English and Irish Quakers Arrive at Gloucester-a tempera by Henry Karpinski


In 1623, Captain Cornelius Mey with 24 Dutch settlers landed on the eastern side of a beautiful river, later named the Delaware, on a prominent point known to Indians as Arwamus. Nine years earlier, Captain Mey had returned to Holland from exploring the coasts of New Caesaria (New Jersey), naming the various rivers, capes, creeks and clearings by what are now familiar names: Cape May, Cape Cornelius, Hindlopen [Henlopen] Beach, etc. Because of the reports and stories that Captain Mey gave regarding the beautiful and lush land along the river, the States General of New Netherlands granted to the Second West India Company of Holland a large tract of land upon the eastern coast of North America.

According to the records of this Company, Captain Mey and the settlers sailed from Holland in September, 1623, and in December of that year "fixed upon Hermaomissing at the mouth of the Sassackon", the most northerly branch of Timber Creek, as the place for settlement. A log fort was built and named "Nassau" in honor of a town on the Upper Rhine in Germany. The settlers established a rich fur trade at this point in the Delaware Valley and continued flourishing until 1626 when Peter Minuit, the newly appointed director of Dutch affairs in New Netherlands, recalled most of the settlers to New Amsterdam.

The momentous and convincing reports, writings, and research of many notable historians throughout the years have provided evidence to definitely establish the site and year of the settlement of Fort Nassau. "In 1623 the Dutch built Fort Nassau at the mouth of the Saxsacon" (John Redfield, in "The Constitution," Woodbury, 1844). "The best opinion seems to be that it (Fort Nassau) was situated immediately upon the river at the southern extremity of the high land butting upon the meadows north of the mouth of Timber Creek... a peculiar little blue flower which farmers call "Dutch flower" still grows thereabouts..." (Isaac Mickle, "Reminiscences of Old Gloucester," 1845) Judge John Clements, writing in "The American Record," stated: "Recent researches have to most extent removed the mystery and point to the conclusion that the Fort (Nassau) was perched upon the high ground of Gloucester Point or more definitely that it was situated (in 1623) upon the river at the southern extremity of the meadows north of Timber Creek."

David J. Doran, president of the original historical society of Gloucester City (1917), searched the records to definitely establish the site of Fort Nassau for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Fort in 1923. He stated: "History says he (Captain Mey) fixed upon Hermaomissing (Indian for "The Point') at the mouth of the Sassackon, as the place for his settlement..."

As the result of this research, the State Historical Society erected a marble shaft at Broadway and Cumberland Street in 1919 commemorating the establishment of Fort Nassau on Gloucester Point in 1623.

"from Documents relating to the HISTORY OF THE DUTCH AND SWEDISH SETTLEMENTS on the Delaware River (translations and compiled from Original Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, at Albany, and in the Royal Archives; at Stockholm); by B. Fernow, Keeper of Historic Records; Vol, XII, Albany: The Argus Co. Printers, 1877.

Albert J.Corcoran

In March, 1624, the Dutch West India Company, a trading company chartered to navigate and settle the area now known as the Delaware Valley, sent the Nieu Nederlant under Capt. Cornelius Jacobson Mey with 30 families to establish a colony. The colonists were distributed between the settlement on the North (Hudson) River and the one on the South (Delaware) River.

Instructions issued to William Verhulst, Capt. Mey's successor as Director-General in 1625 indicate that the Dutch planned to make the settlement on the South River the seat of government for New Netherlands. This plan was altered one year later when Peter Minuit became Director-General and moved the base of operations to a new fort on Manhattan Island called Fort Amsterdam.

Eyewitness accounts and a deposition given by one of the original colonists place the location of the 1624 settlement on Burlington Island. Little is known about the settlement other than it was a trading post and the home of the Director-General.

In 1626 the Dutch began to concentrate their settlement efforts on Manhattan Island. However, Isaack de Resiere, the resident secretary of the West India Company reported to his superiors on the immediate need for a fort on the South River. His letter dated September 23,1626, stated:

"The honorable gentlemen submit to our consideration whether it would not be advisable to erect a small fort on the South River. This according to my judgement is not only advisable, but necessary for the following reasons:

First to keep possession of the River, in order that others may not precede us there and erect a fort themselves.

