Thomas Shourds.

History and genealogy of Fenwick's colony, New Jersey online

. (page 1 of 52)
Online LibraryThomas ShourdsHistory and genealogy of Fenwick's colony, New Jersey → online text (page 1 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

pav I VI el^A see '.




1 o











Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1876, by

Thomas Siioukds and Geokge F. Nixon,

In the Oflice of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.



'public UBRARY

Astor, Lenox And TUden^




The earliest atteinpts at settlement l>y tlie Europeans on the
shores of the Delaware may be traced to the second decade of
tlie seventeenth century. In 1621 a charter was granted to the
West India Company by the United Netlierlands, whose pur-
pose was to transport colonists to these new Tei'ritories, and es-
taldisli trade and commercial intercourse therewith. In 1G28
Captain Cornelius Jacobson May, under the patronage of the
before-named company, made a voyage to America, and sailed
up the Delaware river as far as the moutli of Great Timber
creek, a few miles below the present site of Philadelphia, and
erected a trading' post, which was called Fort JS^assau. The
Swedes and Finns soon followed, as in 1638 Queen Christiana
gave her countenance to the sending of a Colony to the same
rivei", and where a settlement was made. Passing over the
grant made l)y Charles I., king of England, to Ednmnd Ploy-
don, in 16o4:, of certain territories in America, and the attempts
of the New Haven Colony, under Captain Nathaniel Turner, in
164:0, to effect a settlement on the eastern sliore of the river,
the English emigrants holding the right of go\'ernuient, and
title to the soil, under the conveyance made by the second
Charles to the Duke of York, 166-1, were the next to establisli a
Colony on the banks of tlie before-named river. The many
political changes, arising from the wars and internal commo-
tions of the liome government, added much to the attendant
troubles of the colonists, but at no time were they entirely lost
siglit of, or their nationality obliterated. Tlie language, the
customs, and the religions of each were distinctly preserved for
several generations, and even at this day have iu)t entirely

The Dutch were the least successful in establishing themselves
here, for the reason, doubtless, that much greater attractions lay
about New Amsterdam, and the many difficulties in which they
were involved by the dissentions across the sea. The Swedes
and Finns, yielding generally to the condition of things around
them, and avoiding as much as possible any participation in


fenwick's colony.

(juarrels between the Dutch and English, soon made a settlement
on the eastern or New Jersey side of the Delaware river ; most
of which can be traced with some degree of accnracy. In a
letter from William Penn, then living in Philadelphia, he says :
"The first planters were Dutch, and soon after the Swedes and
Finns. The Dutch applied themselves to trattic, and the Swedes
and Finns to husbandry. The Dutcli have a meeting place for
religious worship at New Gastle, and the Swedes one at Chris-
tiana, one at Tinicum and one at Wicaco, within half a mile of
tliis town. The Swedes inhabit the freshes of the river Dela-
ware. There is no need of giving any description of them who
are better known in England than here, but they are a plain,
strong and industrious people, yet have not made much progress
in the culture or propagation of fruit trees, as if they desired
ratlier to have money than plenty or trathc. But I presume the
Indians made tliem the more careless bv furnishino- them witli
the means of protit, to-Avit : all kinds of furs for rum and such
strong liquors. They kindly received me as did the English,
who were few Iiefore the people concerned with me came among
them. I must needs connnend their respect to authority and
kind behavior to the English. Tliey do not degenerate from
their old friendship between both kingdoms, as they are a peo-
ple, physical and strong of body, so have tliey fine children, and
almost every house is full ; it is rare to lind one of them without
three or four bovs, and as manv ii'irls ; some of them have six,
seven and eight sons, and I must do tlieni justice to say I see
few vouno- men more sober and industrious.'' On the New Jer-
sey shore thev had settled near Salem, on Raccoon creek, where
Swedesboro now stands, at tlie mouth of AVoodbury creek, and
other places on the navigation.

