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CHAPTER IV.
THE FIRST ENGLISH SETTLEMENTS IN NEW JERSEY

In the beginning, New Jersey, unlike New England and Virginia, was not a British colony. If the Swedish government had been stronger, New Jersey might have belonged to Sweden, but the few Swedish settlements along the Delaware River never grew strong enough to overcome the Dutch claim.

Holland, with its powerful New York government, might have taken over, but with its constant wars with England and the reluctance of its common people to move to the wilderness, it never widened its sphere of influence much beyond the banks of the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers, with a few scattered homes along the Raritan, Passaic, and Delaware Rivers, although for nine years, from 1655 to 1664, New Jersey was absolutely under Dutch control. England, at home, was going through a period of crisis ? a civil war had deposed and beheaded a king, and the Cromwells ruled the Commonwealth for several years. Another turn of events restored the monarchy, and Charles II came to the throne. Eyes once more turned to America with its promise of an expanded imperialism and possibly great wealth to accrue to the royal government. Colonel Richard Nicholls and 300 men were dispatched to drive out the Dutch from New Netherlands, but the Dutch thereupon entered into a negotiated surrender and their power in North America, except for a short interlude in 1673, passed into history.

This brief resume is necessary in order to fill in the background of the first English settlements in New Jersey, in Elizabeth and Newark, out of which grew the Millburn settlement. The facts of history rest on so many ifs?if the Swedes had been stronger, if the Dutch had not done thus and so, if Cromwell had prevailed, who knows what would now be our native tongue, or whether there would have been a United States of America. Someone now, perhaps, instead of writing the history of Millburn, would be writing the history of Molendam, New Holland, or some such place. A king has a bad breakfast; he snarls at his prime minister, and the royal indigestion changes the lives of unborn generations.

However, the House of Stuart did return to the throne, Charles II did rule, and the history of a small town in the United States of America, flows in its charted course.

Charles II wanted to do something nice for his younger brother, James, Duke of York. What more generous gesture could be made therefore, than to deed him a great big piece of real estate, thousands of square miles, in an unknown wilderness! On March 12, 1664, he granted to James a large tract in New England, practically all of Maine, and a good portion of Canada, and also more important to us, certain lands extending from the west side of Connecticut to the east side of Delaware Bay. The description is so vague that it is evident that his lawyers had only a very hazy idea of what they were conveying. That some of this land was already in private ownership did not seem to enter anyone's head.

James did not retain his right to all of this territory very long, for on June 24, 1664, he turned over to John, Lord Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret, a good, big chunk; namely:

"All that tract of land adjacent to New England, and lying and being to the westward of Long Island and Manhitus (Manhattan) Island, and bounded on the east by the main sea, and part by Hudson's river, and hath upon the west; Delaware Bay or River, and extendeth southward to the main ocean as far as Cape May at the mouth of the Delaware Bay; and to the northward as far as the northernmost branch of the said bay or river of Delaware... to be called by the name Nova Caesarea or New Jersey."

The name, New Jersey, was bestowed in honor of Carteret's defense of the Island of Jersey where he made his home.

A word of explanation might be in order here as to dates. The English legal year began on March 25th, the historical year, the following January 1st. June 24, 1664, was also June 24, 1663, depending on which calendar was used. Dates, therefore, are properly before 1752 written as 1663/1664, unless they fell between January 1st. and March 25th of each year, when they caught up with one another for that short period. In 1752 this confusion of dates was ended when the present Gregorian calendar was finally made the law of the land.

Berkeley and Carteret immediately set out to make use of their newly acquired territory. They were the Proprietors who owned it and had the right to govern it. It is possible that in order to prevail upon a great number of ordinary folks to leave their homes and migrate to a strange, wild country, they knew perfectly well that great inducements would have to be given to them. It must have been evident that in England, as elsewhere in Europe, a new spirit was abroad in the land. People were beginning to talk about liberty of conscience and freedom to govern themselves, strange words, but potent enough to have caused hundreds to leave home in the early part of the century and face a wilderness in an unknown world in order to achieve these rights. In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and in other parts of the new world, the experiments, while still far from perfect, had become realities, and a few thousand people were enjoying a form of life unknown to them in the old world.

