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Life & Character


John Fenwick,


Published by the


OF PHILAl.KLPHIA. i^/ ^ l^ A/U^ ^ut^ H^


Henry 8. Volkmar, Sticam-power Printer,

30 & 32 South Seventh St.




Life & Character


John Fenwick,



Published by the



Henry S. Volkmar, Steam-power Printer,

30 & 32 South Seventh St.









THE reader of history is naturally drawn towards
a more intimate acquaintance with the j)ersons
by whose acts such history originated, to be better
informed in regard to the lives, characters and motives
of such; and more familiar with the resources, the
talents and the leading traits of those whose names
cannot be separated from its inception and develop-
ment. So much of interest is embodied, that the
inquiring mind tends in that direction involuntarily,
and every incident relating thereto is duly considered.
The causes that originated the purpose intended are
sought for, and the inquiry does not end until they
be fully traced. Whether the object to be attained
be disinterested or selfish; of personal aggrandizement
or enlarged philanthropy; whether actuated by relig-
ious zeal or military ambition, the first participants
draw around them the thoughtful consideration
of every student. The lapse of time adds to
the obscurity of events that bear upon a subject
sought to be understood, leaving many things im-

possible of explanation however carefully examined.
Wrong conclusions are too often arrived at for want
of proper evidence, and errors allowed to creep in
and be accepted, which in the light of truth would
at once be swept away. If the motives that control
the actions of men be not understood or appreciated
by such as are contemporary with them, scarcely as
much need be expected of those who are forced to
draw their opinions from results only, and that after
centuries have passed away. The heat of party con-
troversy, the rivalry of ambitious persons, and, too
often, the spirit of envious detraction, hides the real
object of individuals, and leaves inquirers in doubt
forever after. The history of the first settlement on
the shores of the American continent under the
j)atronage of the British government, although not
very remote in point of time is not satisfactory nor
free from doubt in many particulars. The religious
and political agitations, then existing within the realm,
increased the difficulty of reaching the truth, and
'hence much is left to inference and speculation.
Not to go beyond the Commonwealth, enough may
be seen in the unsettled condition of Great Britain
to convince, that every incident relating to religion
or politics, bears a partisan hue, and cannot be seen
in its proper light. The persistent endeavor of one
party to get advantage of and destroy the other, left
but little opportunity to strip their motives or actions
of prejudice and arrive at a fair and dispassionate

During these excitements, and while this con-
dition of things existed, John Fenwick was born
and reared in their midst. The elements of strife
were infused into his education and he regarded

military success as tlie great pui-pose of lite. Tlic
old feudal system as established by William the
Conqueror had not passed away, but the light of
education and free opinion was loosening its hold
uj)on the people. The divine right of Kings was
being questioned and the prerogatives of the Crown
better defined. These were ste])S in the right direc-
tion and ended in the overthrow of the Government.
No man of any decision of character could remain
neutral amidst these contests between the people and
the King, and John Fenwick found himself on the
popular side and in Cromwell's army. He was the
second son of Sir William Fenwick, Baronet, who
represented the county of Northumberland in the
last Parliament under the Commonwealth (1()59), and
one of four brothers, Edward, John, Roger and
Ralph. In KHO Sir William had his residence at
Stanton Hall, of Stanton Manor, in the parish of
Horsely, Cumberland, and where he had considerable
landed estate. The mother, Elizabeth, was perhaps
of one of the border families, and brought to her
husband additional pro])erty; increasing his wealth and
influence. John was born, A. I). 1618, at Stanton
Hall, but the day of the month is not known. In
1(>36 he was styled Knight and Baronet, and five
years after that time he married Elizabeth, daughter
of Sir Walter Covei't, Knight of Slanghan, Sussex.
This lady was mother of his children, and from her
came the direct and ('ollateral bi-anchcs in New
Jersey. The family was of Saxon origin and. formed
a powerful clan in Xorthumberland. Their ancient
fiistncss was in the fenny lands about Stamfordham
a small town near the southern boundary of the
shire before-named.


