Joseph W. cn Dally.

Woodbridge and vicinity : the story of a New Jersey township ; embracing the history of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Metuchen and contiguous places, from the earliest times ; the history of the different ecclesiastical bodies ; important official documents relating to the township, etc. online

. (page 5 of 34)
Online LibraryJoseph W. cn DallyWoodbridge and vicinity : the story of a New Jersey township ; embracing the history of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Metuchen and contiguous places, from the earliest times ; the history of the different ecclesiastical bodies ; important official documents relating to the township, etc. → online text (page 5 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ernment to exercise any office under the Dutch. Some
conflict occurred between Moore and the government at New
York which nearly resulted in his being imprisoned. It was
in regard to a certain bail-bond held by him, as Marshal
under Carteret,* which he wished to retain ; but John Ogden,
the Sellout^ virtually Governor of East Jersey at this time,
was authorized to arrest him if he refused to deliver the
document into his hands. There is some intimation that
Moore carried the case into court. It is possible that the
petition which he sent to New York in May, 1674, in which he
sets forth that he is "aggrieved " by the "judgment " of the
" Sellout and magistrates of Woodbridge," may have reference
to this case. If so, it is evident that the decision v.-as unfav-
orable to him. His petition was considered on the 26th, by
the Dutcli authorities,! but the matter was referred to the
local judiciary.

Some matters connected with the Dutch rule sliould be
noted in this place. Three days after the country submitted
to the Hollanders, the following appears on the records at
Neiv Orange, which was the name given to New York by the
victors ;

" John Baker, Jacob Melyn, John Ogden, cii//i sociis, Dep-
uties from the village of Elizabethtown, Niew-^^^orke, Wood-
bridge and Piscatteway, situate in the province heretofore
called New Yarsey, praying by petition that they may be
allowed to send some Delegates from their said villao-es to

* llatfleld's Elizabeth, p. 176. t N. Y.'Col. Doc, vol. 2, p. 71-t.



treat with the Admirals and associate Council of war respect-
ing the surrender of tlieir towns under the obedience of their
Ilii^h Mii^htinesses, the Lords States of the United Nether-
lands, and his Serene Highness, the Prince of Orange, and
that no audience be granted to their late Governor, Capt-
John Berry, before and until the same be granted to the said
Delegates, &c."*. Dated August 12th, 1673.!

The next Tuesday morning was appointed for the delegates
to make their appearance at the City Hall in New Orange.
On the Friday ensuing, these towns were accorded all the
privileges enjoyed by the Dutch towns in the Province —
freedom of conscience and the undisturbed possession of their

On Saturday, the 19th, Deputies were present at the Coun-
cil from Woodbridge, Piscataway, and other towns, who were
ordered to call together tlie inhabitants of their respective
towns for the nomination of Sclicpeus (or Magistrates) and the
election of two delegates from each town, to meet together as
a Board for nominating three persons for Schoitt and three for
Secretary, from which a selection would be made. The nom-
inations were presented in due time. John Ogden was
chosen Schout,j; and Samuel Hopkins, Secretary, over the
six towns of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Newark, Elizabeth-
town, Middletown, and Shrewsbury.

Six names for Schepens were sent to the Council of War at
Fort William Hendrik from the inhabitants of Woodbridge,
and three of them were selected on the 24tli of August, and
were sworn in September 1st, 1673. The fortunate men were
recorded as " Samuel Dennis, Obadiah Hoits and Stephen
Kent. "II The name of "Hoits" was the Dutch rendering of
JIaircs, which was the [equally erroneous rendering by the ;
English settlers at Woodbridge of the good old name of
Ayers. Obadiah Ayers was the man, doubtless, for no
Obadiah Hoits lived in Woodbrido-e.

Captains Knyf and Snell were appointed, September 6tli,
to visit the different towns in " Achter Coll," as this section
was called, to administer the oath of allegiance to the inhab-

uQ r ^.•7,- ^^'•,P.*"^' "^°'- "^-V- ?^l- + HatfleW says "Sept 12"-a mistake. t Called a
Schoat In F. K. s copy or the Records. II N. Y. Col. Doc, Vol. 2, p. 582.


itants. From their reports we are enabled to giv^ethe number
of adult males in Woodbridge and Piscataway. In the
former place there were fifty-five, of whom fifty-four were
sworn on the 14th of September — one only being absent; and
in the latter place there were forty-three, all of whom took
the oath on the same day/"

The Dutch Government did not last long, but during its
continuance it was benignant, and gave satisfaction, except
to such as adhered to the Crown of England. Voquillen was
among the latter, and was tried for sedition and banished.

