474 Notes by Nathan Prince on the Powers of the Overseers

    [ca. 1742]

    The Charter of June 27, 1692 has these Fellows without Overseers.

    x Increase Mather President

    James Allein

    Samuel Willard

    x Nehemiah Hobart refused

    x Charles Morton

    x Nathaniel Gookin

    x Dyed Aug. 1692

    x Cotton Mather

    x John Leverett

    x William Brattle

    Nehemiah Walter

    x John Richards Treasurer resigned

    x Thomas Brattle

    N.B. This Charter was disapproved of by the King i.e. at or before three Years i.e. at or before Jun. 27, 1695.

    The Charter of June 4, 1697 Has these Fellows and the Governor and Council Visiters.


    1. Increase Mather President


    2. Charles Morton Vice President

    3. James Allein

    4. Michael Wigglesworth

    5. Samuel Torrey

    6. Samuel Willard


    7. Nehemiah Hobart

    8. Peter Thacher

    9. John Danforth


    10. Cotton Mather


    11. John Leverett


    12. William Brattle

    13. Nehemiah Walter

    14. John White

    15. Paul Dudley

    16. Benjamin Wadsworth

    17. Thomas Brattle Treasurer.

    N.B. This Charter also being disapproved of by the King at or before June 4, 1700. They from that time were on no Charter at all.

    The Imperfect Charter of July 10, 1700 Has these Fellows and the Governor and Council Visitors


    1. Increase Mather President


    2. Samuel Willard Vice President

    3. James Allein

    4. Michael Wigglesworth

    5. Samuel Torrey

    6. Nehemiah Hobart


    7. Peter Thacher.

    8. Samuel Angier

    9. John Danforth


    10. Cotton Mather

    11. Nehemiah Walter

    12. Henry Gibbs

    13. John White

    14. Jonathan Pierfont

    15. Benjamin Wadsworth

    16. The First Tutor Resident

    17. The Second Tutor Resident

    [Here begins a different page]




    President Chauncy

    President Chauncy


    Mr. S. Eliot

    Mr. Thomas Greaves

    Mr. Peter Bulkly

    Mr. Solomon Stoddard

    Mr. Nathaniel Chauncey.

    Sir Nowell

    Thomas Danforth, Treasurer

    Thomas Danforth

    x Richards

    N.B. See the Catalogue of 1706, who then were Dead whether or no all the fellows before the Charter of 1672.

    That I have no right to appeal.

    [Items no. 1 and 2 are crossed out.]

    1. 1. The Members of the Society in general were affected.
    2. 2. Tis to be found [hurtfull?] by the Overseers and so they must judge.
    3. 3. It was a General Meeting viz. by notification or stated time for it and so the Court sat and if they will not come, who can help it.
    4. 4. Tis only a [Institution?], order or orders that are to be appealed from—and not statutes of a judgment which is the execution of a statute.
    5. 5. Tho we have no right to [afirm?], yet we have a right not to repeal if we see cause; and we see no cause; and therefore we stand ready to account therefor to the General Court—Go there as soon as you please.
    6. 6. Twas a General meeting for when my case came on it was so or at least it was tryed by it on Jan. 29, or at least Feb. 15, and at […] same meeting […]. And all were warned in the 6 neighboring towns to attend, and if they will not come when notified who can help it.
    7. 7. The Appendix itself determines that it shall be sufficient to the validity of an Act of the Overseers if those of the six neighboring towns be notifyed.


