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A sketch of the life & character of John Fenwick (Volume 2) online

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common cause in advancing religious and political
equality; to be enjoyed by all who ventured across
the sea and fixed tlieir homes within the limits of
West New Jersey.

Here terminated the first form of a representative
government established by the people. Rude and ill-
defined as it was, sufficient appears to show that only
time and occasion were wanting to develope its several
parts and secure to all, the blessings to be derived
from like institutions. The government established by
the owners of the ninety parts was like in substance,
but yielded to the peoi)le no greater ])rivileges, nor
more enlarged rights. This cannot but 1)0 interesting
to those who care to trace the beginning of our
present jKjlitical institutions, and -study tlie gradual
but positive develoi)ment of a system that has its
foundati(^n in the hearts of the ])eople; to discover
that no retrograde step had been taken in the funda-



mental doctrines of private or public rights, and that
a jealous care had been exercised that none be
infringed.

The Patroon, in his manner of living, was more
pretentious and aristocratic than any of his neighbors.
His houses at Ivy Point and at Fenwick Grove were
well appointed; proving that he had an eye to the
creature comforts as well as to dignity and exclusiveness.
The day had not come for wheeled carriages in the
Salem tenth, but his stable included good saddle horses,
with every thing complete for the equestrian. A
favorite road animal, "Jack," he makes special
mention of in his will, and puts him in care of his
trusty servant, Mary White, "who I desire to take
care of him and see that he be not wTonged as long
as he liveth." His education as a cavalry officer in
the army of the Commonwealth, now served him,
and however much he may have wished to discard
the memories of his fighting days, yet in the saddle
his grace and confidence as a rider could but be
noticed. The library of books at each place he
regarded with much interest, and directed their pres-
ervation after his decease; and touching his private
papers he charges his executors with their care, and
especially that they be not taken out of the colony.
His agreement with the resident purchasers he washed
to have religiously carried out and was anxious that
his executors should see to the discharge of every
obligation. His plantation at Fenwick Grove, had
many attractions for him, it being several miles from
Ivy Point, where he could enjoy his leisure and look
after his farming interests. He was systematic in his
business affairs and always knew from his accounts
whether a matter in hand was profitable or otherwise.



89

For the day in whicli lie lived, his agricultural
operations were extensive and yielded him a fair return.
He does not appear to have had any slaves, but
employed several persons about the estate, the whole
being under his general superintendence. In the
autumn of 1683, his health failing, he accepted an
invitation from his favorite daughter, Ann, and placed
himself under her care at Hedgefield; where he died
in December of the same year. Her devotion to him
remained the same through all the vicissitudes of his
life, and with fdial affection she cared for him on his
dying bed.

Although in the depths of an American forest, and
far from the land of his nativity, yet there were those
around him in whose veins flowed his own blood,
whose sympathies were enlisted for his welfare, but
who were soon called upon to mourn his death. In
him parsed away one of the most remarkable men of
his day and generation. His early manhood was
spent in the excitements and participations of a war
that overthrew the government, and well nigh destroyed
the nation ; while his middle life and latter days were
occui)ied in an enlarged philanthropy to benefit his
fellow man, by giving scope to his energies, with the
certainty of reward to himself, and through him to
his descendants; with the title of his land freed from
the tenures of the feudal system, and without restraints,
save those based in equity and good government.

In relation to the iinal disposition of his remains,
he requested in his will that they l)e interred at
Fenwick Grove. F(jr some reason this was not
complied with, as he was buried in ''^Sharp's family
burying ground," long since abandoned for that use,
and now nearlv lost siirht (»f". It is locatcfl near the



90

present Almshouse property, of Salem County, over-
grown with briars, and known to but few as the last
resting place of the founder of Fen wick Colony.

Nearly two centuries have j^assed away, and not
the rudest monument has been placed to show where
his bones are laid. Generation after generation of his
kin have neglected even to preserve a mound of earth
to show his grave, and at this day "no man knoweth
the place of his sepulchre." But a more enduring
monument has survived him. His landed estate is
covered with an industrious and happy people, in the
enjoyment of free institutions, with no religious or
political restraints; advancing in agriculture, commerce
and manufactures, and participant in a degree of
civilization that has no j^arallel in the world.

In his will, which is a curious and characteristic
document, and bears date the seventh day of August,
1683, John Fenwick makes no mention of his wife,
who was living in London at the time it was executed;
and apj^ears to have had a separate estate which she
used for her own comfort and convenience. This
separation produced an indifference toward each other,
which ended in a complete estrangement of feeling,
and mutual disregard. Neither is there anything to
show that she made claim on his estate or received
from his executors or devisees any money arising
therefrom. Nothing more is known of this relation,
the lapse of time having obliterated every tradition
in regard to it.

The oldest daughter, Priscilla, was married to
Edward Champneys, of Thornbury, Gloucestershire,
joiner, at the house of John Curtis, in Heading, on
the sixteenth day of February, 1671. The Patroon
was evidently on bad terms with his son-in-law, and



91

ill his will leaves directions that lie have no cliarire
of his children's estate as in his will devisec\ His
first settlement was at Alloways Creek, but in a short
time he removed to Salem and erected a dwellins:
near that of his fother-in-Iaw, at a place he called
Blanford Grove, and where his occupation was that
of "Barber and Chirurgeon," having abandoned the
making of furniture and turned his attention to
shaving and phlebotomy. The house was standing
within the last fifty years, as was also that of the
Patroon at Ivy Point.

Priscilla died before her father, leaving two children,
John and Mary, both of wdiom were born in England.
They were regarded by their grandfather W'ith much
interest, and care was taken by him that they should
have their full share of his estate, and so secured that
they alone should enjoy it.

Edward Champneys married the second time, by
which marriage there was one child, James, who grew
to manhood and married. Edward Champneys died
without a will, in 170().

The name, for want of male issue, in a few gener-
ations was lost sight of in Salem county, although the
blood may be traced through some female descendants.

Elizabeth, the second daughter, married John
Adams, of Reading, Berkshire, weaver, and had live
children, Elizabeth, Fenwick, Mary, Walter and Ann.
The first three were born in En



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