(1) Kreger, John M., Township
of Woodbridge, New Jersey, 1669-1781, Colonia, NJ: St. George Press, 1976, pp. 1-9:
INTRODUCTION - HOW WOODBRIDGE RECEIVED ITS NAME
No City, Township or Community
of any size should feel more honored in this Bi-Centennial year of 1976 than the Township of Woodbridge, New Jersey.
Why do we make this statement?
For the very true fact is that our Township had an active part in the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War
which severed the original thirteen Colonies from the control and domination of the British Crown.
As a matter of historical fact
the Township of Woodbridge
had its beginning over one hundred years prior to the Declaration of Independence.
It is believed that there is
no spot in our nation no replete with historic lore than our town of Woodbridge.
The early history of New Jersey was closely tied to the rivalry for overseas possession between European nations
during the so-called "Age of Exploration." In the seventeenth century, three powers, England, Sweden and Holland,
established settlements in the Middle Atlantic area of what is now the united States.
England believed it had first claim to this territory. In 1498, only six
years after Columbus discovered America, Cabot, an Italian explorer, in the employ of England had sailed along the Atlantic
coast of North America, and claimed all of the land for his employer, England.
The English delayed over a century
of time before taking any action to claim or settle any part of this land.
During the so-called "Age of
Exploration" the English settled at Jamestown, Virginia
in 1607, and at Plymouth, Massachusetts
The Hollanders or Dutch opened
a settlement or trading post in New
Amsterdam, now New York City, in 1624.
The Swedes, encouraged by their
brilliant King Augustus Adolphus, founded in 1638 a settlement near Wilmington,
Delaware and purchased from the native Indians in 1640 vast tracts of land
from the present Cape May northward toward New Salem, New Jersey.
In 1658, Governor Peter Stuyvesant
of New Amsterdam sent an expedition southward and forced the surrender
of the Swedes to the Dutch.
The English throne looked with
more than intense disfavor upon this intrusion of a foreign power between the English settlements in Massachusetts and Virginia.
The result of the ensuing conflict
resulted in the founding of the English Colonies in New York and New Jersey, since in 1664 a fleet of four English frigates sailed into New York Bay ready for action against the Dutch.
Old Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch
Governor, pounded his wooden leg against the floor, thrust two pistols in his belt and with pleading, then anger, demanded
a stalwart defense. His fellow Dutch council shuddered at the prospect of bloodshed and left the meeting dodging through narrow
lanes and alleys, starting at every dog bark and mistaking lamp posts for British grenadiers. Stuyvesant shouted until veins
bulged on his forehead. The Dutch citizens nailed up their doors and a awainted [sic] their inevitable conquest by English,
surrendering without a blow or a tear.
A General Nicols, a leader of
the English forces in this conquest took charge of the territory in New Jersey
from 1664 until the coming of Governor Philip Carteret in the late summer of 1665.
In 1660, Charles II ascended
the English throne as poor as a royal church mouse could be. He gradually paid off his creditors as best he could and was
also, particularly generous to his brother, James, the Duke of York. He gave his brother the land in America bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east
and the Delaware River on the west and south. This land was called New Jersey.
New Jersey was divided into two sections--East Jersey and West
Jersey. East Jersey was that part east of a line drawn from down near Little Egg Harbor on the east coast in a northwesterly
direction up to the Delaware Water Gap.
The Duke of York gave East Jersey to his friend, Lord George Carteret and the western section to Baron John Berkeley.
Prior to the coming of Carteret to East
Jersey transactions had already taken
place involving land purchase.
An indenture or agreement was
made in 1664 between certain Indian Chiefs of Staten Island of one part and John Bailey, Daniel Denton and Luke Watson of
Jamaica, Long Island on the other part for the purchase of a "parcel of land bounded on the south by a river commonly called
the Raritan, on the east by the Kil Van Kull, to run north up the Kill to the first river, the Passaic. and run west into
the country twice the length as it is broad".
The price paid the Indians was
twenty fathoms of trading cloth, (a fathom equals six feet in length), two tailored coats, two guns, two kettles, two bars
of lead, twenty handfuls of powder, and one year following the entry of Bailey, Denton and Watson into the area an additional
four hundred fathoms of white wampum (cylindrical beads made from shells, pierced and strung, used as money and for ornaments,
by North American Indians).