Secondly, because having a fort there, one could control all the trade in the river,

Third, because the natives say that they are afraid to hunt in winter, being constantly harassed by war with the Mihquaes, whereas if a fort were there, an effort could be made to reconcile them.

Shortly after this report, the company erected Fort Nassau on the Delaware River and placed a small garrison in it. Company reports indicate the trading season of 1626 was highly successful, adding to the justification for the fort's construction. No contemporary description of the Fort exists; however, the usual Dutch procedure was to select a site near a natural stream and enclose the area with a palisaded structure. There is evidence of a wooden building within the fort, but nothing of the fort itself.

The Dutch kept a garrison in Fort Nassau until 1628, when the soldiers were recalled to Fort Amsterdam. Trading vessels were sent at regular intervals to deal with the Indians for furs until 1638 when the Swedes came to the Delaware Valley, then the Dutch reinstituted a permanent garrison and maintained it until 1651 when Peter Stuyvesant ordered the fort dismantled.

Two major investigations (Historical Societies of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 1853, and the Fort Commission of the State of New Jersey in 1919) have failed to find or agree on an exact location of Fort Nassau. Both investigations pointed to conflicting information and the lack of physical evidence for their failure, but agreed Gloucester City to be the best probable location.

The continual search for Dutch documents has made much research material available that was not used during either of the previous investigations.One such document is a 1629 Dutch map of the Delaware Valley that locates Fort Nassau south of Timmer Kil. The importance of the map is that the Timmer Kil it identifies corresponds to present day Newton Creek, not Timber Creek. Today's Timber Creek appears on the map as Verkeerde Kil which translates to "Wrong" or "Turned About" Creek and corresponds to the horseshoe bend in the present creek. Captain David Peterson DeVries, another Dutch explorer who visited Fort Nassau several times and recorded his visits in his Journal, provides us with an eyewitness location of the Fort by placing it south of Timmer Kil (Newton Creek).

Not shown on early maps, but indicated on the New Jersey State Geological Survey map of 1877 is a third stream emptying into the common mouths of Big and Little Timber Creeks. This stream, which disappeared after a bulkhead was built in the 1890's stopping its flow, made the southern tip of Gloucester City a peninsula. During February of 1633 DeVries was frozen in this stream "against the fort" for eight days. His description provides the documentation needed to pin down the fort.

The major reason for the location of Fort Nassau in Gloucester City was not military, because the fort could not command the river and stop traders from using the Schuylkill River, but was for convenience in trading with the Indians. The Dutch built Nassau where the Indians could easily reach it from both Big and Little Timber Creeks. The major Indian Village of Armewamex was located in the vicinity of these two creeks and a short distance inland. It must be remembered the West India Company was primarily a trading company. A Dutch sailor, Peter Lourensen, who sailed with DeVries, stated in a deposition that Armewamex was the spot where the Dutch "had erected a fort called Nassau."

Fort Nassau existed for only 25 years (1626-1651). The Dutch built and destroyed it. The exact location will never be known, but its approximate location at the intersection of Charles and Water Streets in Gloucester City may be as close as is possible to come. The significance of the first, white fortified settlement in the Delaware Valley transcends the problem of its location.There is no doubt that Fort Nassau played a central role in the early history of this area and was within the present Gloucester City.

David C. Munn


The first European nation to make an official claim in the Delaware Valley was the Netherlands. Henry Hudson, an Englishman employed by the Dutch East India Company, charted the river in 1609 and gave the Dutch the basis for their claim. The area was next explored in 1614 or 1615 by the Dutch under Hendricksen. While the basic purpose for exploring the region was to locate good areas for the fur trade, the Dutch also added land to what was to be called New Netherlands. Other explorers were Hendrick Christiansen, Adriaen Block, and Cornelius Mey.

A large tract of land on the eastern seacoast of America was granted to the Second West India Company in 1621 by the States General of the New Netherlands Company, Cornelius Jacobese Mey was appointed Director-General of the new Dutch West India Company. A vessel in command of Mey was sent to the New World with a number of people and materials to establish a colony. Actually, the 30 families were to start two colonies, one on the Hudson and another on the Delaware, which would eventually purchase the land from the Indians.

