Well, it looks as if I can’t get more than one year’s worth of information in a single post. Can’t help it—the times were just too interesting.

Edmund Andros

In January 1680/81, Gov. Andros, who had been carrying out the wishes of his patron, James Duke of York, was recalled to England to answer charges of financial corruption. His heavy-handed tactics, especially in East New Jersey, had made him a liability to James, who was having problems of his own. Andros returned home in May 1681, but instead of imprisonment, he was knighted, after the charges were dropped in December 1681.

Needless to say, in Carteret’s colony of East New Jersey Andros was not missed. However, except for the hapless John Fenwick, West New Jersey residents were only moderately tormented by Andros. Still, they must have been relieved that he was gone. Unfortunately, like a bad penny, Andros would be back.1

Edward Byllinge

Once James had deeded the right of government to Edward Byllinge (on Aug. 6, 1680), the other English proprietors, not wanting to rock the boat, elected Byllinge governor. Not long afterwards, Byllinge wrote a pamphlet designed to encourage more settlement of his province. At least, I think it was Byllinge. The author or authors of “The Present State of the Colony of West-Jersey, Anno Dom. 1681” are not known. But who else would have written it? William Penn? Perhaps. But Penn had his mind on a new colony, and Byllinge had the most incentive to promote West New Jersey. Here are some excerpts from this interesting tract:

Some few Years since [he could only mean two or three years], there were several Printed Papers published, giving Account of this Colony, which gave Encouragement to many Persons to Purchase Lands, and Transport Themselves, Servants, and Families thither, who have settled Themselves in that Colony, upon the Great River of Delaware, and the Creeks and Harbors thereof; and have Built some Towns apt for Trade, with Convenient Ports, where large Ships of Considerable Burthen have already unloaded, especially at Burlington, Scituate about a Hundred and Fifty Miles [really only 100 miles] from the Sea up the said River.

And there are also many Families, who have settled Themselves in that Country; some about Husbandry, others have Erected Mills for Grinding Corn, and several other necessary Tradesmen have There settled Themselves in Towns, and in the Country, fit for their Respective Undertakings . . . They have also Coopers, Smiths, Carpenters, Bricklayers, Wheel-Wrights, Plow-Wrights, and Mill-Wrights, Ship Carpenters, and other Trades which work upon what the Country produces for Manufacturies.
. . . Their Houses are some Built of Brick, some of Timber, Plaister’d and Ceil’d, as in England [the traditional Tudor or Jacobean house]: . . . And what they do not Spend, or have to Spare, they sell to their Neighbours, and Transport the Rest to the other American-Plantations. . . .

Then there comes a paragraph describing “the Title of the said Colony” in which it was noted that the Duke [of York]

“Granted the Power of Government of the said West-Jersey unto the said Edward Billinge, His Deputy or Deputyes, Commissioner or Commissioners, for Governing and Settling the said West-Jersey; And that in as full and ample Manner, to all Intents and Purposes, as the same was Granted to Him by the King. All which Laws and Settlements are and are to be Made and Done with the Consent and Approbation of the Proprietors and Free-holders thereof. So that, neither Customs, Charge, Imposition, nor any other services or Taxes whatsoever, are to be Imposed upon the Inhabitants, but by their own Consent in a Free and General-Assembly of the Proprietors and Free-Holders of the said Colony; which Assembly is to meet once every Year.”

This paragraph seems to argue both for and against Byllinge as author. On the one hand, he emphasizes the conveyance of the right of government to him from James Duke of York, and on the other hand, he describes the power of the General Assembly. But perhaps that was because Byllinge had not yet concluded, as he soon would, that an Assembly could be a great irritation to a governor.

“The Present State” also declared that provision had been made for “liberty of conscience in matters of religion” and described “the method laid down for sale and division of West Jersey” which “is by Proprieties.”

“In each of these Hundred Parts or Proprieties, the Quantity of Acres, cannot be absolutely Ascertain’d; but its generally judged to be Twenty Thousand Acres, and upwards; but some have accounted each Propriety to contain much more. . . . The Dividing and Laying out the Land is done by Commissioners appointed upon the Place. And there is a large Tract of Land, containing above Sixty English Miles, lying along the River of Delaware, taken up, and Bought of the Natives: The Commissioners lay out (at present) about Five or Six Thousand Acres of Land for a Propriety out of this Tract, as People come over that have Bought: By which Means, the People settle near together, for their Conveniency of Trade and Commerce.”