During the reign of Henry I (A. D. 1100 ) the
head of the house was advanced by the King, and
with various changes it was prominent in England
for several centuries. In Burke's valuable work on
the " Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies," reference
is made to this name, with much reliable and in-
teresting information.

The clan was known as the fierce Fenwicks and
the fearless Fenwicks. Their slogan or war cry was
"A Fenwyke!"— "A Fenwyke!"— "A Fenwyke!"—
The clan was the constant ally of the Percies; at-
tended them on all occasions and known throughout
the border as brave and faithful soldiers. The seat of
the House of Percy was at Alnwick Castle, in North-
innberland, one of the most ancient and formidable
in that region. Of the family it has been said,
"not more famous in arms than distinguished for
its alliances, the House of Percy stands pre-eminent
for the number and rank of the families which are
represented by the present Duke of Northumberland,
whose banner consequently exhibits an assemblage of
nearly nine hundred armorial ensigns, among which
are those of King Henry VII; of several younger
branches of the blood royal of the Sovereign Houses
of France, Castile, Leon and Scotland, and of the
Ducal houses of Normandy and Brittany ; forming a
galaxy of heraldic honors altogether unparalleled."

The' Ducal seats include four castles, Alnwick,
Warkworth, Kellder and Purdoe, in Northumberland,
Stanwich and Warrington Parks, Lion House and
Northumberland House.

Sir Walter Scott, whose accuracy as an anti-
quarian, was only excelled by his gifts as a poet
and novelist, has Lady Heron to use in her song

before James IV, King of Scotland, these words:

"O, young Lochinvar is come out of the West,

Through all the wide border his steed was the best.

And save his good broadsword, he weapons had none,
He rode all unarmed, he rode all alone;

So faithful in love and so dauntless in war

There never was Knight like the young Lochinvar!

"One touch to her hand and one word to her ear;

When they reached the hall door and the charger stood near,
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung.

So light to the saddle before her he sprung;
' She is won ! we are gone over bank, bush and scaur ;

They'll have fleet steeds that follow,' quoth young Lochinvar !

"There was mounting 'mong Graemes of Netherby Clan,

Forsters, Fenxoicks and Musgraves, they rode and they ran ;

There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lea,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see ;

So daring in love and so dauntless in war,

Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar ! "

The beauty and talent of Lady Heron infatuated
the King, much to the scandal of the court. The
defeat of his army and his own deatli at Flodden
field has been imputed to his gallantries in that
direction; a fertile subject for gossip and poetic effu-
sion. The Tower of Fenwick at Widdington, in
Northumberland, near the coast of the North Sea,
shows its antiquity in its rude strength and scanty

limite, similar to those built by the Saxon invaders
(hiring the fifth and sixth centuries. This was prob-
ably the first seat of the family after their coming-
over and whence it may be traced through many of
the shires in England.

In the ninth year of the reign of Edward III
(1334) an inquisition was had of New Castle Castle
and Johannes Fenwick was twice appointed sheriff.
During that time it was much enlarged and strength-
ened, being an important point of protection and
defence against the Scotch. In these warlike times
this place had no commercial importance but has
grown to be one of the largest jDorts in England.

The enmities of former generations have passed
away and what was once a necessary appendage to
every town, is now visited by the curious to see the
means of defence in a barbarous age. In the twelfth
(3entury Sir Robet Fenwick, of Northumberland,
endowed the Abbey of New Minster, in the same
shire, with two parts of his villa of Irdington, in
Cumberland, thus showing his liberality towards and
his adherence to the Catholic Church.

These endowments of lands, which at that day in
many cases had but little value in themselves, as
time progressed and the resources of the nation were
developed, yielded large revenues to the Church and
its adherents. By this means were the old edifices
reared, combining beauty, grandeur and strength in a
wonderful degree, showing that however rude and
barbarous our ancestors may have been, they were
skilled in every department of ornamental architec-
ture. Well may the English nation be proud of
the many ruins of towers, castles, abbeys and
churches now standing within its borders which


even in their delapsed condition aie not excelled by
modern art.

;}: * * * ;(: * * ^ :): :): * ;|:

"But thougli destroyed by devastation's baud
By fury guided, or outrageous zeal ;
Your ruins now, majestically grand,

Bid solemn conteni})lation tbere to dwell."

