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

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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 9 of 34)
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witness, while in attendance at Court, was recommended to be
allotted IS. 6d. per day. The fee for a Justice's warrant to be
2s. (id.\ for a subpoena for one, 6 pence ; for subpoena for more
than one, 3 pence for each name; for a summons in all civil
actions, \s. All fees and fines were to be collected by dis-
traint, if necessary. The fine for a juryman's non-attendance
to be 5^^. ; for a witness' absence, los.

Appended to this legal paper was a hortatory address to the
Justices to faithfully fulfill the trust reposed in them ; and it
concludes as follows: " In particular that they use their ut-
most Care and Endeavour to Suppres Divers Disorders which
hath Been and Still are amongst us, (the which have been
greatly to the Dishonour of God and the Scandal of thi,;
towne, abroad as well as at home:) by punishing the offend-
er or oftenders according to Law, Espetially the prophanation
of the Saboth or Lords Day."

This document was accepted by the Freeholders in the next
town meeting, April 21st, 1682.

May 25th Samuel Moore being absent, Samuel Dennis, his
brother-in-law, acted as Town Clerk. The Pound was to be
supplied with "a Sutable Lock thereunto and a keeper." In
the meeting of September 1st it was resolved to mark again
the trees forming the boundary between Woodbridge and Pis-
cataway, which, it will be remembered, were defaced by the
Piscataway people. The latter part of November was fixed
for the excursion, which was free for" as many as pleas to go."


woonnRii"»OE and vicinity.

On the loih of October every member of the Corporation
was required to give in to the Town Clerk, for public record,
a statement of his amount of land. Capts. Pike and Bishop
acted with Mr. Moore in drawing; off a correct list of the num-
ber of acres to v.liich every Freeholder was entitled (see Chap.


In November the Rate for "plough land " was declared to
be S.f. per acre ; for pasture land, 4^.; and for "out land " 3.V.
Swine was to be free of tax this year.

During 16S2 some changes occurred in the government of
the Province which ought to be noticed just here. Sir George
Carteret died January i4t]i, 16S0, and his will directed that his
New Jersey property sliould be sold for the benefit of his cred-
itors; but no purchaser appeared until 16S2. In January of
this year twelve men bouglit it, among whom were William
Penn and Thomas Rudyard. Robert 13arclay was made Gov-
ernor with the pri\ilege of non-residence. He appointed
Rudvard as his Deputy, who arrived in Elizabethtown on the
13th of November, superseding Governor Carteret.* Samuel
Groome, of Stepney, near London, and one of the twelve pro-
prietors, in like manner superseded Voquillen as Surveyor-
General. Thus a new regime was established. Governor
Carteret did not long survive his deposition, for in the middle
of December, of the same year, he died.

The Deputy Governor called his Council together by a war-
rant issued on the loth of December, and began overhauling
the papers of Capt. Vickcrs, the ex-Secretary of the Province.
There was the evidence of so much fraud on Vickers' part that
he was prohibited from holding any public office for time to
come.f Voquillen the ex-Surveyor-General, of Woodbridge,
was also arraigned before the Council for collusion, perhaps,
with Vickers. I The latter was required to give security for his
luture good beliavior§ (March 20th), in consequence of some
seditious utterances against the government.! He refused;
whereupon, Samuel Moore, the Woodbridge Town Clerk, was
immediately sworn as High Sheriff of Middlesex County, and
Capt. Vickers was placed in his custody to be " Com'itted to
t!ic Com'on Goale att Woodbridge."*^ It will be seen from

• HatfleM'8 KlizBbcth, p. 2U. + Governor & Council of E. J. p. 15. 1 Ibid. 1?. S Ibid. 2G.
I GoTiTDor &. Council, p. 25. 1 Ihirt. G.


this and other facts, to be detailed hereafter, that County pris-
oners and some Provincial prisoners were honored with lodg-
''^■gs in this Woodbridge common jail.

