Chapter X. Scotch Covenanters And Others In East Jersey

East Jersey was totally different in its topography from West
Jersey. The northern half of the State is a region of mountains
and lakes. As part of the original continent it had been under
the ice sheet of the glacial age and was very unlike the level
sands, swamps, and pine barrens of West Jersey which had arisen
as a shoal and island from the sea. The only place in East Jersey
where settlement was at all easy was along the open meadows which
were reached by water near the mouth of the Hudson, round Newark
Bay, and along the Hackensack River.

The Dutch, by the discoveries of Henry Hudson in 1609, claimed
the whole region between the Hudson and the Delaware. They
settled part of East Jersey opposite their headquarters at New
York and called it Pavonia. But their cruel massacre of some
Indians who sought refuge among them at Pavonia destroyed the
prospects of the settlement. The Indians revenged themselves by
massacring the Dutch again and again, every time they attempted
to reestablish Pavonia. This kept the Dutch out of East Jersey
until 1660, when they succeeded in establishing Bergen between
Newark Bay and the Hudson.

The Dutch authority in America was overthrown in 1664 by Charles
II, who had already given all New Jersey to his brother the Duke
of York. Colonel Richard Nicolls commanded the British expedition
that seized the Dutch possessions; and he had been given full
power as deputy governor of all the Duke of York's vast

Meantime the New England Puritans seem to have kept their eyes on
East Jersey as a desirable region, and the moment the Connecticut
Puritans heard of Nicolls' appointment, they applied to him for a
grant of a large tract of land on Newark Bay. In the next year,
1665, he gave them another tract from the mouth of the Raritan to
Sandy Hook; and soon the villages of Shrewsbury and Middletown
were started.

Meantime, however, unknown to Nicolls, the Duke of York in
England had given all of New Jersey to Lord Berkeley and Sir
George Carteret. As has already been pointed out, they had
divided the province between them, and East Jersey had fallen to
Carteret, who sent out, with some immigrants, his relative Philip
Carteret as governor. Governor Carteret was of course very much
surprised to find so much of the best land already occupied by
the excellent and thrifty Yankees. As a consequence, litigation
and sometimes civil war over this unlucky mistake lasted for a
hundred years. Many of the Yankee settlers under the Nicolls
grant refused to pay quitrents to Carteret or his successors and,
in spite of a commission of inquiry from England in 1751 and a
chancery suit, they held their own until the Revolution of 1776
extinguished all British authority.

There was therefore from the beginning a strong New England tinge
in East Jersey which has lasted to this day. Governor Carteret
established a village on Newark Bay which still bears the name
Elizabeth, which he gave it in honor of the wife of the
proprietor, and he made it the capital. There were also
immigrants from Scotland and England. But Puritans from Long
Island and New England continued to settle round Newark Bay. By
virtue either of character or numbers, New Englanders were
evidently the controlling element, for they established the New
England system of town government, and imposed strict Connecticut
laws, making twelve crimes punishable with death. Soon there were
flourishing little villages, Newark and Elizabeth, besides
Middletown and Shrewsbury. The next year Piscatawa and Woodbridge
were added. Newark and the region round it, including the
Oranges, was settled by very exclusive Puritans, or
Congregationalists, as they are now called, some thirty families
from four Connecticut towns--Milford, Guilford, Bradford, and New
Haven. They decided that only church members should hold office
and vote.

Governor Carteret ruled the colony with an appointive council and
a general assembly elected by the people, the typical colonial
form of government. His administration lasted from 1665 to his
death in 1682; and there is nothing very remarkable to record
except the rebellion of the New Englanders, especially those who
had received their land from Nicolls. Such independent
Connecticut people were, of course, quite out of place in a
proprietary colony, and, when in 1670 the first collection of
quitrents was attempted, they broke out in violent opposition, in
which the settlers of Elizabeth were prominent. In 1672 they
elected a revolutionary assembly of their own and, in place of
the deputy governor, appointed as proprietor a natural son of
Carteret. They began imprisoning former officers and confiscating
estates in the most approved revolutionary form and for a time
had the whole government in their control. It required the
interference of the Duke of York, of the proprietors, and of the
British Crown to allay the little tempest, and three years were
given in which to pay the quitrents.

After the death of Sir George Carteret in 1680, his province of
East Jersey was sold to William Penn and eleven other Quakers for
the sum of 3400 pounds. Colonies seem to have been comparatively
inexpensive luxuries in those days. A few years before, in 1675,
Penn and some other Quakers had, as has already been related,
gained control of West Jersey for the still smaller sum of one
thousand pounds and had established it as a Quaker refuge. It
might be supposed that they now had the same purpose in view in
East Jersey, but apparently their intention was to create a
refuge for Presbyterians, the famous Scotch Covenanters, much
persecuted at that time under Charles II, who was forcing them to
conform to the Church of England.

Penn and his fellow proprietors of East Jersey each chose a
partner, most of them Scotchmen, two of whom, the Earl of Perth
and Lord Drummond, were prominent men. To this mixed body of
Quakers, other dissenters, and some Papists, twenty-four
proprietors in all, the Duke of York reconfirmed by special
patent their right to East Jersey. Under their urging a few
Scotch Covenanters began to arrive and seem to have first
established themselves at Perth Amboy, which they named from the
Scottish Earl of Perth and an Indian word meaning "point." This
settlement they expected to become a great commercial port
rivaling New York. Curiously enough, Robert Barclay, the first
governor appointed, was not only a Scotchman but also a Quaker,
and a theologian whose "Apology for the True Christian Divinity"
(1678) is regarded to this day as the best statement of the
original Quaker doctrine. He remained in England, however, and
the deputies whom he sent out to rule the colony had a troublous
time of it.

