JUST over 41 years ago, the Bury Times was reporting the news that the birthplace of Henry Dunster, the Bury man who became the first president of Havard University had been found.

One of Dunster’s descendants, Margaret Rickaby, who was researching a book about his life, was in no doubt that he was born on the site of Bolholt Residential Club off Walshaw Road in Bury.

Mrs Rickaby believed that Dunster’s original home was still standing as part of the club, which is now Bury Bolholt Country Park Hotel with the owner Wilma Sikorsi excited at the prospect that American tourists might be flocking to her club following the discovery.

Dunster was born in Bolholt in November, 1609 and went on to study at Magdalene College, Cambridge, specialising in oriental languages and earning a reputation as a Hebrew scholar. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1630, his master’s degree in 1634 and went on to teach at Magdalene as well as serving as headmaster of Bury Grammar School and curate at Saint Mary’s Church in Bury.

In 1640, Dunster emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, and just three weeks later he became the first president of Harvard. During Dunster’s administration, the College built its first structures and “VERITAS” was proposed as the first of Harvard’s three mottoes. and acquired America’s first printing press. The College also codified its first rules for student conduct.

When Dunster abandoned the Puritan view of infant baptism and refused to have one of his children baptised in 1654, he was forced to resign his post and he became the minister of the First Church in Scituate, Massachusetts. Dunster died on February 27, 1659.

Today, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, counting US Presidents, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush and Barack Obama as graduates.