At the time of writing, “Several of the [proprieties] remains [sic] yet to be sold.”2

William Penn

Following James’ grant to Edward Byllinge, Penn decided that he needed to establish a new Quaker colony, controlled by him rather than Byllinge. So, he petitioned the king for a grant of land, and, due to the debts that Charles II owed to Penn’s father, the request was granted on March 4, 1680/81 in the form of Pennsylvania—in other words, everything west of the Delaware River. The only shortcoming was that the land had no direct access to the sea. So, Penn turned to his friend the Duke of York, who still had ownership of “all that Town of New-Castle otherwise called Delaware and Fort thereunto lying between Maryland and New Jersey in America.” Penn managed to persuade James to grant that land to him in addition to Pennsylvania.3.

A surprising tidbit I learned from author Mary Lou Lustig was that William Penn had a high opinion of the governing ability of Edmund Andros. She speculated that it might have been because of his friendship with the Duke of York. Penn thought highly enough of Andros to actually offer him the job of governor of Pennsylvania. Given the mercenary and authoritarian tendencies of Edmund Andros, this comes as something of a shock. Fortunately for the Pennsylvania Quakers, Andros turned down the offer.

Samuel Jennings

Edward Byllinge took it upon himself to name Samuel Jennings to serve as governor in West New Jersey. He did not use the term deputy governor, but that was in effect what he meant. In a pamphlet written in 1698,4 Jennings claimed that the Friends understood that Byllinge took the position of governor in trust, “and would use it no otherwise.” Byllinge claimed he had to take it because only a single person could be named governor. Jennings quoted William Penn as saying that Byllinge solicited the position “in the name of the People, that they might be able to make good what they had sold them.”

Jennings arrived in Burlington in September 1680. As mentioned in the previous post, the residents of West New Jersey did not realize that Jennings had been named deputy governor when he arrived, and he kept it quiet for a little while. His name did not appear in the minutes of the Burlington Court for October 4, 1680. Jennings wrote that he knew that Byllinge had no right to “grant commissions” before the first Assembly had met, and after arriving in Burlington, Jennings met with “as many as I could of the most antient and considerable of the Inhabitants here” to inform them that he would not impose upon them except as they thought he might be useful. William Penn, “believing Jennings a worthy man, advised the inhabitants to accept him.”5 In the interests of maintaining order, these “antient Inhabitants” chose to keep Jennings’ commission as deputy governor. Edward Byllinge also sent a letter proclaiming his intent to settle the affair to everyone’s content and to settle himself in West New Jersey as soon as possible. The letter came on a ship carrying passengers like William Biddle, Elias Farr and Benjamin Scott.

The Burlington Court

The first meeting of the Burlington Court for 1681 took place on March 25th. The eight commissioners solemnly promised (as good Quakers, they did not swear) as “Chosen Commissioners for the Province of West New Jersey” to discharge their duties according to the law of the Province (i.e., the Concessions & Agreements). Samuel Jennings was not identified as the governor; he was just one of the Commissioners.

William Emley was elected “by the Common Vote of the People” as Sheriff “of that part of the Province of West New Jersey from St. Pinck to the Creek called Oldmans Creek.” Thomas Revel was elected register for the same area, while James Nevill was elected register for the Salem Tenth, running from Oldman’s Creek to the Cohansey. Daniel Leeds was elected surveyor of land from St. Pinck’s to Oldmans, and his fees were set: 10 shillings for the first 100 acres; 5 shillings for the next 100 acres; 2 shillings 6 pence for every 100 acres thereafter in one parcel. For public lands he would be paid 10 shillings a day, plus extra if he went further than 12 miles from his home. All persons wishing to lay out new lands for themselves had to come to the commissioners to have them designate a surveyor. It was ordered that all persons should bring in their deeds to be recorded. And, finally, all freeholders were ordered to come forth and sign the Concessions & Agreements.

Two constables were elected: one (Thomas Wood) for “the Falls and the Liberties thereof” (the Trenton area) and John Woolston for Burlington and the Liberties thereof. This seems to refer to the first (Yorkshire) tenth and the second (London) tenth. For the rest of 1681, the court heard various civil complaints. At the first session of 1682, also in March, the court acknowledged Samuel Jennings as governor, who sat with the Commissioners. There was nothing in the minutes about new officeholders. The Commissioners were not referred to as Justices until September 1682.

