Isaac Royall, Jr.

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Portrait of Isaac Royall, painted in 1769 by John Singleton Copley

Isaac Royall, Jr. (1719–1781) was a colonial American landowner who played an important role in the creation of Harvard Law School.


File:Robert Feke 001.jpg
Isaac Royall and relations by Robert Feke. His wife and daughter are by his side.[1]

He was the son of Isaac Royall, an Antiguan slave trader who faced a range of difficulties before he moved his family to Medford, Massachusetts, in the 1737.[2][3] He took over his father's estate, "Ten Hills Farm," which is now the Isaac Royall House, a museum containing the only slave quarters in the northeast United States.[4] Following his father's death in 1739, Isaac Jr. became noted as a slaveowner in Massachusetts over the subsequent decades - in 1754 he owned 12 enslaved Africans - six times more than any other household.[3] During the Revolution, Royall, who had patriot sympathies but significant Loyalist connections, was named in the Massachusetts Banishment Act of 1778 and fled to Nova Scotia and then to England, where he died of smallpox in 1781.[2]

There is a portrait of Royall by John Singleton Copley and another of his wife, Elizabeth. Robert Feke also painted a family group which includes him, his wife and his daughter. This daughter Harriet married into the Pepperell family and their daughter married a Palmer baronet in Wanlip in Leicestershire.[1]

In his will of 1779, Royall left land to Harvard College to establish the first professorship in law at the school. This bequest resulted in the founding of Harvard Law School.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Palmer family of Wanlip,, retrieved 29 June 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Royalls". The Royall House and Slave Quarters. Retrieved May 27, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Halley, Janet (2008). "My Isaac Royall". Harvard Black Letter Law Journal. 24: 117–131.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Royall House and Slave Quarters". The Royall House and Slave Quarters. Retrieved December 27, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>