Shortly after 1664, Denton and his associates "made over" their purchase to Governor Carteret and John Ogden.
Sir George Carteret to whom the
Duke of York had given East Jersey had made a relative, Philip Carteret, the Governor.
Governor Carteret did not arrive
at his government of East Jersey until the end of the summer of 1665 at which time, as
stated previously the province was under the jurisdiction of General Nicols.
On Carteret's arrival he summoned a council, granted land and administered the government on the plan of General
Concessions, and took up his residence at Elizabethtown.
With Carteret came about thirty people, some of them servants. They brought supplies of various kinds including
goods proper for the planting of a new country. On December 11, 1868 Governor
Carteret sold the tract on which Woodbridge was settled to Daniel Pierce and a group of associates
from New England.
Governor Philip Carteret wanted
settlers to come to Woodbridge. He journeyed to Long Island and sent representatives to Connecticut and Massachusetts endeavoring to get settlers from those areas to come to East Jersey. He much preferred to have families who already had experience in the hardship of settling a new,
raw area, over inexperienced folks from across the seas. He was successful in his endeavors and pioneer families from New England, especially from Massachusetts
The agreement entered into by
Carteret in December of 1666 was confirmed by a deed dated December 3. 1667
and on the same day Daniel Pierce was commissioned as a deputy surveyor to run the boundary lines and lay out the lands to
the different associates.
On June 1,1669 a charter was
granted and "thankfully accepted", which erected the tract, called Woodbridge, said to contain six miles square, into a Township
to comprise not less than sixty families and by a resolution adopted in that day, "this number was not to be exceeded unless
by special order of this town."
It has been recorded that the
Charter given Woodbridge "was one of the most liberal over given in America". . . .
Some of the landmarks by which
the boundaries were designated are, of course, unknown but a general idea of Woodbridge
may be obtained from the following:
The line began at the mouth of
the Rahway River (called
Rawack) and followed the stream as high as the tide flowed to a fresh-water brook running west, north-west, "where there stands
a beech tree that is marked on the four sides of it." From this tree the line ran straight west through one large swamp and
two small ones until it reached a walnut stake in an open field. This stake was marked with two notches and a cross. The distance
from the beach tree to the stake was five and one-half miles. The line turned sharply to the south from this point, running
through what was known as "Dismal
Swamp" and striking the Raritan River at a distance of seven and one half miles from the walnut
stake aforementioned. The line now comes within ten chains west of two red cliffs on the opposite side of the river. (a chain
length is about seventy feet).
The Charter then gives the general
bounds, with allowance for waste places and highways. The Township was to contain six miles square which amounts to 23,040
acres, English measure.
The proprietors reserved to themselves
half of the gold and silver found in any New Jersey mines.
Freedom of religion was guaranteed
by the Charter and land was set aside for the maintenance of a free school. In addition. land for building a church thereon;
for use as a church yard; for the erection of a school house; for a market place; and other public places were donated to
the Township and forever exempted from taxes. The creation of a township court was authorized. Sections in the articles in
regard to free trade, war, election of deputies, liberty to sell and move from the place were all substantially adopted in
this generous Charter.
Of the first group of New Englanders
coming to their new home, the majority came from the vicinity of Newbury,
Massachusetts. They named their new home Woodbridge in honor of Reverend John Woodbridge, the assistant pastor of their Congregational Church.
"An acknowledged author of early
New Jersey history relates that Reverend John Woodbridge came to the then unnamed Woodbridge area accompanied by five men
from Massachusetts in the year 1661, three years earlier than any other related incident pertaining to our Township."
"The men who accompanied Reverend
Woodbridge were John Martin, Hopewell Hall, John Pike, John and Charles Gilman. They built five log cabins and a many sided
log house to he used as a church meeting place. These houses were constructed in an area which several years later was known
as the "Kirk Green". When the building activities were completed, the group returned to Massachusetts."