The Irish Tenth

Back in March 1677, a full proprietary share was sold by Edward Byllinge along with Penn, Lawrie and Lucas to seven Irish Friends. The next month another full share was sold to an additional five Irish Friends. But they did not send settlers to West New Jersey until 1681, when they took up land in the third tenth, from Timber Creek to Pennsauken Creek [see Map here]. Because the first purchasers were Irish, the name “Irish Tenth” was often used instead of the Third Tenth. Although many of the Irish purchasers did eventually make the trip to West New Jersey, most of the later settlers there were English.

Two ships from Ireland arrived on September 19, 1681, having been outfitted by William Penn. One was named “Ye Owners Adventure,” although perhaps Penn was not responsible for the name. It was “a narrow-sterned vessel called a pink,” which set sail from Dublin to the Delaware River. On the ship were William Bates, Thomas Thackera, Mark Newlin [Newbie?], George Goldsmith (single) and Thomas Sharp (single).6 Some of the other Irish Quakers who bought shares and then made the trip to the Irish Tenth were Anthony Sharp, Robert Turner, Robert Zane, William Cooper, John Thompson, Andrew Robinson, Richard Hunter, John Dennis, William Clark, and Thomas Atherton.

Other Settlers in the Irish Tenth

These Irish were not the first to settle near Gloucester. There were many there with Dutch or Swedish names, who had probably been living there for a decade or more—people like Peter and Woolley Dalbo; John and Wooley Derickson (or Erickson); Gasperon Fish; Jasper Gaest; Lasse (Lacey), Hance and Mounts Halton; Hermanius Holme; Lacye, Lawrence and Mons Holton; Andreas, Lacy, and Mathias Hoomen or Hoeman; Peter Jaego; Mons Janson; Canute, Cornelius, Juste and Mons Justeson; Hance Lassey alias Coleman; Nicolas Matson alias Lawson; Peter Dalbo Matson; Justa and Morton Orrion or Orien; Paule Paulson; Hans and Woola Peterson; Peter Ponyon alias Erickson; Garret and John Van Ima or Van Iman; Joseph and Nicholas Yong.

I cannot say which of these names were Dutch and which were Swedish. They were certainly outnumbered by English and Irish names, but their presence was significant. Generally, they were not appointed or elected to positions like commissioner in the early years, probably because their English wasn’t good enough. But in 1684, when constable Hance Hopman was given a warrant to bring certain persons before the court to set forth their land claims, the names of those appearing were Mons Jonson, Peter Johnson, Hance Woolston and Daniel Livezey; also James Ostason als [alias] Hance Lassey Coleman and Neales Matson als [alias] Lawson. This confusion over names must have been caused by language difficulties.

The First Assembly of West New Jersey

Probably in early November 1681, an election for the first Assembly was held. With Andros out of the way, the election must have gone smoothly. The Assembly met on November 25, 1681, at Burlington, and passed “certain fundamentals.”7 The opening statement is beautifully expressed:

Forasmuch as it hath pleased God, to bring us into this Province of West New Jersey, and settle us here in safety, that we may be a people to the praise and honour of his name, who hath so dealt with us, and for the good and welfare of our posterity to come, we the Governor and Proprietors, freeholders and inhabitants of West New Jersey, by mutual consent and agreement, for the prevention of innovasion and oppression, either upon us or our posterity, and for the preservation of the peace and tranquility of the same; and that all may be encourage to go on cheerfully in their several places: We do make and constitute these our agreements to be as fundamentals to us and our posterity, to be held inviolable, and that no person or persons whatsoever, shall or may make void or disanul the same upon any presence whatsoever.

The ten “Fundamentals” supplemented the Concessions and Agreements of 1677 by defining the duties and relationship of the Governor to the Assembly, which were not really spelled out in the Concessions. For instance, the Assembly was to be elected “yearly and every year, at a day certain, chosen by the free people of the said Province.” That phrase “free people” is worth pondering, in light of later restrictions on voting. It is possible that one did not need to own property in order to vote in early West New Jersey.

Another interesting article stated that the Assembly could not be ‘prorogued or dissolved’ without its own consent. Given the number of times the kings of England chose to dissolve Parliaments, it’s not surprising that this provision was included. One must also remember that these were West New Jersey residents making laws for how their new governor, Edward Byllinge, was to comport himself in relation to them. I doubt very much that Byllinge was consulted before these laws were written.

