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Fordham University History

How Fordham Got Its Name

Fordham University was established in 1841 as St. John's College by the Right Rev. John Hughes, Coadjutor-Bishop (later Archbishop) of New York, on old Rose Hill Manor in the village of Fordham, then part of Westchester County. The name Fordham is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words "ford" and "ham," meaning a wading place or ford by a settlement. Rose Hill is the name given to the site in 1787 by Robert Watts, a wealthy New York merchant, in honor of his family's ancestral home of the same name in Scotland. The College, which opened with a student body of six, was originally staffed by diocesan clergy. In 1846, the year the New York State Legislature granted the School a charter, Bishop Hughes recruited five Jesuits from St. Mary's College in Kentucky and other communities, and the Society of Jesus then assumed the administration of the College. The name was officially changed to Fordham University in 1907.

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