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Governor Hopkins was likewise a strong personal friend of Mr. Davenport, with whom he maintained, during his residence in Connecticut, a frequent and confidential intercourse. Somewhere about the year 1652, the precise time we have not ascertained, Governor Hopkins went to England, to settle the estate of a deceased brother. That he was expected to return soon, is evident from the fact, that he was once elected governor of Connecticut, after his departure. A short time only after his arrival in England, he was returned a member of Parliament, and was employed by Cromwell in several important public trusts.
It had been, from the first, a favorite object with Mr. Davenport, of which Governor Hopkins must have been fully apprised, to establish a college in New Haven ; and within two or three years after Governor Hopkins left the country, the legislature of this colony voted to found such an institution, and appropriated certain lands for its encouragement and support. Upon this, Mr. Davenport wrote to Governor Hopkins what had been done; and aware without doubt of his intentions, if such an institution should be begun, solicited his patronage of the new seminary. To the communication of Mr. Davenport Governor Hopkins replied, in a letter dated April 30th, 1656 : “ That which the Lord hath given me in those parts [New England], I ever designed the greatest part of it, for the furtherance of the work of Christ in those ends of the earth; and if I understand that a college is begun and likely to be carried on in New Haven, for the good of posterity, I shall give some encouragement thereunto.”
Intercourse with England, at this time, was at long intervals; and before there was opportunity for another communication from Mr. Davenport, Governor Hopkins died. His death took place in London, March, 1637. On the 7th of the same month, he had made a will, with all the requisite formalities. In this instrument, after ordering various legacies to be paid out of his estate in New England, to his friends in Connecticut, he adds: “And the residue of my estate there, I do hereby give and bequeath to my father, Theophilus Eaton, Esq., Mr. John Davenport, Mr. John Cullick, and Mr. William Goodwin, in full assurance of their trust and faithfulness in disposing of it, according to the true intent and purpose of me the said Edward Hopkins, which is, to give some encouragement in those foreign plantations, for the breeding up of hopeful youth, both in the grammar school and college, for the public service of the coun
try in future times.” In disposing of his estate in England, or as he expresses himself,“ this England,” he first makes provision for his “dear distressed wife,” she being in a state of hopeless mental derangement, leaving her in the care of her brother, David Yale. Afterwards, among other numerous bequests, he makes this : “My farther mind and will is, that within six months after the decease of my wife, five hundred pounds be made over into New England, according to the advice of my loving friends, Major Robert Tomson and Mr. Francis Willoughby, and conveyed into the hands of the trustees before mentioned, in further prosecution of the aforesaid public ends, which, in the simplicity of my heart, are for the upholding and promoting the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in those parts of the earth."*
The trustees under the will immediately set about disposing of that part of the estate, which was in New England; and after paying the various legacies, they at one time supposed that there would be a residue of one thousand pounds. Difficulties, however, occurred in selling lands and in collecting debts; so that a considerable deduction must be made from this sum, in estimating the amount of the final receipts. From the proceeds of the estate, they established a grammar school in New Haven, which was considered a part of the college already instituted there, as before mentioned, a grammar school in Hartford, and another in Hadley, Massachusetts. Besides making these appropriations, they gave one hundred pounds for the benefit of Harvard College.
Anne Hopkins, the widow of Governor Hopkins, died the tenth of December, 1699 ;t having outlived nearly thirty years all the trustees under the will. John Davenport, the last surviving trustee, died in 1670. But before the death of all the original trustees, a new board was instituted by the survivors, and authorized to receive all dues from the estate, particularly the five hundred pounds payable six months after the death of the widow. Every thing else was done, which was thought necessary in “ disposing” of the bequests of Governor Hopkins.
* These extracts are taken from an attested copy of the will, remaining among the Hopkins papers in New-Haven.
+ Several dates which we have adopted differ somewhat from the corresponding dates in President Quincy's History, and Mr. Savage's Notes on Winthrop's Journal; but after compar. ison, we have preferred to follow the authorities before us.
These arrangements were supposed to be legal; and their legality has never been questioned in Connecticut.
On hearing of the death of Anne Hopkins, the trustees in New Haven took some measures to procure the five hundred pounds, to which they supposed themselves to have an undoubted claim. But in the mean time, Henry Dally, the executor and residuary legatee of Governor Hopkins had died, and his executor and the heirs at law alleged, that “after all the just allowances made, there were not assets sufficient to pay the five hundred pounds, etc.” The new trustees seem to have been afraid to engage in a chancery suit, as they must have been at considerable expense, and the prospect of success was doubtful; and instead of taking prompt measures to ascertain the real state of their claim, suffered the time to pass in useless deliberation. In this state of things, in Michaelmas term, 1708, an information was filed by the attorney general in behalf of the society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, against the executor of Dally and others; as this society had been induced to make an attempt to obtain Governor Hopkins's bequest of five hundred pounds for themselves. The news of this movement probably reached Cambridge in the course of a few months; as we are told by President Quincy, that “ in June 1709, the corporation took measures to secure the legacy of Edward Hopkins."* He adds: “ More than forty years had elapsed since the death of this benefactor, and his heirs interposed obstacles, which rendered the pursuit of the claim of the college troublesome and expensive, and final success dubious. Not deterred by these difficulties, the corporation appointed Henry Newman, of London, their agent, and remitted forty pounds sterling for the prosecution of their rights.”
