Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DUNNTER, Henry, educator, born in Lancashire, England, about 1612 ; died in Scituate, Massachusetts, 27 February 1659. He was educated at Cambridge, England, in 1630'4, Jeremy Taylor and John Milton being among his fellow students. He emigrated to this country to escape persecution for nonconformity, and was, soon after his arrival, chosen to be the first president of Harvard College, that institution haying previously been under the charge of Nathaniel Eaton, who bore the title of "professor," or "master." Eaton had been appointed to the office about 1637, but was removed on account of the severity of his discipline. " President Dunster," says Quincy in his " History of Harvard University," "united in himself the character of both patron and president, for, poor as he was, he contributed, at a time of the utmost need 100 acres of land" toward the support of the College, "besides rendering it for a succession of years a series of official services well directed, unwearied and altogether inestimable."
He probably obtained the charter of 1642, and undoubtedly secured that of 1650, through his own petition. By his personal efforts and sacrifices he built the president's house and used his influence with the general court for the relief of the institution in its dire necessity. After laboring for fourteen years, he was induced to resign in October 1654, the College authorities having taken exception to his public proclamation, in the Cambridge Church, of which he was also pastor, of certain doubts that had arisen in his mind as to the validity of infant baptism. He was indicted for the same offence by the grand jury, sentenced to a public admonition, and laid under bonds for good behavior. He was subsequently presented by the same body for neglecting the baptism of one of his children.
After his resignation he removed to Scituate, where he was employed in the ministry till his death. By his last will he ordered that his body should be buried in Cambridge, and magnanimously bequeathed legacies to the very persons who had been instrumental in his removal from the presidency. He was greatly esteemed for his extensive learning, his sincere piety, and his modest and unobtrusive deportment. His knowledge of the oriental languages, especially Hebrew, was remarkable, the new version of the Psalms by Eliot, Welde, and Mather having been submitted to him for revision. " The Grew England Psalm Book" (1640) was thus greatly enriched by his scholarship. Under his influence Harvard took a high stand, and through his intelligent administration of its interests, as well as his thorough educational methods, received an impulse that is doubtless felt to the present day. President Dunster's life has been written by Rev. Jeremiah Chaplin, D. D. (Boston, 1872).
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