The Statutes of the College of William and Mary in Virginia (1758)

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These statutes, written by James Blair and Stephen Fouace, lay out the missions and name the staffing positions for the College of William and Mary. Among these missions is the basic education of Indian boys, including Christian education.


The Preface

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TOWARDS the cultivating the Minds of Men, and rectifying their Manners, what a mighty Influence the Studies of good Letters, and the liberal Sciences have, appears from hence, that these Studies not only flourished of Old amongst those famous Nations the Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; but in the latter Ages of the World likewise, after a great Interruption and almost Destruction of them, through the Incursions of the barbarous Nations, they are at last retrieved, and set up with Honor in all considerable Nations. Upon this there followed the Reformation of many Errors and Abuses in the Point of Religion, and the Institution of Youth to the Duties of Christian Virtues and Civility; and a due Preparation of fit Persons for all Offices in Church and State. But no where was there any greater Danger or Amount of Ignorance and want of Instruction, than in the English Colonies of America; in which the first Planters had much to do, in a Country over-run with Woods and Briers, and for many years infested with the Incursions of the barbarous Indians, to earn a mean Livelyhood with hard Labor. There were no Schools to be found in those Days, nor any

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Opportunity for good Education. Some few, and very few indeed, of the richer Sort, sent their Children to England to be Educated. And there, after many Dangers from the Seas and Enemies, and usual Distempers, occasioned by the Change of Country and Climate, they were often taken off by the Small-pox, and other Diseases. It was no Wonder if this occasioned a great Defect of Understanding, and all Sort of Literature, and that it was followed with a new Generation of men, far short of their Fore-Fathers, which, if they had the good Fortune, tho’ at a very different Rate, to read and write, had no further Commerce with the Muses, or learned Sciences; but spent their Life ignobly at the Hoe and Spade, and other Employments of an uncultivated and unpolished Country. There remained still notwithstanding, a small Remnant of Men of better Spirit, who had either had the Benefit of better Education themselves in their Mother-Country, or at least had heard of it from others. These Men’s private Conferences among themselves being communicated to greater Numbers in the like Circumstances, produced at last a Scheme of a Free-School and College, which was by them exhibited to the President and Council, in the Year 1690; a little before the Arrival of Lieutenant-Governor Nicholson, which was afterwards recommended by them with Applause to the next ensuing General Assembly. This Work so luckily begun, made a very considerable Progress under his Government. For, altho’ being tied up by Injunctions, from my Lord Effingham, Chief Governor, who was then in England, he was not allowed to call an Assembly so soon as he would; yet that designed good Work did not sleep in the mean Time; for in that Interval of Assemblies he and the Council sent out Briefs, by which, and their own good Example, they invited and encouraged the Subscriptions of the Inhabitants. These Briefs were recommended to the Care and Management of Mr. Commissary Blair, a Minister, who had been one of the first Projectors of this good Work, and was a little before this made Commissary to the Bishop of London; with the Help of his Surrogats some of the most creditable Ministers of the Country, and brought in Subscriptions to the Value of Two

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Thousand Pounds Sterling. Upon this followed that famous General Assembly of the Year 1691. This Assembly not only approved that Scheme of a College, as well fitted to this Country, but resolved upon an humble Petition to King William and Queen Mary, for a Charter to impower certain Trustees that they named, to found such a College, and that their Majesties would likewise assist in the Funds necessary for building the Edifices, and maintaining the President and Masters. To deliver this Petition, and to negotiate this whole Affair, they made Mr. Blair their Agent to solicit it at the Court of England. Tho’ both the King and Queen were exceeding well inclined, and the good Bishops, especially Dr. Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, gave all Assistance; and Mr. Blair followed it with Diligence and Dexterity, it was a long Time before all the Difficulties, which were objected, were got over. But at last, after Two Years spent in that Service, an ample Charter was obtained, with several Gifts, both for Building and Endowment, for paying the President’s and Master’s Salaries; and Mr. Blair, by Advice of the General Assembly in Virginia, and the Bishops of England, being made President of the College, returned to see all put in Execution. In which for many Years afterwards he was involved in a great Number of Difficulties, some of which threatened the total Subversion of the Design. Especially when in the Year 1705, the Buildings and Library were destroyed by Fire; and there was no Money to repair the Loss. Yet at Length, by Patience and good Husbandry of the Revenues, and the Bounty of Queen Anne, the Work was finished a second Time to every one’s Admiration. But to go on to another necessary Branch of this Design, which we are now about, other Obstructions being in good Measure removed, there seems to be nothing more necessary than that, according to the Advice of our most reverend Chancellor, Dr. Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, some Rules and Statutes should be made for the good Government of the College, and of the President, and Masters, and Scholars, and all others, that either live in it, or are em-