A serious charge was brought against Robert Voquillen (or
I VauqucUin, as the name is spelled in the " Record of the
Governor & Council of East Jersie ") — being to this effect,
that he had made his surveys without reference to the " Con-
cessions " ot the proprietors ; that many were without dates
I or any warrant from the proper authorities. Being sum-
moned to answer, he refused to appear. Accordingly, on the
::st of March, 16S3, the High Sheriff of Middlesex was
: ordered to " forthwth repaire to the house of the said Robert
I vauquillin & him bring before the Governor and Councill."
he Sheriff was also directed to seaixh his house and bring
[ any records or surveys which he might find. The ex-Sur-
[ veyor-General was present on the 23d, but denied having any
' papers in his possession which concerned the public. A bill
was brougiit in on the 26lh from the House of Deputies which
f was designed to " disenable " both Voquillen and Samuel Edsall
.'rom holding office thereafter. What Edsall's crime was, does
not distinctly appear; but perhaps it was the destruction of a
warrant for laying out certain lands.* The bill was signed
by the Deputy Governor on tlie same day.f

* Gov. & tJounc, p. ?t. t Ibid., ST.



Moore and Dennis— The Sheriffalty— First Tavern in
WooDDRiD.GE— More of the Piscataway Trouble —
The Deputy Governors — Quit Rent Agitation —
Highways — Pound — Obadiah Ayers — Vigilance Com-
mittee — Landings — Second Division of Land — Death
OF Samuel Moore— ok Israel Thornell — First Side-

We continue our history of the Town Meetings, beginning
with that of January ist, 1683. An election was held, as
usual, for the choice of officers for the Corporation. Samue!
Dennis and Samuel Moore were, just at this time, the two
most popular men in the township. The latter was a remark-
able man, as the observant reader has already discovered
Perhaps there was no man in the Province better known than
he, nor one more implicitly trusted. For many years he had
held some of the most important positions, and yet no
diminution of his reputation or influence had occurred. If
any envied him, as no doubt some did, they were unable to
sully his fair fame, or win the proud place he occupied in tlie
licarts of tiie people.

In this meeting, Dennis and Moore were elected Deputies,
to the (ieneral Assembly. As an evidence of the popularity
of these two men we find that both were in nomination for
the Presidency of the Township Court, and the vote stood
thus: Moore, 12; Dennis, 10. The Freeholders, doubtless,
voted for others; but these stood highest when the ballots
were counted. Instead of discriminating between them, the
town sent the two names to Deputy Governor Rudjan'.
(whose prerogative it was to confirm all fnominations of
Justices) that he might choose one of them. Rudyard, takint^


into consideration the manifold duties already imposed on
Mr. Moore, decided in favor of Samuel Dennis.* During this
year Mr." Moore held the offices of High Sheriff of Middlesex
County, Deputy to the Assembly, Messenger of the House of
Deputies,! Town Clerk of Woodbridge and Tax Collector for
the township! Besides, he administered (Nathaniel Fitz
Randolph assisting) the estate of Capt. James Bollen, late
Secretary of the Province, who died intestate ;J and did a great
deal of township business as member of different committees,
and opened a tavern.

On the 23d of February an arbitrary order was passed. If
any Freeholder was elected by a majority vote (subject, of
course, to the Governor's approval) as a Justice of the Peace,
and refused to serve, he was required to pay a fine for such
refusal ranging from 20s. to 40:.-. This is something like the
bill which the Deputies sent up for the concurrence of the
Governor and Council on the 26th of May of this same year
(1683), for punishing those who refused to serve as Sheriffs
when they had been commissioned. § Inasmuch as there was
no salary attached to the Sheriffalty, the Council opposed the
bill as unjust and having a tendency to bring tlie office into

The case of Barent vs. Wandle, cited by Knickerbocker, in
evidence of the sagacity of Wouter Van Twiller as a magis-
trate, may not be an exaggeration after all, in view of the laws
just mentioned. Our readers will remember, in the case
referred to, that Gov. Van Twiller counted the leaves of the
account books and weighed them carefully in his hands and
decided that as one was as thick and heavy as the other that
they were balanced, and that Barent should give Wandle a
receipt and Wandle should give Barent a receipt, and f/iaf the
Constable should pay the costs! Knickerbocker remarks that
" the office of Constable fell into such decay that there was
not one of those losel scouts known in the province for many
years." If New Amsterdam had passed a law like those
above-mentioned, the Constable would not only have been
compelled to pay the costs in Barent vs. Wandle, but also to
pay a fine for refusing to serve.

* Gov. & Council, p. 42. + Ibid., 52. $ Ibid., 43. § Gov. & Council, p. 74. Const*-
Wes who refused the office were to be floed iA. Learning & Spicer, p. 858.