John Fenwick, on his arrival to this country, found much of
his territory occupied by the Swedes and Finns and Hollanders,
but he settled amicably with them by confirming tlieir title to
the land they held in possession. Deeds for the Finnstown tract
and the Boughtown tract and other like conveyances aj)pears on
record, and are curious documents in tbci]- way. Those settled
on Raccoon Creek had made their homes on either side of the
stream, and extending several miles along the same, with a
Church at Swedesboro. This Colony assumed such proportions
that the attention of travelers and historians w'ere attracted to
it, and many detached sketches of their mode of living, their
political arrangement, their success as farmers, dealers in furs
and skins, may be found in tlie old books. Near the mouth of
Woodbury Creek a few families of Swedes had their farms and

fenwick's colony,

fisheries, but this settlement always remained small, and was
eventually overiiTown by the Eno-lish, Mdio established a Friends'
Meeting there, and occnpied most of the land in that region. At
the outlet of Pennsiaukin Creek into the DelaAvare river at one
time stood a small stockade called Fort Eriwonock, surrounded
In' a few Swedes and Finns. This, like the Colony at Wood-
bury Creek, soon lost its identity, and the grants of land there-
abouts, as made by the proprietors of AVest New Jersey, took
precedence of any previous title to the same, saving always the
Indian ownership, Avliich was recognized and compensated for
previous to location. The more particularity is given to the
description of these localities and names of such as resided
there, for the reason that many of the emigrant's families
became the ancestors of the present inhabitants living in West
Jersey and scattered through the different States of the Union.
The use of surnames was nut general among the Swedes and
Finns for several years after the arrival and settlement of the
English nnder John Fenwick and William Peim. The custom
was overcome only by intermarriage with and the rigid usage t)f
the English in this regard, and has rendered it impossible to
follow the lines of families Mdiich took that direction. The
transposition of names, the alteration in spelling, as well as
Christain and surnames, is another source of confusion and leads
to endless difficulties in geneological research. Among the
Indians ; names were never hereditary, and one generation could
not trace its lines of blood through that of another by this
means. When any name could be found it was so ntterly
unpronouncable and beyond the possibility of being spelled, tliat
onr ancestors in despair abandoned all attempts at reconciling
the one language witli the other.

As early as the year 1684, the proper authorities of Salem
County Avere at much pains to secure a translation of the
language used by the Aborigines, and have the same on record
in one of the court's l)ooks of the Bailiwick, evidence of their
purpose to carry out a desirable object, and of how little was
accomplished thereby. These impediments are encountered by
the genealogist and antiquarian at every step, making dark his
pathway, and his progress in some degree uncertain. In
followiuii: the movements of the tirst Eno-lish emio-rants, tlie
inquiry very naturally arises why their places of settlement
were selected, as they were in this wilderness country, and the
causes that contributed such action. The charts of the new
world were defective, and knowledge of this particular section,
in like degree limited. These people were not surrounded with


prestige of any monied corporation, or backed Ly the royal
perogative to assist them iu this nndertaking. The breaking up
of their hoiisehokl was an end of all claims to an inheritance in
their native land. The persecutions they had passed through,
and the uncertainty of any change for the better, banished all
hopes of justice and tolerance for them. Whatever may have
been their attachments, or however bitter the feeling incident to
separation from friends and home ; no hope of return softened
their o'rief or assauo-ed tlieir sorrow. Witli all their earthlv
goods (limited among the most fortunate,) their families and
such of their associates as would make the venture, left the
shores of England never to return. Their departure was not
surrounded with any pleasant associations, neither had their
approach to the land of their adoption any anticipated welcome.
Privations and dangers met them at every step, but no means
ware at hand whereby they could escape. They only knew that
the Dalaware river was the western boundary of New Jersey,
but tlie most desirable localities wliereat to make their settle-
ment no one had given them any information. The natives,
they looked upon as savages in a literal sense, and dreaded the
necessity of any intercourse with them ; regarding the wild
beasts of the forest with less fear, and more easily controlled.
Under these circumstances did our ancestors turn tiieir ship
from the ocean into Delaware bay and ascend the river, ignorant
of where should be their abiding place.

