| William Dummer (1677 - 1761)
served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1722 to 1728, and again for a
few months in 1730. He married Catherine Dudley, a daughter of Governor
Joseph Dudley but they didn't have any children.
When he died he left his mansion and 300 acre farm at Byfield to endow "a free grammar school" in Byfield parish, in the town of Newbury. This was the earliest academy in New England, and was opened on February 27, 1763, with twenty-eight pupils. Until the early 21st century, it was known as "Governor Dummer Academy" at which time it was decided to change the name; probably because students were weary of being referred to as "Dummer (dumber) Students", "Dummer Graduates" and so on.
The initial suggestion for a new name was "The G.D.A.", but this would almost certainly have become known as "The God Damned Academy". The name was eventually changed to "The Governor's Academy". Please be sure to visit the official website of The Governor's Academy.
The following account is from Edwin Elbridge Salisbury, Family Memorials, New Haven, Connecticut, 1885, pages 258 - 260, 272 - 275. For the complete account including footnotes, please see the original.
|Gov. William Dummer — the acting Provincial Governor of Massachusetts for more than six years — was a brother of Jeremy Dummer, his senior by about four years. He was born in New England in 1677; “but he had been much out of the country, and had held office abroad, when, in 1716, after the death of Queen Anne, Col. Shute was appointed Governor, in place of Joseph Dudley, and Dummer, son-in-law of Dudley, received the appointment of Lieutenant Governor. The struggle between the rising spirit of independence in the colony and the repressive acts of the English ministry, which had been long going on, was not ended by the accession of a new Sovereign and the return of the Whigs to power. At last, when “all hope of a good understanding between” the Governor “and the local authorities seemed to be at an end,” in 1722, Shute retired to England, and Dummer occupied the gubernatorial chair until the accession of Burnet in 1728, and again for a few months after Burnet’s death, before the arrival of Beicher. Although, during his administration, the same disagreements between the royal government and the colonists still continued, the history of those times shows that Gov. Dummer’s endeavor was to harmonize, by being faithful to his fellow-provincials as well as true to his allegiance to the Crown; and conciliation had been, also, the rule of his brother’s agency for the province in England. Says Eliot: “he was not the favourite of the popular party . . . but was highly respected by all parties, when their prejudices did not operate. He maintained a most respectable character for virtues and talents, especially during his administration as the chief magistrate. Douglass always styles it ‘the wise administration of Mr. Dummer.’ He was a man of such correct judgment and steady habits, such a firm and temperate conduct, when he supposed himself right, that the vessel of state was secure, though exposed to the dangers of a tempestuous sea;” and a later writer has said: “William Dummer was one of the most experienced and practical statesmen in the period of provincial history,” and, again, “the office of commander-in-chief of the Province devolved on Lieutenant-Governor Dummer, which he sustained with no less fidelity to the King than to the Province; the interest and rights of which he bent the whole force of his powerful mind to maintain, avoiding unprofitable controversies.” The latest historiographer of the colonial times of Massachusetts, Dr. George E. Ellis, has said of him:|
|“Had there been any practicable reconciliation into a harmony of working in the relations between Massachusetts and the royal authority claimed over her, it might have seemed that William Dummer, acting as Governor for nearly six years, was peculiarly suited to serve as mediator, umpire and arbiter. A native of the province, with strong family ties and friendships binding him here, he had lived much abroad, and had become enlarged and generous in his views. He was not a strong partisan, nor did he lack a generous patriotism.” . . .|
|His cotemporary and pastor Rev. Dr. Mather Byles, in preaching his funeral sermon, used this language:|
|“Scarce any one ever passed through this life with a more unspotted character, or performed its various duties with more universal esteem. In the gayest scenes of youth he was preserved from the destructive paths of vice; and in maturer age was a shining example of the most amiable virtues. . . . The wise, incorrupt and successful administration of Mr. Dummer will always he remembered with honor, and considered as a pattern worthy of the imitation of all future Governors. Uninfluenced by party prejudices, superior to all mercenary attachments, he discovered no passion, in his public character, but love to his country and fidelity to his Royal Master. Having filled the Chair with dignity and usefulness for several years, when a successor was appointed, he retired to enjoy the unenvied satisfactions of a private life, with the approbation of a good conscience and the applause of his country.”|
| He married Catharine daughter
of Gov. Joseph Dudley — a sister of Rebecca who married Samuel the eldest
son of Chief Justice Sewall — April 20, 1714; and died Oct. 10, 1761, in
his eighty-fourth year, leaving no children. He was a patron of learning
in his life-time; and left by his Will £50. for the purchase of books
for Harvard College Library, which is commemorated by the inscription of
his name, together with others, on one of the library-alcoves.