    1. 1. The Party or Parties (i.e. Parties in opposition to one Party) plainly show that one single Person as well as a Plurality have a right to appeal. And the ground and reason of such right certainly holde good; for one Person may be as truly and as much grieved as more than one may.310
    2. 2. This makes […] any appeal whatever to be [hurtful?]. It does not say by whom it shall be found [hurtful?]. And if a single person […] Overseers from whom an appeal is to be made are not to judge but the Party hurt or those to whom he appeals.
    3. 3. Twas not a general meeting by notification nor in fact, for Oct. 6 and 21st was on the recess of the court and so twas impossible there should be a general Meeting then. And by notification there was not one, for those of the 6 neighboring Towns only were notifyed [which] was in opposition to a general notification, for in all times these are notifyed and then there never were any Overseers Meetings but General.
    4. 4. Institutions and Orders include all that Power by which the Overseers acted in any case. And they made no [dispute] about it. And therefore did nothing if what they did is not included under the Terms Institutions Order or Orders.
    5. 5. Tis True and there is the Dernier Resort by that very Law that Institutes the Overseers themselves.
    6. 6. Twas not a general meeting, for 1. the first meeting was in Oct. 6 when but 5 were present; and tis as true that that meetting thro all the after adjuncts was the same meeting […] of five. Nor was it General on Oct. 21, for of 40 who this Year were Overseers there were but 20 that is One half present and when determined not one half and the last but one or two more than half. And when my case came on Oct. 17, and when the Articles were judged proved—and when sentence was given, twas not a General meeting in fact. Nor was there a General Notification but only of the Six Neighboring Towns. If there had been a general Notification of all the Overseers in the [Province?] which is meant in the Charter, or as in the Act of 42 [1642]

    [Continued from bottom, of next page]

    1. a General Notification of the Company of Overseers first mentioned in that Act and they on such notification had not generally met, there would have been some reason for this objection.
    2. 7. The Appendix settles what is a Quorum which the Act of 42 had not, or rather had made a greater Number necessary to the validity of any Act as appears by the Table to that Act which has it thus, The Majority may make orders, which implyed that less than a majority when met could make none at all. Now by the Appendix tis sufficient that the Overseers of the Six Neighboring Towns are warned and if then that the majority of the whole do not meet yet what they do is valid. This has nothing to do with appealing from such Acts, for unless the Acts were valid there would be no occasion to appeal from them at all. Twould be an Appeal from nothing. Tis supposed that the Acts must be valid in order to appeal from them. There is a vast difference between an Act’s being valid and being final. And since the Appendix only secures their being valid it leaves an appeal from them to what shall be final, untouched.

    [Here begins a new page; it starts with “Library Law 18”. Since it is in a different hand, and does not pertain to the subject of the document, it has been noted in footnote 3.]

    Jun. 4th 1697.

    Nov. 15, 1697. White, Pemberton Fitch chose Tutors

    Aug. 7, 1699. Flint chose Tutor.

    Sept. 7, 1702. 2 resident fellows were

    Jan. 4, 1702. Remington chose Tutor

    1. 1. The Act of 42.
    2. 2. Act or Charter of 50.
    3. 3. The Appendix of 1657 that makes it sufficient to the Validity of the Acts of the Overseers that those of the six Neighboring Towns shall be warned.
    4. 4. The Act or Charter of Seventy two.
    5. 5. The Act or Charter of 92.
    6. 6. The Act or Charter of 97.
    7. 7. The Act or Charter of 1700. imperfect never passing thro the General Court.
    8. 8. The Act of Dec. 1707 that set the Corporation upon the Old Charter of 50, after 35 years discontinuance of it.

    [Page 4, in a different hand, contains a quotation from the Charter of 1650. See footnote 4 for a comment on this.]

    College Papers, 1. 40 (No. 88). These notes are now identified, through a check of dates of Overseers’ meetings, as having been prepared by Nathan Prince (A.B. 1718). Complaints against Prince, who served as Tutor and Fellow from 1723 to 1742, were submitted by the Corporation to the Overseers in the fall of 1741. After a series of meetings, the Overseers, on February 18, 1741/42, removed Prince from office. One of Prince’s arguments was that the meetings of the Overseers were not legitimate, since all the members were not notified; for this reason he went back into the history of earlier charters. He published An Account of the Constitution and, Government of Harvard-College from … 1636 to … 1742 (Boston, 1742). See also Quincy, History, ii. 28–37. Several words and lines are crossed out in portions of this document.