John Early (educator)

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Father John Early, S.J.

Father John Early (1814–1873) was an Irish-American Jesuit educator and founder of the Loyola College in Maryland. He was also the President of Georgetown University from 1858-1866 and again from 1870-1873.

Early life[edit]

Born to farmers in Maguiresbridge, Northern Ireland in 1814, Early left his home at a young age to study at the Armagh Academy. Hoping to become a priest he applied to the seminary at St Patrick's College, Maynooth where he was unable to gain admission.[1]


Frustrated, the nineteen-year-old then moved to the United States and enrolled as a third-year college student at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.[2] After gaining some academic momentum, Early then left St. Mary's for Georgetown University where he sought enrollment in the Society of Jesus, due to the influence of his mentor Father John McElroy.[1]

Presidency at the College of the Holy Cross[edit]

In 1848, thirty-four-year-old Father John Early was mandated the presidency of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Young and newly ordained, Early became quickly frustrated as the college exhibited two large problems since it had yet to be chartered. First off, since it had not been chartered with the state it was unable to distribute diplomas. Secondly, a non-chartered school was subject to very large taxation. With the help of Boston's Bishop John Fitzpatrick, and a current senior's father, Orestes Brownson, Early wrote up a petition to the state that included privileges of six of the school's Jesuits. He, however, was not included because of his lack of American citizenship. The state of Massachusetts quickly rejected because of Bishop Fitzpatrick's clause which Fr. Early highly criticized that insisted only Catholics be allowed to enroll. Holy Cross would not distribute diplomas for another sixteen years. In 1851 Father Early handed the reins over to Anthony Ciampi, who had the arduous task of rebuilding the college after it caught fire in July 1852.[1]

Founding of Loyola College[edit]

After his presidency at the College of the Holy Cross, Early continued his training as a Jesuit under Father Felix Spranis. During this time he ventured to Baltimore, visiting his sister who was at the Carmelite convent. During these trips he would preach at Saint Patrick's church in Fells Point which was led by pastor James Dolan. James Dolan had for a long time been wanting to open up a university in Baltimore for the sons of upper class Catholics. After he failed to get Father Aschwanden for the job, due to health issues, he asked Fr. Early to begin the task on August 15,[when?] which happened to be exactly the same day that Father Charles Stonestreet was handed the position of provincial.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Varga, Nicholas. (1990) Baltimore's Loyola, Loyola's Baltimore. Maryland Historical Society. ISBN 0-938420-34-8.
  2. ^ "Georgetown University - Rev. John Early, Sj Papers: Collection Description". 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Rev. James A. Ryder, S.J.
President of College of the Holy Cross
Succeeded by
Rev. Anthony F. Ciampi, S.J.
Preceded by
Rev. Bernard A. Maguire, S.J.
President of Georgetown University
Succeeded by
Rev. Bernard A. Maguire, S.J.
Preceded by
Rev. Bernard A. Maguire, S.J.
President of Georgetown University
Succeeded by
Rev. Patrick F. Healy, S.J.