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ployed in the Management of its Affairs abroad, after mature Deliberation with the said Archbishop, our Chancellor. But because in Progress of Time many Things will be found to be more expedient, when from small Beginnings the College shall have come to greater Perfection; and some Things too will want to be corrected and altered, as future Cases and Circumstances may require: All these Things we are very willing to leave to the Visitors and Governors, for the Time being, to be added, diminished, or changed, according to the different Circumstances of the College, for promoting the Study of the learned Languages, and liberal Arts, according to the Powers granted them by the College Charter. Only that nothing may be enacted rashly, in the Heat of Disputation, no old Statute suddenly changed, or new One made; we recommend it for a Rule in these Matters, that no new Statute be enacted or prescribed, until it has been duly proposed, read and considered at Two several Meetings of the Governors of the College.

Concerning the College Senate.

AS TO the Number, Authority, and Power of the College Senate, in chusing the Chancellor, and the President, Masters, and in appointing and changing of Statutes, all is sufficiently set forth in the College Charter. From whence it is evident, how much depends upon them, and how far a good Election of them conduces to the good Government of the College.

Therefore in the Election of all Visitors and Governors of the College, let such be preferred as are Persons of good Morals, and sound in the Doctrine of the reformed Church of England; and Friends and Patrons of the College and polite Learning; and Gentlemen in good Circumstances, such as by their Interest, if there be Occasion, can patronize and serve the College.

Let the College Senate beware, that no Differences or Parties be held up and cherished, either amongst themselves, or the President and Masters; and let them take Care that all

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Things be transacted quietly and moderately, without Favor or Hatred to any Person whatsoever.

Let them maintain and support the ordinary Authority of the President and Masters in the Administration of the daily Government of the College, and let them refer all common domestick Complaints to them: And not suffer themselves to be troubled, except in Matters of great Moment, where there is some Difficulty to be got over, or some Corruption or ill Practice to be reformed, or a new Senate to be made, or some other weighty Business to be transacted.

In the Election of a President or Masters, let them have a principal Regard to their Learning, Piety, Sobriety, Prudence, good Morals, Orderliness and Observance of Discipline, and that they be of a quiet and peaceable Spirit; and let them chuse such Persons into the vacant Places without Respect of Persons.

Of the Chancellor.

THE Chancellor is to be the Mecœmas or Patron of the College, such a One as by his Favor with the King, and by his Interest with all other Persons in England, may be enabled to help on all the College Affairs. His Advice is to be taken, especially in all such arduous and momentous Affairs, as the College shall have to do in England. If the College has any Petitions at any Time to the King or Queen, let them be presented by their Chancellor.

Concerning the President, and Masters, and Schools.

THERE are Three Things which the Founders of this College proposed to themselves, to which all its Statutes should be directed. The First is, That the Youth of Virginia should be well educated to Learning and good Morals. The second is, That the Churches of America, especially Virginia, should be supplied with good Ministers after the Doctrinal and Government of the Church of Eng-

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land; and that the College should be a constant Seminary for this Purpose. The Third is, That the Indians of America should be instructed in the Christian Religion, and that some of the Indian Youth that are well-behaved and well-inclined, being first well prepared in the Divinity School, may be sent out to preach the Gospel to their Countrymen in their own tongue, after they have duly been put in Orders of Deacons and Priests.

For carrying on these noble Designs, let there be Four Schools assigned within the College Precincts; of which, together with the Masters, or Professors, belonging to them, some Directions may be given.

The Grammar School.

