Encyclopedia Brunoniana


The Name, Brown University, was adopted in 1804. The Corporation empowered by the Charter in 1764 was “in Fact and Name to be known by the Name of Trustees, and Fellows of the College or University in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England in America the Trustees and Fellows at any time hereafter giving such more particular Name to the College in Honor of the greatest & most distinguished Benefactor or otherwise as they shall think proper ...” Thus the college was known as Rhode Island College, and even sometimes casually referred to as Providence College. President Maxcy, in a letter to Richard Furman on October 26, 1795, wrote, “This College is still without a name. No benefactor has appeared.” The Corporation had passed a resolution at its meeting in September 1795 that a gift of $6,000 previous to the next Commencement would entitle the donor to name the college, but no donor was forthcoming at this time. Again in September 1803 the Corporation voted that a donation of $5,000 within a year would entitle the donor to name the college. On September 6, 1804, Nicholas Brown 1786 donated $5,000 for the establishment of a “Professorship of Oratory & Belles Letters (sic),” and the Corporation voted, “That this College be called and known in all future time by the Name of Brown University in Providence in the State of Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations.”