«by Joseph R. Klett NEW JERSEY STATE ARCHIVES © 2014 as revised USING THE RECORDS OF THE EAST AND WEST JERSEY PROPRIETORS PRESENTATION OUTLINE I. ...»
Using the Records of the
East and West Jersey Proprietors
Joseph R. Klett
NEW JERSEY STATE ARCHIVES
USING THE RECORDS OF THE
EAST AND WEST JERSEY PROPRIETORS
I. Introduction Page 1 II. Important Events in New Jersey’s Proprietary History Page 3 III. The East-West Boundary Page 7 IV. East Jersey’s Earliest Settlements Page 9 V. West Jersey’s Earliest Settlements Page 12 VI. Key Terms and Document Types Page 14 VII. How was Land Acquired? Page 17 VIII. Proprietors’ Records available at New Jersey State Archives Page 18 IX. Legal, Obscure and Archaic Terms found in Ancient Land Records Page 26 X. Case Studies Page 34 XI. Bibliography Page 35 Acknowledgments
The author thankfully acknowledges the following persons who aided in the preparation of these materials:
Ellen R. Callahan, Collection Manager at the New Jersey State Archives, for documentary and bibliographic research assistance.
William H. Taylor, Surveyor General of West New Jersey, and the late Frederick A. Gerken, Registrar of the Eastern Division of New Jersey, for imparting some of their knowledge of proprietary records and history.
John E. Pomfret and John P. Snyder for their invaluable reference works, including Mr.
Snyder’s original maps donated years ago to the New Jersey State Archives.
Joanne M. Nestor, Photographic Archivist at the New Jersey State Archives, for scanning documents and maps.
Various staff and colleagues who reviewed and contributed to the list of terms found in land records.
Part I – Introduction Who Were (Are) the Proprietors?
Based on the joint rights granted by the Duke of York to Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkeley, New Jersey became a proprietary colony with eastern and western divisions. East Jersey’s development was tied to New York, New England, and the former Dutch colony of New Netherland. The settlement of West Jersey on the Delaware River was initially a Quaker venture, and was associated with William Penn and others involved in the colonization of Pennsylvania.
The successors to Carteret’s and Berkeley’s interests in New Jersey essentially evolved into the corporate East and West Jersey Proprietors, respectively. They were the first British landowners of New Jersey, and governed the provinces during the first four decades of British colonization. In 1702, after the proprietors in East and West Jersey had surrendered their governmental authority several times, Queen Anne established New Jersey as a unified royal colony. The proprietors nevertheless retained their land rights.
The provincial dual capitals of Perth Amboy in East Jersey and Burlington in West Jersey also continued as the seats of government until Trenton became the state capital in 1790.
In 1998, the East Jersey Proprietors—reportedly New Jersey’s oldest corporation—dissolved and sold their rights to unappropriated land to the state’s Green Acres program. At that time, the East Jersey records were transferred from Perth Amboy to the State Archives in Trenton. In December 2005, the West Jersey Proprietors deposited their records with the State Archives as well, thus uniting all of New Jersey’s colonial land records under one roof. The West Jersey Proprietors continue as an active corporation based in Burlington, N.J., and retain legal ownership of their original records.
And Why do you Care?
The records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors document nearly three and a half centuries of land transactions and settlement in New Jersey. While the earliest volumes of proprietary land records and government commissions were united in the office of the Secretary of State at the time or soon after Trenton was established as the state capital in 1790, a large volume of books containing just surveys or warrants and certain other early records were retained by the proprietors.
Since the recording of land conveyances is and has always been voluntary, and since this function was not fully available in the county seats until 1785 for deeds and 1766 for mortgages, proprietary survey records are vital for documenting colonial land-owning families. Throughout the records are buried innumerable genealogical facts and connections. Since very little has been published in terms of abstracts or transcripts of the proprietors’ books, serious research requires using the original documents (on microfilm).
Genealogical documentation aside, a basic knowledge of the East and West Jersey proprietors and the partition lines between the two provinces will aid any genealogist researching colonial New Jersey families. The original counties and their boundaries and subdivisions were based on the east-west division, and references to the two regions are prevalent in land, estate, court and legislative records through to the revolutionary period and later.
