Postscript to “The Fifth George Fox” (1753-1815)

Whilst researching in the County Archives for a future post on another subject, I came across a fascinating court paper [#21152] pertaining to this George Fox.

On the cover was this inscription:

Hunterdon Sessions The State v. Geo: Fox / Execution Ret. to Feb. Term 1778 Fine £10 / Costs £2.8 / [total] £12.8 Besides Execution fees

Along the side was written:

Levied on Three Cows one feather bed which &c Value 5/ [signed] Jos. Inslee Shf

Inside was the following:

To the Sheriff of the County of Hunterdon You are hereby commanded that you cause to be made of the goods & chattels of George Fox in your Bailywick as well the sum of ten pounds lawful money of the State of New Jersey, which were lately in the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace held at Trenton for the sd County awarded against him pursuant to several Acts of the legislative Council & General Assembly of the State of New Jersey as a Fine and Debt due to the State of New Jersey for his refusing to take the Oaths [of] Abjuration & Allegiance set forth in an Act intitled An Act for the Security of the Government of New Jersey passed the nineteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy six, as also the sum of two pounds eight shillings like money which were then & there awarded against him pursuant to the said Acts as Costs and Charges accruing on Account of the Premises. And have you those moneys together with this Precept [?] before the Justices of the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace to be held at Trenton in and for the sd County on the first Tuesday in February next. Witness William Cleayton, Moore Furman & Richard Stevens Esq’rs, three of the Justices of the Peace of the sd County &c. at Trenton aforesaid the thirty first day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy seven. By Order of the Court Eben’r Corvell Ju’r Cl’k

This case was mentioned in “The Loyalists of New Jersey” compiled by E. Alfred Jones, 2002, pg 276.

As it turns out, George Fox did not limit himself to refusing the oath of allegiance. He actually fought with the Loyalists. According to “The New Loyalist Index, Vol. III” by Paul J. Bunnell, Fox enlisted as a private with the 4th. Battalion New Jersey Volunteers on Jan. 22, 1777. If he is indeed our George Fox (v) of Kingwood, then he would have been 24 years old. On Nov. 18, 1777, he mustered at Staten Island under Capt. Peter Ruttan & Lt. Col. Abraham Van Buskirk. He mustered at the same place on Jan. 6, 1778. His last muster at Staten Island was in March 1778, when he was listed as a private and a carpenter.

The N. J. Volunteers was a Loyalist regiment raised by Gen. Cortlandt Skinner. There were six Battalions, commanded by Elisha Lawrence, John Morris, Edward Vaughan Dongan, Abraham Van Buskirk, Joseph Barton and Isaac Allen. About 1777, the six were reduced to three by casualties and desertions.

Van Buskirk was a physician from Bergen County who served in the Provincial Congress until he was identified as a Loyalist. He was commissioned Lt.-Col. in the 3rd N.J. Volunteers on Nov. 16, 1776. During the war, his estate was forfeited. After the war he retired to Nova Scotia. Capt. Peter Ruttan was also from Bergen County and joined the British in Dec. 1776. He recruited 60 men for the 4th N.J. Volunteers, and was later transferred to the 3rd Battalion. In 1783, he was put in charge of 30 families who left New Jersey for Canada. He settled in Ontario [from the “The Loyalists of NJ,” pg 182, 225].

Also serving with George Fox in the 4th NJ Volunteers were James Fox, a Sergeant, March 1778 (enlisted Dec. 7, 1776, was dead by March 1778), and William Fox, private and also a carpenter [Bunnell pg 59]. Neither entry gives a home town for these men.

So, George Fox was fighting for Britain from Jan. 6, 1777 to March 1778. He refused to take the Oath of Allegiance on Oct. 31, 1777. The incident concerning Gen. Bray probably took place in November, 1778, about eight months after his last muster at Staten Island. It is surprising that more actions were not taken against Fox for fighting with the Loyalists. The fact that Fox paid taxes in Kingwood on his 120-acre farm and livestock in 1778 and 1780 shows that his property was not confiscated. Fox was still in possession of his farm when he died in 1815. Why he escaped the severe punishment suffered by other Loyalists I cannot say.

Others who refused to serve under Bray

Those listed with George Fox were John Hartpence, Isaac Kitchen, Jonathan Moore, Josiah Moore, James Powell, John Price [see 1792 below], Wm. Reeder, Benj. Rittenhouse, Abner Stout, Amos Thatcher, Ambrose Waterhouse, Charles White.

Daniel Bray himself identified these men to Richard Opdycke, Justice of the Peace, who issued a “Distress Warrant” involving fines for all of them. The largest fine was £45.16.0 for Ambrose Waterhouse. George Fox was fined £20.6.0 [GMNJ 46:12].

Most of these men were not listed among the Loyalists, but Ambrose Waterhouse was fined in 1778, presumably for refusing the oath [NJ Loyalists, pg 315; Hunt. Rec.]. John Hartpence refused the oath and was fined in 1776, and committed to jail in 1777 [NJ Loyalists pg 281; Minutes of the Provincial Congress 478, Hunt. Rec.]. Amos Thatcher was not identified as a Loyalist, but Bartholomew Thatcher (1738-1817) of Kingwood served as a Captain with the 3rd NJ Volunteers. His widow Margaret petitioned the British government for the pension of an officer’s widow [NJ Loyalists, pg 216]. I do not know of any relationship between Amos and Bartholomew Thatcher.

Some Other Loyalists from Hunterdon County

The numbers following the names below refer to the page # in “Loyalists of New Jersey.” (I have omitted the names of those I do not recognize, as they probably lived in or near Trenton, or never established themselves in Hunterdon.) Some of these men simply refused to take the Oath of Allegiance. That did not automatically mean they were willing to fight for the British.

Peter Apgar (258), Samuel and Whitson L. Birdsall (261), Luther and Steven Colvin (268), Christopher Dilts (272), John Emley (274), Aaron Forman/Furman (276/77), Rev. Wm. Frazer (276), Philip Grandin of Lebanon (83), Samuel Green (279), John Holcombe (283), Daniel, John, Jonathan and William Hunt (285), Aaron Large (289), John Lequear (“Laquier” 289), Nathaniel McPherson (293), Joseph Merrill (294), Daniel and Joseph Moore (295), James Parker (298), Nicholas Pickle of Alexandria (26), Rulof Rulofson of Readington (181), Walter Rutherford (303), John St. Clair (304), Samuel Slater (305), James and Joseph Smith (306), Edward Stevenson (307), Rev. Daniel Sutton (308), Edward Taylor (309), Geoge Updike (310), Christopher Vought (237), Henry and Ingram Waterhouse (315), Peter Young (319).

Other court documents pertaining to George Fox (v):

On July 14, 1792, John Price, who was one of those who would not serve with Gen. Bray, failed to pay the rent due on his farm in Amwell of £22.10. His landlords were Richard Ketcham and Andrew Morgan. Soon afterwards, George Fox assumed responsibility for paying the rent, but failed to do so. Ketcham and Morgan sued Fox in the Court of Common Pleas in Amwell, demanding payment of £45, and Judge Joseph Reading ordered Fox to appear on the first Tuesday of February 1793. Fox hired Hill Runyon to be his attorney in the case [#10527, 33853, 2474]. What the outcome of this case was cannot be said, as there were no further documents.

Amendments: Added link to Capt. Ruttan’s muster roll, 8/8/09.

8/9/10: The link to Capt. Ruttan’s muster roll here is no longer working.