Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Yale, Elihu

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Appletons' Yale Elihu - college quadrangle.jpg

YALE, Elihu, philanthropist, b. in or near Boston, Mass., 5 April, 1649; d. in England, 8 July, 1721. His father, David, came to New Haven from England in 1638, but returned in 1651, and was followed in 1652 by his family, including Elihu, who never revisited this country. The son went to the East Indies about 1678, and in 1687-'92 was governor of Fort St. George, Madras. Gov. Yale acquired great wealth in India. On 22 May, 1711, Jeremiah Dummer wrote from London to Rev. John Pierpont, then a trustee of the Collegiate school of Connecticut: “Here is Mr. Yale, formerly governor of Fort George in the Indies, who has got a prodigious estate, and, having no son, now sends for a relation of his from Connecticut to make him his heir. He told me lately that he intended to bestow a charity upon some college in Oxford under certain restrictions which he mentioned. But I think he should much rather do it to your college, seeing he is a New England and, I think, a Connecticut man. If, therefore, when his kinsman comes over, you will write him a proper letter on that subject, I will take care to press it home.” The result was that between 1714 and 1721 Gov. Yale gave to the Collegiate school books and money whose total value was estimated at £800. The timeliness of these gifts, rather than their intrinsic value, made them a great aid to the struggling college, and in 1718, after its removal from Saybrook to New Haven, its trustees named the new collegiate building in the latter place Yale college. This name, applied at first only to the edifice, was given formally to the institution in the charter of 1745. President Thomas Clap says that Yale “was a gentleman who greatly abounded in good humor and generosity, as well as in wealth.” He is buried in Wrexham, Wales, the ancient seat of his family. On his tomb is engraved an epitaph which contains the well-known couplet:

Born in America, in Europe bred,
In Afric travelled, and in Asia wed.”

A full-length portrait of Gov. Yale hangs in Alumni hall, Yale college. The accompanying illustration represents the completed corner of the quadrangle of buildings that is to inclose the college grounds. The original “Yale college” is not now standing, the oldest building on the grounds having been erected in 1752.