But we must return to the Woodbridge Town Meetinofs :

We presiune, from a brief minute, dated February 2d, 1674
(see page 189, Town Book), that vSamuel Moore thought his
services were Avorth a salary ; and as none had been paid to
him he refused to spend his time in writing the proceedings.
The town, in the minute alluded to, paid him ^'5 for his past
services, and twenty shillings for the year 1674, after which
Mr. Moore resumed the record.

In the meeting of July 2d, 1674, the Piscataway trouble
came up again. Daniel Denton and John Gilman, in behalf
of that town, had begun a suit against the Woodbridge
settlers in order to obtain the upland and meadow in dispute
between them. The boundary line which separated the one
Township from the other had been drawn by Voquillen, so
that the coveted territory was thrown in the corporation of
Woodbridge. The Piscataway people regarded this as unjust,
and bitter feeling grew up between the sister towns in
consequence, manifesting itself in acts of petty spite — as we
have previously related. This suit was the culmination of
the Piscataway wrath. The Court for the trial was to beheld
at Elizabethtown, on the 7t!i of July, and this special Town
Meeting was occupied in getting ready for it. Capl. John
Pike, Lieut. Samuel Moore, and Jonathan Dunham were
appointed by the Magistrates (and approved by the Free-
holders) to be the attorneys for defending the interests of
Woodbridge. But the trial never came o"ff. The Dutch had
possession of the country when the suit was begun ; but on

* N. Y. Col. Documents, Vol. ?, p. 60T,



the very day the trial was to take place, July 7th, orders were
received from the Board of Admiralty at Amsterdam to
surrender the forts and restore the country to England.* Of
course, all legal processes were abandoned. Under English
rule there was no hope for Piscataway, for Carteret had
frowned upon its aspirations; but, under the Dutch, favor
was expected. The Court was constituted by Deputies from
all the towns in the Province (except those interested in the
case) and three men chosen by the Government, of whom
one, John Lawrence, was made President.f In the New
York Colonial Records the contested lands are mentioned as
", Valleys in dispute," but no other description of them is
given; and they remained in the possession of ihe Wood-
bridge men.

The following is the first entry in the proceedings of the
October meeting (2d) :

" It was passed by vote that there should be a Sufficient
pound Built and Sett up near the Smith's Shop by the Last
Day of Novr. next Ensuing the Date hereof, the persons to
see it done are the Magistrates of the Towne to witt. Capt.
John Pike Left. John Bishop and Insigne Saml. Dennes."
In regard to tlie location of this "pound" we are somewhat
uncertain, but, as it was near a blacksmith shop, we presume it
was situated in the neighborhood of John Taylor's residence,
which was on the corner of the road opposite the late Israel
Rowland's house; and we think so, principally, because John
Taylor was a blacksmith.

October 27th, tlie meeting learnedly discussed architecture ;
and, as a result of their lucubrations, made preparations
for erecting a house of worship thirty feet square — which
shows what an eye for proportion our fathers had.

November 5th, Capt. Pike and Ephraim Andrews were
sent to Bergen to hear the publication of orders from the
Lords-proprietors — the substance of them to be brought back
to the town and verbally re-published to the settlers.

Passing by, for tlie present, the three intermediate
meetings, which chiefly relate to ecclesiastical matters, we

• N. V. Col. Poc, p. 728, vol. 2. t Ibid., pp. 722, 723, vol. 2.


come to the 13th of September, 1675. In the meeting held on
this day the question regarding the fortification of the town
was considered, and the result was the building of a stockade
about the prison, as we have already stated. The construc-
tion was to be under the supervision of the military officers,
and the work was to begin the next day. The men were
•divided into four squads to act imder four leaders, viz. :
" Saml. Dennes, Saml. Hale, John lisle, and Thomas Blom-
field, Junr."

How jealous our fathers were of their rights maybe seen
in the appointment of Mr. Moore to address the Governor
and Council with respect to the prerogative of nominating
certain military officers, which, by the Charter, belonged to
the Freeholders of Woodbridge, but had been usurped by the

November 3d, 1675, it was ordered that timber on the
common land which was not removed within a month from
the time of felling it might be used by any of the inhabitants,
free of charge.

On the 28th the younger Pike was elected Constable — an
office which nobody seemed to want, for everybody tried to
dodge it. All the Freeholders had a chance, therefore, to enjoy
the honors attached to it, for somebody must be Constable.

