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The Botetourt Medal was the second academic prize medal awarded in the colonies and the first to be stamped from dies created at the Royal mint in 1771. Lord Botetourt's intention to give the two gold medals as prizes to the two best students at William & Mary, one student in Classics and one in Physical or Metaphysical Science, was announced in 1770. The medals were originally presented on August 15th, Commemoration Day of the transfer of the charter to the President and Masters of the College. Today a single undergraduate with the greatest distinction in scholarship is awarded a medal on Commencement Day in May.

History of the Botetourt Medal

Only eight gold medals were awarded between 1772 and 1775. The American Revolution put an end to Lord Botetourt's plan, but it was revived by his namesake, Norborne Berkeley, esq., in 1941. Mr. Berkeley provided an endowment and copies of the dies were made by the Medallic Art Company of New York and silver, gold filled and matte yellow bronze copies of the medal were made for the College. The Botetourt medal awarded to Forrest D. Murden, class of 1941, is ten carat gold filled silver.

One of the three of the original eight gold Botetourt medals known to exist was awarded to Nathaniel Burwell for excellence in Natural Philosophy in 1772. It was given to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1983 by Charles Lee Burwell of Millwood, Virginia, a descendant of the original recipient of the medal. The other two gold Botetourt medals known to exist are the medal given to John White in 1775 which has been at the Virginia Historical Society since 1918 and the one given to Samuel Shield in 1773 which was last heard of in the possession of his descendants in the early 20th century. There is one known silver example of the medal in the British Museum.

A Bronze proof of the Botetourt medal was given to the College of William & Mary by Mr. Christopher Fildes, O.B.E. Mr. Filde's grandfather acquired it from the venerable auction house of Spink in the 1920's or 1930's. It probably came to Spink from the estate of the Duke of Beaufort. The fifth Duke of Beaufort was the nephew of Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, and his principal beneficiary.

The obverse side of the copper medal proofs include a portrait of George III with the encircling enscription "REGNANATE GEORGIO TERTIO MVSIS AMICUS" [In the reign of George III, the friend of the muses] ," and QVAESITVM MERITIS [Sought for his merits]." The reverse side of the medal features James Blair receiving the charter for the College from King William and Queen Mary in the fourth year of their reign. This is signified in abbreviations in Latin around the perimeter of the medal and below the image. There are traces of metal showing that this medal was once "tinned" meaning dipped in tin to present a shiny silver surface.

The original dies used to strike the Botetourt Medals are made of steel set in iron octagons and weigh in at a little more than two pounds apiece. The dies were made by the medalist Thomas Pingo. At the time the medals were struck, between 1771 and 1772, he was the second engraver at the Royal Mint in London. Like his contemporaries, Thomas Pingo probably did a lot of private work for other customers quite openly while at the Royal Mint. He also engraved the rare 1774 silver proof of the Virginia halfpenny.