"ln 1663 they returned to this
area bringing their wives end children. They sailed by boat to Elizabethtown
and then set out on foot carrying bedding, furniture and household equipment. It was a difficult journey over very rough overgrown
terrain. Darkness overcame them before their arrival and when they reached the log house, weary and worn they retired forfeiting
an evening meal."
PUBLISHING OF FIRST LAWS
Governor Philip Carteret called
together in 1668 a council and assembly for the purpose of publishing laws for the government of the province. John Bishop
and Robert Dennis, both of the earliest Woodbridge settler group were members of the assembly. Some of the
first laws as published were in substance:
That persons resisting authority
should be punished at the discretion of the Court.
That men from sixteen to sixty
years of age, should provide themselves with arms on penalty of one shilling for the first weeks neglect, and two shillings
for each week after.
That for burglary or highway
robbery, the first offense, burning in the hand, the second offense burning in the forehead, in both to make restitution,
and for the third offense death.
For stealing, the first offense,
treble restitution, and the same for the second and third offense: with such increase of punishment as the court saw cause,
even to death, if the thief appeared to be incorrigible; but if not, and unable to make restitution they were to be sold for
satisfaction or to receive corporal punishment.
That undutiful children smiting
or cursing their parents except provoked thereunto for self preservation, upon complaint of, and proof from their parents
or either one of them should be punished with death.
That for night walking and reveling
after the hour of nine, the parties to be secured by the constable or other officers till morning and then not giving a satisfactory
account to the magistrate, to be bound over to the next court, and then receive such punishment as should be inflicted.
That no son, daughter, maid or
servant should marry without the consent of his or their parents, master or overseer without being three times published in
some public meeting or kirk near the parties abode or notice being set up in writing at some public house near where they
lived for fourteen days before, then to be solemnized by some approved minister, justice or chief officer: who, on penalty
of twenty pounds, and to be put out of office were to marry one who had not followed those directions.
GRANTING OF LAND TO EARLY SETTLERS
Grants of land were made to the
settlers--a grant of 100 acres was called a farm, a larger grant was known as a plantation.
We repeat the list of Freeholders
of Woodbridge supposed to comprise actual settlers to whom patents were granted in 1670. or thereabouts, with the amount of
land each man recieved [sic]. No doubt the land was laid out in plots and selection was made by the drawing of lots as was
suggested in the Charter. Occupancy of a grant for seven years entitled the occupant to ownership.
97 John Smith, Millwright* 512
98 John Smith
167 Abraham Tappen 95½
171 Israel Thorne
170 John Watkins
171 John Whitaker
470 John Allen, Minister 97
John Bishop Jr.
77 Wm. Brugley
165 Hugh Dun
326 John French
Thos. Bloomfield Jr. 92
Daniel Grasse 164
90 Jonathan Haynes
170 Henry Jaques* }
173 Henry Jaques Jr.}
174 Henry Lessenby
448 George Little
107 David Makany
94 Matthew Moore
94 Elisha Parker
213 Daniel Pierce*
448 Joshua Pierce*
167 Robert Rogers
172 Samuel Smith
249 Isaac Tappen
Stephen Kent Jr.
104 John Taylor
320 Robert Vanquelin 175
356 Nathan Webster
105 Richard Worth
308 Capt. Philip Carteret 313
John Pike Jr.
91 John Ilsey
173 Jahn Martin, Sr.
97 For the Ministry
1,000 Maintenance of Schools 100
*This asterisk denotes the nine
original associates who were granted 240 acres of upland and 40 of meadow, in addition to the regular allotment.
Of the nine original associates
families, five of the nine have burial plots in the White Church Cemetery that are still recognizable. They are as follows:
Kent--The Kents are
descendants of Stephen Kent of Newbury, Massachusets, who came from Southampton,
England in the ship "Confidence" in 1638 with his wife, Margery and four
or five servants. The interments in the Kent plot date hack to 1761.
Marsh--Hugh Marsh, carpenter,
came from Newbury, Massachusetts.
Both Hugh and his son Geroge are mentioned in the town records as early as 1667. The name of Mary Marsh, a daughter of Hugh,
is recorded in the marriage registry of March
27, 1691 when she became the wife
of Isaac Tappen.