John Fenwick, Avith his children, his associates and servants,
ill the little ship Grithn, Captain Griffith master, sailed up the
bay, about lifty miles along the eastern shore from Cape May,
and anchored opposite the old Swede's fort, Elsborg, near the
mouth of Assamhocking river, on the 23d of September, 1675,
old style. The day following they ascended the Assandiocking
river, now Salem, about three miles, and landed on the south
side of the river on a point of land pleasantly located, that
])eing, at the present computation of time, the iifth day of Octo-
ber, 1(575. We can readily imagine that their minds were
turned to the author of their being in adoration and praise for
their safe arrival to their newly adopted country, after a long
and tedious voyage in crossing the Atlantic of more than two
months and a half. Fenwick soon determined on lavino; out a
town at the place where they landed ; it l)eing one of those
pleasant autunmal days Avliich are common in this latitude at
that season of the year, lie gave it the name of Salem, wliieh
signities peace, and wluch name it still bears, it being the lirst
Eno;lish town on the Eastern shore of the Delaware. The next

FEN wick's colony,

in order of time was the sliip Kent, In-inging the London and
Yorkshire coniniissioners and many families, intending t<) oc-
cupy the hmds of West New Jersey. For some reasons never
explained the ship passed only about twenty miles higher up the
river tlian where the GritHn anchored, and the passengers went
on shore near the month of Raccoon creek, and where a settle-
ment of Swedes were found. The destination of the commis-
sioners and many of the emigrants w^as Yegon's Island, now
Burlington City, which p(nnt was reached after mucli trouble
and delay. The reason the passengers by this ship went so far
up the river is explained by this fact that where Burlington now
stands, as early as the year IGiiS, a, Hollander named Peter
Yegou built a house of entertainment for travelers. No other
settlement t(j that time had been sustained on, the river front
above the mouth of Raccoon creek until this p(jint was reached,
and, as a consequence, no discretion was left the commissioners
if they sought comfortable lodgings. The sale of rum by Peter
to the Indians ended in a drunken riot, in which he was driven
away from the house, and forced to abandon the place. George
Fox and his companion, Richard Lippincott, was of them who
rested in the empty dwelling one night on their road from New
England to Virginia, which occurrence he mentions in his jour-
nal. These are well settled historical facts, and accounts for
the procedure on the part of the commissioners, and also
explains tlie name attaclied to the island before the arrival of
the English. Several emigrant ships followed, and proceeded
at once to Burlington, M'here the people landed and soon found
homes in the neisbborhood. The Newton settlers chartered a
vessel for their special nse, the ship Adventure, and sailed from
Dublin harl>or. With them they brought all their worldly
goods, and some implements of husbandry, and arriving in the
winter season, they only proceeded as far as Salem, where they
remained through the cold weather. Their purpose Avas to set-
tle on the Irish tenth, lying between 01dman''s and Pennsahaw-
ken creek, and which they examined at once to carry out tliat
object. This was two years before William Penn lirst visited
America. A settlement was made on a stream falling into the
river Delaware opposite, and a short distance below the city of
Philadelphia, which they called Newton creek, and the same
name given to tlie location chosen. Why this place was pitched
upon, and whence the name adopted does not appear. This
settlement became allied with the Salem settlement more than
any other along the Delaware river ; marriages were fi-equent
among the inhabitants of the two locations. The prominent

8 FEN wick's colony.

cause of this, I presume, was that very early after the arrival of
Fenwick's colouy, and the one at Newton, Friends organized a
yearly and quMrterly meeting, composed of members of both
localities, an<l likewise those of Burlington. The early emi-
grants, hnding in the Aborigines excellent .neighbors and relia-
ble associates, the relations brought about marriages between the
emigrants and natives, involving the genealogy of a number of
families in the Salem tentli, and likewise all West Jersey. It
is ahvays to be regretted tliat so little pains has been taken to
trace the Indian blood, distributed in these latter generations,
and although much diluted, occasionally crops out, in feature or
form. Although, black liair, dark skin, and exact, graceful
form, may not always be taken as coming from this line, yet the
presumption is a fair one, that the j)arents of sucli witli several
remo\'es, were of this people, and the manor born. Like tlie
Swedes and Finns, however, their customs in regard to names
rendered it impossible to follow families in the ascending line,
and throuo-li neirlect, much lias been lost in the otlier direction.
In writinii; the liistory and also genealoo-y of ancient families
of Fenwick colony, I have been assisted by a number of persons
who have kindly loaned me their family records. Among the
most conspicuous is Charles E. Sheppard, of Bridgeton, a
yoamg practicing lawyer, of much promise, who has a talent for
anti(juarian researclies. Gideon D. Scull, the eldest son of
David Scull, of Pliiladelphia ; Gideon has resided in England
for a number of years, a man of literature, lias turned attention
extensively to the history and genealogy of liis native land, and
has furnislied me witli several valuable charts of families,
which otherwise would have been difficult to obtain M'ith sucli
correctness in any otlier way. I am particularly indebted to
my valued friend and antiquarian, John Clement, of Haddon-
tield, wlio lias furnished me witli much valuable information in
regard to the families and early history of West New Jersey.
Without such assistance it would be impractable for any one
after a lapse of two centuries to follow the ancient families to
the present time with much degree of accuracy.