The tenth “fundamental” provided for freedom of religion. It was the only provision not related to the Governor and Assembly. Given that the Concessions & Agreements had also explicitly provided for free expression of religion, it shows how important this particular civil right was in West New Jersey. The Fundamentals were signed by Samuel Jennings, Deputy Governor, and by Thomas Ollive, Speaker of the General Assembly. They were recorded by Thomas Revell, Clerk of the Assembly.

The First Laws of the General Assembly

The Fundamentals were signed into law on November 25th. But from November 21 through 28th, the Assembly worked on a series of additional laws, 36 in all, which were ratified on January 15, 1681/82. These involved the specifics for carrying out the Concessions & Agreements as well as the Fundamentals just passed, things like who should set fees, how to deal with straying livestock, rules to govern behavior of officeholders, right to fair trial and rules for conducting those trials, rules governing the probate of estates. Here are some other interesting provisions:

XVI. That £200 be raised “in coin, or skins or money” to defray the public debt. Thomas Budd and Thomas Gardiner were appointed to be receivers for these payments and to appoint “sub-collectors.”

XVIII. That after April 1st (following Nov. 26, 1681) all vessels bound for West New Jersey must “enter and clear at the port of Burlington in this Province.” In Article XIX, Burlington was also named as the “chief town and head” i.e., capital, of the Province.

XX. Provision for regulation of weights and measures: all persons to bring in their own weights and measures to have them regulated to the standards of England by a committee (Thomas Budd, John Woolston, John Burton, John Pancrass, Robert Stacy, John Lambert, William Riddle).

XXI. A general act of indemnity was proclaimed for all persons in the Province for any crime “against the any person or persons relating to the former government.” So, for instance, that whole business of Thomas Budd being in trouble for arranging for the election of an Assembly, as well as any other offensive acts by Edmund Andros, were to be forgotten.

The Assembly decided to leave the job of apportioning land to the existing commissioners, although future commissioners would be chosen by the Assembly rather than directly by the landowners. On November 23, 1681, the Commissioners laid out “The Methods of the Commissioners for settling and regulation of Lands,” twenty-two provisions, which were signed on January 14, 1681/82 by Gov. Jennings, along with Thomas Ollive, Daniel Wills, Robert Stacy, Thomas Gardner, Thomas Budd and Benjamin Scott.

The first item was an order to the surveyor (Daniel Leeds) to measure the length of the Delaware River from the Assunpink Creek to Cape May in order to determine division lines for the Tenths. (For some reason, the survey was never carried out.) They ordered that each Tenth would have frontage on the river and to extend far enough back ‘into the woods’ to have 64,000 acres. They put limits on acreage for individual purchasers in order to encourage them to settle near each other. Proprietors were allowed 400 acres to a propriety along with certain town lots, in addition to a basic allotment of 3200 acres.

The Commissioners limited the amount of frontage any individual could have on the river, and on creeks, clearly indicating where the most desirable lots were located. And to discourage absentee ownership, they required that lands taken up be settled in six months. The Commissioners also ordered everyone who had already taken up lands in the First and Second Tenths to prove they had title to their lands with deeds or other documents on or before January 12, 1682. This was reflected in the minutes of the Burlington Court.

And so ends 1681, another eventful year.

  1.  For an interesting book on Andros, see Mary Lou Lustig’s The Imperial Executive in America: Sir Edmund Andros, 1637-1714.
  2. The complete text of this interesting document can be found in Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707 edited by Albert Cook Myers (1912, pg 191-95).
  3. See ftnt 51 in Mary Lou Lustig’s The Imperial Executive in America Sir Edmund Andros, 1637-1714
  4. Samuel Jenning’s “Truth Rescued from Forgery and Falsehood: being an answer to a late scurrilous piece entituled “The case put and decided &c.” Which stole into the world without any known authors name affixed thereto, and renders it the more like it’s father, who was a lyer and murtherer from the beginning” (1699, reprint Philadelphia 1880), Jenning’s response to Daniel Leeds’s “Case put & decided.”
  5. John E. Pomfret in Paul A. Stellhorn & Michael Birkner, eds. The Governors of New Jersey, 1664-1974. Trenton, NJ: N.J. Historical Commission, 1982, pg 23.
  6. John D. Flansburg Morgan and Samuel H. Richards, Early Activities in the Upper Four Tenths, Camden Co. Historical Society Publications, Vol. 3 No.1, 1948 pg 14.
  7. These can be found in Samuel Smith, pg 126-128 and Leaming & Spicer pg 423-25.