Between 1614 and 1628 there had been considerable trade in furs between the Indians and Dutch ships anchored off the site of Fort Nassau. However, the Mey expedition was apparently the first to attempt to establish a settlement in the Delaware Valley. It is this expedition that created two controversies: the actual date of
the establishment of Fort Nassau and the exact location of the fort.

Most early historians agreed that Mey's group built the fort in 1623 but disagreed on the location. More recent historians seem to agree on the approximate location but disagree on the date. Below are listed some of the disagreements that have created and maintained the controversies (in addition to those discussed in the introductions):

1. John Barber--Mey entered Delaware Bay in 1621, eventually landed and built a fort on the Sassackon (Timber Creek), and name it Fort Nassau. According to Barber, the fort was on the Howell farm just below the mouth of Timber Creek.

2. John Pomfret--the fort was established in 1624.

3. Adrian Leiby--Mey established a settlement on Burlington Island in 1624 but could not obtain additional settlers to expand. Leiby says that two years later (1626) a small trading post was established at the present site of Gloucester and was called Fort Nassau.

4. E. B. O'Callaghan--Fort Nassau was established on the South River in 1623.

5. Arent Rogeveen's map located the fort on the river between Timber and Woodbury Creeks. According to the author, DeVries said it was one mile (4 English miles) from Gottenburg or on Mantua Creek five miles from Timber Creek.

6. Hazel Simpson--the fort was constructed on the high ground near the mouth of Timber Creek and was surrounded on three sides by water. She also quotes the diary of Acrelius, pastor of Old Swede's Church, who wrote that Nassau was 2-1/2 miles north of Mantas Hook and was still standing.

7. Dr Carroll Hampton Francis said the fort was located on an isolated point of land named Paradise Farm where the Mantua Creek emptied into the Delaware.

8. The joint committee of the Historical Society of New Jersey and the Pennsylvania Historical Society in 1852 reported it was unable to definitely fix the site of the fort.

9. The New Jersey Historical Sites Committee, using research by local historians and the reports of federal military engineers, decided Gloucester was the most logical site for the fort.

10. C.A. Weslager cites extensive research to prove the date of 1626 and the location of the fort on the east bank of the Delaware River on a point between Newton Creek and Big Timber Creek.(Gloucester City).

Despite all the controversy one fact remains-Fort Nassau was established by Mey on the Delaware River. The consensus and therefore the presently accepted
date is 1623 and the location is Gloucester City. The granite shaft at the corner of Broadway and Cumberland Street was located there to commemorate the founding of Fort Nassau in Gloucester City.

The first settlers arrived aboard a ship commanded by Mey. The group consisted of eight Walloon couples, four married at sea by Mey and four recruited in New
Amsterdam, and eight seamen. Although the fort was primarily a trading post, the settlers cleared some land and planted garden plots. Houses and barracks were
also built.

The settlement was not very successful because the Walloons were homesick and frightened. Difficulties to the north caused Peter Minuit, director of Dutch affairs in New Netherlands, to recall the people at Fort Nassau. Apparently they were quite happy to leave. Consequently, Fort Nassau was abandoned, which gave rise later to many stories of epidemics or Indian massacres. During the years of abandonment by the Dutch, the Indians sometimes used it as a lodging place while they waited for trading ships.

David Pieterson DeVries arrived in 1631 with 34 persons and the proper implements for the raising of tobacco and grain and the carrying on of whale and seal fisheries. He found Fort Nassau entirely deserted by the colony and in possession of the Indians. He wrote in his journal that the Indians were eager to trade furs for cloth, kettles, and other wares. His report caused the government to criticize the Dutch West India Company for its neglect of the area. DeVries apparently left the settlers at the fort and returned to the Netherlands.

