Among the first settlers of Hunterdon County, in “the Western Province of New Jersey” were Samuel Green and his family. Samuel Green was my ancestor, so of course I am interested in his history. The bonus for me is that his history gives me a way to learn about the earliest days of settlement here.

So, this is the first of what is likely to be many posts on Samuel Green and his descendants. And I must ask the indulgence of my readers for the side trips I plan to take into West Jersey history, especially the history of settlement, but also of politics, which is so often intertwined with land development.

Green was a surveyor who managed to acquire vast tracts of land in Amwell Township soon after Indian land purchases were made and surveys were first permitted to the West Jersey proprietors. It is not at all clear how Samuel Green got all his land, for he neglected to record his deeds. This is odd, considering that, being a surveyor, he had to know how land conveyances were documented. It certainly makes it more difficult to learn about him while he was residing in Amwell Township, and before he got there. In fact, Samuel Green is particularly elusive in early New Jersey records.

I am going to try to piece some of the story together, but there will always be questions unanswered, starting with his parents.

Samuel Green’s Origins

Just giving Samuel Green a birth year is a challenge. It could be about 1675 or about 1685. Some researchers have dated his first marriage to 1694, which is how the earlier birth date comes about. But Henry Race, in his article “Greenland in New Jersey” [NNJHS Proceedings, Vol. XI], states that Samuel’s first child was born in 1705, which suggests a birthdate for Samuel Sr. closer to 1680-85. One of the mysteries of Samuel Green is the paucity of records for him prior to 1700, which also argues for a later birth date. For now, until something definitive turns up, I will use the date of c.1680.

Samuel Green’s parents have never been identified. Charles Opdycke speculated (in his Opdycke Genealogy, pg 215) that Green might be the son of Richard Green, an English Quaker, who arrived in Burlington in 1678 on the ship ‘Shield’ from Hull. The ‘Shield’ was only the fourth ship known to have delivered settlers to the Delaware River side of West New Jersey (if you disregard the earlier settlements by the Swedes and the Dutch). The first was the ‘Kent,’ carrying 230 passengers, which arrived at Raccoon Creek, and then at an island next to Burlington City about September 1677.

Two more ships arrived in October, and the ‘Shield’ arrived in December. Reuben Ely has written (in his genealogy of the Ely, Revell and Stacye families, pg 141) that the ‘Shield’ was “the first trans-Atlantic ship to travel so far” up the Delaware River, to the furthest point of tidewater. Apparently the earlier ships did not come up so far. Ely quoted Samuel Smith’s History of New Jersey describing how the ship had to tack back and forth because of headwinds, and found itself entangled in over-hanging trees at the place that eventually became the city of Philadelphia. But they did not have permission to settle there, so back across the river they went, arriving at Burlington.

Hard to imagine what life must have been like for these hardy people, arriving at a place that had no shelter for them, and, given the time of year, no source of food other than what could be hunted or gathered, or given to them by sympathetic Indians. It was so cold that they walked to shore on the ice. Fortunately, things improved greatly after the first settlements were established.

Some of the best known residents of West New Jersey were on board the ‘Shield’ with Richard Green: William Emley, Peter Fretwell, John and Thomas Lambert, Thomas Potts, Thomas Revel, Mahlon Stacy, and many others. Some of these passengers brought their families and servants. Richard Green came alone. Perhaps he found someone to marry among the children or servants of the other families. There is no way to know. There are hardly any records for this Richard Green after he arrived in Burlington, and the only estate recorded for a Richard Green in New Jersey prior to 1750 was for a second-generation Richard Green (more about him later).

Richard Green, Proprietor?

The only land transaction I could find for a Richard Green in the NJA Calendar of Records involved a sale on June 18, 1682 by Francis Gilberthorp of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England to Richard Greene of the City of Gloucester, woolcomber, of a 1/32 share in the Province of West New Jersey. It appears that Green immediately transferred this to Anna Salter, who sold it to John Cripps [WJP B2-520; A-23; B1-20]. Anna Salter was the widow of Henry Salter who had bought 10,000 acres in Salem County from John Fenwick in 1675, and died there in 1679. The widow Anna did a lot of buying and selling of property from 1681 to 1688 in Burlington Co. and Gloucester, as well as Salem. She died in Tacony, Pennsylvania in 1690. I could find no hint of a relationship between her and Richard Green.