Jolui Feii\vic'k, the proprietor of the one-tenth of We^t New
Jersey, was born in Nortlnimberhmd. comity, at Stanton Manor,
in England, in tlie year 1618. He was the second son of Wni.
Fenwiek, and in the year 1640 lie became a member of the
church of England. In the 3'ear 1615 he was a student of laAV
at Grey's Inn, in London. Soon after he was made captain of
Cavalry by Cromwell ; he taking such active part against the
crown, it has been the opinion of many, that it was the primary
t';-uise, after Charles II ascended tlie throne, that there was so
little favor shoM'n liim in tlie affairs of the colony. About the
year 1618 he married Eli^cabeth Covert, of the county of Sapoy.
The Coverts as ^\■ell as the Fenwicks were ancient families, and
they can be traced back in English liistory as early as the 12th
century. He liad three children l>y Elizabetli Covert, all daugh-
ters ; Elizabeth, Aime and Priscilla Fenwiek. His seconds wife
was Mary Burdet, the daughter of Sir Walter Burdet, but there
was no children by tliat connection. In 1665 he and his wife
Elizabetli l)ecame members of the society of Friends. He, like
manv others of that reli2:ions faitli and other descendants, were
imprisoned for conscience stdce. About that time Lord Berkley
offered West New Jersey for sale. There appeared to liave
been an understanding between Edward Biliinger and John
Fenwiek, for John Fenwiek to purchase the ^vhole of West New
Jersey, and Fenwiek to have tlie one-tenth of the whole. The
deed was given by Berkley in the year 1673, and the con-
sideration money mentioned in the deed M'as soon after the
purchase by mutual nnderstanding. The land comprising Salem
and Cuml>erland counties, as now divided, were set off as Fen-
wick's tentli.' He immediately afterwards made preparations to
emigrate and take possession of the lands in West New Jersey,
in America, and held out inducements for others to emigrate
vdtli him. There was a large number accepted the invitation,
|)rincipallv members of his own religious faitii. Many of them
|)urcliased land and paid iiim for it before tliey embarked, wiiicli
afterwards o;ave rise to many difficulties l)etween them and the



proprietor, because tlieir lands Avere not surveyed to tlieni as
soon as they desired. The foUowing are the names of some of
the principal persons who eml)arked with Jolni Fenwick : John
Pledger, Samuel ISTicholson, James Nevil, Edward Wade, Roh-
ert Wade, Samuel Wade, Robert Windham, Richard Hancock,
and their families, and several others. There were several sin-
gle men, Sanniel Hedge, Jr., Isaac Smaft, and others. The
servants that hired in England to persons above mentioned, and
likewise to Jolm Fen wick and his two son-in-laws, were Robert
Turner, Gewas By water, Wm. Wilkinson, Joseph Worth, Jo-
seph Ware, Michael Eaton, Eleanor Cieeve, Xathaniel Chaml>-
less, his son, Nathaniel Chambless, Jr., Mark Reeve, Edward
Webb, Elizabeth Waiters. Smitli, in his history of New Jer-
sey, says in many instances the servants became more conspic-
uous nieml)ers of civil and religious society than their employ-
ers. I myself, in tracing families, find the remark to l)e correct.
Fenwick's immediate family that came with him were his
his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, John Adams, liis
daughter Anne Fenwick, wlio married Samuel Hedge, Jr., the
spring following, and his youngest daughter, Priscilla, whose
husband was Edward Champney. His wife, Mary Fenwick,
did not accompany him to his new home in the wilderness, for
some cause that has never been explained. The letters passed
between them manifested a sincere and filial attachment, and
they continued to correspond while life remained. They em-
l)arked from London in ship Griffith, Rol)ert Griffith Ijeing
master, on the 23d of the 9tli month. They arrived at the
mouth of Assamliockin, and ascended the stream about three
miles, and landed at a point of land at a place Fenwick and his
friends that were with him thought it a suitable location for a
town. He gave it the name of ISTew Salem, because he remark-
ed to one of his intimate friends the name signifies Peace, but
it did not prove so to him, as the sequel of his history will show.
He, like his great friend and l)enef actor, William Penn, and
also Roger Williams, found in settling colonies that there were
more thorns than roses.

