Reverend Timothy Hilliard graduated from Harvard in 1764 and was a tutor there from 1768-1771, before he was ordained as minister of the East Church of Barnstable, Mass. In the 17th and 18th century Harvard tutors supplemented their limited salaries with a fixed amount paid by each student and a contribution of plate - a tradition borrowed from Oxford and Cambridge.
By the mid 18th century, the typical tutorial gift was a tankard and pair of canns. The Burt tankard that was given to Hilliard with this cann has a matching inscription and is now in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum; the whereabouts of the second cann is presently unknown. The practice of giving tutorial plate was abandoned by the late 1770s when it was replaced by student payments of one shilling and nine pence on a quarterly basis. See lot 102 for a pair of tutorial silver salt cellars by Samuel Minott. (For a discussion of Harvard tutorial silver, see Janine E. Skerry, "Ancient and Valuable Gifts: Silver at Colonial Harvard," New England Silver & Silversmithing 1620-1815, 2001, pp. 183-209.)