Geek Of The Week: John Harvard

Geek Of The Week: John Harvard

John Harvard was an English minister in Colonial America whose deathbed bequest to the “schoale or Colledge” founded two years earlier by the Massachusetts Bay Colony was so gratefully received that it was consequently ordered “that the Colledge agreed upon formerly to bee built at Cambridg shalbee called Harvard Colledge.” Harvard University considers him the most honored of its founders—those whose efforts and contributions in its early days “ensure[d] its permanence”—and a statue in his honor is a prominent feature of Harvard Yard.

Harvard was born and raised in Southwark, Surrey, England, the fourth of nine children of Robert Harvard, a butcher and tavern owner, and his wife Katherine Rogers, a native of Stratford-upon-Avon. n 1625, bubonic plague reduced the immediate family to only John, his brother Thomas, and their mother.

Left with some property, Harvard’s mother was able to send him to the University of Cambridge, He was admitted as a pensioner to Emmanuel College, Cambridge on 19 December 1627; he was awarded his B.A. in 1632 and M.A. in 1635. Harvard married Ann Sadler, the sister of his college contemporary John Sadler, at St Michael the Archangel Church, in the parish of South Malling, Lewes. In the spring or summer of 1637, the couple emigrated to New England, where Harvard became a freeman of Massachusetts and, settling in Charlestown, a teaching elder of the First Church there and an assistant preacher. In 1638, a tract of land was deeded to him there. In an oral will spoken to his wife the childless Harvard, who had inherited considerable sums from his father, mother, and brother, bequeathed to the school £780‍—‌half of his monetary estate (equivalent to £121,966.13 today) ‍—‌with the remainder to his wife. This bequest was roughly equal to the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s annual tax receipts.

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avatar MIKE: A geek who currently works as a Biologist and has an extensive science background. He is an avid user of HPC systems used for scientific research in the Washington DC area. Mike's working knowledge of using computers to solve problems brings a unique viewpoint to the podcast.