Urian Oakes

Urian Oakes
President of Harvard College
In office
Preceded by Leonard Hoar
Succeeded by John Rogers
Personal details
Born 1631
Died July 25, 1681(1681-07-25) (aged 49–50)

Urian Oakes (1631 July 25, 1681) was an English-born American minister and educator.

Early life

The son of Edward and Jane Oakes, he was born in England in 1631 or 1632, and went, when a child, with his father to Massachusetts by the year 1640; Thomas Oakes was his brother. He graduated at Harvard College in 1649. Oakes returned to England during the time of the Commonwealth, and obtained the living of Titchfield. He married, probably in England, to an unknown wife. He was an ejected minister in 1662. His wife died in 1669.

Connection with Harvard

Two years later a deputation, sent to England to find a minister for the vacant church of Cambridge, Massachusetts, chose Oakes. He took up the post in November 1671, and soon after he became one of the governors of Harvard College. Leonard Hoar became President of Harvard in 1672, but was disliked by many, including some of the governors, among them Oakes. He and other of his colleagues resigned, and, in spite of the efforts of the general court of overseers, would not withdraw their resignation till Hoar himself vacated the presidency on 15 March 1675. The vacancy created was filled by the appointment of Oakes. He, however, would only accept it provisionally; but after discharging the duties of the office for four years, he in 1679 accepted the full appointment in form, and held it till his death in Cambridge on July 25, 1681. Calamy states that Oakes was noted for ‘the uncommon sweetness of his temper,’ and in New England he was greatly beloved by his congregation and popular with all who came in contact with him.


He was known as a preacher and Latinist. His extant writings are three sermons—two preached at the annual election of the artillery company in 1672 and 1676, and the third at the election of representatives in 1673—and a monody in English verse (Cambridge, 1677) on the death of Thomas Shepard, minister of the church in Charlestown.[1]


  1. History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877, by Lucius R. Paige, Boston: H.O. Houghton and Company (1877) p. 616-7

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Oakes, Urian". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Academic offices
Preceded by
Leonard Hoar
President of Harvard College
1675–1680, acting
Succeeded by
John Rogers

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