As soon as it was practicable after they landed, the proprie-
tor held a council with the Indian chiefs tliat lived vrithin the
compass of Salem county, and purchased all their lands of them,
thereby securing perpetiud peace with the natives, and the same
kind of a treaty was made witli them by Billenge or his agents
for the remainder of West Jersey. They reserved certain rights
for themselves — trapping, fishing, and the ]'»rivilege of cutting
certain kinds of wood for the purpose of making baskets, also


ill makini;- their canoes and other thinirs, Tlie treaty was faitli-
fully fultilled. Al)ont lifty years ao-o, the few remaining): Indi-
ans in this State made application to the New Jersey Legislature
to sell all t],ieir rights and privileges they held in the State,
wdiich was accepted by the Legislature, and they were paid the
price they asked. They then removed to the State of New York
to dwell with the Mohawks and other scattering tribes that re-
mained in that State.

John Fenwick, after his arrival here, issued a proclamation
granting civil and religious liberty to all persons who should
settle within his pro^'ince. 1\\ the year 1676, he turned his
attention to providing homes for his children, and accordingly
directed Richard Hancock, liis surveyor, to lay out and survey
two thousand acres in Upper Mannington for Samuel Pledge,
Jr., and his wife Anne. The said land was called Iledgefield.
He also directed him to survey two thousand acres for his son-
in-law, Edward Champney, and his wife Priscilla, wdiich land
was bounded on the west by John Smith's land, on the north by
James Nevel's farm, and Alloways creek on the south. To his
son-in-law, John Adams and his wife Elizabetli, he gave all that
tract of land located in what is now called Penn's Neck. It is
known at the present day as the Sapaney. Fenwick built him-
self a house in the town of Salem on what he called Ivy Point.
From said house he was forcibly taken in the middle of the
night by a party of men from New Castle and taken to that
town, and from thence sent to New York, and. there imprisoned
byjan order of Grovernor Andross, under pretence that he was
infringing upon the rights of that State, which they claimed to
own to the eastern shore of Delaware river. After he was re-
leased, lie for some time neglected to attend meetings. Accord-
ingly Salem Monthly Meeting, held the 6th of tlie 3d montli,
1678, iippointed Richard Guy and Christopher White to visit
John Fenwick to inquire of liim whetlier he owned tlie truth
that he formerly possessed, and if he owned it to desire him to
come to the next monthly meeting, if not, return his answer to
the next meeting. At the next meeting, the Friends tliat were
appointed to visit Fenwick on account of his non-attendance of
meetings, reported they had an interview with him, and he in-
formed them that he loved the truth he formerl}^ possessed, and
that an answer to a letter he had received from George White-
head, a distinguished Friend in London, he wished to be for-
warded to the meeting. The contents of the letter, I Ijelieve,
were never preserved, l)ut the proceedings of the meeting shows
plainly that difficulties existed l>etween him and some of tlie


niemhers of Ids o^^ai society; wliicli was at fault, they or liim, no
one can tell to a certainty at the present day. After two or three
years more of perplexities and trouble in endeavoring to estab-
lish a government in the colony, he wisely abandoned it by sell-
ing all the lands he had in the Salem tenth, (reserving one
hundred and fifty thousand acres for himself and family,) to
Governor Wm. Penn. The deed Avas given tlie 2od day of
March, 1682. > From that time the whole of "West Jersey was
under one government. The Legislature met at Burlington,
and Samuel Jennings, of that place, was elected Deputy Gov-
ernor at the lirst Legislature afterwards.^ John Fenwick was
elected one of the members of that body from Salem county,
in the fall of 1683, but being miwell, he left his home in Salem
and went to Samuel Hedge's, his son-in-law, in Upper Manning-
ton, there to be cared for by his favorite daughter, Anne Hedge,
in his last days, for he died a short time afterwards at an age of
65 years. He requested before his death to be buried in the
Sharp's family burying-ground, which was complied vdth. Tlie

Online LibraryThomas ShourdsHistory and genealogy of Fenwick's colony, New Jersey → online text (page 1 of 52)