Colony Of New Jersey

A Brief History

"New Jersey was so named, in 1664, at the time of its conquest by the English from the Dutch, in honor of Sir George Carteret, who had been governor of the Isle of Jersey, in the British Channel, and to whom, with Lord Berkley, the Duke of York conveyed the territory.

Until 1664, the territory continued under the jurisdiction of the Dutch, at New Netherlands. In March of that year, Charles II conveyed the whole territory to his brother, the Duke of York, who, in July, sold the tract called New Jersey to Carteret and Berkley, about three months prior to its reduction by Colonel Nichols [a British Governor that had acquired land grants from Native Americans under Dutch rule].

The first settlement in New Jersey was probably about the year 1620, at Bergen, a village a few miles west of New York. Fort Nassau, five miles from Camden, was built in 1623, but was deserted not long after. A few other settlements were made in the territory, but the settlement of Elizabethtown, in 1664, by persons from Long Island, is generally fixed upon as the era of colonization.

The following year, 1665, Philip Carteret, appointed governor by the proprietors, arrived at Elizabethtown, which he made the seat of government. He brought with him a constitution for the colony, which ordained a free assembly, consisting of a governor, council, and representatives; the latter to be chosen by each town. The legislative power resided in the assembly, the executive, in the governor and council.

The liberal provisions of this constitution, in connection with the fertility of the soil and salubrity of the climate, soon induced emigrants, chiefly from New England and New York, to form settlements within the territory. And, for some years, these settlements enjoyed an unusual exemption from the hardships and sufferings to which most of the other early colonies were subjected.

In 1672, on the occurrence of war between Holland and England, New York was taken by the former, and again brought under Dutch government. New Jersey and Delaware also submitted. All, however, was returned to the English during the following year.

In 1674, Lord Berkley made a conveyance of his half to John Fenwick, in trust for Edward Billinge and his assigns. Billinge, being in debt, presented his interest in the province to his creditors, William Jones and others being appointed trustees to dispose of the lands.

In the year 1676, the province of New Jersey was divided into East and West Jersey. In this division Carteret took East Jersey, the government of which he retained; and the trustees of Billinge, West Jersey. The Duke of York, though he had conveyed away his powers of government when he sold the province to Berkley and Carteret, in 1664, unjustly claimed West Jersey as a dependency of New York. These claims of the duke, Sir Edmund Andros, his governor in America, attempted to assert, and actually extended his jurisdiction over the province. But, due to great discontent and remonstrance's of the citizens, the subject was referred to commissioners, who decided against the Duke of York; upon which, in 1680, he relinquished his claims to the proprietors.

In 1682, Carteret, disgusted with the people, sold his right to East Jersey to William Penn and others, who immediately sold one half of it to the Earl of Perth and his associates. Robert Barclay, the celebrated author of 'The Apology for the Quakers,' was the next year made governor of East Jersey. In 1688, both the Jerseys and New York were annexed to New England, in which connection they continued until the accession of William and Mary to the throne of England in 1689. 'A government under the proprietors of both the Jerseys had become extremely disagreeable to the inhabitants; who, from various causes, became so uneasy, that the proprietors surrendered the government of East and West Jersey to the crown in 1702.'

The two provinces were now united into one, and annexed to New York, under the government of Lord Cornbury. The people were allowed a House of Representatives, consisting of twenty-four members; but the governor and council, consisting of twelve members, were appointed by the crown.

From this time to 1738 the province continued under the Governors of New York; but in that year an application made as early as 1728 for a separation from New York was granted, and Lewis Morris was appointed royal governor of the province.


— A History of the United States, by Charles A. Goodrich, 1857 (edited)


Copyright © 2020