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At a Glance
Source materials on Sir James Jay, relating principally to his trip to England to raise funds for King's College, 1762-1763, and to the subsequent lawsuit brought by the Governors of the College to recover funds which he had collected. Letters, documents, and accounts in manuscript as well as photostats of the records in the Public Records Office in London bearing on the legal action are included. There is some personal and biographical material on Jay as well as photostats and other copies of his writings.
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Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Sir James Jay papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
The Early Minutes of the Governors of King's College 1755-1770 are available online. The Columbiana Collection holds copies of "An humble representation, by William Smith, DD and James Jay, MD, in behalf of the lately erected colleges of Philadelphia and New-York, London, September 9, 1762" (call number CE J3323) and Sir James Jay's "Letter to the Governors of the College of New York; respecting the Collection that was made in this Kingdom in 1762 and 1763 for the Colleges of Philadelphia and New York..." 1771 (call number CE J332 and online). Additional materials are also available online via the library's catalogue CLIO including "A letter to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, &c., in respect to the collection that was made for the colleges of New York and Philadelphia / by Sir James Jay ... ; being a vindication of the author, occasioned by the groundless insinuations, and very illiberal behaviour of Mr. Alderman Trecothick, with authentic evidence."
Type of reproduction--Photostats in part
Immediate Source of Acquisition
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 07/--/89.
2023-11-16 Inventory published. (JR)
History / Biographical Note
Physician. Sir James Jay was the brother of Justice John Jay. In 1763, Sir James Jay went to England to raise money for King's College and was knighted by King George III. He was also credited with inventing an ink for secret correspondence in the first years of the American Revolution and was a member of the New York State Senate (1778-1782).
Adapted from "Early Fund-raising Efforts of King's College," part of the research materials for the Bicentennial Celebration, Office of Development, January 15, 1953. ("King's College – Fundraising," Historical Subject Files (UA#0002), Box 156, folder 7).
In 1762, the Board of Governors was looking to raise funds for the new College. They appointed a committee of five, headed by Dr. James Jay (brother of John Jay). This committee was to proceed to England, and Dr. Jay was instructed to apply first to the two members of the college corporation - His Grace, Thomas Secker, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and the Right Honorable Samuel, Lord Sandys, first Lord of Trade and Plantations, to be advised by them as to the proper steps to be pursued. He was to obtain first the bounty of the royal family, then to procure circular letters from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to their respective clergy, to further the solicitation.
That these petitions bore fruit is evidenced by the inclusion in the minutes of the College of an order for the expression of thanks to his Majesty for "his most gracious countenance and donation," as well as to Lord Bute and to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. No mention was made of the amounts received individually, but supporting evidence indicates the King's contribution to have been £400. Later, in June 1763, the Board of Governors expressed their thanks to the Right Honorable William Pitt for his generous donation. Altogether, the mission to England was successful, and the College benefited by the receipt over a period of some few years of approximately £10,000.
When presenting his initial letters to the King, on March 25, 1763, Dr. Jay was knighted by George III, who, in the interim, had succeeded to the throne. But in the early part of 1765, there appears in the minutes of the College the first indication of a controversy between Sir James Jay and the Board of Governors. Instigated by a London agent who was jealous of Sir James's success, a serious misunderstanding arose concerning the accounting for the funds accumulated, and it reached a point where the Board of Governors pursued a lawsuit against Sir James. A rare and unexpected find of the full record of the trial revealed that the Governors finally withdrew their charges. The situation resulted, however, in a break between Sir James and the College and a lack of public recognition on the latter's part of all that Sir James had accomplished.