Upon DeVries next trip to the Delaware River forts in December, 1632, he stopped at Hoorn Kill (Lewes, Delaware), which had been founded in 1681 by Captain Peter Hysen. DeVries found the fort and trading house burned and in ruins. The 32 colonists had been murdered by the Indians and their skulls and bones scattered over the ground. DeVries visited Fort Nassau in January and February of 1633. At both times he found the fort intact. In January it was occupied by the Indians, who had come there to barter furs. It was during this visit that DeVries and his crew were supposedly saved by the Indian maid Mahala. In February the fort
was totally deserted. Apparently the settlers left there in 1631 had abandoned the fort voluntarily.

In 1634 Thomas Yong, an English explorer, attempted to start a settlement at Pennsauken Creek. When Wouter Van Twiller, governor at New Amsterdam, heard about Yong's activities, he sent a force of 20 men to recondition the fort. While the fort was being repaired in 1636, the men also built a large house. It seems evident that Van Twiller realized that if the Dutch expected to retain possession of the area, a permanent settlement had to be maintained.

Although there is no description available of the size, shape, or construction of the fort, it must have grown and become more important during this period because there are many letters and reports from fort commanders concerning problems with the Swedes. About this time, the Swedes began a determined but short-lived challenge for control of the Delaware.


Ambassade Van Het Koninkrijk Der Nederlanden
Royal Netherlands Embassy
No. PCZ-12135
Washington, August 19 1963

Dear Mrs. McClay:

With reference to your letter dated July 8, 1963, regarding the Dutch settlement on the Delaware River I beg to inform you that the Government Archives in The Hague have supplied me with the following information on Captain Cornelius Jacobsz. May.

"Born in the town of Hoorn, in the province of North Holland, from which also David Pietersz. deVries hailed. May was captain of the "Fortuyn", which ship sailed for New Netherland in 1614; as Captaon of the "Blijde Bootschap" he discovered new land in 1620. He built Fort Nassau in 1623 and left for New Netherland as Captain of the "Nieuw Nederland" shortly after 31st March 1624 with 30 families on board."

Regarding captain David Pietersz. deVries I beg to inform you that he has written an account of his voyages, entitled "Korte Historiael." An English translation of the above has appeared in volume II of "The Swedish Settlements to the Indians, Dutch, and English, 1639-1664" by A. Johnson, published in 2 volumes in New York in 1911.

As for sources of information on the Dutch settlement on the Delaware River I recommend to you, besides the above mentioned works by A. Johnson, "Dutch explorers, traders and settlers in the Delaware Valley, 1609-1668" by C. A. Westlager, published in Philadelphia in 1961.

Yours sincerely,

J. A. van Houten
Counselor of Embassy for Press and Cultural Affairs

Mrs. L. McClay
32 Owen Avenue
Landsdowne, Pa.

Courtesy of Harry Green


Where was old Fort Nassau of 1628? Shown on the map above are three possible sites:

A. North side of Timber Creek
B. Point of land dividing Little Timber Creek and Big Timber Creek
C. South Side of Timber Creek

(Map by Harry Marvin based on information supplied by Harry Green and printed in Bulletin of Gloucester County Historical Society)


Catalina Trico was one of the women who lived at Fort Nassau. These women planted "the Dutch blue flower," named that by the farm people of a later period, to remind them of their former homes. The area where this flower grew in present day Gloucester was considered to be the area of the fort.

According to one account, John Redfield's daughter found the flower in a field near the mouth of Timber Creek "north on the Gloucester Beach to Hugg's Tavern." Mr. Redfield then went to the field and found pieces of Dutch brick and pottery. Close inspection located portions of a wall surmounted by a few logs. This gave rise to the belief that a redoubt, or building for defense, had been constructed on that spot by the Dutch.


Peter Minuit, now employed by Sweden, sailed from Fort Christina (Wilmington, Delaware) 1638 to explore the river for possible sites for Swedish settlements. As he attempted to sail past Fort Nassau, Commander Andries Hudde threatened to fire on the ship. Hudde demanded Minuit present his papers for inspection; Minuit refused and sailed back to Fort Christine. Accounts of the Swedish challenge for control of the area written by Hudde indicate that the Swedes also attempted to arouse the Indians against the Dutch. His letters to the company and to the governor in New Amsterdam also record the problems of maintaining
Dutch control.

