July 28: William Belden Noble (1896)

The William Belden Noble Lectures at Harvard University were established in 1898 by Nannie Yulee Noble in memory of her husband. According to the terms of the bequest: “The object of the Founder of the Lectures is to continue the mission of her husband, whose supreme desire was to extend the influence of Jesus as ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life,’ and to illustrate and enforce the words of Jesus — ‘I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.’ Lecturers in the annual presentations have included Theodore Roosevelt (1910) and John Shelby Spong (2000). William Belden Noble was born in Essex, New York. In his youth, precarious health took him to the south and west. During this period, Noble and his mother were confirmed at Epiphany on April 6, 1884.

After studying at several schools, Noble finally graduated magna cum laude in the Harvard College Class of 1885. In 1887, he married Nannie Yulee, daughter of Senator David Levy Yulee of Florida. In 1888, he entered the Episcopal Theological School at Cambridge, Massachusetts intending to enter the ministry. He remained there for two years, but his health again gave way and he abandoned his studies. He lived in Washington for some years and then traveled abroad and around the country for his health. At 35 years old, he died in Colorado in 1896. Two years later, his wife established the William Belden Noble Lectures in his memory.

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