This article from The Lounsbury Tree (issue #15, May/June 1991) is a reprint of an article from the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, dated March 16, 1934.

The Pennoyer Scholarships

By Samuel Eliot Morison, '08

One of the curiosities that I have encountered in the course of investigating early Harvard history is the Pennoyer bequest, in 1670, of a farm in England, which provided scholarships for Harvard College during a space of 234 years.  The history of these scholarships is a fine instance of faithful performance of a sacred trust.

William Pennoyer, citizen and chothworker in London, was one of a large group of city merchants interested in English colonization.  With Maurice Thomson, sometime Governor of the East India Company, he early acquired fishing interests at Cape Ann.  During the English Civil War the two partners showed their political sympathies unmistakably--and often profitably.  They subscribed £6000 for the reduction of Ireland, and received a share of confiscated Irish lands.  They purchased saltpetre from the East India Company, and at one time were delivering a thousand barrels of gunpowder a month to the State.  Their "private man of war" Paramoor received letters of marque and reprisal; their frigate Alum took £7000 of their bullion to India, to purchase saltpetre.  On another vessel they shipped "naggs" from England and "steeres" from Virginia to Barbados, where they owned sugar works; their advice was asked by the Council of State as to "reducing Virginia to the interest of the Commonwealth"; and they were joint adventurers in a project of the East India Company, for establishing a colony in the island of Assada, now Nossi-bé.

Like many other London merchants, William Pennoyer was a Puritan and charitably disposed; unlike most of them, he had no children.  A member of the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel in New England (the president of which was another Harvard benefactor, the great Robert Boyle), he promised to give that society £600 for a building fund in return for an annuity of £20 "to be paid to or for the vse of the Colledge in New England forever."  Before this agreement could be executed, William Pennoyer died, when it appeared that he had already made provision both for the company and the College by will.  The pertinent extract from it reads thus in our early records:

And for and concerning my Messuage in Norfolk let unto Robert Moore at the yearly Rent of fourty four Pound Per Annum, my Will is, that out of the Rents and Profits thereof ten pound per Annum be paid forever to the Corporation for propagating the Gospel in New England; and that wish the Residue thereof two Fellows and two Scholars forever be educated and brought up in the College called Cambridge College in New England, of which I desire one of the so often as occasion shall present, may be of the line of posterity of the said Robert Penoyr, if they be capable of it; and the other of the Colony of Nox, or of the late called New haven Colony, if conveniently may be.[1]

The younger Robert Pennoyer mentioned in the will was a younger brother of the testator.  He came over in the Hopewell to Boston in 1635 at the age of 21, unmarried, and figures in the Massachusetts Bay Records (i. 284) as having fled from the Colony rather than answer to the Court for an attempted seduction or rape.  He next appeared at Gravesend, L.I., and then at Stamford in the New Haven Colony, where in 1648 he was "complained against for drinking wine and becoming noisy and turbulent, and abusing the watchman."  After that diversion, Robert married and became a much respected citizen.

What of the "Colony of Nox"?  How many people like myself must have puzzled over that word!  The Harvard authorities over a space of sixty years evidently thought it some queer nickname of the New Haven Colony, and, whenever awarding a Pennoyer scholarship to a New Havenite, the solemnly entered in the records that he was of the "Colony of Nox or New Haven."  After searching the New Haven records backwards and forwards, and finding no trace of "Nox," I did what puzzled Harvard historians always do in the end - I asked Mr. Albert Matthews, '82, about it; and, as usual, he solved the question.  "Nox" was simply a scribe's error for "now."  William Pennoyer wrote "Colony now or of late called New Haven Colony," as that colony had been merged in Connecticut before he died.[2]

The "messuage in Norfolk" was a farm of 92 acres in the parish of Pulham St. Mary the Virgin, hear the borders of Suffolk, and about fifteen miles south of Norwich; a farm of heavy soil, suitable for growing wheat.  With his other property, Mr. Pennoyer left it to a board of trustees, in order to secure the faithful performance of his bequest. The first payment of rent, £34 after deducting the £10 due to the society with the long name, was received by Harvard College in 1679, and divided between the two teaching fellows and two "Schollars of the colonie of Nox or New Haven."

A few years later remittances fell off so sharply that President Mather, on his mission to England, looked into it.  One of the trustees, Samuel Crisp, handed over to Mr. Mather a Mercator's Atlas, a portrait of Mr. Pennoyer,[3] and certain arrears of rent -- exactly how much the president, with that indifference to money matters typical of the great, was unable to recall.  "To my best remembrance," he wrote Mr. Crisp, "I had of you £42 at one time, £11 at another time, and it runs in my mind that I had something more at another time, but I have perfectly forgotten how much it was."[4]  The actual amount, as Mr. Crisp reminded him, was £80 9s 9d a sum which the Reverend President completely forgot to repay.  As this Crisp-Mather route of remittance was not very profitable to the College, the Corporation, about the year 1693, appointed Richard Mico of London to collect the rent.  His first instalment was "3 casque of pewter" which sold in Boston for £77, which the Corporation divided five ways.  The two Fellows who did the tutoring at that time, John Leverett and William Brattle, took the larger split, £20 each.  Jabez Wakeman and Nathaniel Collins, sophomores "belonging to the Colony of Nox," got half as much, and the balance, as a consolation prize, went to a graduate, Noadiah Russell of New Haven Colony, who had been promised a Pennoyer stipend when in College, but never received it as no Pulham rent was coming through.

