Vassar, Matthew (văsˈər) [key], 1792–1868, American philanthropist, founder of Vassar College, b. England. He emigrated to the United States with his father in 1796. In 1811, after his father's successful brewery in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., had burned, the son opened another, which in time became immensely prosperous. In 1861 he founded Vassar Female College, to which he gave more than $800,000; he also contributed to local charities and churches.
See his autobiography and letters (ed. by E. H. Haight, 1916).