Edward Kemp

When I first began my blog in 2009, I thought I would use it as a way to discover more about the life of my ancestor Samuel Green. So I began hunting for traces of him in the earliest days of the Province of West New Jersey. But the history of that place became so interesting in itself, that I began to follow its development year by year, thinking that eventually I would get to 1695 when Samuel Green first shows up. (For an index of stories on West New Jersey, go to my About page.)

But life takes its toll, so I took a break at the end of 1690. When I resumed work on the blog, now turned into a website, it was time to turn my focus to my hometown, which is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. So—no more Samuel Green for awhile.

Then this summer I got a call from a retired farmer asking me to look into the history of his property. He happens to live on land that may have have been owned by Samuel Green, his son Richard Green, and Richard’s Green’s son-in-law, and one of Delaware Township’s notable residents, Charles Sergeant. So, research into Samuel Green’s family and life is back on the front burner.

Now that the 300th anniversary of Hunterdon County is looming on the horizon, the time has come to write about some of the very earliest settlers here, Samuel Green included. So, I would like to start a series on the first Hunterdon landowners. I will not be able to write about all of them—there are too many, and the research is very challenging. Also, one cannot write about these first settlers without discussing the 30,000-acre purchase of land from the Indians, made by Adlord Boude (or Bowde), agent for the notorious Daniel Coxe, in 1688. And also the “Lotting Purchase” of 1703. Which takes me back to those articles on West New Jersey, and to the series I started on the Indians of Hunterdon County.

Oh dear.

Well all of that will just have to wait. Instead I am going to write about Samuel Green’s father-in-law, Edward Kemp.

Samuel Green was born about 1675 to parents that have never been identified. He might have been the son of Richard Green, who arrived in West New Jersey in 1678, but there is no way to prove that. Richard Green had no family with him when he came to New Jersey on the ship Shield. Another possibility is Thomas Greene, who was living in Maidenhead (Lawrence) Township in 1690, which made him a neighbor of the Opdycke family. In fact, he sold land to Lawrence Opdycke, the grandfather of John Opdycke, who married Samuel Green’s daughter Margaret. Very suggestive, but I found nothing else in his records to connect him with Samuel Green.

The first thing we know of Samuel Green is that in 1695 he had his first child, Samuel Green (Jr.). The date comes from that child’s gravestone in the Swayze Cemetery, Hope, N.J. The name on his gravestone is Johann Samuel Green; the name Johann was probably acquired when he was baptized by the Moravians in 1749.

The mother of this first child was Margaret Kemp, daughter of Edward Kemp, who first appears in 1701, when he and John Reading had 300 acres surveyed along the Delaware River and the “Aliashokkin” Creek, just north of Lambertville.1 On April 30, 1701, John Reading conveyed those 300 acres to Edward Kemp for £30.2 Then Edward Kemp and John Reading together released the property to William Biddle who sold it in 1705 to John Wey.3 From Wey the property went to John Holcombe and became the beginning of settlement in the northern end of the town of Lambertville. The Coryells settled on the southern end, but that is another story.

I have seen a suggestion that Edward Kemp was the son of Edmund Kemp and Denise Watson of Norfolk, England. Perhaps, but there was another Edward Kemp in Virginia in the late 17th century, so I am not jumping to any conclusions about Kemp’s origins.

None of the properties found on the Hammond Maps appear to have been the actual home of Edward Kemp; more likely they were investment properties. Edward Kemp’s home was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. But Kemp appears to have spent time in Hopewell Township. On April 14, 1702, he witnessed a deed for Joyce Hutchinson, executor of John Hutchinson dec’d of Hopewell Township. Other witnesses were Wm. Emley, Wm. Wardell & John Ely.4  And in 1705, Kemp witnessed a deed from Andrew Heath, gentleman of Hopewell, to Daniel Howell, blacksmith, also of Hopewell.5

Edward Kemp was himself a surveyor. In 1706, a survey he made for Thomas Hough was recorded, for property northeast of Woodsville, in what is now East Amwell Township.6 But beside surveying, Kemp was investing in land. On July 1, 1707, Edward Kemp conveyed rights to unappropriated land to William Thorn, as recorded in Gloucester Deeds, Book A fol. 91. I have not seen that deed; it would be interesting if it states where Edw. Kemp was living at the time.

