Blast from the past: Holiday break at William & Mary is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

In this series, we take a look back at news coverage from the early days of the Historic Triangle.blast-from-the-past-wandm

In this notice published on Nov. 30, 1769, a clerk at the College of William & Mary made it clear that students should be in class throughout the term of classes, and that the new term schedule would be based on certain Christian holidays.

The notice came in light of the fact that the College of William & Mary was a historically Anglican institution since its founding in 1693. Certain holidays may be unrecognizable such as Whitsunday, an Anglican term for the seventh Sunday after Easter, also known as Pentecost.

Winter break for students started on Dec. 16 and ended on the Monday immediately following Jan. 6. Some students received a “summer” vacation that started on July 25 and ended on Oct. 18.

WILLIAM & MARY College, Nov. 27 1769.

WHERAS it has appeared to us, the President and Masters of William and Mary College, very necessary, in order to have the statutes of the said college carried into due execution, that the students and scholars should have their residence here during term-time, as prescribed by the statutes for this purpose; we have resolved, that for the future those terms, as far as in us lies, be exactly observed and complied with, and have therefore directed the same to be made public.

We most earnestly recommend to parents and guardians, and request of them, to take particular care in the above respect, strictly to injoin the young Gentlemen to be present in the college at the commencement of each term, and to provide them their permission to retire, much less to send for them home again before each term’s expiration.

The statute providing for term-time runs thus:— “ Let there be three terms for opening the grammar and the Indian School. Let Hilary term begin the first Monday after Epiphany, and end on Saturday before Palm Sunday. Let Easter begin on Monday after the first Sunday after Easter; and let it end in the eve of the Sunday before Whitsunday. Let Trinity term begin on Monday after Trinity Sunday; and end on the sixteenth day of December. Let the other schools observe the same terms; except only, that to the Philosophy and Divinity schools we grant vacation from St. James’s day to St. Luke’s.”

By order of the society,


Source: Colonial Williamsburg Digital Library, Virginia Gazette, Nov. 30, 1769.