James Blair (1656-1743)

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James Blair

James Blair, the first president of the College of William and Mary, was born in Banffshire, Scotland and educated at Marischal College (University of Aberdeen). Blair was president of the College from its founding in 1693 until his death on April 18, 1743. As commissary of the Bishop of London, James Blair had a tremendous influence on the established Virginia church. Blair wed Sara Harrison in 1687.

A statue of James Blair was installed between Tyler Hall and Blair Hall during Homecoming Week 1993 as part of the College’s tercentenary celebration. The statue was sculpted by Lewis Cohen, professor of art and art history at the College of William and Mary. Cohen estimated that he created 25 to 30 models of Blair before finding a look he was happy with.

An oil painting of James Blair by Charles Bridges is owned by the College of William and Mary and hangs in the Great Hall of the Wren Building.

His grandnephew, John Blair, served as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Material in the Special Collections Research Center

  • Search for collections related to James Blair in the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William and Mary.
  • James Blair of Virginia, Parke Rouse, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press [1971]. Law Library, Swem Stacks, and Archives Books: Call number: F229 .B6195.
  • Search the Library catalog or WorldCat at your local library for further published books, theses, dissertations, etc.

External Links

  • The Roots of anti-clericalism in colonial Virginia down to 1750 with particular reference to the career of James Blair, David John Robinson, Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Southampton, 1980. Colonial Williamsburg Rockefeller Library.

Need help?

To search for further material, see Finding Materials in the SCRC for an introduction to the SCRC Collections Database, card catalogs, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, etc.

Questions? Contact the SCRC at spcoll@wm.edu or 221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary (hours).

College of William and Mary President Succeeded by
James Blair

1693 - 1743

William Dawson

1743 - 1752

A note about the information in this wiki
Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fire, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the SCRC's collections and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the SCRC's access tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.

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