Detail of Hammond Map G
Detail of Hammond Map G

In 1708, Edward Kemp acquired a large acreage in what became that year Amwell Township. It was bordered by John Thomas, Andrew Heath, and Jonas Moore, who all had surveys made that year. Their surveys were recorded, but Kemp’s was not, so we cannot identify Kemp’s home residence from this. The Kemp tract was located southeast of Ringoes.

Kemp was living in Bucks County in 1709 when he bought 200 acres from William Biles, located in Amwell Township, near today’s Locktown.7. But that was just an investment; the next year, 1710, he sold the property to Ralph Brock, who then conveyed it to William Rittenhouse in 1734.8

In 1709, Edward Kemp got himself into trouble. The Burlington Court Book reports that in the proceedings for June of that year, Edward Kemp was required to serve on the grand jury, but when it came time for him to swear the oath that was required of Grand Jurymen, he

 “refused soe to do tho he own’d it was not Contrary to his profession [of faith] to Serve or take an Oath were upon the Court proceeded to fine him and fined him in the Summe of 4l [4 pounds] for his Contempt and refusall aforesaid. Ordered that he be taken and stand Committed untill he paid it  its further Ordered that he find two Sureties for his good behaviour in the Summe of ___ [left blank] and his appearance next Court or in Default thereof he be and remaine in the Custody of the Sheriff.” 9

Apparently, a little time in jail brought Kemp to his senses. He petitioned the Burlington Court and acknowledged “his great fault.” His fine was reduced to 20 shillings plus his fees, on payment of which he was discharged. But why did he refuse to swear in the first place if it was not for religious scruples? The Court Book does not say.

Although I believe Edward Kemp kept his home in Bucks County, he was still spending time in Hopewell Township. On March 8, 1710, he witnessed the deed of Elnathan Davis of Hopewell to Joseph Sackett of Nassaw Island, NY.10  In December of that year, he witnessed the will of Joseph Clewes of Macclesfield, Bucks Co., yeoman, with Mary Pownall, Richard Hough.11 On March 5, 1712, Edward Kemp witnessed the deed of Daniel Coxe of Burlington to Thomas ‘Ruynion’ of Hopewell, with Alexander Lochart.12

And he was still making surveys. In 1712, Edward Kemp surveyed 527 acres for Thomas Stevenson, located southwest of Wertsville in Hunterdon County. It was resurveyed by John Reading in 1715.13 In 1714, Kemp surveyed the 5,050-acre Byerly tract surrounding today’s Alpha, NJ in Warren County.14 This was probably the “survey by Edward Kempe in 1714 . . .” for land on the QueQuacommissicong creek at Milford.15

Probably not long after this, Edward Kemp gave up surveying, which was a very strenuous occupation. There is a deed of November 11, 1714 in which Daniel Jackson, fuller of Middle twp., Bucks Co., sold to Edward Kemp, schoolmaster of same, a tract of 120 acres in Middle Township for £100.16 It makes sense to me that Kemp would turn to school-teaching as an alternative to roughing it through uninhabited wilderness. By 1714, he would have been about 65 years old.

And yet, in 1715, he met with John Reading Jr. and others who were on a surveying expedition into unsettled areas north of Hunterdon County.17 Here is how Reading described it:

“On the 17th of April, 1715, John Budd, James Bollen, Jno. Chapman, Jona. Lad and I set out from father’s about 3 in the afternoon for Sol. Davis’ upon the S. Branch of Rarington River where we arrived just at 9 of the clock, the 18th. We waited at Sol’s the day next for the arrival of Richd Bull and other Props. [proprietors] who came about 9 o’clock in the morn. Ed. Kemp and Benj. Kay along with him. We departed from Sol’s about 11 of the clock all of us except Kemp for Jacob Peat’s upon Pesiack River.” . . [April] “22nd. I went to survey Jos. Kirkbride’s lot lying above the Bogg meadow [near Whippany] and finished the same and went to Mauris Maurison’s to lodge this day. In the morning came N. Allen and Ed. Kamp to Osbourn’s.”

It is not clear if Kemp stayed with Reading’s expedition after the 22nd of April. They got as far as the falls of the Passaic River. On the 26th, John Reading Sr. and Samuel Green joined the party at Osborn’s place, where payments were made to the Indians for previous purchases. These two then returned home on the 27th. There was no other reference to Kemp in Reading’s Journal, so perhaps Kemp had really given up surveying by this time. (I cannot identify Kemp’s traveling companion, Benjamin Kay.)