A book on the deeds of West New Jersey compiled by John David Davis states that the Richard Green who bought the 1/32 share from Francis Gilberthorp was “Late of Gloucester, Gloucester Co.” –England or West New Jersey? He doesn’t say, but since the town of Gloucester, NJ was not formed until 1685, I assume he meant England. But some family trees claim he was from Lincolnshire. Passengers who boarded the ‘Shield’ at Hull were generally from Yorkshire and traveled as a group. Lincolnshire is only a short distance south of Yorkshire.

Was Richard Green who bought a 1/32 share in West New Jersey in 1682 the same as the Richard Green who sailed on the ‘Shield’ in 1678? It appears that his sale to Anna Salter had to take place near “Tawcony,” Pennsylvania because that was where she was living in 1682 [WJP B1-95]. Today, Tacony is in northern Philadelphia, across from Cinnaminson, between Camden and Burlington. Perhaps Green bought those shares from an agent of Gilberthorpe’s in New Jersey. And, by the way, why did Anna Salter buy any shares at all from Richard Green? She already had more than enough from her deceased husband Henry Salter. The more you know, the more you don’t know.

If Richard Green could purchase a 1/32 share of a propriety, one would expect him to own other shares. But he does not appear on the list of proprietors compiled by Thomas Budd and published in John Pomfret’s The Province of West New Jersey, 1609-1702. But then, neither does Anna or Henry Salter. This calls for a trip to the N. J. Archives to see if there is any list of West Jersey proprietors later than Thomas Budd’s.

Of the group that arrived on the ‘Shield’ and the other early ships, some were from London and other locations in southern England, and a separate group came from Yorkshire in northern England. True to form, the London group settled south of Burlington City, and the Yorkshire group went north, following Mahlon Stacy who built the first grist mill at Trenton. If Richard Green came with the Yorkshire people, he probably settled north of Burlington also.

Note: For those of you who plan to research this early period in New Jersey history, it is important to read Joseph R. Klett’s “Using the Records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors.” Joe is Deputy Director for Archives at the state archives (otherwise known as NJDARM). You can download a copy by going here, then clicking on the “See also:” link. You can also find it with a Google search.

Richard Green in Amwell?

Henry Race wrote:

“Synchronism and proximity of residence favor the assuumption that he [Samuel Green] may have been the son of Richard Green, who came over from England in the ‘Shield’ in 1678. Richard Green was a voter in Amwell township, Hunterdon county, in 1738, and a chosen freeholder in 1739” [Greenland in New Jersey].

The problem with identifying this Richard Green as Samuel’s father is that the father would have to have been born by 1660 or earlier if he came to New Jersey as an adult, which he must have to get listed as a passenger in 1678. In 1739 he would have been about 79-80 years old. It seems doubtful in those hard times that a man that old would still be on a freeholders list. D. Stanton Hammond found no evidence of Richard Green among the early landowners of Hunterdon County. But early deeds do show that a Richard Green owned land east of Rosemont, on land also owned by Samuel Green. I am pretty certain that the Amwell freeholder was Samuel Green’s second son, born about 1712. The fact that Samuel named his son Richard makes the elder Richard who arrived in 1678 more of a candidate for Samuel Green’s father.

Possible Brothers of Samuel Green

According to Snell’s History of Somerset and Hunterdon, Samuel Green had a brother George who also made considerable investments in West New Jersey real estate, but appears not to have had children. George Green was present in Amwell Township in 1723 when he made the inventory of Samuel Coates. In 1725, Samuel Green surveyed 610 acres for George Green in what became Hope Township in Warren County. In 1727, Samuel and George Green administered the estate of John Knowles dec’d of Amwell. And in 1735, the will of John Porterfield of Trenton mentioned land bought from George Green in Nottingham, Burlington Co. That may have been land that George Green sold after moving north to Amwell Township.