But his greatest educational bounty was the gift, by Will, of his mansion-house and farm of 300 acres at Byfield,
|“for the endowment of a free grammar-school and the erection of a school house thereon; and the opening of the Academy in 1763 placed it chronologically at the head of all similar foundations, in Massachusetts at least. The time was opportune, for the graduates were prepared for the impending struggle with the mother-country, as well as for the conduct of the State and Nation when once independence was achieved. Master Samuel Moody [grandson of Rev. Samuel Moody of York, Me.], a famous teacher, gave the Academy a great reputation at the start, and maintained it till 1790. Among his pupils were future cabinet-officers, congressmen, governors and judges. . . .”|
|One of the men of distinction here educated was Samuel Phillips, the originator of the similar academy at Andover, Mass., after which the later institution bearing the honored name of Phillips, at Exeter, N. H., was modelled; so that Dummer Academy may be regarded as in a certain sense the parent of both these others, though not incorporated till 1782, later than Phillips Academy of Andover. Gov. Dummer’s name is also perpetuated in Dummerstown, Vt., named for him, where he was the oldest proprietor, owning a. tract of land of 48,000 acres, which included the town. Fort Dummer in Vernon, the first settlement made in Vermont, in 1724, was also named after him.|
|Gov. Dummer is the representative of the family whose use of the arms confirmed by the Earl Marshal of England to those of them who applied, in 1711, for a recognition of their right. The act of Herald’s College in 1711, by its very terms, was not an original grant of a coat of arms, but simply a recognition and confirmation of the prescriptive right and title which the applicants had to a certain coat from their ancestors; in which Gov. Dummer shared equally with the applicants. Although he did not join in the application, Gov. Dummer used the arms represented to the right. Again, the Herald’s College, by allowing to certain persons, in 1721, the use of Dummer arms only recognized and confirmed a right in which all descendants of the Dummer heiress who had carried her arms, by marriage, into another family, shared alike, although only two members of this family applied to have the right confirmed. The arms are described as: "Azure, three fleurs de lis Or, on a chief of the second a demi-lion of the first."|
|DUMMER, William, lieutenant – governor of Massachusetts, b. in Boston in 1677; d. there, 10 Oct, 1761. When Samuel Shute was appointed governor of the colony in 1716, Dummer was commissioned lieutenant – governor, and after Shute left, 1 Jan., 1723, he acted as governor and commander – in – chief till the arrival of Gov. Burnet in 1728. He conducted the war with the Indians with skill, and was respected for his ability and zealous regard for the public good. After the death of Gov. Burnet he was commander – in – chief again till the arrival of Belcher. After 1730 he lived in retirement. When he died he left his valuable farm and the mansion – house, which is still standing, to endow Dummer academy in Byfield parish, in the town of Newbury, the earliest academy in New England, which was opened on 27 Feb., 1763, with twenty – eight pupils. — His brother, Jeremiah, scholar, b. in Boston, Mass., about 1680; d. in Plaistow, England, 19 May, 1739, was graduated at Harvard in 1699, where he was noted for brilliancy. He studied theology, and afterward spent several years at the University of Utrecht, where he obtained his doctor’s degree. Soon after his return to America he was sent to England in 1710 as agent of Massachusetts, and remained in London in that capacity till 1721. He was a benefactor of Yale college, to which he presented 800 volumes. He was intimate with Bolingbroke, and adopted some of his views. He published theological and philosophical disquisitions in Latin while at Utrecht, and a “Defence of the New England Charters” (London, 1728; reprinted, 1765), in which he argued that the New England colonists held their charters by compact, in consideration for redeeming the wilderness and annexing it to the British dominions, and that their land – titles were not derived from the crown, which only possessed political rights over the country, but were based on purchases from the natives and on occupation and their own courage and enterprise. The proposal of the Board of trade to unite the colonies under a single viceroy and one assembly would produce, in his opinion, the result that it was chiefly intended to avert, that of encouraging the colonies to throw off their allegiance and constitute themselves a free state.|
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