In the ninth year of King Henry VII (1517)
Roger Fenwick, Esq., was appointed constable of the
same castle, showing that through several centuries
the family had not only remained in this place but
was in favor with and had the confidence of the
ruling monarchs. Although no continuous history of
the family can be had, nor any complete genealogy
secured, yet enough is gathered to show that talent,
loyalty and courage were not wanting, and appre-
ciated always by their sovereign.

As time advanced this element was tempered by
more peaceful pursuits, and the work of the soldier
gave way to the duty of tl^ citizen. The nations
emerged from war and found that peace develoi)ed
industry, plenty and contentment among the people.

"Time rolls bis ceaseless course. Tbe race of yore.

Who danced our infancy upon tbeir knee.
And told our marvelling boybood legends store,

Of tbeir strange ventures bapp'd by land or sea,
How are tbey blotted from tbe tbings tbat be!

How few, all weak and witliered of tbeir force,
Wait on tbe verge of daik eternity.

Like stranded wrecks the tide returning hoarse,
To sweep them from our sight! Time rolls bis ceaseless


Another century and the seeds of Revolution
began to germinate. Tyranny and oppression eventu-
ally produced a harvest of bloodshed, rapine and
war. In this was involved the King, the nobility,
the gentry, the Church and the people. Neutrality
could not exist; all were drawn into a common
vortex, and again the Fenwicks appear upon the
surface. John Fenwick, the subject of this sketch,
having passed through his law studies at Grays Inn,
London, (1640) adandoned his profession for a
season and accepted an appointment in the Parlia-
mentary army. His first commission reads as follows:

"You are hereby ordered and required as Major under Colonel
Thomas Barwis in his regiment of cavalry which was raised in
the county of Westmorland to assist the garrison of Carlisle,
and to exercise the officers and soldiers under his command
according to the discipline of war. And they are hereby re-
quired to yield obediance unto you as Major of said regiment.
And all this you are authorized unto, until the pleasure of the
Parliament or the Lord General be known.

Given under my hand and seal at Bernard Castle, 27th of
October, 1648.

To John Fenwick, Major. These."

In the same year lie was ordered by the Parlia-
ment, with horse and dragon to relieve Holy Island
Castle, in Durham It was besieged by the royal
trooj^s and well nigh captured, when he appeared
and defeated the enemy. He was an active and
efficient officer, having the confidence of the Parlia-
ment and the Protector. After the trial and sentence
of the King, he was detailed as commander of
cavalry, in conjunction with the foot troops under


Colonel Hacker, Colonel Hanks and Lieut. Colonel
Phayor, to attend the execution.
The order ran in this wise: —

"These are therefore to will and require you to see the said
sentence executed in the open streets before Whitehall, upon the
morrow, being the thirtieth of this instant, month of January,
between the hours of ten in the morning and five in the after-
noon of the same day, with full effect. And these are to require
all officers and soldiers and others the good people of this nation
of England to be assisting unto you in this service.

Given under our hands and seals, &c., &c."

This warrant was signed by all the members who
sat as Judges upon his trial, and the most of whom
witnessed the carrying out the sentence. In the
discharge of this important and delicate duty
the most reliable officers and the best disciplined
troops were selected, which placed John Fenwick
among the first of these in the army about London
at that time.

The religious status of John Fenwick during this
period is doubtful and contradictory. While he was
with the army he became a convert to the opinions
of George Fox, and by a certificate dated February
11th, 1649, he is shown to have been a member of
the Independents, a denomination of Christians more
Presbyterian than Quakei'. Be that as it may he
eventually adopted the i)rinciples and practices of
Friends and adhered to them until his death.