Apropos to this, we find the following entry in the minutes
of the Governor and Council (p. 71), under date of May 23,

"The pctic'on of Samll Moore late p'vost Marshall of this
l)'vince now high Shcrift'c of the County of Middx and the
keeper of the Com'on Goalc for this p'vincc being read,
therein setting forth his former great Cost and Charge in
keeping and mainetaining the prisoners wthout any allow-
ance for the same wch charge is yet Continued upon him
there being noc p'vission to this. Day made for him, It is the
sence of this board as well his former as his latter Charge
expended is p'vinciall and ought to be borne by the Country
for wose service it is, Therefore it is ordered that his Case
bee recommended to the Deputyes now assembled that they
may Consider of some effectual way for his redresse, And
it's further p'posed that the petic'oner, being in a p'ticular of
his Charge that some Due Course may be taken to settle by
Act of Assembly or otherwise such a Sallery on that office or
otlier p'vision that the office wch is so necessary may not
unely be borne wthout Cost or Charge to the officer but a due
Encouragemt. for such who undertake the same, it's ordered
that Captn Berry and Capt. Palmer carry up our sence to the

Rather cool! Fining a man if he refuses to serve (or
threatening so to do), and yet requiring him to bear all thf
expenses of his office 7vithout a salary ! Shade of Van T wilier !

Sherifi's fees were not granted until 1686 (Leaming and
Spicer, p. 300). Jailers' fees were then also allowed : "Turn-
ing the Key in and out," 8.f. ; affixing the seal of the Province
tt) documents, 5^.

On the 18th of April Samuel Moore and Samuel Dennis
were appointed to petition the new proprietors to confirm the
Town Charter, wliich met, doubtless, with a favorable re-
sp»jnse, but the confirmation was not given.

In June the Corporation Court was directed to hold
sessions on the first Tuesdays in May, August, November and
February annually. At this meeting Samuel Moore was
" Hy a unanimojs Vote Made Choice of to keep ordinary


[i, e. an inn] for this Towne, and whilst Rum is to Be had
from the Merchant at three Shillings or two Shillings and
Six pence for [a] Galln he is to aford it for Money at 3 pence
for [a] gill, Six pence the half pint, and Eighteen pence the
Quart; if he gives more, then to Raise the price." Rum-sell-
ing was regarded as a respectable business in those days,
much as we wonder at it. Moore's was the first tavern set up
in the place, and probably occupied the site upon which Dr.
Samuel E. Freeman's drug store now stands, as that is the
spot which both the record and tradition assign as his

In the meeting of October ist, three men, Samuel Moore,
John Bloomfield, and Jonathan Bishop, were appointed to
meet with a committee from Elizabethtown to consult con-
cerning the best route for a highway between that place and
Woodbridge — their decision to be laid before the next
Assembly for final disposition. This road was eventually
opened; whether in consequence of these, or subsequent
negotiations, we cannot tell.

The bridge and causeway over the Papiack Creek and
meadow were ordered to be repaired.

In November a committee, headed by the Woodbridge
military chieftain, Capt. John Bishop, Avas directed to exam-
ine the magazine and report the " Town's Stock of Powder
and Shot." If the report was ever made no record of it has
been preserved. The amount of war material was, doubtless?
inconsiderable; and a contest with an enemy would have
found the settlers illy prepared to cope with him successfully.

Notwithstanding that the Woodbridge men had intended in
the latter part of November, 1682, to fix the boundary between
their own land and that of the Piscataway men, we find that
as late as February, 1684, it had not been done. A committee
of six engaged to do it, at a Town Meeting of the latter date,
and to complete it by the last day of the following April for
the sum of thirty-eight shillings. The money was ordered to
be raised and the Piscataway people to be notified, but
whether the boundary line was run or not belongs to res
incognitae; for the committee never thought it was worth while
to report. In all probability Piscataway objected to the


proposed line and the matter was indefinitely postponed.
The Piscataway Deputies had presented a petition to the
Council of the Province in May, 1683. The memorial,
"Desircing a grant of all the lands -wtlun the Indian purchase
for ffourtcen pounds p. Ann: was here read — and Edw. Slater
and John Gilman being then p'sent, they were Answered that
their request was not intelligeable, the quantity of Lands
wthin those bounds being uncertain." So the paper was
dismissed.* This was designed to overthrow the Woodbridgc
claim, and would have had the intended effect if it had been
acceded to; for its very indefiniteness would have given the
Piscataway men unlimited authority over the disputed ter-