Mr. Newman was evidently an active and faithful agent; as, on the 9th of the following July, the cause came to a hearing; and reference was made to a master in chancery, without doubt at Mr. Newman's instance, “ to take an account of the assets of the said Edward Hopkins's estate, liable to the said five hundred pounds, etc. ;" “ and in case the said five hundred pounds should be recovered, it was ordered and decreed, that the same should be paid and applied to the school or college in New England for the breeding up of scholars there in the study of divinity, according to the will of the said Edward Hopkins, and in order
* Vol. I. p. 204.
thereto, the master was to examine witnesses, or write to New England, to be informed, whether there was such school or college there; and if not, then what other school or college was there, and on what purposes founded, and to state to this court how he finds the same.” On the 10th of February, 171011, the master reported, that there were sufficient assets to pay the legacy, and that there was about sixty or seventy years ago, and now is, a school and college at Cambridge in New England, and called Harvard College, and that about ten years since, there was, and is, a small building made contiguous to the same, and called Stoughton College.” On the 7th of March following, his lordship, the Lord-Keeper Harcourt, decreed, that the five hundred pounds, with interest from June 10th, 1700, to this date, being six months from the death of Anne Hopkins, should be“ laid out in a purchase of lands in New England in the name of the corporation for the propagation of the gospel, but the trust is to be declared in the deeds to be for the benefit of the college and grammar school at Cambridge in New England.”
Of these proceedings no notice from any quarter appears to have been given to the Connecticut claimants. But in October, 1711, that is, about seven months after the decree of the lord chancellor just quoted, they had probably somehow received the news of what had been done and was doing; as at that time the trustees sent a “letter of attorney” to Jeremiah Dummer, Esq., authorizing him to look after their claim to Governor Hopkins's legacy. There appears to have been from the first a great lack of promptness and efficiency on the part of these functionaries; and whether any thing was attempted by the new agent, we know not. We can find no record on the subject. The probability is, and this has been the tradition, that the appointment of an agent was, as respects these New Haven trustees, the last of the matter.
The trustees in Massachusetts of Governor Hopkins's legacy, as it was called, in a letter of thanks to the lord chancellor, on receiving his decree, say, among other things: “It is our duty to acquaint your lordship, that the said decree is come to our hands; but we hold it to be more so, to admire and acknowledge your lordship’s great justice and wisdom, which shine through every intermediate order thereupon, and most illustriously so in the final decree. Your lordship’sown great acquirements are a bright evidence of your good affection for learning; and the injunctions and directions your lordship has given for the application and disposing of the charity, bespeak your great wisdom in the advancement of it. It is by this, as much as by your justice, you have given a more lively countenance than ever it had, to the first, and, for a long time, only seminary of good letters in these His Majesty's remote dominions." We suppose that the “ intermediate order," in which his lordship's “ great justice and wisdom” were thought to be especially manifest, was that in which the master was directed simply to write to New England and to examine witnesses, to ascertain whether there was a college there which would answer the language of the will ;-an order clogged with no troublesome condition, that if such college should be found, it should be required to show, that it was the institution intended by the testator. Great as his lordship's wisdom undoubtedly was, we think he must have been a little puzzled to discover the grounds of the compliments paid him, since the question on the will, as presented, must have appeared to him very much like an every day affair. There are, undoubtedly, other facts connected with this case, which have not come to our knowledge ; but none, we believe, which, if stated, would essentially vary or modify the account now given.
We are not about to review the decision of the Lord Chancellor. It is admitted that his decree may be right under the limitations with which the case was presented, and with the evidence before him. A few remarks, however, will be added, suggested by a comparison of our own statement of facts with that of President Quincy. According to his representation, as quoted above, Governor Hopkins gave“ to institutions in Connecticut, for the promotion of religion, science or charity, one thousand pounds sterling ;" but we do not find in the will any mention of Connecticut whatever. We there read, that the residue of the estate is given and bequeathed to four trustees. It is vested in them, and to be by them disposed of according to the “ true intent and purpose of the testator. In fact, of this sum of one thousand pounds sterling, or somewhat less, about one half was expended in Massachusetts; one third, we suppose, in establishing the school at Hadley, and one hundred pounds was given by the trustees to Harvard College.*
* This we suppose is the one hundred mentioned above, credited as a legacy from Edward Hopkins. SECOND SERIES, VOL. VII. NO. I.