Gift of John Wentworth, Royal Governor of New Hampshire, and friends, to the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, D.D., President, and to his successors in that office; M.773.1
Engraved: His Excellency John Wentworth Esqr. / Governor of the Province of New Hampshire, / And those Friends who accompanied him / To Dartmouth College the first Commencement 1771. / In Testimony of their Gratitude and good Wishes / Present this to the / Revd Eleazer Wheelock, D.D., President, / And to his Successors in that Office.
As the grantor of Dartmouth College’s charter, Royal Governor John Wentworth followed the school’s development with special interest. He recognized that its first commencement ceremony in 1771, modest though it was, marked a significant achievement on the part of the institution’s founder, Eleazar Wheelock. To commemorate the event Wentworth chose to honor Wheelock and his presidential successors with a silver monteith fashioned by Boston silversmith Daniel Henchman and engraved by Henchman’s brother-in-law, Nathaniel Hurd. It was paid for by subscription by Wentworth and, as the inscription reads, “those Friends who accompanied him” to Dartmouth’s first commencement, including Samuel Moody, headmaster of Dummer Academy in Byfield, and Dr. Ammi Ruhamah Cutter of Portsmouth, the governor’s closest friend and personal physician. Completed and presented in 1773, the monteith was the first object of artistic and historic value to enter the College’s collection. A monteith is a large bowl with a notched rim that in the eighteenth century was used to chill wine glasses or rinse them between courses. Although the form was popular in England during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, only two other colonial American monteiths are known, both of them made by Boston silversmith John Coney. Dartmouth’s monteith is unusual in that it is equipped with a removable rim that enables the vessel to serve as a conventional punchbowl as well. The bowl is regarded as the undisputed masterpiece of Daniel Henchman’s career and as one of the finest examples of colonial American silver. With its respectful tribute to President Wheelock, this vessel has come to symbolize Dartmouth’s highest office. As such, each outgoing president presents it to his successor during the College’s inaugural ceremonies.
Last Updated: 6/9/09