The meetings of Janviary loth, 1676, and April 17th are in
jeference to the "Meeting house" affairs. On the 15th of
May a call was made for the " powder and shot " which each
inhabitant was to bring into the Town magazine for purposes
of defense. It was also "voted that all unruly Horses that
keeps about the Towne, and Doth use to get into mens Land
over tolerable fences, that By the owners be Cloged or

September 26, 1676, a committee was appointed "to take the
Sub3triptions which are Behind for the Governor's areers,
according to Law." John Bishop was elected a "viewer and
sealer of leather," and a mark was directed to be put upon all
bundles of that material by the packer, which mark was a
"W with an O in the midst." The Town seal for leather was
W with a B adjoined.

It was customary, in those days, for the inhabitants to


entertain tlic po(>r at the houses where the latter happened to
stop (as no almshouse had yet been i)rovided), the expense of
which was paid by the town. This system was much abused,
if we may judge from an order issued by the Freeholders.
All persons were prohibited from bringing in or causing to
be brought in the settlement any individuals who were claim-
ants of the public bounty— from which it appears that some
of the citizens were in the habit of importing paupers and
charo-ins" the town ior their maintenance. The order directed
that upon complaint in such a case, the Constable was
required to warn the parties so offending, and exact security
for the payment of all charges by the offender.

A lapse of nearly three years occurs between the meeting in
which the above matters are detailed and the next recorded
gathering of the Freeholders. The cause for this syncope we
are unable to declare. It is possible that the Town Clerk
found his time occupied with business of a more valuable
character. It is more than likely that the small salary of
20S., which had been appropriated for his services in 1674, was
discontinued subsequently; and hence the record was suffered
to take care of itself.

Tlie General Assembly of the Province met in Woodbridge
on the 5th of October, 1676, lasting four days. Doubtless our
readers would like to know what laws were passed in this
early Legislature. We therefore extract them from " Leam-
ing and Spicer's " collection of early laws (see p. 119). The
first enactment is in regard to the Governor's salary, and
reads thus :

''Be it enacted hy this present Assembly that the Salary for
the Governor, that is assessed to him for this present year
shall be paid in good Merchantable Pease and Wheat, or if
any Town will pay in Tobacco not less than a Hogshead, and
if their Salary amounts to more, the Remainder to be pai^i as
above said, in Wheat and Pease; every Town to be at the
Charge of bringing in the said Payment to the Governor at
Elizabeth-Town, without any Trouble or Charge to the
Governor, at or before the first Day of December next
ensuing the Date hereof. The Price of the aforesaid Species
to be as followeth, Winter Wheat at five Shillings per Bushel.


Summer Wheat at four Shillings and six Pence the Bushel.
Pease at three Shillings and Six Pence per Bushel. Good
merchantable Tobacco at three Pence per Pound. The
Constable of each Town to collect this Pay; the said
Constable appointing a Day for the Inhabitants of each Town
to bring it in to him; and if any Person or Persons shall
refuse or neglect the Payment hereof, he or they shall pay
double the Value of his Salary, and the Constable shall have
Power to lay distraint for the same, having a Warrant from a
Justice of the Peace of the Town to which tlie said Constable

We presume the Governor must have shipped his wheat
and peas to England for sale, for no stretch of the imagina-
tion will allow us to suppose that he ate them all.

It was further enacted that any one detected in an attempt
to defraud the Governor of his. "Wheat and Pease " should
forfeit double his rate.

The next Act of the Legislature directed the Treasurer of
the Province to provide a standard for both weights and
•measures, to be preserved for the use oi the Province. A law
was also passed forbidding a Justice of the Peace to exercise
any power as an Attorney under penalty of ten pounds fine
for every default. Another, in regard to meat casks, reads as
followeth :

" Whereas there was an Act made April the 8th, 1676,
touching the Gage of Meat Casks for Sale, that a Barrel
should contain Thirty-two Gallons, but finding by Report of
Coopers, that a Barrel ctmtaining Thirty-one or Thirty-one
and a half Gallons, is merchantable,

" Be it therefore enacted, that all Barrels made for sale, shall
contain Thirty-one Gallons, or between Thirty-one and
Thirty-two Gallons, and such shall pass for merchantable."