Many of the soldiers in the army of the Com-
monwealth regarded praying and psalm-singing as
consistent with carnal warfiire, and l)elieved that the
sincere observance of the one, added force and i)rowess
to the other. AuKjng the preliminarias to any


important military undertaking; religions exhortations
was a leading featnre. Although the strictest disci-
pline was enforced, yet the zealots in the army
were allowed to proclaim their fanatical views and
impress upon the soldiers that they were doing God's
service. Subordination was complete; no duty was
too onerous, and no service too dangerous. Whether
Major Fenwick was a participant in these military
devotions does not appear, but it is patent that he
ranked among the best and enjoyed the confidence
of those around him. No means are at hand to
follow him through the Protectorate to the restoration
of the old regime under Charles II (1660). It is
probable he held some civil position under the
government, for which his legal knowledge rendered
him capable, but not of sufficient importance to
make prominent his name. After the return of
Charles, he doubtless accepted the Act of Indemnity
and saved his person and estate from molestation.

Tracing him to this time from an historical and
genealogical standpoint, his career will now be
considered in connection with the purchase of, re-
moval to, and settlement in West New Jersey. It is
proper here to sa}^ that his wife, Elizabeth, had
deceased, leaving him three daughters, Elizabeth,
Ann and Pricilla. He subsequently and before this
period married Mary Burdett, a blood relation of his
own, as they were cousins to Edward and Sir
Francis Burdett. By this marriage there was no
issue. The tradition connected with his paternity,
and passed through so many generations, accepted
by some and rejected by others, should be considered
here. To say that he was not a half brother to
Charles Second, King of England, would perhaps


be assuming too much, although nothing a})pears
to prove the affirmative of this assertion. The
galhmtries of the King were proverbial; hence the
plausibility of the story and which by many come
to be accepted as true. If, however, the royal blood
colored his veins and infused into his character and
disposition the idea of exclusiveness and authority, so
palpable in man}^ of his acts during life, it came
from the first and not the last of these monarchs.
The chance of such a story being true is too appar-
ent to be denied, but may be accounted for in this
wise. The first son of Charles Second, not recognized
by law, was James, Duke of Monmouth, beheaded
1685, whose mother was Lucy Walters. James
married Anne Scott, heiress of Buccleugh, whose
second son, Henry, married Elizabeth Fenwick, thus
connecting the family with the blood royal, but
several removes from John. Nothino- short of a
careful examination of the family genealogy in
England will settle this point which, for the
neglect, may always remain a mooted question.
The surroundings of this romance give it an excus-
able credence, particularly among those of the same
line, and add much interest to the person who bore
the blood to America. Save a legal distinction,
the common father made him equal with Charles
Second, and the descendants of John Fenwick's
daughters are infused with the same blood as the
descendants of the recognized royal son, when in thc^
same degree removed. For the novelist here is a
fertile field, and where may be indulged, within the
verge of truth, some of the loftiest flights of imagina-
tion. The whole life of the founder of Fenwick
Colony is prolific with material, which if clothed in


the beauties of romance would be at once interesting
and attractive.

Before referring to the several transfers of the
territory in America called New Caesarea, there
is manifest propriety in saying something of
the persons and their history interested therein.
John Lord Berkley and Sir George Carteret were
two of the persons who followed the second Charles
of England into exile after the death of his father
and during the Commonwealth. They adhered to
his fortunes and remained faithful to his person.
His adversities did not weaken their friendship nor
the dangers that surrounded him induce them to
forsake his cause. Such attachments could not be
disregarded and these persons among others became
the recipients of his favor. In the Charter of
Charles II (March 24th, 1663), to convey the soil
and government of territory in America called Carolina,
Berkley and Carteret were among the grantees, and
in the words of the Charter "being excited with a
laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the
gospel, begged a certain country in the parts of
America not yet cultivated and planted, and only
inhabited by some barbarous people who have no
knowledge of God," the purpose of the grantees are
thus shown. How far the expressed intentions of
these men were carried out, or with what laudable
and pious zeal they furthered their speculations, must
be sought for in the history of those states and need
not be enlarged upon here.

