In the last post, I described the recital in a deed of 1815. It began with the sale in 1727 of 147 acres in Amwell Township by Joseph Howell to John Wright. But how did Joseph Howell get the property? That was not explained, but I assumed it had to come from John Reading, who had the tract surveyed for him in 1715, as shown on the Hammond Map of Hunterdon County.
While I was composing that article, Bob Leith was busy researching and photographing the beautiful manuscript deeds in the archives of the Hunterdon County Historical Society, and came across a very nice one dated 1718.
It was a perfect example of serendipity. When he read my article he realized that I was talking about the same property described in the deed he had found. So he sent me the above photograph, and I knew right away I would have to write about it, because it is another great example of wonderful recitals in old deeds.
The deed is from John Reading of Amwell Township, only son and heir of John Reading, yeoman, deceased, and is dated November 8 and 9, 1718. It is in the form of an Indenture of Lease (on the 8th) and a Release (on the 9th). This was the style of land conveyance at the time. The wavy line at the top indicates the practice of making two copies of an Indenture (as in the word ‘indent’) and separating them with an uneven line, so that they will match up and thereby prove their validity.
The grantee (buyer) is Joseph Howell of Philadelphia, carpenter, who paid £50 current silver money for 147 acres in Amwell Township. Here is an abstract (not a quote and omitting the boilerplate) of the recital found in the Release dated November 9th, as best I can transcribe it:
Samuell Robeson Son & heir of Andrew Robeson late of Philadelphia Gent. Deceased, had one full proprietary share, which Andrew Robinson bought from Edw. Byline & trustees in 1676, and
Samuel Robeson agreed to sell to John Reading the full propriety, but he died before the transaction could be completed. And sd Samuel Robeson made a will on 1 Sept. 1699, naming as executors Patrick Robeson and Andrew Robeson, and ordered them to make Sale of his Estate both Real & personal, And Patrick Robeson also died before this conveyance could be completed,
And the surviving executor, Andrew Robeson did on November 1 & 2, 1701, sell the whole propriety to sd John Reading ye Elder, who died intestate , whereby ye Rights in Law to ye Same became Invested in John Reading party to these presents his only Son & Survivor
Now, the sd John Reading, for £50, conveyed to sd Joseph Howell 147 acres, minus allowances for highways, in Amwell twp., being surveyed out of the 4th Dividend of the sd Propriety
Beginning at a Hickory tree, near the Quachechioke [Wickecheoke] Brook, corner to other lands of John Reading, thence by his line
1) South 11 degrees East, 38 1/2 chains, to a corner to Dimsdale’s land, thence by same
2) East, 40 chains, to a corner, thence along land of Samuel Green
3) North 10 degrees West, 24 chains, to another of Samuel Green’s corners, thence
4) North 70 degrees East, 22.00 chains, to a corner in line of land commonly called ye Lotting Purchase, by sd line
5) North 80 degrees West, 65 chains, to the beginning
[Signed by] Jno. Reading,
Witnessed by Daniel Howell, Mary Howell, Joseph Wood (his mark)
This deed clarifies that the property was in the possession of John Reading, Sr. at the time of his death in 1717, and that it was conveyed to Joseph Howell by his son John Reading, Jr., acting as administrator of the estate. It also means that Howell may have been living on the property from 1719 to 1727 when he sold it to John Wright. Since the deed also contains this very early description, we can verify that it is the same property that was eventually sold to Gershom Lambert in 1815.
Most of the recital concerns the ownership of the proprietary rights that allowed John Reading to have the property surveyed to him. The recital goes back to the original purchase of one full proprietary share which Andrew Robeson had purchased from Edward Bylling and the Quaker trustees in 1676. To be in a position to make this sort of purchase shows that Robeson was very well-to-do. The cost of a full share was £350.
Unlike some of the proprietary purchasers, Robeson intended to move to America. He appears in Gloucester County, New Jersey as early as 1685. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to figure out who had the prominent positions in West New Jersey, Andrew Sr. or his nephew Andrew Jr., since they came to the Province together, and they are not always distinguished between each other. Since Andrew Sr. was the holder of the proprietary share, it makes sense that he was the one who was among the first members of the Council of West Jersey Proprietors when it was formed in 1688.
But which Andrew was named Surveyor General of the Province in 1686? It appears to have been Andrew Jr., as he was still recognized as such after the death in 1694 of Andrew Sr. In 1686, Robeson met with the other Surveyor Generals of East New Jersey and New York to settle on the northwestern boundary point of New Jersey, and thereby the border with New York. Although the surveyors met frequently, their report was ignored.1
In the 1690s, Andrew Robeson, Sr. moved to Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, to a plantation he named “Shoomac Park.” He died there in 1694, having made a will naming his wife Elizabeth sole executrix.2 She died the next year, according to Quaker records.3
In his will, Andrew Robeson left a legacy to his nephew Andrew Robeson, yeoman of West Jersey, consisting of land on Raccoon Creek. The will (or at least the abstract of it that I saw) did not mention son Samuel Robeson, but the recital in this deed makes it clear that Samuel was his son. This Samuel Robeson wrote his own will in Philadelphia on September 21, 1699.4 He named friend Patrick Robinson and cousin Andrew Robeson executors, and left legacies to his father’s brothers Thomas and David Robeson living in Scotland. It appears from the context of his will that he did not marry, or if he did, then his wife predeceased him and he had no living children.
