Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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HOLLIS, Thomas, benefactor, born in England in 1659; died in London, England, in February, 1731. He was for many years a successful merchant in London, and a bequest made to Harvard college in his uncle's will, of which he was a trustee, first attracted his attention to that seat of learning. After making two considerable donations to the college, he gave in 1721 the fund by which the Hollis professorship of divinity was constituted. He was a Baptist and a Calvinist, required his professor of divinity to be "of sound or orthodox principles," and stipulated that Baptists, who were then in no great favor in New England, should not be excluded from the chair that he had established. In 1727 he also established a professorship of mathematics and philosophy, and his donations amounted at that time to £4.900 in Massachusetts currency. He also gave books for the library, and a set of Hebrew and Greek types for printing.--His brothers, John and Nathaniel, were also donors to the college.--His nephew and heir, Thomas, son of Nathaniel, died in 1735, also gave money, books, and philosophical apparatus to the college.-Thomas, son of the second Thomas, born in London, England, in 1720; died in Corsecombe, Dorset, England, in 1774, followed literary pursuits, and did much to propagate the principles of civil and religious liberty. Among his gifts to Harvard college was a donation of books that were valued at £1,400. He is said to have given away half his large fortune for benevolent purposes. He was a zealous promoter of the spirit of freedom in America, and aided in republishing the political treatises of May-hew, Otis, and John Adams. His memoirs, compiled by the Reverend Francis Blackburn, archdeacon of Cleveland, were published in 1780 in two quartos, with engravings, by Thomas Brand Hollis, also a benefactor of Harvard.--Other members of the Hollis family were also liberal donors to Harvard college, and one of the halls of that institution is named in their honor.
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