The next year after this charter the Duke of
York conveyed to John Lord Berkley and Sir
George Carteret (June 24th, 1664) a certain tract
of land in America "hereafter to be called New


Caesarea, or New Jersey," done no donbt by request
of the King and through his influence with his
brother. The standing of these gentlemen before the
public and in the responsible positions they held, if
history be true, was certainly very questionable, for
the reasons hereafter stated. The first held an
honorable place at court near the person of the
King, but was detected in the basest corruptions and
forced to resign his office. His intercourse with the
Duke of York was also interrupted by similar trans-
actions and disgrace followed their exposure. The
second was expelled from the House of Commons
as a participant in legislative bribery and other
dishonest practices; both were notorious for the pecu-
lations and breaches of faith wherever connected
with the operations of the government. Although
these persons deserved other and severer punishment,
yet Berkley was made Baron of Stratton in 1658,
aj)pointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1670,
and Ambassador to France in 1674. Carteret was
appointed Treasurer of Ireland and continued in that
position by the King while charged with the most
disgraceful abuse of office. Public opinion could not
influence his Majesty against them, no matter how
palpable the proof, for the reason that they had been
faithful to him when it was beyond his i)Ower even
to remunerate them for services already rendered.
However commendable such sentiments may be in
private life they will receive condemnation when
indulged in to the injury of the government.

At the time of the restoration John Fenwick liad
fully adopted the opinions and })ractices of George
Fox and suffered much in jierson and estate therefor.
In 1666 he was taken from a meeting of Friends,


in Buckingham shire, and confined in the common

From some of the ancient records of cruelty to
the Quakers the following extract has been made:

"Bucknel, (Berkshire), 17th of the Fifth month, 1670, Friends
being according- to their usual manner met together at John
Dragg's house, tliere came in 'William West, informer, and
Robert Dawlius, informer, and another assistant. One of them
said to the other, here is none that speaks, let us go our way ;
and so they went forth ; in a little time went into the meeting
again and the informer said, we had best take their names, and
plucked out of his pocket some small pears and threw them
down and said, here is pears; if boys were here they would
scramble for them, and laughed. So they took Friends' names
and went and informed Edward Sawyer, Knight and Justice (so
called), who gave forth a warrant to distrain Friends' goods,
although he confessed there was no speaking or praying proved ;
and James Gatts, constable of Binfield, assisted with two more,
Aveut to John Fenwick's and demanded of him five shillings for
being at said meeting, and John Fenwick refused to pay; and
they went away, and two days after the said constable, assisted
with John Beldam, churcli warden, and Hugh Taylor, Tything-
man, came again to John Fenwick's house and climbed over his
gate and endeavored to force the best horse John had over the
hedge out of his ground, and Mick Todd, Tythingmau and our
servant, a cobbler, stood ready to liave it away, but being dis-
covered and ashamed, the constable went into John's stable and
took a pair of harness, worth eleven shillings, for five shillings,
and so like thieves they went back over his gate again greatly
rejoicing in what they had done."

Like many others of his religious belief he j)ub-
lished in pamphlet form several answers to others
against their doctrines and manner of worship, none
of which, however, have been 23reserved to the
present. No denomination of Christians, perhaps, at
that day put so much printed matter before the


public in defence and vindication of their peculiar
views as Friends. Joseph Smith, of London, has,
after many years of labor, collected, arranged and
})ublished a large majority of the titles to these, and
as far as possible discovered and given the authors'

March 18tli, 1(373, John Lord Berkley conveyed
to John Fenwick his undivided moiety of New
Ciesarea, or New Jersey, for the sum of one thou-
sand pounds sterling and a royalty of forty beaver
skins annually. This grant had upon its surface the
appearance of good faith and that of a bona fide
transaction, yet it was scarcely executed before its
intention was suspected and its validity endangered.
Edward Byllynge, a friend and associate of the
grantee, at once became an important and conspicuous
personage in these transactions to the exposure and
defeat of plans well matured, and doubtless to his
chagrin and discomfiture. He was born in 1628, a
resident of Westminster, London, where he carried
on the business of Brewer. In the latter years of
his life he lived in the parish of kSt. Buttolph,
Aldgate, part of the same city, and died the sixteenth
of the Eleventh month, 108(). He served as an
officer in the army of the Commonwealth, and while
at Leith, in Scotland, was convinced of the correct-

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Online LibraryJohn ClementA sketch of the life & character of John Fenwick (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 7)