Merchant and philanthropist (1649–1721) and a benefactor of the Collegiate School of Connecticut, which in 1718 was named Yale College in his honor. ALS, one page, 6 x 7.5, March 21, 1712/13. Letter to Richard Mydelton. In part: “In your last you were pleased to compassionate my great loss by Sr Stephen Evance, and to promise to use your best endeavours to Supply me with all or part of my money in ye hands, such would be verry acceptable to me, haveing great occasion for it…and in the meentyme order the payment of the interest.” In very good condition, with intersecting folds, several passing through portions of the signature, and scattered light toning and soiling.
When Sir Stephen Evans, Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, went bankrupt and committed suicide in 1712, he left behind an extensive trail of debt, including a large sum owed to Elihu Yale. Having amassed a small fortune while working for the East India Company, Yale certainly did not need the debt repaid for survival; instead, the “great occasion for it” was in building his legacy. Encouraged by the Massachusetts Colony’s agent in London to make a contribution to a struggling school in New Haven, Connecticut, the childless Yale, enticed by the idea that the school ‘might wear the name of Yale College,’ was anxious to get involved. This request for the repayment of Evans’ debt is at the heart of the donation that put Yale’s name at the center of the academic world—an important and exceedingly rare piece, this is the only Yale item we have ever offered. RRAuction COA.