WILLIAMSBURG, March 22, 1770.
HIS Excellency the Governour has been pleased to signify to the President and Professors of William and Mary College, his intention to give annually, two gold medals for the honor and encouragement of literary merit in that seminary.
Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon) March 22, 1770
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Governor Lord Botetourt served as Rector of the College. To encourage scholarship he instituted these medals with stringent requirements. Eight medals were awarded before the Revolution. These are said to be the earliest academic medals presented in North America. The first winners (in 1772) were Nathaniel Burwell (owner of Carter's Grove) and James Madison who later became the president of the College of William and Mary and first bishop of the Episcopal Church in Virginia. The winners in 1773 were David Stewart and Samuel Sheild; in 1774 Joseph Eggleston and Walker Maury; and in 1775 John White and Thomas Evans. William and Mary continues to give the "Botetourt Medal" an outstanding graduating senior each year.
Sources: JE Morpurgo. Email from Gina Woodward, Swem Spec. Coll; and ANB and DVB and W&M Quarterly.