Bishop’s College is founded and established by an Act of Canadian Parliament, to be located on a 40 acre site donated by Lt.-Colonel William Morris.
Rev. Jasper H. Nicolls is appointed first Principal of Bishop’s College – the first session of Bishop’s College is held in a Lennoxville commercial building.
In 1845, the Reverend Jasper Hume Nicolls (1818-1877) was appointed first principal of Bishop’s College. He was raised in the city of Quebec and graduated Bachelor of Arts from Oriel College in the University of Oxford. He was a Fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford when he was appointed to his position here.
In 1853, along with Bishop Mountain, he was instrumental in obtaining the Royal Charter which raised the college to the status of a university. Jasper Nicolls led Bishop’s almost single-handedly for 32 years surviving several financial crises. After his death in 1877, his students said of him, in a formal resolution, “he was a most able, kind and patient teacher, an example of everything a Christian gentleman ought to be, and a sympathetic personal friend to each of us”.
In 1993, on the occasion of Bishop’s Sequicentennial, Dr. Robin Burns observed:
“In 150 years, Bishop’s has proved to be durable and has made a contribution to the cause of literature and science. What would the founders think of Bishop’s today: the campus, the curriculum, 2,000 students, women and men? What would Queen Victoria think? Would Jasper Nicolls still be as amused as he appears to be in his portrait? Probably.”
Read the full text on the page Dr. Robin Burns on the founding of Bishop’s University.
Bishop’s First Building
Construction of the original college building, which would later be known as Old Arts, and later still as McGreer Hall, in honour of Rev. A.H. McGreer, Principal of Bishop’s 1922-1947.
The lithograph below is the earliest known portrayal of Bishop’s College.
It was featured in George Jehoshaphat Mountain’s Songs of the Wilderness, Being a Collection of Poems, published in 1846.
Construction of the Principal’s Residence, later known as Old Lodge, at the southern end of the college building.
The Founders of Bishop’s University:
Rev. George Jehoshaphat Mountain (1789-1863)
Born in England in 1789, Bishop Mountain came to Canada in 1793. He was consecrated Bishop of Quebec in 1837. As part of his mission he journeyed to the Indian missions of the Red River Settlement in 1844, travelling by birch bark canoe, the trip taking 38 days. This was the first direct contact the Church in Canada proper had with the Church in the Northwest.
Bishop Mountain was co-founder of Bishop’s College together with the Rev. Lucius Doolittle. He was also Principal of McGill College 1829-1835. From 1839 until 1843, he worked for the incorporation of the College, and on January 28, 1853, it was raised to the status of a University by command of her late Majesty, Queen Victoria. Bishop’s takes its name from Bishop Mountain.
Rev. George Jehoshaphat Mountain (1789-1863),
Co-founder of Bishop’s College,
Third Anglican Bishop of Quebec, (1837-1863).
Rev. Lucius Doolittle (1800-1862)
Born in Vermont, Doolittle spent his early years in Hatley and taught school there in 1825-26. Having become a member of the Church of England through his acquaintance with Rev. C.J. Stewart, he was ordained priest in 1829, and became missionary for the Sherbrooke-Lennoxville mission in 1833. In 1840 Doolittle and a group of local laymen managed to convince Bishop Mountain to establish a theological college in Lennoxville, rather than at Trois-Rivières. Bishop’s College opened in 1843 and Doolittle’s own foundation, namely, the “Grammar School in connection with the College,” continues today as Bishop’s College School.
College bursar for the first 12 years of its existence, Doolittle was described as a “kind, generous, simple-hearted man,” and despite much ill health he was sound in judgement, shrewd in business dealings, and full of faith in the realization of his dreams.
Rev. Lucius Doolittle (1800-1862),
Co-founder of Bishop’s College.
Rev. Jasper Hume Nicolls (1818-1877)
In 1845, the Reverend Jasper Hume Nicolls was appointed first Principal of Bishop’s College. Raised in the city of Quebec, he was graduated Bachelor of Arts from Oriel College in the University of Oxford, and was a Fellow of Queen’s College in that university when he was appointed. With Bishop Mountain, he was instrumental in obtaining in 1853 the royal charter which raised the college to the status of a university.
He led Bishop’s for 32 years, during several financial crises almost single-handed. After his death in 1877, his students said of him, in a formal resolution, “he was a most able, kind and patient teacher, an example of everything a Christian gentleman ought to be, and a sympathetic personal friend to each of us.”
Rev. Jasper Hume Nicolls (1818-1877),
First Principal of Bishop’s College, (1845-1877)
Royal Charter of the University of Bishop’s College
VICTORIA, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith.