TO this School belongs a School-Master; and if the Number of Scholars requires it, an Usher. The School-Master is One of Six Masters, of whom, with the President, and Scholars, the College consists. But the Usher is not reckoned a Member of that Body. Let there be paid in yearly Salary to the School-Master, One Hundred and Fifty Pounds Sterling, and Twenty Shillings Sterling from each Scholar, by the Year, when there is no Usher. But if there be an Usher too in that School, let Fifteen Shillings be paid to the Master, and Five to the Usher; and for a yearly Salary, let there be paid to the Usher, Seventy-five Pounds Sterling. But from the poor Scholars, who are upon any charitable College Foundation, neither the Master, nor the Usher, are to take any School Wages; but they are to be taught Gratis.

In this Grammar School let the Latin and Greek Tongues be well taught. As for Rudiments and Grammars, and Classick Authors of each Tongue, let them teach the same Books which by Law or Custom are used in the Schools of England. Nevertheless, we allow the School-master the Liberty, if he has any Observations on the Latin or Greek Grammars, or any of the Authors that are taught in his School, that with the Approbation of the President, he may dictate them to the Scholars. Let the Master take special Care, that if the Author is never so well approved on other Accounts, he

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teach no such Part of him to his Scholars, as insinuates anything against Religion and good Morals.

Special Care likewise must be taken of their Morals, that none of the Scholars presume to tell a Lie, or curse or swear, or talk or do any Thing obscene, or quarrel and fight, or play at Cards or Dice, or set in to Drinking, or do any Thing else that is contrary to good Manners. And that all such Faults may be so much the more easily detected, the Master shall chuse some of the most trusty Scholars for public Observators, to give him an Account of all such Transgressions, and according to the Degrees of Heinousness of the Crime, let the Discipline be used without Respect of Persons.

As to the Method of teaching, and of the Government of the School, let the Usher be obedient to the Master in every Thing, as to his Superior.

On Saturdays and the Eves of Holidays, let a sacred Lesson be prescribed out of Castalio’s Dialogues, or Buchanan’s Paraphrase of the Psalms, or any other good Book which the President and Master shall approve of, according to the capacity of the Boys, of which an Account is to be taken on Monday, and the next Day after the Holidays.

The Master shall likewise take Care that all the Scholars learn the Church of England Catechism in the vulgar Tongue; and that they who are further advanced learn it likewise in Latin.

Before they are promoted to the Philosophy School, they who aim at the Privileges and Revenues of a Foundation Scholar, must first undergo an Examination before the President and Masters, and Ministers skilful in the learned Languages; whether they have made due progress in their Latin and Greek. And let the same Examination be undergone concerning their Progress in the Study of Philosophy, before they are promoted to the Divinity School. And let no Blockhead or lazy Fellow in his Studies be elected.

If the Revenues of the College for the Scholars, are so well before-hand, that they are more than will serve Three Candidates in Philosophy, and as many in Divinity, then what is left let it be bestowed on Beginners in the Grammar School.

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The Philosophy School.

FOR as much as we see now daily a further Progress in Philosophy, than could be made by Aristotle’s Logick and Physics, which reigned so long alone in the Schools, and shut out all other; therefore we leave it to the President and Masters, by the Advice of the Chancellor, to teach what Systems of Logick, Physicks, Ethicks, and Mathematicks, they think fit in their Schools. Further we judge it requisite, that besides Disputations, the studious Youth be exercised in Declamations and Themes on various Subjects, but not any taken out of the Bible. Those we leave to the Divinity School.

In the Philosophy School we appoint Two Masters or Professors, who for their yearly Salary shall each of them receive Eighty Pounds Sterling, and Twenty Shillings Sterling a Year from each Scholar, except such poor Ones as are entertained at the College Charge, upon the Foundation; for they are to be taught Gratis.

One of these Masters shall teach Rhetorick, Logick, and Ethicks. The other Physicks, Metaphysicks, and Mathematicks.

And that the Youth of the College may the more chearfully apply themselves to these Studies, and endeavor to rise to the Academic Degrees, we do, according to the Form and Institution of the Two famous Universities in England, allot Four Years before they attain to the Degree of Batchelor, and Seven Years before they attain the Degree of Master of Arts.