It was enacted in regard to the rate for the year that
" Hog's fat " was to be excluded — from which we infer that
the Government was not particularly fond of grease. Grand
Jurymen were ordered to be sworn immediately after their
election. Rates were to be collected by distraint as promptly
as possible. Deputies, who came to tlie Assembly not
properly qualified by the towns they represented, were to be


permitted to act with the rest; but the negligent constituents
should be fined £io for eVery such default. A Thanksgiving
IJay is thus promulgated :

" Wherk AS there hath been signal Demonstration of God s
Mercy and Favour towards us in this Colony, in the preserv-
ing and continuing our Peace in the midst of Wars round
about lis, together with many other Mercies which we are
sensible of, which call aloud for our Acknowledgment and
Thanksgiving to tlie Lord, Wherefore be it enacted by
tliis Assembly, that there be a Day of Publick Thanksgiving,
set a Part throughout the whole Province, to give God the
Glory and Praise thereof, and oblige us to live to his Praise,
and in his fear always, which Day shall be the second
Wednesday in November next ensuing."

This good old custom of a November Thanksgiving Day
has not yet grown obsolete and we sincerely hope that it

never will.

A preamble, setting forth that "this Province is yet in its
Minority and Infancy, and that we may be as Provident as
we can for the Ease and Benefit of the same," is succeeded by
an act in which the Governor is allotted 4^. per day, during
the Legislative Session, and 35. each to the Councilmen and
Deputies. Fifty pcmnds were levied upon the Province as
the tax for the year. Inasmuch as, by the terms ot the
Concessions, no law passed by the Assembly could be effective
for a longer period than one year, all the enactments of the
previous year were re-affirmed. An act requiring these laws
just passed to be read in the several towns within a month
was decreed— and thus ended the session, the Assembly
adjourning on the 8th inst.

The next session was held partly in Woodbridge and partly
in Elizabethtown — beginning October lotli, 1677, at the
former place and concluding on the 19th at the latter.

Among tlic enactments we notice one to suppress /)///f, or
the publishing of fixlse reports "with an Intent to deceive
People." The lawyers would grow fat and the Courts would
be overburdened if such a law were][enforced now-a-days.
What our fathers, in their simplicity, thought a crime, has
become a science. No man will endure to be called a har,


but he Avill deceive and misrepresent his fellow and gain
advantages by these means, in telling of which he is never
tilled and always boastful. He does not lie — he is sagacious.
Ah, well ! our fathers might have learned something from us !

Rowdies were to be put in the stocks "for two whole hours
without relief" for swearing, quarrelling, drinking liquor,
" Singing any vain Songs or Tunes of the Same," on the
Sabbath. Selling strong drink to the Indians was to be
allowed if great caution should be observed. If danger or
disturbance resulted from it the dispenser of the fire-water
was liable to a fine of twenty shillings. None but keepers of
" ordinaries "* were to sell it.f These men were required to
charge eight pence only for a meal, and six pence a day for
pasturing a horse.

These were the laws passed by the two sessions of the
General Assembly which were held in Woodbridge. It may
be interesting to our readers to look a little further into the
early laws.

Our fathers, with all their good sense, were so tinctured
with the prejudices of the times that on the 9th of December,
1675, a law was passed, requiring that " if any Person be
found to be a Witch, either Male or Female., they shall be put
to Death. "J To have a reputation as a witch was, therefore,
not an enviable notoriety.

In the General Assembly of 1694, which was h^ld in Perth
Amboy on the 2d of October, a law was enacted to relieve
John Pike and his son John from the opprobrium of felony,
with which they had been charged on the i6th of September,
1684. 1 A jury had, at that time, convicted them of stealing,
because the missing goods had been found on their premises.
Subsequently it was proved that the Pikes were ignorant of
the presence of the stolen goods in their house. The object
of this act was to restore the Pikes to their former standing in
Woodbridge and to punish any publication of the unfortunate
affair which might injure the reputation of the family. But
this Avas misconstrued, by some evil-minded persons, as an act
of favor and pardon ; which, of course, would indicate that the

* Taverns. t Learning & Spicer, p. 123. % Learning & Spicer, p. 106. 8 Ibid, p. 389.


parties concerned were guilty. When the Legislature met
at Perth Amboy, in February, 1698, after the elder Pike liad
died, it was enacted that the General Assembly intended by
its former act "to publish and make known to the World, that
the said Captain John Pike deceased, and his Son John Pike,
were innocent, clear, and free of the said Felony in the said
Act mentioned."* How hard it is to right the wrong, even
when wrong is unconsciously done !

* LcamiDg &, Spicer, p. 375.



