The College of William and Mary’s Royal Charter

On February 8, 1693, the College of William and Mary was issued a royal charter to “Make, found and establish a certain place of universal study, a perpetual college of divinity, philosophy, languages, and other good arts and sciences… To be supported and maintained, in all time coming.”

The second oldest College in America was named after King William III and Queen Mary II, the reigning monarchs of England, more commonly known as William and Mary. The school opened in 1694 with temporary buildings. The following year, construction on the Sir Christopher Wren Building began. The College’s building started before the town it lies within, Williamsburg, existed.

James Blair was named the College’s first president, a position he held until his death in 1743. Its students were initially required to be members of the Church of England.

In 1693, the College was given a seat in the House of Burgesses, Virginia’s governing body, where it was determined that the school would be supported by tobacco taxes and export duties on furs and animal skins. The College was allotted three hundred and thirty acres (one point three ㎢) and located eight miles (thirteen km) from Jamestown, Virginia’s capital at the time.

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