Another brother might be William Green of Trenton, who was assessor for Hopewell in 1721, wrote his will in January 1722, mentioning his 11 children (some of them minors), but saying nothing about parents or brothers. A Green researcher claims that William’s parents were Richard Green (1655-1722) and Elizabeth Arnold, born Nov. 2, 1659. I do not know what the source is for that information. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register [Vols. 37-52, pg 438] lists among the children of Stephen Arnold (1622-1699) of Rhode Island: “Elizabeth b. Nov. 2, 1659; d. June 5, 1728. Her husband was Peter Greene, Deputy Governor of Rhode Island.”

In fact, one family tree shows Samuel Green (b.1671) as the son of Elizabeth Arnold and Peter Green. Again, no sources. Perhaps Samuel Green came from Rhode Island. But most family trees do not list a Samuel among the children of Peter and Elizabeth Green. I have not been able to find a will for Peter Green online, but it should answer this question. Most online trees for Peter and Elizabeth Green do list a son William Green, the same William who died in Hunterdon County in 1722, but again–no proof.

According to R. P. Ely (cited above), Green family tradition claims that William Green came to America at an early date, and, due to a falling out with some unidentified family members, decided to return to England. But while waiting to sail from New York, he met his future wife, Joanna Reeder, on Long Island, and changed his mind. That says next to nothing about a connection with Richard Green, but it is interesting anyway.

In 1741, a Richard Green, yeoman of Trenton Township, wrote his will, naming wife Mary and brother William executors. Two of his sons were named Richard and William. He also named a son George, to whom he left “land in Amwell Twp. in the care of John Hawkings.” This Richard Green was probably the son of William who died in 1722, and thus, possibly, a nephew of Samuel Green.

That mention of John Hawkings makes a sidebar downright irresistible, because he is another mystery man with connections to early Hunterdon County. Hubert Schmidt wrote in his book “Some Hunterdon Place Names” that the Alexauken Creek, which runs near the southern border of old Amwell Township, may have been named for a pioneer hunter and trapper named Alex Hawkins or some variation of the name (Ellis, Elias, Saucken, Hocking). If there was such a person, he never got pinned down in the surviving records. However, we do have John Hawkings present in Amwell in the 1740s. He was on the list of Amwell freeholders in 1741, and was among those listed in the 1749 account of the estate of Thomas Furman of Amwell. The land of Richard Green was in the care of John Hawkings, which suggests he was only a tenant.

Continuing with possible brothers of Samuel Green, there was a John Green, yeoman of Wellingboro, Burlington County, who wrote his will on Nov. 27, 1732, in which he bequeathed to his minor children real estate that included 300 acres in Hunterdon County “called the Lotting.” That meant in Amwell Township or further north. (Discussion of the Lotting Purchase will come in a future post.) John Green made no reference to Richard, Samuel, William or George Green in his will, and none of his children had those names. It seems unlikely that he was related.

Samuel Green’s Name

If you search for a Samuel Green who died in 1760 on Rootsweb, you’ll get a lot of results for a John or Johann Samuel Green. Where did that come from? Every record I have seen for the Samuel Green who settled in Amwell before moving on to Sussex (later Warren) county always uses the name Samuel Green, never John Samuel Green or Johann Samuel Green.

Samuel Green’s eldest son Samuel was very close to the Moravian settlers in the area of Hope in Warren county around the time of the French and Indian War. In 1749 (well before the war began), he was baptized by the Moravians in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, under the name of Johann Samuel Green. The name was probably given to him by the Moravians. His father Samuel Sr. did not call him John or Johann in his will, just Samuel. Certainly the name never applied to Samuel Green Sr. And as far as I can tell, he never spelled his name “Greene.”

This has gone on long enough. In the next post (which may take a week or more to write), I want to explore some New Jersey history during the 1680s and 1690s, to understand what the settlers and landowners of the new province of West New Jersey had to deal with.