Botetourt Medal

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The Botetourt Medal was the second academic prize medal awarded in the colonies and the first to be stamped from dies created at the Royal mint in 1771. Lord Botetourt’s intention to give the two gold medals as prizes to the two best students at the College of William and Mary, one student in Classics and one in Physical or Metaphysical Science, was announced in 1770. The medals were originally presented on August 15th, Commemoration Day of the transfer of the charter to the President and Masters of the College. Today a single undergraduate with the greatest distinction in scholarship is awarded a medal on Commencement Day in May.

History of the Botetour Medal

Only eight gold medals were awarded between 1772 and 1775. The American Revolution put an end to Lord Botetourt’s plan, but it was revived by his namesake, Norborne Berkeley, esq., in 1941. Mr. Berkeley provided an endowment and copies of the dies were made by the Medallic Art Company of New York and silver, gold filled and matt yellow bronze copies of the medal were made for the College. The Botetourt medal awarded to Forrest D. Murden, class of 1941, is ten carat gold filled silver.

One of the three of the original eight gold Botetourt medals known to exist was awarded to Nathaniel Burwell for excellence in Natural Philosophy in 1772. It was given to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1983 by Charles Lee Burwell of Millwood, Virginia, a descendant of the original recipient of the medal. The other two gold Botetourt medals known to exist are the medal given to John White in 1775 which has been at the Virginia Historical Society since 1918 and the one given to Samuel Shield in 1773 which was last heard of in the possession of his descendants in the early 20th century. There is one known silver example of the medal in the British Museum.

A Bronze proof of the Botetourt medal was given to the College of William and Mary by Mr. Christopher Fildes, O.B.E. Mr. Filde’s grandfather acquired it from the venerable auction house of Spink in the 1920’s or 1930’s. It probably came to Spink from the estate of the Duke of Beaufort. The fifth Duke of Beaufort was the nephew of Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, and his principal beneficiary.

The obverse side of the copper medal proofs include a portrait of George III with the encircling enscription “REGNANATE GEORGIO TERTIO MVSIS AMICUS” [In the reign of George III, the friend of the muses] ,” and QVAESITVM MERITIS [Sought for his merits].” The reverse side of the medal features James Blair receiving the charter for the College from King William and Queen Mary in the fourth year of their reign. This is signified in abbreviations in Latin around the perimeter of the medal and below the image. There are traces of metal showing that this medal was once “tinned” meaning dipped in tin to present a shiny silver surface.

The original dies used to strike the Botetourt Medals are made of steel set in iron octagons and weigh in at a little more than two pounds apiece. The dies were made by the medalist Thomas Pingo. At the time the medals were struck, between 1771 and 1772, he was the second engraver at the Royal Mint in London. Like his contemporaries, Thomas Pingo probably did a lot of private work for other customers quite openly while at the Royal Mint. He also engraved the rare 1774 silver proof of the Virginia halfpenny.

Botetourt Medal Recipients

1941 Forrest D. Murden, Jr. 1942 Mary Cecilia Thedieck 1943 Hugh Francis Harnsberger 1944 Jerome E. Hyman 1945 Justine Dexter Dyer 1946 Ennis Samuel Rees 1947 Howard Paul Shaw 1948 Mary Lisbeth Stedman 1949 Peter Starbird Boynton 1950 Leonard Marvin Silverman 1951 Robert Earl Roeder 1952 Mary Alice Slauson 1953 Alice Tweed Marston 1954 Ann Dietrich 1955 John Charles Marsh 1956 Sonya Elisabeth Warner 1957 Brigitte Looke Bradley 1958 Clare Vincent 1959 Berton William Ashman 1960 Ann Dillingham Patterson 1961 Mary Elisabeth Beaty 1962 Gerald Watkins Bracey 1963 Karen Penny Stenbo 1964 Russell Benjamin Gill 1965 Peggy Jo Korty 1966 Frank M. Turner 1967 Randall Theron Bell 1968 Rose Frances Connelly 1969 Arthur Lee Bowling 1970 Carolyn Ruth Zuel 1971 Jerry Allen Coyne 1972 Louanna Ockerman 1973 Philip Byrd Eastham 1974 Ted Robert Dinterman 1975 Gregory Evers May 1976 Michael Hoskins Lee 1977 Janis Mayo Horne 1978 John Glenwood Strickler 1979 Carol Ann Arnold 1980 David Carl Brown 1981 Lee James Richter 1982 Michael Edward Tankersley

1983 Elizabeth Lynn Weidenmuller 1984 Julia Marie Horman 1985 Lisa Ellen Porter 1986 Richard Paul Larrick 1987 Laura Joan Blacer 1988 Karen Susan Galloway 1989 Michele Marie Sokoly 1990 Matthew James McIrvin, Laura Morgan Robinson 1991 Jonathan Eric Rubin 1992 Melissa Jane Kolonoski 1993 Francis Joseph Probst III 1994 Deborah Suzanne Bacon 1995 Vicki Healy 1996 David Wilmouth 1997 Sita Nataraj 1998 Rhonda Elizabeth Brewer 1999 Cynthia Carol Bowers 2000 Chris Siefert 2001 Laura Beth Koetter 2002 Emilie Snell-Rood 2003 Hanley Chiang 2004 Vijay Dondetti 2005 Dimitar Vlassarev 2006 Francis Joseph DiTraglia 2007 Laura Smith