Botetourt Medal Recipients


1772 Nathaniel Burwell, Natural Philosophy

1772 James Madison, Classics

1773 David Stewart, Natural Philosophy

1773 Samuel Shields, Classics

1774 Joseph Eggleston

1774 Walker Maury

1775 Thomas Evans

1775 John White


1941 Forrest D. Murden, Jr.

1942 Mary Cecilia Thedieck

1943 Hugh Francis Harnsberger

1944 Jerome E. Hyman

1945 Justine Dexter Dyer

1946 Ennis Samuel Rees

1947 Howard Paul Shaw

1948 Mary Lisbeth Stedman

1949 Peter Starbird Boynton

1950 Leonard Marvin Silverman

1951 Robert Earl Roeder

1952 Mary Alice Slauson

1953 Alice Tweed Marston

1954 Ann Dietrich

1955 John Charles Marsh

1956 Sonya Elisabeth Warner

1957 Brigitte Looke Bradley

1958 Clare Vincent

1959 Berton William Ashman

1960 Ann Dillingham Patterson

1961 Mary Elisabeth Beaty

1962 Gerald Watkins Bracey

1963 Karen Penny Stenbo

1964 Russell Benjamin Gill

1965 Peggy Jo Korty

1966 Frank M. Turner

1967 Randall Theron Bell

1968 Rose Frances Connelly

1969 Arthur Lee Bowling

1970 Carolyn Ruth Zuel

1971 Jerry Allen Coyne

1972 Louanna Ockerman

1973 Philip Byrd Eastham

1974 Ted Robert Dinterman

1975 Gregory Evers May

1976 Michael Hoskins Lee

1977 Janis Mayo Horne

1978 John Glenwood Strickler

1979 Carol Ann Arnold

1980 David Carl Brown

1981 Lee James Richter

1982 Michael Edward Tankersley

1983 Elizabeth Lynn Weidenmuller

1984 Julia Marie Horman

1985 Lisa Ellen Porter

1986 Richard Paul Larrick

1987 Laura Joan Blacer

1988 Karen Susan Galloway

1989 Michele Marie Sokoly

1990 Matthew James McIrvin, Laura Morgan Robinson

1991 Jonathan Eric Rubin

1992 Melissa Jane Kolonoski

1993 Francis Joseph Probst III

1994 Deborah Suzanne Bacon

1995 Vicki Healy

1996 David Wilmouth

1997 Sita Nataraj

1998 Rhonda Elizabeth Brewer

1999 Cynthia Carol Bowers


2000 Chris Siefert

2001 Laura Beth Koetter

2002 Emilie Snell-Rood

2003 Hanley Chiang

2004 Vijay Dondetti

2005 Dimitar Vlassarev

2006 Francis Joseph DiTraglia

2007 Laura Smith

2008 Ashwin Rastogi

2009 Kelly Kristen Hallinger

2010 Kira Christine Allmann

2011 Ronald J. Wilcox

2012 Rebecca Lynn Koenig

2013 Brian Anthony Rabe

2014 Stephen Cameron

2015 Ellen Catherine Shaffrey

2016 Isaac Gregory Alty

2017 Bernadette Marie Deschaine

2018 Sarah Joan Heins

2019 Emily Martell

2020 Kristen Popham

2021 John Charles Kainer

2022 Sumié Aileen Yotsukura

2023 William Carlos Noel II

2024 Robert K. Gourdie


  • University Archives Subject Files, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • Commencement Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, William & Mary.

Material in the Special Collections Research Center

References in the The Flat Hat, William & Mary News, and Alumni Gazette:

  • Awarded to Laura Balcer AG, June 1987, pg. 1, 11 (picture).
  • Karen Galloway selected as recipient of the Botetourt Medal WMN, 5/19/1988, pg. 8.
  • Special awards and honorary degrees recognize achievements WMN, 5/17/1990, pg. 3.
  • Education school grants scholarships WMN, 5/17/1990, pg. 7.
  • Matthew McIrvin and Laura Robinson recipients of medal AG, June 1990, pg. 1, 9 (picture).
  • Recipient AG, 12/1, pg. 2.
  • Awarded to Lee James Richter, 1981 AG, 48/10, pg. 11, AG, 49/2, pg. 14 (picture).
  • Julia Marie Horman receives medal AG, June 1984, pg. 9 (picture).
  • College awards literary prizes WMN, 6/19/1984, pg. 1.
  • Lisa Ellen Porter receives award WMN, 5/16/1985, pg. 5.
  • Awarded to Paul Larrick WMN, 5/15/1986, pg. 1.
  • Awarded to Richard Paul Larrick AG, June 1986, pg. 1, 17.
  • Awarded to Laura Balcer WMN, 5/20/1987, pg. 1.
  • Melissa Jane Kolonoski wins award WMN, 5/20/1992, pg. 6, 7 (picture).
  • Francis Joseph Robst wins medal WMN, 5/19/1993, pg. 5.
  • Francis Joseph Probst receives medal AG, May/June 1993, pg. 2 (picture).
  • Awarded to Deborah Suzanne Bacon WMN, 5/19/1994, pg. 5, 6 (picture).
  • Awarded to Suzanne Bacon AG, June 1994, pg. 1 (picture).
  • David Wilmouth receives medal WMN, 5/16/1996, pg. 4-5 (picture).


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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.