Although Elihu Yale was born in Boston, Colony of Massachusetts, in 1649, when he was three his family moved back to England and he would never return to North America. Elihu amassed his fortune serving the East India Trading Company and as a governor of Madras (in India). In 1714, Elihu made an initial donation of forty books to the Collegiate School in Connecticut, which relied heavily on public support for its survival.
In 1718, Elihu made another donation of 417 books, a portrait and coat of arms of King George I, and nine bales of goods worth £562.12. To show their appreciation, the trustees of the Collegiate School renamed a newly erected building, and so the school itself, after Elihu Yale. Elihu’s gift was the largest private contribution made to the college for the next century.