Whatever their motives, Berkeley and Carteret hit upon the one thing to attract settlers to their new land.

On the following February 10, 1664, there was drawn up the remarkable document known as "The Concession and Agreement of the Lords Proprietors of the Province of Nova Caesarea, or New Jersey, to and with all and every the Adventurers and all such as shall settle or plant there", which has been variously called "The Magna Charta of New Jersey", the "first principles of a popular government ever formulated in any age or in any country", and as it certainly was, "The First Constitution of the Colony of New Jersey."

This document is popularly referred to as the "Grants and Concessions". What was so remarkable about this paper, one may ask? The year was 1664. Intolerance and conformity were the rules and nowhere was a man truly free to follow the dictates of his mind and conscience. Women had no rights whatsoever.

However, the Grants and Concessions, after setting forth certain rules as to government officers to be named, provided that all persons who should become subjects of the King of England and swear allegiance to him should be admitted as freemen and enjoy the freedoms and immunities expressed. These freemen were given the right to choose their own deputies or representatives to join with the Governor and Council in making laws, and this General Assembly had the power to make or repeal laws, lay equal taxes, divide the Province into districts, allot to every head, free or servant, male, or female, a quantity of land; to establish courts, commission judges civil and criminal, to review sentences and reprieve or pardon if facts warranted. One item particularly stood out:

"Item: That no person qualified as aforesaid within the Province shall at any time in any way be molested, punished, disquieted or called in question for any difference in opinion or practice in matters of religious concernments who do not actually disturb the civil peace of the Province.. but that all such persons may at all times freely and fully have and enjoy his and their judgments and consciences in matters of religion throughout the said Province, they behaving themselves peaceably and quietly..."

There is little doubt, that when the "Grants and Concessions" were printed and broadcast about England and the settlements in America, they created a stir. Nowhere did they excite more interest than in the Colony of New Haven.

In the Connecticut towns of Wethersfield, Milford, New Haven, and Guilford, collectively referred to as "The New Haven Colony", lived a group of Puritans who had moved there from other places along the Connecticut River.

In the New Haven Colony none but members of its church were entrusted with the rights of freemen. Implicit obedience was demanded of all who lived within its jurisdiction. Even within the family circle the head of the house was supreme and he must be obeyed. They were just and righteous men within their limits, but were merciless to the unrepentant sinner, and exacted the strictest penalties for any transgressions of their moral code. They demanded the most minute conformity in opinion as to matters of religious faith, and divergence would have meant expulsion from the Colony. No one, according to its law, could hold office, own land, or vote unless he were a member of the Church. In the rest of the Connecticut settlements such restrictions were becoming obsolete. When Charles II came to the throne a new order annulled these laws of the New Haven Colony, and an attempt was made to bring the whole of Connecticut under a uniform and more liberal charter. Some historians feel that Charles II was not wholly motivated by a growing democratic spirit. The Stuarts had never been noted for their democracy. The New Haven Colony had supported the Cromwells against Charles' family, and in their midst were sheltered two of the persons most responsible for severing the head of Charles' father,?two of the trial judges, who had sought refuge there. The new law was a simple way to plague the New Haven Puritans, as well as accomplish other aims.

The prospect of submitting to the prospective charter had frightened the New Haven Colony for some time, and for several years Robert Treat and a committee had been negotiating with Peter Stuyvesant to establish a new colony in New Netherlands and there carry on their peculiar principles. Nothing came of the negotiations and in 1662 the New Haven Colony was merged with the Connecticut Commonwealth.

When the "Concessions" were presented to the Group they immediately perceived that there might be the answer. In no time at all a petition was made and granted, and Robert Treat and a selected group journeyed to New Jersey and toured the Province from one end to the other, seeking the best possible spot. They finally decided to choose the land bordering on Newark Bay and the Passaic River, and with the permission of Carteret they prepared to migrate to their new home.