Unfortunately Hudde was recalled to the Netherlands to face charges against him for sloppy bookkeeping. He later returned to the Delaware Valley area as a surveyor. However, no other commander was able to keep the fort at its peak.

John Printz, governor of New Sweden who was nicknamed "Big Tub" by the Indians, realized that a fort at the lower end of the river could close it to ships. He built Fort Elfsborg, called Fort Mosquito by the settlers, in 1643 just below the present city of Salem and stopped Dutch ships from sailing upriver. With the completion of Fort Korsholm on the Schuylkill River in 1647, the Swedes had completely cut off Fort Nassau from the bay and now held control of the Delaware River.

Peter Stuyvesant sent 120 men overland and 200 soldiers by ship to reinforce the garrison at Fort Nassau. They attacked and took Forts Elfsborg and Christina to regain control of the area. The Swedish challenge was ended.

Fort Casimir was constructed by the Dutch in 1651 across the river from Fort Elfsborg. The garrison at Fort Nassau was ordered to destroy the fort and to move to Fort Casimir and to hold it. Governor Stuyvesant's orders were carried out quite explicitly and no further settlement was made at Gloucester for more than 20 years.

Although the formal demand that the Dutch holdings should be surrendered to the English was delivered in 1664, there is evidence of English intrusion along the Delaware more than 30 years earlier. DeVries' journal describes a visit to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1633 after he had left the Delaware forts. During his discussion with Governor Harvey, he learned the governor had sent an English sloop to Delaware Bay. Apparently Harvey did not know the Dutch were in the area and was planning to extend the boundaries of the Virginia colony. DeVries reported seeing Indians wearing English jackets while trading along the Delaware. Since the Englishmen did not return to Jamestown, it can be assumed they were killed by the Indians.

Thomas Yong took possession of the area for the English in 1634. A small party of men under Captain Holmes was left at the fort, and Yong continued north along the Jersey side of the river. Thomas Hall, a servant, ran away from Holmes and made his way to the Manhatens. He hired himself to Jacob van Curler as a farm-servant and told of the English at Fort Nassau. When news of this intrusion was received by the officials in New Amsterdam, Dutch soldiers were sent to the fort, and the English were taken back to New Amsterdam as prisoners.

The first English language, well-written, accurate, complete description of the Delaware Valley was written by Yong when he returned to England. Sir Edmund Plowden of Ireland was so enthused by Yong's description that he came to the Delaware in 1642. He wanted to see that area that King Charles I had granted to him by patent in 1632. However, the Swedes ignored him and his own people mutinied. The Swedes rescued the Earl from an island, seized the ship from the mutineers, and sent all of them back to England. Plowden tried again in 1650 but could not recruit the 150 people he wanted to start an English colony on the Delaware. Sir Edmund continued trying to make his dream a reality but died in 1659 without accomplishing his goal.

The decision of the English to eliminate Dutch influence in North America was the result of a recommendation made by a royal commission in early 1664. The commission with John, Lord Berkeley, as president, also recommended that the colonies of New England be drawn more closely to the Crown. The House of Commons passed a resolution supporting the recommendations on April 21, 1664. On August 18, a British fleet appeared off the tip of Manhattan Island and Colonel Richard Nicolls demanded the surrender of the Dutch garrison.

Governor Stuyvesant was furious and wanted to fight to the last man. However, most of the Dutch residents did not see the situation that way. They had been unhappy with the stern ways of Stuyvesant and could see no positive results of fighting the English considering the sorry state of the defenses. The Dutch, a very practical people, recognized the uselessness of resistance and decided to subordinate patriotism to common sense. The Dutch holdings were surrendered without a struggle on September 3, 1664. The English now had control of all Dutch territory on the East Coast. Nicolls became governor and agent for the Duke of York.

James, Duke of York, had been given a vast area including New Jersey, by his brother King Charles II. James did not keep Nova Caesaria, or New Jersey, very long but gave it to two loyal followers, Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. The area was soon divided and Berkeley took over the southern and western part of the state. This became known as the Province of West-New-Jersey. Governor Nicolls did not know of this transfer of ownership. In his capacity as agent for the Duke of York he had been granting titles to land to settlers at a time when only Berkeley or Carteret could legally transfer titles.