At some time after 1714, Kemp must have moved to his lands in Hunterdon County. On May 17, 1718, Edward Kemp, yeoman of Hunterdon, sold 300 acres to Jacob Doughty of Chesterfield, Burlington Co. for £18. The deed was witnessed by Thomas Folkes, John Woodward and John Jones.18 And a month later, on June 12th, Edward Kempe, yeoman of Amwell, sold to Jacob Doughty of Chesterfield, Burlington, 150 acres for £12.45.0; witnessed by Thomas Folkes, Tho. Folkes, Jr. and Elizabeth Fokes.19

Two years later, on December 8, 1720, Edward Kemp sold land in Amwell Township to William Tillyer and John Tayler.20

I have not found any record of Edward Kemp’s death. There is some reason to think he died in Bucks County about 1726, although no estate was recorded for him in Bucks County. So elusive is Edward Kemp that I cannot say who his wife was or if he had children beside Margaret.

In order to show how certain I am that Edward Kemp was the father-in-law of Samuel Green, I must go forward to 1754. On December 1st of that year, Samuel Green Sr. conveyed to “Samuel Green, junior, heir apparent of said Edward Kemp,” 500 acres which had been purchased by Kemp from Benjamin Harris on March 26, 1718, which his daughter Margaret Kemp had inherited.21

There is a wrinkle to this story–on March 28, 1690, a Margaret Kemp married John Maddock at Philadelphia Friends Meeting.22 I do not have a copy of this marriage record, which might state who Margaret’s father was, but it might have been Margaret Kent, not Kemp. John Maddock lived in Salem County and wrote his will on January 14, 1701. He named several children, but did not name his wife. So it seems likely that this Margaret was someone else.

Margaret Kemp died sometime before 1708, for that year Samuel Green married his second wife, Sarah Bull. I hope to write next about Sarah and her family, especially her brother Richard Bull.

Postscript – Records at the State Archives I have not checked yet:

  • Gloucester Deeds, Bk A p. 91
  • Book BBB-363, 367 (for sales made in 1718), and GG-210.
  • Book A-174, 176-77, and A-85 & 86

Addendum, 9/3/2013: My copy of John David Davis’ compilation of West New Jersey Deeds arrived in the mail a day after I first published this article, from which I found important information on the deeds of 1718 showing that Edward Kemp did indeed live in Amwell Township later in his life.


  1. West Jersey Proprietors, Survey Book A fol. 48.
  2. West Jersey Deeds, Book BBB fol. 197, dated 20 Apr 1701; also in John David Davis, West Jersey New Jersey Deed Records 1676-1721, Heritage Books, 2005, p. 251.
  3. West Jersey ProprietorsBasse’s Survey Book, p.2.
  4. Davis, WNJ Deeds pg 177; gives no Bk/Pg.
  5. West Jersey Deeds, Book AAA fol. 259.
  6. Hammond Map G.
  7. WJ Deeds, Bk BB fol. 275; also cited in Daniel K. Cassel, A Genea-Biographical History of the Rittenhouse Family, Philadelphia, 1893, vol. 1, p. 103.
  8. Honeyman, Northwestern New Jersey: A History, vol. 2, p. 879.
  9. Reed & Miller, The Burlington Court Book, 1944, p. 339.
  10. Davis, WNJ Deeds, p. 195.
  11. Abstracts of Philadelphia Co. Wills, 1682-1726, p. 133.
  12. Davis, WNJ Deeds p. 205.
  13. WJP Bk A p. 201.
  14. Hammond Map A; WJP Basse’s Survey Bk p. 93.
  15. Hubert G. Schmidt, Some Hunterdon Place Names, p. 26.
  16. Bucks Co. Deeds, Bk 5 p. 054.
  17. Journal of John Reading, NJHS Proceedings, vol. 10, no. 1.
  18. Davis, p. 265; WNJ Deeds Book BB p. 367.
  19. Davis, p. 265; WNJ Deed Book BBB p. 363.
  20.  WJP Deeds, Bk GG fol. 210.
  21. The Early Germans of New Jersey; Their History, Churches and Genealogies, by Henry Race, M.D.; NJHS Proceedings p. 198.
  22. Hinshaw, p. 572.