as Trustees of the Charity. Since 1727, the Hopkins legacy has funded the Detur Prize, a book prize awarded for academic achievement, and the oldest prize at the College. The Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins continue to manage the dispersal of income from the Hopkins legacy to Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School, and the Dean of Harvard College sits on its board.
Until 1839, a quarter of the income from the investments of the Hopkins Charity was paid to the city of Cambridge for use in its grammar school; in 1839 the Massachusetts Legislature gave the Trustees permission to establish a school of their own, the Hopkins Classical School. In 1854 the school was closed and the income was again paid to the city of Cambridge. Presently, the grammar school funds are paid to the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
The records are arranged in nine series:
- Series I: Early legal records, 1708-1733
- Series II: Hopkinton records, 1700-ca. 1880s
- ___Subseries A: Records relating to early land purchases and interactions with the Natick Indians, 1700-1724
- ___Subseries B: Plans, 1714-1824
- ___Subseries C: Records relating to town administration and rent collection, 1715-ca. 1880s
- ___Subseries D: Indentures, 1720-1768
- ___Subseries E: Abstracts of probate and land records, ca. 1830s
- Series III: Financial records, 1715-1958
- ___Subseries A: Bills of exchange, 1715
- ___Subseries B: Treasurer's accounts, 1715-1958
- ___Subseries C: Journals, 1771-1938
- ___Subseries D: Ledgers, 1771-1938
- ___Subseries E: Vouchers, 1807-1938
- ___Subseries F: Investments, 1831-1912
- ___Subseries G: Record of checks, 1857-1938
- ___Subseries H: Income statements, 1869-1938
- ___Subseries I: Tax records and correspondence, 1873-1937
- ___Subseries J: Deposit book, 1934-1938
- Series IV: General files, 1716-1977
- ___Subseries A: Minutes and records of votes, 1716-1950
- ___Subseries B: Committee Reports, 1770-1951
- ___Subseries C: Correspondence, 1777-1935
- ___Subseries D: Legal records, 1789-1868
- ___Subseries E: Historical sketches of the Trust, 1804-1832
- ___Subseries F: Annual meetings notices and statements of attendance, 1870-1955
- Series V: Harvard College records, 1726-1977
- Series VI: Hopkins Grammar School records, 1764-1940
- Series VII: Secretaries' files, ca. 1880s-1983
- ___Subseries A: Miscellaneous papers of Charles Pickering Bowditch and Ingersoll Bowditch, ca. 1880s-1924
- ___Subseries B: Papers of Roger Ernst, 1938-1947
- ___Subseries C: Papers of Lawrence Coolidge, 1935-1949
- ___Subseries D: Papers of C. Rogers Burgin, 1949-1957
- ___Subseries E: Papers of Walter Muir Whitehill, 1967-1976
- ___Subseries F: Papers of William Bentinck-Smith, 1977-1983
- Series VIII: Miscellaneous records, 1719-1881
- Series IX: Histories of the Trust and related documents, 1815-1955
The majority of the collection was placed on deposit in the Harvard University Archives by William Bentinck-Smith in 1984. Bound volumes of handwritten abstracts of Hopkinton estate and probate records were donated by the New England Historic Genealogical Society on October 20, 1980; this provenance information is noted at the item level in the following folder list.
Some of the records have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.
- Bowditch, Charles P. An Account of the Trust Administered by the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins. Privately printed, 1889. https://books.google.com/books?id=AzcWAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA3#v=onepage&q&f=false
This document last updated 2022 August 17.
The material was first classified and described in a Harvard University Archives finding aid in 1981, and included as part of the Records of the Harvard Corporation. The material was re-processed in 2010. The records created and collected by the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins were separated and distinguished as its own collection. Re-processing involved a collection survey, re-housing in appropriate archival folders and boxes, and the creation of this finding aid.
This finding aid was created by Diann Benti in October 2010.
Preservation and description of the Records of the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins was supported by the Arcadia-funded project Harvard in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
- Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins. Records of the Trustees of the Charity of Edward Hopkins, 1700-1983: an inventory
- Harvard University Archives
- Language of description
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