Several major indexes to proprietary surveys are available at the State Archives, and we have produced or are in the process of creating databases that further catalog and index these records. Improving access to the proprietary records is one of the State Archives’ highest processing priorities.
Using the Records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors by Joseph R. Klett, New Jersey State Archives Page 1 East Jersey versus West Jersey While the proprietary systems that evolved in East and West Jersey had much in common, there were marked differences in terms of the development of the two divisions of the colony and the relationship between the settlers and the proprietors. In East Jersey, patents had been granted independently by Governor Nicolls to colonists from New England and New York, setting the stage for major and ongoing disagreements. These disputes related to the very right of the proprietors to govern, the collection of quitrents, the granting of unsettled lands within the Nicolls patents, and the means of funding government.
East Jersey also was subject to customs-related challenges and annexation efforts on the part of New York. As a result of these controversies, settlement in East Jersey during the proprietary period was slower than had been anticipated.
The disputes related to land rights and quit-rents plagued East Jersey throughout the proprietary period and beyond the 1702 surrender of governing rights. The controversy over lots granted by the ElizabethTown Associates, culminating in the 1745 Bill in Chancery and its answer, is a reminder that even after the East Jersey Proprietors were no longer a governmental authority they were still at odds with a proportion of the settlers to the end of colonial times.
In West Jersey, where shares were divided into smaller fractions, there was greater opportunity for persons other than the extremely wealthy to hold stock in the colony and its land. Quit-rents were not required in much of West Jersey due to the wider distribution of land rights and the resultant competition for sales to settlers. While West Jersey’s governors Edward Byllynge and Daniel Coxe often acted in conflict with the chartering Concessions and Agreements (which Byllynge himself had written), the democratic ideals found in this document had a positive influence on the relationship between the settlers and the proprietors.
While members of the Society of Friends (including William Penn) were involved in the development of East Jersey and were in large numbers among its settlers, the initial English colonization of West Jersey was essentially a Quaker venture. In fact, many of the problems that arose in West Jersey toward the end of the proprietary period were connected to non-Quaker forces—in particular Dr. Daniel Coxe, the West Jersey Society (which acquired land and governance rights from Coxe), and the Society’s agents. Overall, West Jersey was a more peaceful province with a more open proprietorship.
It is of interest to note that there are also differences between the types of records kept by the East and West Jersey proprietors respectively. In East Jersey, the early proprietorship was characterized by contention over quit-rents and a need for defense of proprietary land rights. It is not surprising, therefore, that among East Jersey’s archive are certain record types not found in West Jersey, such as quit-rent accounts and exemplified copies (abstracts) of the earliest deed books—the originals having been taken over by the colonial government before 1741.
On the other hand, in West Jersey proprietary rights were divided into smaller fractions. There were (are) hypothetically 3,200 voting shares as compared to ninety-six in East Jersey, although many West Jersey shares have never been accounted for. In theory then (since the main purpose of proprietary records is to document land surveys and the initial severance of title from the proprietors), the West Jersey records might contain buried genealogical data pertaining to a greater number of families.
The proprietary records—from both East and West—are nevertheless vital to research on colonial New Jersey families. Both archives contain extensive and as yet unpublished documentation from the seventeenth century. Obviously, the largely untapped historical and genealogical research potential of the proprietary land records is vast indeed.
Using the Records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors by Joseph R. Klett, New Jersey State Archives Page 2 Part II –Important Events in New Jersey’s Proprietary History The following timeline is adapted primarily from John E. Pomfret, The New Jersey Proprietors and Their Lands, 1664-1776 (Princeton, 1964) and John P. Snyder, The Story of New Jersey’s Civil Boundaries, 1606-1968 (Trenton, 1969). A short list of important years to remember is included at the end. NOTE: The years as given are based on the modern calendar.
29 May 1660 – King Charles II restored to the throne in England; resolves to bring the New Netherland colony into the dominion of the British crown.