Richard Mico and his son Joseph continued to collect the rent from the trustees and remit it to Harvard through the year 1769, their only reward, apparently, being the thanks of the Corporation and, on one occasion, a box of bayberry candles.  After a short hiatus, the agency was placed in the hands of Joseph's grandson, Thomas Gibson, and remained in his family until 1872.  Mr. Gibson faithfully collected the rent during the Revolutionary War, and sent over the arrears shortly after the surrender of Cornwallis.

Before 1740, but at what eact date I have been unable to discover, the original board of trustees for William Pennoyer's charitable bequests had died out, and been succeeded by the Governors of Christ's Hospital. This was the famous Bluecoat School in London founded by Edward VI.  And until the year 1903 the Governers of Christs's Hospital, without charge to Harvard College, found tenants for the Pulham farm, collected the rent, and managed the property.

Down to 1737 the Pulham rents were used to eke out the tutors' salaries, and to help support an occasional scholar from New Haven who escaped going to Yale.  For over half a century thereafter, the income was allowed to accumulate, until in 1792 it amounted to £720, half of which was funded at four per cent., and the rest "carried to the account of Salaries and Grants."  The regular payment of stipends to scholars was then resumed.  In 1802 appeared the first descendant of Robert Pennoyer -- Jared Weed, class of 1807 -- to claim the preference; he was granted $100 a year while in College.  Among the Pennoyer scholars of the nineteenth century were the historians Jared Sparks and John G. Palfrey; the theologian George Rapall Noyes; and William H. Appleton, later president of Swarthmore COllege.  In the present century, at least one man of the Pennoyer name and blood has enjoyed the scholarship established by his remotely great-uncle in seventeenth-century England.

Although the available revenue from the Pennoyer bequest increased after 1792 by funding operations, the rent from "Asten's Farm," as the property at Pulham was called, long remained stationary.  Toward the end of the nineteenth century it even decreased, owing to the agricultural depression in England.  For many years, the farm yielded but $117.63 annually; less than the original rent in 1671.  Consequently, in 1897, the Harvard Corporation instituted proceedings to sell the farm.  The Governors of Christ's Hospital were glad to be rid of a troublesome responsibility; but consent had to be obtained of Her Majesty's Charity Commissioners; the copyhold section of the farm had to be enfranchised, at a cost lf £112, 9s, 11d paid to the lords of the manor; and a purchaser had to be found.  All this took time; and it was not until April, 1903, that Asten's Farm, parish of Pulham St. Mary the Virgin, County of Norfolk, was sold.  The sum of $4,029.52 which it brought was added to the Pennoyer Fund, which now stands in the College Treasurer's books at $13,686.25, and provides two annual scholarships of $450 each, the one incumbent to be preferably of the "line or posterity" of Robert Pennoyer, "and the other of the Colony of Nox, or of late called New haven Colony, if conveniently may be."


[1] Publications Colonial Society of Mass., xv. 288-89.  There are also bequests in the will to a married sister Elinor Redding in Boston, and to William Hooke, former minister of New Haven, and his sons John and Walter, both Harvard men -- the latter died at Masulipatam, where he was chaplain of an East India Company factory.  It was perhaps from the Hooke boys that Mr. Pennoyer learned about Harvard College; but there were many among his associates, such as Robert Boyle and Henry Ashurst, who could have told him about it.

[2] Years ago, I find, Andrew McFrland Davis (S.B. 1854) explained it in the Magazine of American History, xvii. (1887) 243-44.

[3] Treasurer Brattle's Accounts, H. U. Archives, p. 34.

[4] Treasurer Sorer's "Ledger A", H. U. Archives, p. 21.

In addition, the editor of The Lounsbury Tree, Albert Lounsbury, included these comments:

There have been several letters about the Pennoyer Scholarship, but no room to include them in this issue.  Harold C. Lounsbury wrote in December, 1988 suggesting that additional contributions be given to the fund.  Ann G. Peavey wrote, in Ju. 1988, questioning additional contributions because her father, Ernest Westervelt Carman, class of 1908 at Harvard, set up a scholarship which was later absorbed into "the total schollarship funding and no longer honored."  The editor followed up on the Pennoyer fund.  It is intact, held as a separate endowment; yields $2300-$2400 annually (1988).  It is now valued (12/28/90) at $37,769.97.  They would welcome additional contributions.  Candidates will be asked to submit genealogical documentation for eligibility.