The Quakers — Meetings at Amboy — First in Woodbridge
— "G. F." — Building the Woodbridge Meeting-house
— Quaker Books — Plainfield and Rahway Meetings,

The history of the Quakers in New Jersey has never been
written, notwithstanding it is a field which presents interest-
ing facts, throwing much light on the times of the settlement
as viewed from the present. It is a well-known fact that the
Friends were much more numerous in the State two hundred
years ago, in proportion to the population, than they are now;
hence their history is no insignificant part of the history of
the State. A great many of them settled in East Jersey ; and
it is with these, especially those of them who came to Wood-
bridge, that we have to do in this chapter.

The first meeting in this section of which we have any
account was held August 3d, 1686. The old book in
which this record is made is a curiosity. It is bound, like
the Woodbridge Town Book, in tliick sheep-skin, and is
written in the quaint chirography of the time. The orthog-
raphy is also unmistakably ancient, but remarkably legible.
With this old book in our hands we seem to be en rapport with
the men and events oi aid d king syne. Its record extends from
1686 to 1750.

The following is the entry under the first date :

" Friends at Ambo)^ agreed to have a Monthly Meeting
their and that upon the second 4th day of each Month, and
the first to begin the second 4th day of the 9th Month 1686."

That is all. The next entry, made on the loth of Septem-
ber, announces that the monthly meeting held at Amboy


"agreed" that "all friends" should bring " Minuts of ye
Birtlis & Burials since they first came into this place that they
may be Recorded."

The Monthly Meetings continued to bs held for three years
at Amboy, when a Monthly Meeting was begun at Wood-
bridge. But we will make a few extracts from the Amboy
minutes, inasmuch the Woodbridge Quakers worshiped with
those of that place until the period designated.

On the 8th of October (1686) the Friends " agreed to pay
three pounds Mony of this province for the yearly Rent of the
Meeting Room." "Likwayes finds it necessary that there be
six formes for seats in the Meeting Room the Making of which
John Laing toke into consideration."

The carefulness of the Friends in providing for the needy
among them is seen in the following:

"At the Monthly Meeting held in Amboy the 13th of the
2d Month 16S7 John pearce being present the Meeting told
him that lie had done wrong in sending a paper to the people of
the world (desiring to be suplyd with a cow he being poor)
and not coming to the Monthly Meeting of friends to lay his
necessities before them. And thus left him to considder &
whether he would Redress his fault if he feels it in himself."

On the nth of March of the same year it was directed that
" John Reid or his wife take care that widow Mill do not want
& give Report to the Meeting." Also two Friends were ap-
pointed " to speak to Ayidow Mitchel that shee do not talke of
Peter Sonmans as it seemes shee doth, Rather wish hir to come
to the Meeting and if yr be difference lay it before friends
according to the order of truth."

At the next meeting (April 8th) the " difference " alluded
to was settled by arbitration. The " formes " were reported
as having been paid for.

Where the Meeting Room in Amboy was located is a matter
of much uncertainty. The Friends themselves cannot tell.
John Barclay's house may have been the place,* inasmuch as

Mr. Burclay s residence in Amboy was pr(>b,ii)ly the old brick biiilding, still standing, in
the rear of tlie bouse foi- many years occupied by the Goldins lamily, on Ilitrh street, near
the S'luare.' —Whitehead's Uout. to K. Jersey Hist., p. 43.


he was a prominent member of the denomination. I judge
this to be the case from another fact, although it is by no
means conclusive; that John Barclay was appointed to
receive the contributions for the payment of the " six formes
for seats" — it being highly probable that the owner of the
house should be entrusted with the funds for its internal

"At the Monthly Meeting held in Amboy the 13th of the
5th Month 16S7 The friends appoynted to speak to Benjamine
Clerk brought his answer, which was, that he would not
come [to meeting] because Governor Lawry called him a
divil (as he sayes) wherewith friends not being satisfied
desires George Keith & John Barclay to speak to him
again." But Mr. Clerk persisted in his charge against the
Governor, after which we find no further reference to the

On the 14th of "October John Reid, who had hitherto kept
the book, resigned it in consequence of leaving the place;
going to Monmouth County, doubtless, to settle on the tract
on the Hope River which was granted him for services in
drawing maps for the proprietors (Whitehead's Contributions,
p. 45). Benjamin Griffith was appointed to fill the vacancy.

Online LibraryJoseph W. cn DallyWoodbridge and vicinity : the story of a New Jersey township ; embracing the history of Woodbridge, Piscataway, Metuchen and contiguous places, from the earliest times ; the history of the different ecclesiastical bodies ; important official documents relating to the township, etc. → online text (page 5 of 34)