Note: This article is the 11th in a series that I began on August 20, 2009, concerning the Green family and the early settlement of the Province of West New Jersey.

The Assembly and the Contest for Governor

Through letters to the proprietors in West Jersey, Edward Byllinge had made it clear that he had no intention of acceding to the demands of their Assembly. In response, during the Assembly session of March 1684, Samuel Jennings and Thomas Budd were appointed to travel to England to make their demands to Byllinge in person. Thomas Olive was chosen to act as deputy governor during their absence.

As John Pomfret wrote, the Assembly appointed a committee of 14 to draft a petition to eight prominent Friends in England asking them to endorse their position that they were the legitimate owners of the right to govern. They would accept Byllinge as governor only if he would acknowledge that right. One argument they might have made was that James’s right to convey the right to govern was limited by the decision made by William Jones in 1680, which James had accepted.

The Assembly then dealt with the problem of debt that the Province had accumulated. It passed laws for setting up tax rates and collection of taxes by officials who would be elected by the respective tenths. They also made it legal for local governments to collect their own taxes.

The Assembly met again on November 3, 1684 (not having heard yet any news from England) and resolved that “matters remain” as they were, “without proceeding further at present.” They adjourned to May 11, 1685.1

Early List of Landowners

In June 1684, landowners in the Third Tenth were ordered to prove their deeds before the Burlington Court. There were 38 property owners in the Third Tenth, according to a listing in the Burlington Court Book (pp. 27-29). Also recorded were 87 landowners in the first two tenths, although the Burlington Court Book does not explicitly state that that is where they were from (pp. 30-32). A surprising number claimed property that had neither survey nor deed on paper. They were mostly residents who predated the Quaker immigration that began in 1677.

Richard Green’s name was not on the list; in fact, there was no one with the name Green. For all we know, Richard Green might have been living in Gloucester even so. He may have failed to appear before the Court before the list was drawn up. John Reading and Thomas Bull were also not listed. They probably arrived soon after the list was made.

Landowners in the Third Tenth (Gloucester)

William Albertson Jonas Keene
Richard Arnold Marcus Lawrence
William Biles Richard Lawrence
Benjamin Bramma Neales Lawson
Thomas Carelton Hance Peterson
Samuel Carpenter Neales Matson
Samuel Cole Hannah Newbie
Francis Collins Jeremiah Richards
Woolley Derickson Richard Russell
Peter Erickson Thomas Sharpe
Edward Everett Henry Stacy
Casper Fish/Fisk Thomas Thackeray
William Frampton Henry Treadway
John Hance Robet Turner
Andreas Hoeman Daniel Walton
John Hogge William Warner
Thomas Howell Henry Wood
John Ithell John Wood
John Kea Robert Zane

Landowners in the First & Second Tenths (Burlington)

Some names were listed twice (2), presumably for second tracts of land. I suspect that they owned land in both the first and second tenths. Names of those who also appeared in the Third Tenth have an asterisk *.

Samuel Andrews John Long
John Antram Bryan Morehouse
Daniel Bacon John Murfin
Samuel Barker Robert Murfin
William Barnes Michael Newbold
Thomas Bartin Samuel Oldale
William Beard John Pancras
Francis Beswick Roger Parke
William Biddle John Pattison
William Black Robert Pearson
Samuel Borden James Pharoe
John Blowers Thomas Revell
Mordecai Bowden John Rogers
Thomas Bowman Robert Scholey
Thomas Budd (2) Thomas Scholey
John Browne Thomas Sh[e]arman
John Butcher John Shinn
John Cripps Thomas Singleton
John Curtice Andrew Smith
Thomas Curtice Seth Smith
Francis Davenport John Sno[w]den
John Daye Henry Stacy (2) *
William Emley Mahlon Stacy
Thomas Farnsworth Robert Stacy
Elias Farre Hugh Staniland
Eleazer Fenton Joseph Stones
Thomas Fouke Edmund Stuard
Peter Fretwell Thomas Terry
John Fullwood John Theakes
George Goforth Thomas Tindall
John Goslinge and partners Percival Towle
Richard Guy John Underhill
Godfrey Hancock Mathew Watson
Peter Harrison Nathaniel West
Marmaduke Hawsman Robert Wilson
William Hickson Thomas Wood
John Hooten John Wood *
John Horner Anthony Woodhouse
George Hutchinson (2) John Woolston
John Lambert Joshua Wright
Thomas Lambert (2) Samuel Wright
William Laswell Thomas Wright (2)
Daniel Leeds Robert Young

On the list were “the 3 brothers wheelwrights” with no names given. Either their names were not known, or their names were so well known it wasn’t necessary to mention them.

The Byllinge-Jennings Dispute

Jennings and Budd departed for England in the summer of 1684. According to John E. Pomfret, when they visited Byllinge, he threatened to have them imprisoned for usurpation. They in turn threatened to take him to court. This sort of thing did not sit well with Quakers. The existing court system, like the government itself, was not sympathetic to the them. In fact, this year, persecution of the Quakers seemed to get worse, with many thrown in jail for trumped up offenses.

Jennings and Budd were persuaded to submit their complaint to arbitration by a panel of 14 Quakers [see Stellhorn & Birkner, pg 23]. I presume that the petition drafted by the West Jersey Assembly was presented to these arbitrators.

During the summer of 1684, William Penn had learned that Quakers were being persecuted in England. He also was concerned about challenges to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth coming from Lord Baltimore. This persuaded him to return to England, but he did not arrive until October 6th, so he was not among the group that was gathered to decide the fate of the governorship of West Jersey. Curiously, in a fragment of autobiography, Penn wrote about his arrival in England and meeting with King Charles and his brother James Duke of York, and also about his finding that Quakers were now far more persecuted than when he had left for America in 1682. But he wrote nothing about the dispute with Edward Byllinge.

Four of the arbitrators were George Fox, George Whitehead, Alexander Parker and Steven Crisp. After listening to both sides, the majority decided on October 11th that the election of Jennings as governor was illegal. The argument they followed was that the Concessions & Agreements themselves could not grant the right of government, and therefore could not divest Byllinge of his office (which was granted to him by James II in 1680) without his consent, which he certainly was not providing. Edward Byllinge was therefore approved as Governor of West New Jersey and deemed to be the chief proprietor.

Six of the 14 arbitrators would not sign the award, even though it stated that Byllinge should confirm the Concessions & Agreements. Oddly enough, he never did this, even though he had a hand in authoring them. Encouraged by the dissent among the arbitrators, Jennings and Budd remained in England to appeal the ruling to the Lords of Trades and Plantations, but without success. Stellhorn and Birkner wrote [pg 23] that Jennings was greatly disillusioned by this defeat, and “for the rest of his long life . . . remained an unyielding foe of arbitrary authority.” Jennings deserves the rank of hero in West New Jersey history.

I assume that Jennings and Budd communicated the bad news to the West New Jersey Assembly, although it does not seem to have reached Burlington until after the Assembly session of November 9, 1684. This legalistic and conservative decision by the English Quakers squelched the beginnings of a true democracy in West New Jersey. In those days, such an action seemed perfectly reasonable to most people. It is a wonder that the West Jersey settlers were so determined to govern themselves.

Next post: 1685.

  1. Aaron Leaming & Jacob Spicer, The Grants, Concessions & Original Constitution of the Province of New Jersey; The Acts Passed During the Proprietary Governments, and other Material Transactions before the Surrender  . . . to Queen Anne, 1752, Somerville, NJ: Honeyman & Co., 1881.