Before they left, however, they drew up their own agreement signed on October 30, 1666. The first clause in their "Fundamental Agreement" which had to be signed by everyone desiring to become a part of the new colony, provided:

"1st: That none shall be admitted freemen or free burgesses within our town upon the Pesayak River in the Province of New Jersey, but such planters as are members of some or other of our congregational churches, nor shall any but such be chosen to magistracy, or to carry on any part of civil judicature, or as deputies or assistants to have power to vote in establishing laws and making or repealing them, or to any chief military trust or office. Nor shall any but such church members have any vote in any such elections..."

"2nd: We shall with care and diligence provide for the maintenance of the purity of religion provided in the congregational church..."

However, as a concession to the new liberal spirit, probably, it was permitted that all others admitted to be planters would have the right to their proper inheritance and to do and enjoy all other civil liberties and privileges according to all laws, orders, and grants, which are or shall hereafter be made for this town. (However, they would have no say in the making of such laws.)

We must not judge these men too harshly. They lived in an age when intolerance was the rule rather than the exception, and they sincerely believed that they were helping their fellow man to reach his heavenly goal. They firmly believed that "the Newark settlement was to be the final attempt to found a Kingdom of God on earth."

What does seem odd now, is that Berkeley and Carteret, in the light of their "Grants and Concessions" permitted the new colonists to set up their own arbitrary rules, and some historians think Treat may have made some special agreement with the Proprietors. As individuals they had no right to set up their own courts or to make sundry other rules including provisions touching on military matters. But if they had made such an arrangement it has become lost, as no record remains of it.

The Fundamental Agreements were signed by 64 heads of families, and allowing at least four members to a family, more than 250 persons must have finally sailed from New Haven, in the middle of May, 1666/1667, to their new home. The settlement's first name was "Milford on the Pesayak River", but was very shortly afterward changed to New Ark, or Newark, after Newark-on-Trent, the home of their minister, Rev. Abraham Pierson.

The Newark Colony prospered. Apart from the initial trouble with the Indians, which shall be told hereafter, and the 9.

natural hardships of building a city out of wilderness, there were few difficulties in their material progress. The Fundamental Agreements gradually slipped into disuse, and as the older folks died off were abandoned. By 1685 they were completely disregarded. Almost from the first, Newark people pushed back into the country and homes sprang up everywhere among the Newark Mountains. However, political differences with the Proprietors developed almost immediately, and like the Elizabethtown troubles, many of them were not settled until the Revolution.

In the meantime, and before Robert Treat had finished his preparations to leave Connecticut, another group of English Calvinists on Long Island, who had hailed the Dutch withdrawal with delight, renewed negotiations to move to New Jersey. They, too, had been through a long and fruitless dickering with New Amsterdam for permission to move, but nothing came of it. These residents lived mostly in Jamaica, Hempstead, Southold, and the Hamptons, and many were kinsmen or close friends of members of the New Haven Colony. In fact, several had moved from New Haven to Long Island a few years previously.

On the Dutch surrender, the Long Islanders moved quickly. On August 29, 1664, the Dutch had surrendered, and Richard Nicholls took on the office of Deputy Governor for the Duke of York. Within four weeks a petition signed by six men, John Bailey, Daniel Denton, Thomas Benedict, Nathan Denton, John Foster, and Luke Watson, was made to Governor Nicholls asking permission to "purchas and setle a parcel of land."

The usual thing to do, according to Daniel Denton, who was the literary member of the Colony, (his book, "A Brief Description of New York" published in London in 1680, was the first printed work on the subject in the English language), was for a company of people to join together, either enough to make a town or part of a town, send representatives with the consent of the Governor to view a tract of land, and on finding a place suitable, to petition the Governor for a grant or patent to form a town.

