The Deed of Gift


The Original Deed of Gift

from John and Elizabeth Phillips
Phillips Exeter Academy

May 17, 1781

WHEN we reflect upon the grand design of the great Parent of the Universe in the creation of mankind, and the improvements of which the mind is capable, both in knowledge and virtue, as well as upon the prevalence of ignorance and vice, disorder and wickedness, and upon the direct tendency and certain issue of such a course of things, such reflections must occasion in thoughtful minds an earnest solicitude to find the source of those evils and their remedy; and a small acquaintance with the qualities of young minds, how susceptible and tenacious they are of impressions, evidences that the time of youth is the important period, on the improvement or neglect of which depend the most weighty consequences, to individuals themselves and the community. 

A serious consideration of these things and an observation of the growing neglect of youth must excite a painful anxiety for the event and may well determine those whom their Heavenly Benefactor hath blessed with an ability therefore, to promote and encourage public free schools or academies, for the purpose of instructing youth, not only in the English and Latin grammar, writing, arithmetic, and those sciences wherein they are commonly taught, but more especially to learn them the great end and real business of living.

The time of youth is the important period, on the improvement or neglect of which depend the most weighty consequences, to individuals themselves and the community."

Earnestly wishing that such institutions may grow and flourish; that the advantages of them may be extensive and lasting; that their usefulness may be so manifest as to lead the way to other establishments on the same principles; and that they may finally prove eminent means of advancing the interest of the Great Redeemer; to His patronage and blessing may all friends to learning and religion most humbly commit them. 

To all people to whom these presents shall come, greeting. Whereas, the General Assembly of the State of New Hampshire did by their Act on the third day of April, Anno Domini 1781, incorporate an Academy in the town of Exeter and county of Rockingham, by the name of the Phillips Exeter Academy, for the purpose of promoting piety and virtue; and for the education of Youth as is in said Act directed; and whereas by said Act all the lands, tenements, and personal estate that shall be given to trustees for the use of said Academy are and shall be forever exempted from all taxes whatsoever. Therefore, in consideration of the great importance of the design mentioned, and of the powers, privileges, and immunities in and by said Act granted, and for the sole purpose of promoting piety, virtue, and useful literature, I, John Phillips, of Exeter aforesaid, Esquire, have granted, and with most humble thanks to the Lord and Giver of all things for the opportunity, ability, and disposition by Him given, do, by these presents, most cheerfully grant to the trustees of the said Phillips Exeter Academy nominated and appointed by said Act, and to their successors in that trust, all my right, title, and interest in and unto the real estate described as followeth, viz:
Two acres of land in said Exeter, being the land through which a road was lately given; and binding, westerly, on Mr. Joseph Lamson's homeplace. Also, all my right to a Morrison; said land adjoining the northerly part of the land before said. Also, to the Wharf lot privilege, near my dwelling house; conveyed to me by John Connor, A.D. 1762, reserving the allowance to be made, for want of measure. Also, half an acre of land conveyed to me by Daniel Gilman Esquire, A.D. 1744, adjoining the upper burying yard, and the two roads near it, in said town. Also, two acres of land, or more, binding on one of the said roads, twelve rods in front, being opposite to the southerly side of said burying yard.

The purpose of instructing youth, not only in the English and Latin grammar, writing, arithmetic, and those sciences wherein they are commonly taught, but more especially to learn them the great end and real business of living."

To have and to hold the granted premises, with all their appurtenances, to the said trustees of the said Phillips Exeter Academy, and to their successors in said trust, for the use and purpose, and upon the trust herein mentioned, on such terms and conditions as the first grantor has a (legal) right to express in the deed or instrument of conveyance by him made; and which are the necessary or beneficial standing regulations forming the constitution of this Academy, and ever to be considered as essentially and inseparably connected with this grant, being as follows, viz.:

The first instructor shall be nominated and appointed by the founder. The trustees, or a major part of them, shall meet once a year at the Phillips Exeter Academy. Their first meeting shall be on the eighteenth day of December, A. D. 1781, when they shall determine on the time for holding the annual meeting, which may be altered as they shall hereafter find most convenient. A president, clerk, and treasurer shall be annually chosen, who shall officiate till their places are supplied by a new election; and no member shall sustain the office of clerk and treasurer at the same time; an instructor shall not be chosen president; and upon the decease of a president, clerk, or treasurer, another shall be chosen in his room at the next annual meeting. The president shall call special meetings upon the application of any three of the trustees, or upon the concurrence of any two of them in sentiment with him on the occasion of such meeting; and upon the decease of the president, a special meeting shall be called by any three of the trustees. All notifications for special meetings shall express the business to be transacted, if convenient, and be given at least one month previous to such meeting, if not incompatible with the welfare of the Academy.