The Divinity School.

IN THIS School let there be Two Professors with a Salary of One Hundred and Fifty Pounds Sterling to each, they are to have nothing from the Students or Candidates of Theology.

Let one of these Professors teach the Hebrew Tongue, and critically expound the literal sense of the Holy Scripture both of the Old and New Testament.

Let the other explain the common Place of Divinity, and the Controversies with Hereticks; and let them have Prelections and Disputations on those Subjects.

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And let the Students of Divinity divide their Time betwixt those Two Professors.

The Indian School.

THERE is but One Master in this School who is to teach the Indian Boys to read, and write, and vulgar Arithmetick. And especially to teach them thoroughly the Catechism and the Principles of the Christian Religion. For a yearly Salary, let him have Forty or Fifty Pounds Sterling, according to the Ability of that School, appointed by the Honorable Robert Boyle, or to be further appointed by other Benefactors. And in the same School the Master may be permitted to teach other scholars from the Town, for which he is to take the usual Wage of Twenty Shillings a Year.

Concerning the President.

THAT every One may so much the more diligently wait upon his proper Office, besides the Six Professors or Masters, we have appointed a President to be Supervisor of the rest. Let there be chosen for a President, a Man of Gravity, that is in Holy Orders, of an unblemished Life, and good Reputation, and not under Thirty Years of Age. Of Ecclesiastical Benefices that have a Cure of Souls annexed, he shall not possess above One, and that of so near a Distance from the College, that it may not hinder his ordinary Care and Attendance upon the College. Let the Election of him be entrusted with the Governors of the College. Besides Learning, and an unblemished good Life, Care must be taken that he be a Man of Prudence, and skilful in Business, and industrious and diligent in the management of all Affairs; always preferring the Honor and Interest of the College, to his own and any other Person’s concerns. Let him have a watchful Eye over the other Masters and Professors, that they be not absent from their Employments. Let the Masters often examine the Scholars in his Presence; and let him likewise often examine them a-part from their Masters, that both Masters and Scholars may be excited to greater Diligence in their Studies. Let him likewise have a Theological Lecture

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Four Times a Year in the Explication of Scripture, or some Theological Subject, or on some Controversy against Hereticks. And let him take Care that the other Two Professors diligently attend their Lectures and Disputations. Let him diligently inspect into the Revenues and Expenses of the College, and see that once a Year at least a full Amount be perfected of all Receipts and Issues; and that if there be Occasion for it, be laid before the Visitors and Governors at their General Meeting. Whatever Business of the College requires Epistolary Commerce with any Persons, he must take Care to write it, especially to the Chancellor. He is to appoint the Times for the ordinary Meetings of himself and the Masters, at which he is to preside. And to the End, that all Things past at these Meetings may be truly entered in Books by the Scribe of the Meeting, the President shall first read over the Minutes, and if there be occasion, correct the Errors and Omissions: He must provide in due Time that the Edifies be duly kept up and repaired. And that the Visitors and Governors of the College may be the better informed of every thing relating to it, let the President be always allowed to be, and accordingly let him be present at all their Meetings and Councils.

Let the President’s yearly Salary be Two Hundred Pounds Sterling, with an House and Garden suitable to the Place, as soon as the College Revenues will bear all these Expences.

Of the ordinary Government of the College.

LET the ordinary Government of the College be in the president and the Six Masters, viz. the Two Professors of Divinity; and the Two Professors of Philosophy, and the Master of the Grammar School, and the Master of the Indian School. Let the Power of calling, proroguing, and dismissing this Sort of Meetings be in the President. As to the Business to be treated of in these Meetings, in the first Place it must be their Care that all the Statutes of the College be diligently put in Execution. If any of the Statutes are found to be inconvenient, so as to want to be amended