The place preferred by the Long Islanders was a plantation on the "After cull River", the latter an attempt at spelling the "Achter Koll", the Dutch name for Newark Bay. (Today we have further anglicized the name and ball part of that Bay, "Arthur Kill".) On September 30th, the Long Island representatives had written permission from Nicholls, and on October 28th, John Bailey (Baily), Daniel Denton, and Luke Watson, received a deed from the Indians for themselves and their associates. On December 1, 1664, Nicholls confirmed the deed to John Baker, John Ogden, John Baily, and Luke Watson, and their associates, Denton having assigned his rights to Ogden and Baker.

Governor Nicholls had almost immediately on assuming office issued a set of conditions under which new planters could enter the territory of the Duke of York. The conditions were not many and provided that persons desiring to start a town should purchase land from the Indian Sachems and record their purchases with the Governor. The purchasers were to be free of all assessments for five years, and would own the lands in fee forever. Liberty of conscience was to be allowed, provided such liberty "is not converted to licentiousness, or the Disturbance of Others in the exercise of the Protestant Religion". All men, except servants and day-labourers, were to be freemen on taking the oath of allegiance. Certain rights of governing themselves were also bestowed.

Everything seemed to be in order and shortly afterward the first settlers arrived. The exact date of their coming is not now known, as the first Elizabethtown Record Book was lost or stolen in 1718, and no copy of it has as yet been discovered. However, by early Spring, 1665, the settlement was well under way with about 70 planters, wives and children, established. This was almost two years before the Newark settlement.

Their tranquility was shortlived, however. At the time they had made their arrangements with Nicholls, neither they, nor Nicholls, knew of the sale by the Duke of York to Berkeley and Carteret, and they had not heard of the "Grants and Concessions". News travelled very slowly in those days, it must be remembered. Nicholls, too, presumed as the Duke's Deputy, he had the right to confirm and grant land in the Province and to govern it. In August, 1665, therefore, they were disturbed by the arrival of 26 year old Captain Philip Carteret, a cousin of Sir George, with a company of emigrants, to be their Governor. However, the leaders met him, showed him their Indian deed and Colonel Nicholls' approval, and all seemed well. In fact, it is told that Carteret grabbed a hoe from someone and marched gaily up the street from the ship, saying that he would be a planter too. In honor of Sir George Carteret's wife, Elizabeth, that name was chosen as the name of the settlement.

But soon a succession of big and little troubles began to appear in both the settlements of Newark and Elizabeth. Both had paid for their deeds from the Indians and could not understand how anyone else had the right to the land. They wanted no part of the Proprietors' interference, as they considered it, and wanted to make their own rules. For many years they had lived in towns their fathers had founded in America, completely apart from the London authorities. The King and Parliament meant nothing to them, and they had little feeling of allegiance to a monarch across the seas. They were unyielding, independent men, and no one was going to tell them what to do, or how to do it. Most of the company Philip Carteret brought with him were either French Roman Catholics or members of the Church of England, both denominations anathema to the colonists, and Philip proceeded to allot lands to them and declare their rights, and soon feeling seethed in the new settlements. one such allotment of land by Philip started the first of the many law suits which plagued the communities.

An attempt to enforce one item of the "Grants and Concessions" trifling in itself, was to be a major bone of contention and formed the basis of the famous "quit rents" controversy which raged for generations.

Item V of the Sixth division of the Concessions provided that the settlers should pay the rate of one penny or halfpenny per acre yearly to the Proprietors. The Nicholls agreement, however, knowing nothing of this clause, had promised that the land should be free of all assessments for at least five years. The rent of a penny or halfpenny an acre was small, but the colonists refused to pay, and one of the first breeches between the London authorities and the settlement developed.

It is quite probable that if the colonists had paid this rent many quarrels might have been avoided. A quit-rent is a feudal acknowledgment of tenure, however, and its payment was symbolic of a servility which the people had migrated to a strange land in order to avoid. Newark once did tender payment in wheat, but it was refused. The young America was a strong and lusty child who wanted to be free of its mother's apron strings, no matter how loosely its strings are tied, or how beloved the mother might be.