On the 28th day of February, 1684, another change in the
Provincial government took place. f Gov. Barclay sent over
a Deputy to supersede Thomas Rudyard, who, on the day
designated, called his new Council together, assigning to his
predecessor, Rudyard, the position of Secretary. In the new
Council we find the name of Samuel Dennis, of Woodbridge,
who served through the administration with great fidelity, as
the records show. The new Deputy Governor was Gawen
Lawrie, who held the office until October, 1686, when Lord
Neill Campbell was commissioned by Barclay as the chief
officer of the Province Both Rudyard and Lawrie had failed
to give satisfaction to the Proprietors because the taxes were
not collected with sufficient promptness, the dividends coming
in very slowly; besides, they were more anxious to secure
large tracts of land for themselves than urge the interests of
those whom they were appointed to serve.t The Council
held at Perth Amboy on the 28th of December, 1686, was the
last at which Gov. Campbell presided; for, hearing that
James II. was becoming tolerant to Protestants, he, who had
fled for his life for daring to be one, hastened back to England
to greet his wife and children again,§ leaving his honors in
the hands of one of his Couucilmen, Andrew Hamilton, of
Amboy. Hamilton's commission was officially read March
1 2th, 1687. During his term of service we note that two

Slb'd'^m*' ^'"""''''' ^- '■*• ^^"^^ * Council, p. 100. t Hatfield's Elizabeth, p. 231.


Woodbiidge men were chosen among his Councillors — John
Bishop and Samuel Dennis.

To return to the Town Meeting of February 25th, 1684;
A committee of three was appointed to " Meet with the
Governor or proprietors at Amboy to treat with them or with
whome they appoint for the Renewing of the bounds accord-
ing to the first Survey between amboy and our towne of
Woodbridge." What resulted from this conference we cannot

Robert Wright, in asking for a certain tract of land,
formerly the property of John Trueman, was granted posses-
sion of it on condition that he should settle on it and work at
his trades. He was a tanner and shoemaker, and came from
Staten Island.

John Allen, the popular preacher of Woodbridge, was
now actively engaged- in agricultural and kindred pursuits.
'vt this meeting he was chosen meat packer for the town. The
vxportation of meat had grown to be a lucrative traffic among
lie settlers; and, to foster it, they threw around it the safe-
iiard of public inspection by an honest and capable officer. ^
On the loth of April, Capt. John Pike and his son John
nd Capt. John Bishop were chosen to discuss the Quit Rents
nd other matters with the Governor and Proprietors. Dis-
affected parties throughout the Province were endeavoring to
make it appear that land bought from the Indians should be
exempt from tax, except that which they levied upon them-
selves. So specious were the arguments advanced that the
Woodbridge men. in their desire to be loyal, appealed to the
Proprietors for some conclusive evidence against the Indian-
:itle theory. They were manifestly non-plussed. The town
rder is thus stated :

"That which the towne Desires should be Debated with the
governor and present proprioters is as followeth; Viz: first
how it may apear, that the Gentlemen that Now Claims the
proprioty of this province of East Jersey: have So Real an
Jnterest, that they have Reason, Justice and Law on their
Sides to Demand Ouitrents from the Inhabitants of East
Jersey, and that the Jnhabitants may Safely pay it to them as
Not [to] be Questioned for the Same in time to Come by any


Others. 2dly to Desire of these present propriotors, the Con-
firmation of our Cliarter and General patten for Commons.
3dly the Confirmation of our particular pattens."

The committee reported to the ineeting of May 22d that the
items specified had been discussed. It was recommended that
a petition should be presented to the Governor and Proprie-
tors asking for the confirmation of the Woodbridgc Charter
and the patents just mentioned. In regard to the debate on
the Quit Rent question nothing was reported at this time.
On that point we imagine that the Freeholders were dissatis-
fied; for, as late as January ist, 1685, we find a " difference "
between them and the Proprietors on this subject. However,
four of the chief men of the town were empowered to settle
the difficulty, which was amicably done; and subsequently the
following minute appeared in the record: "At a Publick
Towne Meeting the 226. Day of September 1685: it is Deter-
mined By the Jnhabitants that the Quitrents aught to be paid,
and that to the present Goverment; and Every person to take
Care to Discharge their parts of the Quitrents with what
^ Convenient Speed they Can." Thus did the Woodbridge
Freeholders commit themselves to the payment of this land
tax, concerning which so much controversy has arisen and
such diverse views have been held. The celebrated Elizabeth-
town Bill in Chancery grew out of the discussion of this
question. A large and influential party sought to throw off
what to them appeared to be a dreadful incubus, by contesting
the case in the courts. The bill was drawn in 1746, but was
never decided by process of law.