And when a special meeting shall be called for the appointment of an instructor, or to transact other business of material consequence, information shall be given by leaving a written notification at the house of each trustee, or in such other way as that the president or members notifying shall have good reason to believe that each member has received the notice. The clerk shall record all votes of the trustees, inserting the names of those present at every meeting. He shall keep a fair record of every donation, with the name of each benefactor; of the purpose, if expressed, to which it is constitutionally appropriated, and of all expenditures of them; and a true copy of the whole shall be taken and kept in the Academy, to be open for the perusal of all men; and if he shall be absent at any meeting of the trustees, another shall be appointed to serve in his room during such absence.

The treasurer shall, previous to his receiving the interest of the Academy into his hands, give bond for the faithful discharge of his office, in such a sum as the trustees shall direct, with sufficient sureties to the trustees; which bond shall express the use both in the obligatory part and in the condition. He shall give duplicate receipts for all moneys received, countersigned by one of the trustees, one to the donor, the other to be lodged with such member as the trustees from time to time shall direct.

And the trustees shall take such other measures as they shall judge requisite to make the treasurer accountable, and effectually to secure the interest of the Academy. The trustees shall let or rent out personal or real estate or make sale and purchase of lands, and improve the property of the Academy as they shall judge will best serve its interest without diminishing the fund.

Goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous, and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind."

Whereas the success of this institution much depends, under Providence, on a discreet appointment of its instructors, and the human mind is liable to imperceptible bias, it is required that when a candidate for election is so near akin to any member of the trust as a first cousin, such a member shall not sit in determining the election. No person shall be chosen as a principal instructor unless he be a member of a church of Christ, in complete standing, whose sentiments are similar to those hereinafter expressed, and will lead him to inculcate the doctrines and perform the duties required in this constitution; also of exemplary manners, of good natural abilities and literary acquirements, of a natural aptitude for instruction and government. A good acquaintance with human nature is also much to be desired. And in the appointment of any instructor, regard shall be had to qualifications only, without preference of friend or kindred, place of birth, education, or residence.

The trustees shall make a contract with instructors as to salary before their entrance upon office; and when the number of scholars shall require more instructors than the principal, it will be expected that persons of ability, who reap some advantage by this institution, will cheerfully assist in supporting the additional, so that poor children of promising genius may be introduced, and members who may need some special aid may have it afforded them.

It shall be the duty of the trustees to enquire into the conduct of the instructors; and if they, or either of them, be found justly chargeable with such misconduct, neglect of duty, or incapacity as the said trustees shall judge renders them, or either of them, unfit to continue in office, they shall remove them, or either of them, so chargeable. As the welfare of the Academy will be greatly promoted by the students being conversant with persons of good characters only, no scholar may enjoy the privileges of this institution who shall board in any family which is not licensed by the trustees; and applications will be in vain where the daily worship of God and good government is not said to be maintained. And in order to preserve this Seminary from the baneful influence of the incorrigibly vicious, the trustees shall determine for what reasons a scholar shall be expelled, and the manner in which the sentence shall be administered.

The trustees, at their annual meetings, shall visit the Seminary and examine into the proficiencies of the scholars; examine and adjust all accounts relative to the Seminary, and make any further rules and orders which they find necessary and conformable to this constitution. The principal instructor may not sit in the determining matters wherein he is particularly interested. Extravagant entertainments shall be discountenanced and economy recommended by trustees and instructors. Applications for the admission of scholars are to be made to the principal instructor; and the rules and orders the instructors may make for the good government of the scholars shall be subject to the examination, amendment, or discontinuance of the trustees.

It shall ever be considered as a principal duty of the instructors to regulate the tempers, to enlarge the minds, and form the morals of the youth committed to their care. They are to give special attention to the health of the scholars, and ever to urge the importance of a habit of industry. For these purposes they may encourage the scholars to perform some manual labor, such as gardening, or the like, so far as is consistent with cleanliness and the inclination of their parents; and the fruit of their labor shall be applied, at the direction of the trustees, for procuring a library, or in some other way increasing the usefulness of this Seminary.

But, above all, it is expected that the attention of instructors to the disposition of the minds and morals of the youth under their charge will exceed every other care; well considering that though goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous, and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.