There are sixteen interments
in the Marsh plot.
Pike--Captain John Pike of Newbury
came to Woodbridge in 1665 and was one of its most prominent men. He was
appointed a judge and was on Governor Carteret's staff for many years. He died in January 1688 or 1689. No monument marks
his grave but the grave of his son, Judge John Pike who died in August 1714 is marked and well preserved as are those of six
other members of the family interred in the Pike plot.
Major John Pike of Revolutionary
War fame and General Zebulon Montgomery Pike, famed explorer and army officer were of this family. Pike's Peak in Colorado is named after General Zebulon Montgomery Pike since
he discovered and mapped it in 1806. He was killed in 1813 while fighting against the British in the "War of 1812."
An interesting anecdote is on
record regarding Captain John Pike. "He (Captain John Pike), filled several offices and was an active citizen in Newbury.
On one occasion, in May 1688, it is recorded that "John Pike shall pay two shillings and six pence for departing from this
(town) meeting without leave contemptiously."
These early settlers were a stern,
disciplined, rules-abiding folks.
Jaques--The birth of several
children to Henry Jaques was recorded between 1874 and 1679. Henry was probably the son of Henry Jaques, Sr. of Newbury who
came there in 1640 [sic].
In passing, and for future records.
it is of interest to note that a part of the tract on which the new Woodbridge Shopping Center between old Metuchen Avenue
and Route 9 is built was for many years identified as the Jaques Farm, later as the Jaques Clay Bank and through the years
up to about 1960 was the production source of millions of tons of sand and first quality fire clays.
There are twenty six interments
in the Jaques plat in the White Church cemetery
going back to 1722, and there are also additional members of this family interred in the Trinity Episcopal Churchyard.
Smith--It is difficult to determine
whether the Smiths whose name are found in the records are all of the same family.
One of the earliest settlers
was John Smith, Millwright. He was quite a prominent and active citizen. He acted as Moderator of the first town meetings
which were held in his home and he was afterward Deputy of the Assembly and an Associate Judge. He was one of the original
Associates and is named in the Agreement as "John Smith of Barnstable."
In 1643, John Married Susann
Hinckley, whose brother Thomas later became Governor of New Jersey. Their children were Samuel born April 1644 and twelve
others, born between 1644 and 1668, viz. Sarah, Ebenezer, Mary, Doreas, John, Shuball, John, Benjamin, Ichabod, Elizabeth,
Thomas and Joseph. Samuel, Thomas and Ichabod Smith all had children whose births are recorded in the old Woodbridge records.
In 1677, after residing in Woodbridge for approximately twelve years, John returned to New England having exchanged his house and land here for a house and lot in Barnstable belonging to Nathaniel Fitz Randolph. Thus, a noted first settler left Woodbridge and another arrived which was to play an important role in the early town history.
(2) Dally, Joseph W., Woodbridge and Vicinity, New Brunswick,
NJ: A.E. Gordon, 1873, p. 20:
Ancient Woodbridge seems to have been well supplied with mechanics. Among them we notice five carpenters, viz.: John
Ilsly, Samuel Hale, John Bishop, Henry Jaquis, and Hugh March; one shoemaker, John Watkins; four blacksmiths, John Crandel,
John Robinson, Daniel Pierce, and John Taylor; one mason, Benjamin Cromwell; two tanners, William Elston and John Mootry;
and three weavers, Samuel Dennis, John Robeson, and Adam Hude. John French
was a dealer in bricks, and was elected a Freeholder, on condition that he should furnish the Woodbridge men with bricks in preference to all others. He was a mason by trade, and no doubt plied his vocation.
Good-natured John Smith was a millwright. There was another man bearing this name (as there always will be), and the neighbors
tried to keep them unmixed by addressing the latter as John Smith, Scotchman. Benjamin Parker was a joiner. "Benony Blacklich,"
who came into the settlement in 1671, was a shoemaker. Elisha Parker is mentioned as a merchant. Two doctors of medicine prescribed
for the ailing--George Lockhart and Peter Dessigny.
But why did our French
get only 15 acres of the original grants????