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or changed, let them modestly propose all such desired Amendments to the General Meeting of the Visitors and Governors, and submit them to their Deliberation. Let all complaints and Grievances, which the Masters in their particular Schools cannot redress, be brought first to the President, and by him to the Meeting of the Masters. To this Meeting belongs the Election and Nomination of all Officers that are necessary or requisite for the College Business, such as the Usher in the Grammar School, the Bursar, the Library-keeper, the Janitor, the Cook, the Butler, and Gardener; the Writing-master, the Workmen for building or repairing; Bailiffs and Overseers. But in lesser Matters the President’s Order by Word of Mouth may suffice. If any of the Statutes are not backed and fortified with due Penalties and Mulcts, the setting of such Mulcts and Penalties is referred to this Meeting of the President and Masters. Let all things in this Meeting, if possible, be transacted unanimously; if that cannot be, let the Decision be by Plurality of Votes. If the Votes are equal, the Side on which the President is, shall be taken for the major Part.

In all Business of great Weight and Consequence especially if the President and Masters cannot agree, let the College Senate, consisting of the Visitors and Governors, be consulted; and by their Determination let all the greater Differences be decided.

For avoiding the Danger of Heresy, Schism, and Disloyalty, let the President and Masters, before they enter upon these Offices, give their Assent to the Articles of the Christian Faith, in the same Manner, and in the same Words, as the Ministers in England, by Act of Parliament are obliged to sign the Articles of the Church of England. And in the same Manner too they shall take the Oaths of Allegiance to the King or Queen of England. And further, they shall take an Oath that they will faithfully discharge their Office, according to the College Statutes, before the President and Masters, upon the Holy Evangelists. All this under the Penalty of being deprived of their Office and Salary.

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Of the Scholars.

THERE are Two Sorts of Scholars; one is of them who are maintained at their own Charge, and pay School Wages in the Schools where the Masters are allowed to take Wages as above; the other Sort is of those who are maintained at the College’s Charge.

As to the First Sort of Scholars, we leave their Parents and Guardians at Liberty whether they shall lodge and eat within the College or elsewhere in the Town, or any Country Village near the Town. For it being our Intention that the Youth, with as little charge as they can, should learn the learned Languages and the other liberal Arts and Sciences: If any have their Houses so near the College, that from thence the College Bells can be heard, and the public Hours of Study be duly observed, we would not by these our Statutes hinder them from boarding their own Children, or their Friends, or from lodging them at their own Houses. Nevertheless we hope that all Things relating to the Table and Lodging will be so well supplied within the College, that they can be no where cheaper or better accommodated.

Let the spare Chambers of the College, over and above what are necessary for their President and Masters, and other Officers of the College, be let out at moderate Rents to the better Sort of the big Boys; and let the Money they yield be laid out in the Reparation of the Edifices of the College.

Out of the Scholars let there be chosen to be put upon the Foundation, as many as the College can maintain out of the Funds allotted for that Purpose. And let them be thereafter diligently instructed and maintained, till they are put in Orders, and preferred to some Place and Office in the Church. The Election of this Sort of Scholars let it be in the Visitors; and in that Election let them chiefly regard, besides their Poverty, their Ingeniousness, Learning, Piety, and good Behaviorur, as to their Morals. And the more any one of the Candidates excells in these Things, he has so much the better Title to be preferred; and let him be preferred accordingly.

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Of the College Bursar or Treasurer.

BECAUSE the Circumstances of the College in this its Infancy, will not as yet admit of many Officers, who perhaps when it comes to be richer in Revenues, and has a greater Number of Students, will become necessary: Therefore referring the Rules concerning the Butler, Cook, Janitor, Library-keeper, Gardener, and other Officers, to the President and Masters, who are to direct their Offices and Salaries, as the College shall find them useful and necessary; we shall only at present lay down some Rules concerning the Bursar or College Treasurer.

It belongs to the Bursar timely and diligently to gather in all the College Revenues, or whatever else is due it; and to keep the Money in a strong Chest. Likewise to pay to the President, Masters, or Professors, and the Foundation Scholars their several Salaries, and to pay all other College Debts and Expences honestly, and in due Time; and to take Discharges and Receipts for every Thing. Let the Accounts of all Incomes and Disbursements be exactly entered in Account Books; and after they are audited and examined once in Half a Year by the President and Masters, that Examination, and their Discharge shall be entered in the same Count-Books, signed by the President’s and Masters’ Names.

