219 Tutor Sever Cites Early College Laws

    [ca. November 14 1720]

    A few hints from the old English laws of Harvard College Laws of Admission &c.

    1. 1 Admission is by the President and one of the Fellows: first law.

      Scholars obliged to Honour President, Tutors, Fellows: 4th Law.

      Recreation in Studying time, going to the Tavern, Lodging Strangers in the College, and going out of Town, by leave from the President or Tutor: 8th, 9th, and 10th Laws.

      Discontinuance with leave from the President and Tutor: 14th Law. Studies are to be valued by the President and Fellows: 17th Law.

    2. 2 Laws about holy duties &c.

      President and Fellows to direct the Scholars what Authors they are to read: 6th Law.

      President and Fellows to guard against Heterodoxy: 8th Law.

      Scholars to be advanced or degraded in the College, according to their Merit, by the President and Fellows with the consent of Six or Seven of the Overseers: 9th Law.

    3. 3 penal Laws

      Obstinacy in a fault, and contempt of authority punishable with expulsion by the Votes of all or the Major part of the President and Fellows: 6 Law &c.

      Incorrigible negligence of the publick business punishable with Expulsion by the plurality of Votes of the President and Fellows: 4th following Law.

      If a Scholar neglect his Scholastical Exercises in course, he is to be directed by the President or his Tutor to make a double Exercise: 5 Law following.

      And finally if such a person reform not, by the plurality of Votes of the President and Fellows, he shall be expelled: 5th following Law.

      Non-plusing1 for a fault, by the President or Tutor: 7th following.

      Resistance of the President or fellows, punishable with Expulsion by Advice of the Overseers: 9th Law following.

      Three or more Overseers advised with: 10 Law.

      It is in the Liberty of the President with the consent of the fellows to inflict corporal punishment by the Rod, antecedent to Expulsion: 12 following Law.

      College officers punishable for unfaithfullness by the President and fellows: 15 Law following.

    From the whole it is Evident that Small things were managed, either by the President or a Single Tutor, or fellow, and greater ones by the Corporation.

    In the Charter of 50 all the Fellows were in the Town, and Mr. Mather and Mr. Danforth, the two Tutors, were of the Corporation; and in the Additional grant of 72 Mr. Brown and Mr. Richardson the two Tutors were of the Corporation. And it dos not appear that there were formerly any Tutors who were not of the Corporation and yet there was a destinction between fellows and Tutors, for although all the Tutors were Fellows, yet all the fellows were not Tutors.

    That the President and fellows so often mentioned in the Laws for the Execution of Government were the Corporation, is Evident, in that in some cases they are obliged to have the consent of the Overseers. And if the President and fellows so often mentioned were a lower form of Government in the College, their next application must have been to the Corporation and not to the Overseers.

    It appear by the Charter of 50 and these Laws that all the Affairs of the College even the Execution of the Laws in some cases was to be managed by the Corporation, with the consent of the Overseers of the College, Somtimes at a general meeting of them and somtimes with the consent only of a greater or lesser number of them. The Charter of 72 speaks of a general meeting of the Corporation, in some cases, which looks as if the common affairs of Government were managed by the President and any three of the Fellows, which by the first Charter make a Quorum, and that in other affairs which required it, a general meeting of the Corporation was obtained.

    There was a law Enacted by the Generall Court held at Boston October 14, 1656, and published in the audience of the Students in the College November 21, 1656: viz:

    It is hereby ordered that the President and fellows of Harvard College for the time being, or the Major part of them are hereby impowered according to their best discretion to punish all misdemeanors of the youth in their Society, either by fine, or whiping in the Hall openly, as the Nature of the Offence shall require not Exceeding ten shilling or ten stripes for one offence, and this Law to continue in force untill this Court, or the Overseers of the College provide some other order to punish such offences. This is a true copy of the Courts Order

    as Attests:

    Edwd. Rawson: Secretary

    Concordat cum Originali

    Ita testor

    Charles Chauncey

    The President and fellows of Harvard College are directed from time to time, By the Act of the Generall Court for Mr. President Leverets Settlement to regulate themselves according to the Rules of the Charter and Constitution of 50, and to Exercise the powers and Authorities thereby granted for the Government of the College.

    College Papers, i. 54 (No. 117). This is an extension of Tutor Sever’s argument, and is in his hand. The old English laws date from 1654/55.