Biography and History

Jonathan Belcher, was a merchant and colonial governor of the Provinces of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Elected to the Massachusetts Council in 1718, Belcher was appointed governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 1729. After several consecutive terms Belcher was dismissed from both governorships in 1741, likely owing to his increasingly common conflicts with royal authority. Despite the dismissal in July 1746 he was appointed governor of the province of New Jersey. In this capacity he was instrumental in securing a charter for the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), and on his death Belcher bequeathed his personal library to the institution. In his honor the Trustees proposed to name the college's only edifice "Belcher Hall," but he declined the honor and suggested that the building be named "Nassau Hall" after the House of Nassau. Belcher's portrait currently hangs in the Nassau Hall faculty room in recognition of his role in the founding of the University.

Source: From the finding aid for AC352

Biography and History

Jonathan Belcher, a merchant and colonial governor, was the son of a cloth maker from London, who came to Cambridge, Mass., in the mid 17th century. He graduated from Harvard in 1699, traveled extensively in Europe, came back to Boston where he established himself as a merchant and made a great fortune. His political career began when he was elected to the Massachusetts Council in 1718. In 1729 Belcher was in London on an official visit when he got news of the death of Gov. William Burnet of Massachussetts, and was able to secure the position for himself. His commission was dated 1729/30, appointing him governor of Masachussetts and New Hampshire, and he was re-elected for several terms. Certain factors led to his downfall, one of which was his conflicts with the British royal authorities, and on May 7, 1741, he was dismissed from both governorships. A few years later he went back to England, and in July 1746 he was appointed governor of New Jersey. He was very interested in establishing the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), and on his death bequeathed his library of 374 volumes to it. There was a proposal to name the present Nassau Hall "Belcher Hall," but he declined the honor and suggested the name now in use.

Source: From the finding aid for C1007

  • Jonathan Belcher Collection. 1747-1967 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC352

    Jonathan Belcher, was a merchant and colonial governor of the Provinces of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey and was instrumental in the founding of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). The Jonathan Belcher Collection consists of collected research materials regarding Jonathan Belcher's relation to the history of Princeton University and consist of correspondence, articles, clippings, and copies of original materials from Belcher collections held at Princeton and elsewhere.

  • Jonathan Belcher Collection. 1747-1967 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC352

    Jonathan Belcher, was a merchant and colonial governor of the Provinces of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey and was instrumental in the founding of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton). The Jonathan Belcher Collection consists of collected research materials regarding Jonathan Belcher's relation to the history of Princeton University and consist of correspondence, articles, clippings, and copies of original materials from Belcher collections held at Princeton and elsewhere.

  • Jonathan Belcher Collection. 1708-1950 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1007

    Consists of correspondence and documents of Jonathan Belcher, dating from his early years in Massachusetts to his days as colonial governor of New Jersey.