Let the President and Masters from Time to Time chuse a Man fit for this Business, such a one as is responsible, and well able to pay, and who shall likewise give good Security. For Salary he shall have whatever the Meeting of the Visitors shall think reasonable, according to the Trouble and Desert of each Bursar, besides his Expences in suing at Law for any Debts due the College, or any other Charges he has been out in Horses and Messages, or in recovering the College Dues, or carrying the Money from Maryland, or any other very remote Place.

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Of the Terms to be kept.

LET there be Three Terms for opening the Grammar and the Indian School. Let Hilary Term begin the first Monday after Epiphany, and end on Saturday before the Palm-Sunday. Let Easter Term begin on Monday after the First Sunday after Easter; and let it end in the Eve of the Sunday before Whit-Sunday. Let Trinity Term begin on Monday after Trinity-Sunday; and end on the Sixteenth Day of December. Let the other Schools observe the same Terms; except only, that to the Philosophy and Divinity Schools we grant Vacation from St. James’s Day to St. Luke’s. And because by frequent Examination the Studies of Scholars are much promoted, we appoint that in the Beginning of every Term the Scholars of all the Schools and the several Classes in them should be examined in Public, in the public Hall, what Progress they have made in the Knowledge of those Languages and Arts in which they have been studying or should have studied. Let the Examiners be the President and Masters; and likewise the Ministers, or any other learned Men that please to afford their Company at these Examinations.

For as much as the yearly Income of the College at present is so small, that it cannot answer all the above appointed Salaries, and the other Things that there will be Occasion to expend; many Things are from Time to Time to be left to the Discretion of the Governors of the College; that according to the Circumstances of the College, for the Time being, they may entirely cut off some Salaries, particularly those of the Hebrew Professor, and the Usher of the Grammar School; and for a Time may lessen the Salaries of some other Professors and Masters, in Proportion to their Service and Residence. But when the College Revenues increases, and will bear it, they are all to be fully and timely paid.

We the Subscribers James Blair, and Stephen Fouace, Clerks, being the major Part of the surviving Trustees for that College of William and Mary, in Virginia, having considered the necessity there was to make Statutes for the good Government of the said College, do approve and confirm the

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aforesaid Statutes contained in the Twelve above written Pages; and appoint them to be passed under the College Seal. Reserving notwithstanding the Power given by the Charter to the Visitors and Governors of the same College, namely, that proceeding regularly they may add new Statutes, or may even change these, as their Affairs and Circumstances from Time to Time shall require. As to which nevertheless, especially in the arduous Affairs of great Weight and Moment, we are of Opinion that the Chancellor’s Advice should be first taken. Dated at London, the 24th Day of June, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Twenty Seven.

Stephen Fouace.

James Blair.

The following Regulations made by the Visitors were ordered to be printed immediately after the Statutes (sic).

I. THAT all the Masters resident at the College do attend their respective Schools Day by Day (the usual Holidays and Vacation Times excepted.) And that the Divinity Professor do reside in the College.

II. That the President and Masters be directed to keep up a strict Discipline among the Scholars.

III. That no Repairs be made without the Consent of the President and Masters, and a Warrant to the Bursar for defraying the Charge thereof; Nor any Invoices made without the like Consent.

IV. That each of the Masters, and Usher, do provide Firing and Candles for their Chambers, at their own Expence. That they respectively pay Fifty Shillings per Annum for their Washing, if they wash in the College. That the Masters and Scholars keeping waiting Boys pay Five Pounds per Annum for their Board.

V. That for the future, if the Masters desire hot Suppers, they shall provide them at their own Expence.

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VI. That the President and Masters take Care to provide proper Quantities of Wheat and Corn, at such Seasons when they may be purchased upon the easiest Terms, and that only one Sort of Bread be used for the Masters and Scholars.

VII. That one of the Masters, or the Usher, be always present with the Boys at Breakfast and Supper.


APA Citation:
Blair, James. The Statutes of the College of William and Mary in Virginia (1758). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Blair, James. "The Statutes of the College of William and Mary in Virginia (1758)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 24 May. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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