12 March 1664 – King Charles issues patent bestowing upon his brother James, Duke of York, the land extending from the St. Lawrence River to the Delaware. Included are Maine, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Long Island, and the mainland between the Connecticut and Delaware rivers (containing New York and New Jersey).
23-24 June 1664 – Duke James grants lands between the Hudson and Delaware rivers to loyal friends John, Lord Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret (both also proprietors of the Carolinas). The colony is to be called New Jersey or New Cesarea in honor of Carteret’s homeland, the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel.
18 August 1664 – Four British frigates arrive at New Amsterdam; the Dutch surrender. Col. Richard Nicolls is established as governor of the Duke’s territories. New Amsterdam is renamed New York; New Jersey is called Albania by the local English.
late 1664 – Gov. Nicolls issues conditions upon which plantations would be created.
1 December 1664 – Gov. Nicolls grants patent for settlement on Achter Koll (Newark Bay), subsequently called Elizabeth-Town, which had been purchased from the Indians on 28 October by John Ogden, Luke Watson and others.
10 February 1665 – Berkeley and Carteret publish Concessions and Agreements based on Carolina’s concessions.
8 April 1665 – Gov. Nicolls grants patent for Navesink/Monmouth tract (Middletown and Shrewsbury settlements).
August 1665 – Capt. Philip Carteret, cousin of Sir George’s wife Elizabeth, arrives as governor of the new colony.
Elizabeth-Town, named in honor of Lady Elizabeth Carteret, is established as the seat of government.
November 1665 – Settlers at Bergen take oath of allegiance to the king and the proprietors.
February 1666 – Lot owners in Elizabeth-Town take oath of allegiance.
May 1666 – Southern half of Elizabeth-Town patent sold to settlers from Massachusetts; becomes Woodbridge.
Portion of Woodbridge patent sold to settlers from New Hampshire; becomes Piscataway. The two townships are set aside by Gov. Carteret on 21 May.
11 July 1667 – Newark tract purchased by Robert Treat and others. Settlers had landed 17 May 1666.
February 1668 – Woodbridge settlers take oath of allegiance. Township chartered 1 June 1669.
22 September 1668 – Bergen Township chartered by Gov. Carteret.
1 August 1673 – Dutch recapture former New Netherland area; begin to set up government at Achter Koll (New Jersey).
9 February 1674 – Westminster Treaty returns Dutch-held New York and New Jersey to the English.
18 March 1674 – John, Lord Berkeley, sells his joint but as yet undivided interest in New Jersey to John Fenwick in trust for Edward Byllynge.
June 1674 – King Charles II makes confirming grant of New Jersey to brother James, Duke of York, reserving the right of customs and duties.
1 July 1674 – Edmund Andros is commissioned governor of New York by Duke James; granted some authority over East New Jersey.
Using the Records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors by Joseph R. Klett, New Jersey State Archives Page 3 28-29 July 1674 – Duke of York issues patent to Sir George Carteret for East Jersey, being the territory lying north of a line connecting Barnegat Bay on the Atlantic Ocean with Pennsauken Creek on the Delaware River.
9 February 1675 – Tripartite (three-party) deed signed, in which William Penn, Gawen Lawrie and Nicholas Lucas become trustees of Edward Byllynge’s interest in western New Jersey except for one tenth granted to John Fenwick.
November 1675 – John Fenwick founds settlement at Salem in his tenth of western New Jersey.
13 November 1675 – Four counties are designated (without names) in East Jersey based on settlements at Bergen;
Elizabeth-Town and Newark; Woodbridge and Piscataway; and Middletown and Shrewsbury.
1 July 1676 – Quintite or quintipartite (five-party) deed is signed between Carteret and the trustees of western New Jersey establishing boundary line projected from Little Egg Harbor to a point 41º 40' latitude on the upper Delaware.
3 March 1677 – West Jersey’s Concessions and Agreements, drafted in 1676 by Edward Byllynge and signed by the proprietors and inhabitants, sets forth a framework of government and fundamental laws of the colony.