That Quakers should establish a refuge for Presbyterians seems at
first peculiar, but it was in accord with their general
philanthropic plan to help the oppressed and suffering, to rescue
prisoners and exiles, and especially to ameliorate the horrible
condition of people confined in the English dungeons and prisons.
Many vivid pictures of how the Scotch Covenanters were hunted
down like wild beasts may be found in English histories and
novels. When their lives were spared they often met a fate worse
than death in the loathsome dungeons into which thousands of
Quakers of that time were also thrust. A large part of William
Penn's life as a courtier was spent in rescuing prisoners,
exiles, and condemned persons of all sorts, and not merely those
of his own faith. So the undertaking to make of Jersey two
colonies, one a refuge for Quakers and the other a refuge for
Covenanters, was natural enough, and it was a very broad-minded
plan for that age.

In 1683, a few years after the Quaker control of East Jersey
began, a new and fiercer persecution of the Covenanters was
started in the old country, and shortly afterwards Monmouth's
insurrection in England broke out and was followed by a most
bloody proscription and punishment. The greatest efforts were
made to induce those still untouched to fly for refuge to East
Jersey; but, strange to say, comparatively few of them came. It
is another proof of the sturdiness and devotion which has filled
so many pages of history and romance with their praise that as a
class the Covenanters remained at home to establish their faith
with torture, martyrdom, and death.

In 1685 the Duke of York ascended the throne of England as James
II, and all that was naturally to be expected from such a bigoted
despot was soon realized. The persecutions of the Covenanters
grew worse. Crowded into prisons to die of thirst and
suffocation, shot down on the highways, tied to stakes to be
drowned by the rising tide, the whole Calvinistic population of
Scotland seemed doomed to extermination. Again they were told of
America as the only place where religious liberty was allowed,
and in addition a book was circulated among them called "The
Model of the Government of the Province of East Jersey in
America." These efforts were partially successful. More
Covenanters came than before, but nothing like the numbers of
Quakers that flocked to Pennsylvania. The whole population of
East Jersey--New Englanders, Dutch, Scotch Covenanters, and
all--did not exceed five thousand and possibly was not over four

Some French Huguenots, such as came to many of the English
colonies after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes of 1685,
were added to the East Jersey population. A few went to Salem in
West Jersey, and some of these became Quakers. In both the
Jerseys, as elsewhere, they became prominent and influential in
all spheres of life. There was a decided Dutch influence, it is
said, in the part nearest New York, emanating from the Bergen
settlement in which the Dutch had succeeded in establishing
themselves in 1660 after the Indians had twice driven them from
Pavonia. Many descendants of Dutch families are still found in
that region. Many Dutch characteristics were to be found in that
region throughout colonial times. Many of the houses had Dutch
stoops or porches at the door, with seats where the family and
visitors sat on summer evenings to smoke and gossip. Long Dutch
spouts extended out from the eaves to discharge the rain water
into the street. But the prevailing tone of East Jersey seems to
have been set by the Scotch Presbyterians and the New England
Congregationalists. The College of New Jersey, afterward known as
Princeton, established in 1747, was the result of a movement
among the Presbyterians of East Jersey and New York.

All these elements of East Jersey, Scotch Covenanters,
Connecticut Puritans, Huguenots, and Dutch of the Dutch Reformed
Church, were in a sense different but in reality very much in
accord and congenial in their ideas of religion and politics.
They were all sturdy, freedom-loving Protestants, and they set
the tone that prevails in East Jersey to this day. Their strict
discipline and their uncompromising thrift may now seem narrow
and harsh; but it made them what they were; and it has left a
legacy of order and prosperity under which alien religions and
races are eager to seek protection. In its foundation the Quakers
may claim a share.

The new King, James II, was inclined to reassume jurisdiction and
extend the power of the Governor of New York over East Jersey in
spite of his grant to Sir George Carteret. In fact, he desired to
put New England, New York, and New Jersey under one strong
government centered at New York, to abolish their charters, to
extinguish popular government, and to make them all mere royal
dependencies in pursuance of his general policy of establishing
an absolute monarchy and a papal church in England.

The curse of East Jersey's existence was to be always an
appendage of New York, or to be threatened with that condition.
The inhabitants now had to enter their vessels and pay duties at
New York. Writs were issued by order of the King putting both the
Jerseys and all New England under the New York Governor. Step by
step the plans for amalgamation and despotism moved on
successfully, when suddenly the English Revolution of 1688 put an
end to the whole magnificent scheme, drove the King into exile,
and placed William of Orange on the throne.

The proprietaries of both Jerseys reassumed their former
authority. But the New York Assembly attempted to exercise
control over East Jersey and to levy duties on its exports. The
two provinces were soon on the eve of a little war. For twelve or
fifteen years East Jersey was in disorder, with seditious
meetings, mob rule, judges and sheriffs attacked while performing
their duty, the proprietors claiming quitrents from the people,
the people resisting, and the British Privy Council threatening a
suit to take the province from the proprietors and make a Crown
colony of it. The period is known in the history of this colony
as "The Revolution." Under the threat of the Privy Council to
take over the province, the proprietors of both East and West
Jersey surrendered their rights of political government,
retaining their ownership of land and quitrents, and the two
Jerseys were united under one government in 1702. Its subsequent
history demands another chapter.