It is therefore required that they most attentively and vigorously guard against the earliest irregularities. That they frequently delineate in their natural colors the deformity and odiousness of vice, and the beauty and amiableness of virtue. That they spare no pains to convince them of the numberless and indispensable obligations; to abhor and avoid the former and to love and practice the latter; of the several great duties they owe to God, their country, their parents, their neighbors, and themselves. That they critically and constantly observe the variety of their natural tempers, and solicitously endeavor to bring them under such discipline as may tend most effectually to promote their own satisfaction and the happiness of others. That they early inure them to contemplate the several connections and various scenes incident to human life; furnishing such general maxims of conduct as may best enable them to pass through all with ease, reputation, and comfort.

And it shall ever be equally open to youth of requisite qualifications from every quarter."

And whereas many of the students of this Academy may be devoted to the sacred work of the gospel ministry; therefore, that the true and fundamental principles of the Christian religion may be cultivated, established, and perpetuated in the Christian church, so far as this institution may have influence, it shall be the duty of the instructors, as the age and capacity of the scholars will admit, to teach them the principles of natural religion; as the being of God and his perfections, his universal providence, and perfect government of the natural and moral world, and obligations to duty resulting from thence.

Also to teach them the doctrines of revealed religion, as they are contained in the sacred Scriptures of divine authority, being given by inspiration of God. The doctrine of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; particularly the doctrine of Christ, as true God, the only begotten of the Father, with all the truths they declare relative to his office of mediator, and work of redemption and salvation from the state of sin, guilt, and depravity of nature man has fallen into. The necessity of atonement by the blood of Jesus Christ; and of regeneration by the Spirit of God. The doctrine of repentance towards God; and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, considered as duties and gifts of God's grace; and the doctrine of justification by the free grace of God through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness in his obedience unto death is the onlv ground and reason of the sinner's pardon and acceptance as righteous in the sight of God. The doctrine also of the Christian's progressive sanctification, in dying unto sin and living unto God in new obedience to all the commandments of Christ, proceeding from gospel motives and views, supremely to the glory of God; and the doctrines of the resurrection from the dead, and of the great and final judgment, with its consequences of happiness to the righteous and misery to the wicked. These and all the doctrines and duties of our holy Christian religion, not being founded on human authority, will be proved by Scripture testimony.

And, whereas, the most wholesome precepts, without frequent repetitions, may prove ineffectual, it is further required of the instructors, that they not only urge and re-urge, but continue from day to day to impress these instructions; and let them ever remember that the design of this institution can never be answered without their persevering, incessant attention to this duty.

Protestants only shall ever be concerned in the trust or instruction of this Seminary, and they, having severally approved the constitution, their government and instructions, conformably thereto, must appear steady, cordial, and vigorous. The election of the officers of this Academy shall be by ballot only. And it shall ever be equally open to youth of requisite qualifications from every quarter, provided that none be admitted till, in common parlance, they can read English well, excepting such particular numbers as the trustees may hereafter license. And in order to prevent a perversion of the true intent of this foundation, it is again declared that the first and principal design of this institution is the promoting virtue and true piety; useful knowledge, in the order before referred to (in the act of incorporation), being subservient thereto.

And I hereby reserve to myself, during any part of my natural life, the full right to make any special rules for the perpetual government of this Academy, which shall be equally binding on those whom they may concern with any clause in those regulations; provided no such rule shall be subversive of the true intent of this foundation. I also reserve a right to appoint one person to succeed me in the trust, after my decease or resignation, to whom shall be transferred the same right of appointment, and to his successors in the said trust forever.*

The foregoing regulations, forming the constitution of the Phillips Exeter Academy, shall ever be read by the president, for the time being, at the annual meeting of the trustees of said Academy, that they and their successors may be fully acquainted with and in all future time reminded of their duty. And, considering them as true to their trust, I, the said John Phillips, for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, do hereby covenant, grant, and agree to and with the said trustees and their successors, that I will warrant and defend the beforegranted premises to them forever, against the lawful claims and demands of any person or persons whomsoever, holding from, by, or under me. Likewise Elizabeth, my wife, doth hereby freely and voluntarily relinquish all right of dower and power of thirds in the premises.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the seventeenth day of May, Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one.





Signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of



ROCKINGHAM, SS., Jan. 9, 1782.

John Phillips, Esq., and Elizabeth, his wife, ownd this instrument to be their free act and deed, before me,



Received and recorded March 11, 1782, Lib. 113, Fol. 499.



Rec'd March 29, 1782. Recorded Lib. 4, Fol. 176. Examined.

THOS. WK. WALDRON, Recorder.

*John T. Gilman, the appointee of John Phillips, surrendered this right.