So, it was left to cousin Andrew Robeson of West New Jersey to finish the process of conveying one full proprietary share in the Province to John Reading, which happened, as the recital states, on November 1st and 2nd, 1701.5
Andrew Robeson, Jr. was born in Scotland in 1654, and came to West New Jersey with his uncle Andrew Robeson, Sr. probably in the late 1670s or early 1680s. In 1687, he (or his uncle) was named the first tax assessor for Gloucester County. A deed of April 20, 1688 identified Andrew Robeson as being “of Clonmel, Gloucester County, West Jersey.6 In 1689 as Surveyor General of West Jersey, he received a warrant from Commissioner John Reading for a survey of land for Thomas Chaunders.7
By 1692, he appears to have been dividing his time between Gloucester County and Philadelphia, as he was described as being of Philadelphia that year when he sold land in Gloucester to Richard Lawrence,8 and accepted the position of Pennsylvania’s Chief Justice (a post he held until 1699). And yet, in 1697, he was named to the Governor’s Council for West New Jersey, and served in that position until 1701.
On Sept. 21, 1699, Samuel Robeson of Philadelphia wrote his will and named “cousin Andrew Robeson of West Jersey” executor along with Samuel’s “friend” Patrick Robinson. The will was recorded on Oct. 16, 1699. As the recital above explained, Patrick Robinson died soon thereafter, leaving Andrew Robeson to manage the estate alone. In 1701, when Robeson conveyed the proprietary rights to John Reading, he was identified as a resident of “Glocester” County, in West New Jersey. A deed dated December 1, 1701 was also recorded in Gloucester, in which Andrew Robeson of Greenwich, Gloucester County, executor of the estate of Samuel Robeson of Philadelphia, gent., dec’d, conveyed part of a share of West Jersey sold by Edw Bylling et al to Andrew Robeson, father of said Samuel, on March 1, 1676-77.9
It was around 1701 when this Andrew Robeson settled permanently in Pennsylvania, specifically at the estate known as Shoomac Park in Amity Township that was established by Andrew Robeson, Sr., and then inhabited by his son Samuel, until his death in 1699. Andrew Robeson, Jr. wrote his will in early 1719/1720, naming his sons and daughters, but not his wife, who had died on November 12, 1716. His death is recorded on February 17, 1719/20 at Chester, Pennsylvania.10 The Robeson Genealogy of 1916 stated in its title that Andrew Robeson’s wife was Mary Spencer, but in fact she never existed. A Robeson descendant informed me that researchers had discovered that Mary’s maiden name was actually Helm. She was the daughter of Israel Akesson Helm of the New Sweden Colony. The discovery was made by Dr. Peter Craig of the Swedish Colonial Society of Philadelphia.
Who Were the Robesons of Hunterdon County?
I have not researched the Roberson/Robeson/Robinson family in Hunterdon County to any great extent, but there must be some connection between these Scottish Robersons of Gloucester County and Philadelphia and the family that lived in Kingwood Township. The Hunterdon Robesons/Robersons originated with Thomas Roberson and wife Catherine Pierce. Bellis wrote of Thomas:
“I have no information as to where he came from or the place of his nativity, but am inclined to the opinion that he came from Scotland or was of Scottish descent. There has been a tradition handed down in the family that his ancestors came over in the Mayflower in 1620, but no one by that name was on board of the celebrated vessel.”11
I wandered through the 810-page genealogy of the Andrew Robeson family,12 looking for a reference to the Robesons who lived in Kingwood Township. No luck. This Genealogy focused on the heirs of Andrew Robeson Jr. (1654-1720) of Pennsylvania. In the introduction the authors observed that “The Robesons in America no doubt all descend from the family of that name in Scotland.” But apparently, Thomas of Kingwood was not directly descended from the Andrew Robeson who bought the proprietary shares.
Samuel Green in Amwell
Another interesting piece of information from this deed is that in 1718, Samuel Green was the bordering owner on the east side of the property sold to Joseph Howell. The original proprietary owner was Richard Bull, the brother of Samuel Green’s wife Sarah Bull. Richard Bull did not die until 1722, and I had assumed in my previous article that Bull’s land was inherited by his sister. But it appears that he must have conveyed it to Samuel Green sometime before 1718. Green was not very careful about recording his deeds, so once again, a recital has given us information that might not be found anywhere else.
A Word on the Wickecheoke
The name we use for this creek is not the one that was used in original deeds in the early 18th century. As seen in the recital above, one version of the name was “Quachechioke.” In deeds found by D. Stanton Hammond it appears as “Quachechecake.” Try pronouncing that! This is just one example of many in which Indian names have been modified by English speakers who had to invent the spelling of names that Indians never wrote down. And then, like the telephone game, the names morphed into something easier to say. The Lockatong Creek is another example, originally called the “Laogaland” or the “Loakalong.”
- Samuel Smith, History of Nova Caesaria, p. 200. Smith was of the opinion that the Surveyor General was Andrew Sr. ↩
- F. Edward Wright, Abstracts of Phila. Co. Wills, 1682-1726 p. 26. ↩
- Wm. Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quakers, vol. 2, p. 447. ↩
- Wright, p. 53. ↩
- Deed recorded in Gloucester Co. Deeds, Book 2 p. 31. ↩
- Gloucester Co. Deed Book 2 p. 124. ↩
- Gloucester Co. Deeds Book 2 p. 61. ↩
- GlDd 2-149 ↩
- Gloucester Deed, Book 2 p. 31. ↩
- Wright, p. 183. ↩
- Recollections of Baptistown by J Z Bellis, #67. See also Althea F. Courtot and Louise H. Tunison, “Some Descendants of Thomas Roberson, Kingwood Township, Hunterdon County, N.J.,” 1986. ↩
- An Historical and Genealogical Account of the Descendants of Andrew Robeson Jr. and his Wife Mary Spencer, by Susan Stroud Robeson and Caroline Franciscus Stroud, 1916. ↩