The first academic institution founded in the British American Colonies was Henricus Colledge (sic), in 1611 in the Citie of Henricus- Virginia Colony outside of what is now Richmond, Virginia. This Puritan-Anglican school was chartered in 1619 and was followed by the founding of New College (which is now known as Harvard University) in the Massachusettes Bay Colony in 1636 but chartered in 1650. New College (Harvard) is one of nine academic institutions comprising the "Colonial Colleges," colleges whose existence preceded the American Revolution. In addition to Harvard, these include The College of Williams and Mary, The Collegiate School (later Yale University), the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania), King's College (now Columbia University), Rhode Island College (now Brown University), Queen's College (now Rutgers) and Dartmouth College.
The first college in the British colonies in North America was Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1636. It was founded almost 60 years before the founding of the next college in the colonies, which was William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia (founded in 1693).
Historians consider this to be an important fact. They say that it shows the differences in values between the Puritan colonies of New England and the colonies of the Chesapeake. The Puritans were very concerned that all people should learn to read so that they could read the Bible. They also wanted educated clergy. It was for the purpose of training clergy that they founded Harvard. The importance that they placed on having educated clergy is shown by the fact that they founded Harvard so early in their history (less than 20 years after the landing at Plymouth Rock).