Deputy-Governor Lawrie- sent a message to Woodbridge.
which was read in the Town Meeting of June 30th, 1684, in
which he requested the gift, for the Proprietors, of five
hundred acres of land, to be included within the bounds of
Amboy. This was unanimously and decidedly refused by the

In October it was resolved to repair the highways. Capt.
Bishop was appointed to look after the Rahway roads;
Samuel Smith was assigned to the same duty "for the Middle
part of the towne"; Ephraim Andrews for the road leading
from Capt. Pike's (at Strawberry Hill) to the Amboy line;


and Israel Thornell for the highway from the Amboy line to
the Piscata way road; — "and all the Jnhabitants ai-e obliged
to appeare at the Several places appointed By the Several
overseers, and to Be Ready to go to work By Sun an hour
High or Else the overseers may Refuse them."

The old pound, having been neglected, was in such a state
of dilapidation that in September, 16S5, John Pike was
engaged to make a new one on the old site; "to be of the
Same Length and Breadth with the old povvnd, to be made
with good Square posts, and five good faire Rails & a good
Substatial Cooping, Rails wellfixed to the heads of the posts."
For which Pike was to receive ;^3.

On the common land much timber was cut and used ille-
gally by certain persons who sought thus to enrich themselves
at the expense of the town. Eight men were chosen, who
lived in as many different localities, to guard the common
property. John Conger and Noah Bishop were chosen for
Rahawack [Rah way] and parts adjacent ; Samuel Dennis and
Israel Thornell for the west side of the Papiack Creek ; Mat-
thew Moore and Isaac Tappen for the east side; John Dennis
and John Bloomfield for "the out plantations near Piscata-

In January, 1686, two Constables were chosen instead of
one, as heretofore — " Nathaniel Randolf & Obediah Hayers,"
as the transcriber puts it. Some of our acute readers will
recognize Obadiah, in spite of the picturesque spelling, as a
member of the "Ayres" or " Ayers " family. He was often
almost indistinguishable as Haires. His name is spelt Ayers
in a record of the year 1695, so that there is no doubt of his

In this January meeting (ist) John Bishop " Ingaged to
make a Sufficient Bridge over the Brook Called the Mill
Brook in the Country Highway Leading to Elizabeth towne."
This is the stream in Lower Rahway (or Leesville) which is
now spanned by a bridge, as in those days, and probably at
the same place.

At the Town Meeting of the 31st of May the following order
passed unanimously: "that if at any time it Shall So hapen
that any person or persons whatsoever whether Neighbors or


St[r]nngers Shall act any Manner of trcspas against, Jnfringe,
Intrench or Jncroach upon the Rights, Libertys or previledges
of this townc or Corporation of Woodbridge; or act any way
against the Prudential orders of the Same: that then all aud
Every Jncroachmcnt Trespas or act: with the Name of the
person or persons by whome it is Done, Shall forth with be
given into the Conimitty Made Choice of by the tovvne for
that pi:rpose, or to one or two of them, to the End the Matter
be forth with Jmparted or Communicated to the Rest, which
Comitte hereafter Nominated are hereby Jmpowered to take
Cognizance of Consult about, and Determin as the Major
part of them Shall agree upon Conclution of any Such Matter
or thing, and to appoint one, two or three more or Less of
themselves, or any other according to their Discretions in the
townes Behalf, as the Matter Shall Require, to Summons,
arest. Enter plea action or Declaration against, and in Course
of Law, amply and fully to procicute to the full all Jntents
and purposes any action or plea So Entered, and also to
Defend any action and answer any plea that may Be Entered
or made against the towne By any person or persons whatso-
ever, or that may be Entered or .Comenced against any
particular person or persons, wherein the Right, title, prev-
iledge or Interest of the Town or Corporation may Be
Directly Concerned, taking profit or Loss, with the Standing
or falling of Such Case or Cases So Commenced, or plea or
pleas Entered: the towne holding for good what from time to
time the Said Comitte Now, or hereafter By them to Be
Chosen Shall Lawfully Do or Cause to be Done, in or about
the Before mentioned premises Defending and Maintaining
them in the Same."

This looks a great deal like a Vigilance Committee, and we
can imagine only two reasons for its existence: either the
Piscataway men were contemplating another raid on the
Woodbridge boundary, and this was intended to intimidate
them; or dishonesty and rascality were so prevalent that such
a measure as this was necessary for public security. We
have stated, in a previous chapter, that the tone of society in

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 9 of 34)