Timothy Whiting Bancroft (1837-1890), professor of English, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on March 9, 1837. He graduated from Brown in 1859. He was principal of the high school in Waltham, Massachusetts for two years and for a brief time engaged in business in Boston, taking the place of his brother who had gone to Europe for a year and had died there. He disliked the business world and soon returned to teaching as principal of the high school in Newton. In 1868 he became professor of rhetoric and English literature at Brown after the death of Professor Robinson Potter Dunn. His duties were many, teaching logic and elocution in addition to lecturing in English literature and correcting the numerous themes written by increasing numbers of students. All this he performed conscientiously. He wrote poetry and music, and published Historical Outlines of the English Languages, Historical Outlines of American Literature, and Method of English Composition.
He suffered a breakdown in 1883 but, after traveling in the South and in Europe, returned to his teaching duties, which became increasingly burdensome. His disappearance in December of 1890 was viewed with apprehension and handbills were circulated, offering a fifty dollar reward for information leading to his discovery. Beneath his photograph was this notice:
“PROFESSOR T. WHITING BANCROFT, Aged 53, about 5 feet 10 inches in height, about 175 pounds weight, grey eyes, Burnside whiskers and mustache nearly white and which are a prominent feature to his identity; his hair is darker. His figure is firm and upright, with his head set well back when walking; spare figure, but by no means thin; chin bare or nearly so. He was dressed with great care and neatness, in dark colors, high crowned derby hat, rough beaver overcoat, a very dark one.Toward the end of February his body was found in a pond in Cranston.
He left his home, 13 Greene street, Providence, R.I., at 8 o’clock, on the morning of December 8, 1890, since which time nothing definitely has been ascertained in regard to his whereabouts.”