When Captain Philip Carteret arrived in July, 1665, the dilemma had to be faced. Baptists and Quakers had moved into the former Dutch area to avoid religious persecution.Under the Duke of York, they could continue as they had planned. Now two questions had to be answered--would the titles to their lands be recognized by the new proprietors and would the government established by the new owners allow them the freedom and privileges they were seeking?

The question of freedom under the English rule was in the process of settlement in England although the colonists did not know it. Apparently Berkeley and Carteret learned from Earl Plowden's unfortunate experiences and realized they would have to offer people broad freedoms to entice them to leave England and to settle in the new land. To obtain settlers, the new proprietors signed the Concessions and Agreements of 1665. The document provided liberal land grants and an elected assembly to make laws, set up courts, and levy taxes. In return the settlers had to take an oath of allegiance to the King and a pledge of faithfulness to the proprietors. Another unpopular feature of this document was the provision for payment of a quit rent.

The issue of land titles was not resolved. The Dutch and Swedes had been told their land rights would be respected, but Berkeley and Carteret looked upon them as squatters. The land grants approved by Governor Nicolls were also questioned by the new owners who were interested in collecting taxes as the proprietors. Some grants issued by Nicolls gave a seven year tax exemption to the settlers. Eventually the problem was presented to the Duke of York for resolution. The Duke issued an order rescinding the Nicolls' land grants. He declared that settlers had no rights to any land not acquired from Berkeley and Carteret. The proprietors then issued a decree which stated no one could hold land or public office unless the deed was obtained from the proprietors and the quit rent had been paid.

For a very brief period in 1673 the Dutch recaptured New York and New Jersey. The few months of Dutch control eliminated the rights of the old owners and created a new situation. In February of 1674 the English regained the area. King Charles again made a gift of New Jersey to the Duke of York. And for the second time, the Duke gave New Jersey to Lord Berkeley and Sir Carteret. However, Berkeley had become totally discouraged and sold his half of New Jersey on March 18, 1674.

John Fenwick, supposedly acting in behalf of Edward Byllynge, purchased the southern and western half. Byllynge convinced a number of fellow Quakers, including William Penn, to become involved in the enterprise. Fenwick was to own one-tenth of West Jersey and Byllynge, with other interested Quakers, was to have the other nine-tenths. There was no agreement concerning which tenth Fenwick was to possess.This lack of agreement made endless trouble for Fenwick.

In the spring of 1675, Fenwick sailed to the new land on the Griffin, landed at Salem, and started the settlement. Many Quaker families followed him and the settlement began to grow. The Quakers in England obtained a court order to prevent Fenwick from selling land without their consent. Fenwick ignored the order and his troubles began to multiply. While this squabble was going on, the settlement of Burlington was started by the Quakers who were disputing Fenwick's rights.

The tangled financial affairs of the nearly bankrupt Edward Byllynge were placed in the hands of Quaker trustees and shares in West Jersey land were put up for sale. Fenwick had ten shares so ninety were to be sold at 350 per share. The trustees realized they would have to obtain recognition of their proprietorship from the Duke of York. A negotiated agreement with Sir George Carteret gave the trustees two very important gains: control of the Delaware from its source to its mouth and recognition of the Fenwick-Byllynge claim. Recognition of the proprietorship from the Duke of York followed this settlement.

The shares were sold mainly among the members of the English Society of Friends and were disposed of by 1683. Dr. Daniel Coxe was the only non-Quaker to purchase shares. Some shares went to Byllynge's creditors in place of money owed to them. Merchants or merchant-craftsmen made up the majority of the purchasers and only four were yeomen. Of the 120 who bought shares only 23 bought a full share and nine bought two or more shares. Most shares were purchased jointly by two to eight people. The most popular purchase was one seventh of a share for 50.