To ALL to whom these presents shall come, GREETING:
Whereas, by an Act passed by the Legislature of our Province of Canada, in the seventh year of our reign, intituled, “An Act to incorporate Bishop’s College in the Diocese of Quebec,” there was constituted and established at Lennoxville, in the Township of Ascot, in the District of Saint Francis, and within the Diocese of Quebec, in our said Province of Canada, a Body Corporate and Politic, under the name of Bishop’s College, in connection with the United Church of England and Ireland, which said Corporation is, by the said Act, made to consist of: First, the Lord Bishop of Quebec, or other superior Ecclesiastical Functionary of the United Church of England and Ireland, in the said Diocese of Quebec; Secondly, the Trustees of the said Bishop’s College, not less than three in number; and Thirdly, the College Council of the said Bishop’s College, not less than three in number, which said Trustees and the members of the said College Council shall be named by the said Lord Bishop of Quebec, or other superior Ecclesiastical Functionary as aforesaid, and shall, in the event of their death, removal from the Province, dismissal from their office, or resignation, be replaced by other persons to be named in like manner, and so on continually forever. And whereas it is by the said Act further provided that the said Corporation of Bishop’s College shall, besides other corporate powers and capacities necessary to the well ordering of their affairs, have full power to make and establish such and so many rules, orders and regulations (not being contrary to the Laws of Canada or to the said Act) as they shall deem useful and necessary, as well concerning the system of education in, as for the conduct and government of, the said College, and of any other Institution or School connected with or dependent on the same, and of the corporation thereof, and for the superintendence, advantage and improvement of all the property, moveable or immoveable, belonging to or which shall hereafter belong to the said Corporation, and shall have power to take under any legal title whatsoever, and to hold for the said College, without any further authority, license or letters of mortmain, all land and property, moveable or immoveable, which may hereafter be sold, ceded, exchanged, given, bequeathed, or granted to the said Corporation, or to sell, alienate, convey, let or lease the same, if need be: Provided always, that the net rents, issues and profits arising from the immovable property of the said Corporation shall not at any time exceed the annual sum of three thousand pounds current money of the Province of Canada; Provided, also, that no rule, order or regulation, which shall be made and established by the said Corporation in the manner aforesaid, shall be of any force or effect until the same shall have been sanctioned and confirmed by the said Lord Bishop or other Ecclesiastical Functionary, as aforesaid. And whereas, by another Act, passed by the Legislature of the Province of Canada, at a Session held in the fifteenth and sixteenth years of our reign, intituled, “An Act to amend the Act incorporating Bishop’s College,” it is enacted that the Bishop of Montreal, as well as any other Bishop or Bishops who may be appointed for any Diocese of the United Church of En-gland and Ireland which may hereafter be constituted in Lower Canada, together with the Bishop of Quebec, shall hereafter constitute the first branch of the Corporation of Bishop’s College.
And whereas since the passing of the said first-mentioned Act, the Corporation of the said College have, with the sanction of the Lord Bishop of Quebec, by their petition to us, humbly set forth that in pursuance of the pro-visions of the said Act, Bishop’s College has been duly organized by the appointment of Trustees and of a College Council, and that certain statutes, rules and ordinances have been made by the said Corporation, with the approval of the Lord Bishop of Quebec; and, further, that a suitable building has been erected, and a Principal and Professors in the faculties of Divinity and of the Arts have been duly appointed, and are now engaged in the education of a number of scholars duly admitted, according to the statutes and ordinances of the said Corporation; and the said College being, according to the said Act of Legislature of our Province of Canada, in strict connection with the Church of England and Ireland, and supported by an endowment provided by the bounty of members of that Church and other-wise, an humble application has been made to us by the said Corporation, that we would be pleased to grant our Royal Charter for the more perfect establishment of the said College, by granting to it the privileges hereinafter mentioned.
Now know Ye that We, having taken the premises into our Royal consideration, and being willing to promote the more perfect establishment within that part of our Province of Canada called Lower Canada, of a College in connection with the United Church of England and Ireland, for the education of youth in the doctrines and duties of the Christian religion, as inculcated by that Church, and for their instruction in the various branches of Science and Literature, which are taught in the Universities of this Kingdom, have, of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, willed, ordained and granted, and do by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, will, ordain, and grant, that the said College shall be deemed and taken to be a University, and shall have and enjoy all such and the like privileges as are enjoyed by our Universities of our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as far as the same are capable of being had or enjoyed by virtue of these our Letters Patent; and that the Students at the said College shall have liberty and faculty of taking the Degrees of Bachelor, Master and Doctor, in the several arts and the faculties of Divinity, Law and Medicine, at the appointed times, and shall have liberty within themselves of performing all scholastic exercises for the conferring of such degrees, in such manner as shall be directed by the Statutes, Rules and Ordinances of the said College; and in order that such degrees may in due form be granted in the said College, We do further will and direct and ordain, that there shall be at all times a Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of the said University, to be chosen at and for such periods of time, and under such rules and regulations as the Corporation of the said College may, by their Statutes, Rules and Ordinances, to be from time to time passed for that purpose, think fit to appoint, and that the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Principal and Professors of the said College, and all persons admitted therein to the degree of Master of Arts, or to any degree in Divinity, Law or Medicine, who, from the time of such their admission to such degree, shall pay the annual sum of twenty shillings of current money for and towards the support and maintenance of the said College, shall be and be deemed taken and reputed to be members of the Convocation of the said University, and as such members of the said Convocation shall have, exercise and enjoy all such powers and privileges, in regard to conferring degrees and in any other matters, as may be provided for by any Rules, Orders and Regulations of the said College, duly sanctioned and confirmed, as far as the same are capable of being had and enjoyed by virtue of these our Letters Patent, and consistently with the provisions thereof And We Will and by these Presents for us, our heirs and successors, do grant and declare that these our Letters Patent, or the enrolment or exemplification thereof, shall and may be good, firm, valid, sufficient and effectual in the Law, according to the true intent and meaning of the same, and shall be taken, construed and adjudged in the most favorable and beneficial sense, and to the best advantage of our said College, as well in our Courts of Record as elsewhere, and by all and singular Judges, Justices, Officers, Ministers, and other subjects whatsoever, of us, our heirs and successors, any misrecital, nonrecital, omission, imperfection, defect, matter, cause or thing, whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, WE have caused these our Letters to be made Patent.
WITNESS ourselves at our Palace of Westminster, this twenty-eight day of January, in the sixteenth year of our reign.
By Her Majesty’s Command,