Berkeley and Carteret also began to modify their Grants and Concessions in a series of declarations of their true intent and meaning. In one they disowned any patents (that is, deeds or grants), made by Nicholls, although they offered to redress injustices if the quit-rents were paid; in another they took away some powers of the General Assembly, and so on. A letter sent by Berkeley and Carteret must have irked the colonists. It was addressed to "The Pretended Representatives of Elizabeth-town, Newark, and all others whom it may concern". It offered to listen to their "pretended" grievances, "altho' you have not had such a tender regard of our concerns in those parts, as in justice and equity you ought to have had... of Signed, "Your loving friends, J. Berkeley and G. Carteret".

Evidently Berkeley and Carteret had hoped to turn a nice profit from the land the Duke had given them; the King hoped to establish a prosperous Colony in New Jersey which would strengthen the Empire in many ways, and nothing was working out right. The settlers were getting deeds from the Indians and acting as if they were their own government. Things had reached such a pass that in 1673 when the Dutch again, with the help of certain English residents of New York, captured New Jersey, there was a rush to swear allegiance to the new rule, in return for which the land claims were to be confirmed in the original purchasers. The Dutch rule was shortlived, however; a peace was once more made between the warring nations, and the captured territory was returned to the English. The old conflicts were on again, with increased bitterness on both sides, and only slight offers of compromise were offered by either party.

The Proprietors in 1684 moved the capitol from Elizabeth to Perth Amboy. On Sir George Carteret's death, his widow sold his share to William Penn and his Quaker associates, and eventually New Jersey was divided into the Provinces of East and West Jersey.

Proprietors changed; kings were crowned and died - Charles II, James II, (the former Duke of York); William III, Anne I; Governors came and went, but the feeling between the people and the authorities across the sea never softened.

By 1702 when Anne assumed the throne it seemed as if the Proprietors had had enough of governing an unruly people. By petition of April 15, 1702, they begged Anne to take back the function of government, and they surrendered all their rights to rule New Jersey. The surrender was accepted and at last New Jersey became a Crown Colony and the people became British subjects. The Proprietors still owned much of the land, however, and one law suit after another filled the Courts until the Revolution.

New Jersey was unique among the British colonies. The fact that the governing body had no right or title to the soil is a distinctive feature of New Jersey at that time. After 1702 the governing power was held by the king, administered by the Governor, council, and assembly, but the title to most of the land was held by the Proprietors.

It may be of interest to some to learn that New Jersey still has a Board of Proprietors. Their office is in Perth Amboy where the old records are still stored. The Board meets at infrequent intervals and still has power to give deeds for certain property in New Jersey.

Millburn was spared the controversies and riots which marked these quarrels we have mentioned. The first settlers here came about 1702, and their titles to, and enjoyment of, possession of their land was never questioned. However, the new people of Millburn must have shared in the dissatisfaction apparent. Most of the first comers here were the descendants of the Newark and Elizabeth colonists and these towns provided all their needs. Their grievances must have been Millburn's grievances. The seeds of revolution sown in those early days found fertile ground here and burst into full flower in 1776. The many gravestones of Springfield and Short Hills bear their mute testimony to the men who stood at their bridges and crossroads to earn their right to a democratic governing on free soil.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Grants, Concessions and Original Constitution of the Province of New Jersey"
Aaron Leaming and Jacob Spicer. (1751-1752?reprinted 1881)
"A History of the City of Newark," Frank Urquhart and others (1913).
"History of Elizabeth, New Jersey", Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield (1868).
"Judicial and Civil History of New Jersey", John Whitehead (1897) New Jersey Legislative Manual.
"New Jersey as a Royal Province", Edgar Jacob Fisher, Ph.D., 1911
"Civil and Political History of New Jersey", Isaac S. Mulford, M.D. (1851)
"Path to Freedom", Donald L. Kemmerer, 1940.
"Founders and Builders of the Oranges" Whittemore.
"Twin Rivers, the Raritan and the Passaic" by Harry Emerson Wildes.