The first Hopkins Committee of Trustees was appointed by the Reverend John Davenport in April, 1668. The Committee then, as now, was often referred to as the "Hopkins Board." Davenport, as principal executor of the educational trust established by Edward Hopkins, transferred his rights and responsibilities to the new committee via a deed of trust. In addition to bequeathing £412 to the Trustees, Davenport's grant set forth a number of Trustee responsibilities. First among them was the stipulation that the funds be used for a grammar school in New Haven to bring up "hopefull youths in the Languages, and other good Literature for the public use and service of their country…and for no other use, interest, or purpose whatsoever."
The Trustees, originally seven faithful friends of Davenport, were empowered to invest the trust’s funds to provide revenue for employing the schoolmaster, building a dwelling for him, and maintaining the existing schoolhouse. In practice, that primarily entailed buying local farms which generated rental income and commodities for barter or sale. The Trustees were also expected to hire a schoolmaster qualified to teach Latin, Greek, and Hebrew "so far as shall be necessary to fit youths for College." The Trustees were directed to oversee the School according to rules Davenport had already provided, or which a majority of the Hopkins Board subsequently deemed appropriate.
Most important, Davenport's grant provided that the Trustees would be self-perpetuating and free of any outside control - by the town of New Haven, the Connecticut Colony or the Congregational Church. This provision about self-perpetuation, which has been so vital to the independence, longevity and continuity of Hopkins, was a critical element of Davenport's restructuring of the original, ineffective governing board he had established at the School's founding in 1660. That first Hopkins Board was composed exclusively of prominent colony and church leaders who served on an ex-officio basis - and who ultimately demonstrated insufficient determination to sustain the School in its early years.
Today, the Committee of Trustees remains mindful of its role and responsibilities in both an historical and current context. The Committee of Trustees, listed above, is dedicated to four principal areas of responsibility regarding the School's activities:
• Financial integrity
• Strategic vision
• Program oversight
• Employment of the Head of School