Among those who purchased shares were 100 English, 17 Irish, and 3 Scots. Twenty-five of the English proprietors settled in West jersey; six of the Irish settled in the Third Tenth on Newton Creek; none of the Scottish owners came to West Jersey to settle. All had agreed to a democratic system of distributing the land. Many of those who bought shares decided to resell the land at the going rate of 5 to 10 per 100 acres of the 20,000 acres per full share. The main unit of settlement was from 50 to 300 acres of land to establish a medium-sized farm. If a person owned one full share and sold 100 acre units at 10 each, he could make a profit of 1650. It is no wonder that so many of the original proprietors remained in England and sold the land in West Jersey.


The best description of the difficulties which arose between the Dutch and the Swedes in the Delaware Valley can be found in letters written by various people about Fort Nassau. The full contents of these letters can be read at the State Library in Trenton.

April 28, 1638-"Minuyt was at the South River and had sent his sloop above the fort. He would afterward, again go up, but our people prevented him. Peter Mey sailed down aboard of him, demanding to see his Commission, which he refused to exhibit saying he will build a fort there, and his Queen had as much right there as the Company. I have sent Jan Jansen, the Commissary of the fort thither, and instructed him in case Minuyt should attempt anything to our prejudice, to protest against him in due form. I hourly expect news.."

Also 1638-". . . the fort has sufficient garrison of men and ammunition of war."

October 2, 1639-"Fort Nassau in the South River is a heavy charge to the Company; both on account of the strong garrison and the sloop. We see no means of lessening it on account of the Swedes who have settled 5 leagues from there, within our jurisdiction, though they well know that the mouth of the river is sealed with our blood, and that possession has been taken of it, above and below. Since their arrival there, we have fallen short full 30,000 in trade, and still daily suffer through their means. Should they move off, which they must soon do, if not reinforced, we will never consent to, if we are strong enough to prevent, the settlement of any one within our limits, which ought to have been the case in this instance."

April, 1648-"Whereas the Governor Johan Printz not only does not omit to make us suspected by every means both by the Indians and the Christians, but even connives at the bad treatment of the Hon. Company's subjects, whether free men or servants, yea, so that the same come home bleeding and bruised, as often has happened, the by Indians and especially by the Armewamese Indians on the 12th of May '47 at noon, who tried to overrun us, although it was prevented by God's
mercy and good information regarding their misunderstanding."

Also 1648-Andries Hudde wrote to Vice-Director Beeckman concerning the complaint of Tomes Broen and other freemen in the area surrounding Fort Nassau. Johan Printz had been buying up land from the Indians and the free men who also wanted to purchase land were unable to do so. They complained the Printz was trying to set up a monopoly to force people out of the area or to trade only with him. Hudde said he would buy the land and give it to the Company but he could not afford to do so. The freemen living there said they would buy it with merchandise, and Hudde consented to the plan and contributed to the fund. They each chose a plot and were given certified copies of deeds because the originals could not be found.

September 25, 1648-Deputy commissary Alexander Boyer requested more trade goods be sent to the fort. Indians were bringing in many beaver pelts and were unhappy with the lack of trade goods. He was concerned that the Swedes would take advantage of this situation to turn the Indians against the Dutch.


Most people are familiar with the English nursery rhymes they heard, learned, and recited as children and later to children. However, very few could recite the Dutch nursery rhyme below.

Trip a trop a troontjes
De varkens in de bootjes,
De koetjesin de klaver,
De paarden in de haver,
De eendjes in de vaterplas,
De kalf in de long grass;
Sogroot myn kleine
poppteje vas!

Riding on the
parent's knee
Thou shalt ever
happy be
As the little pigs
among the beans,
The cows among
the oats.
The calf in the long
So tall my little
baby was!


During the Dutch occupation of the Fort Nassau area, a contract to build two houses on the Delaware River was agreed upon by a contractor and the owner of the land. Each house was to be 32 feet long and 18 feet wide with 9 feet to a story. The breastwork was to have a 3 foot wooden frame for a double chimney. Other specifications were 5 outside and inside doors, 3 regular window frames, 1 transom window frame, 1 circular window frame, 3 partitions, a roof covered with planks, and other doors and windows as proper.

The contractor was paid 60 winter beavers (thick pelts), expenses from Manhattan to Fort Nassau, and food and drink while working. However, the contractor had to pay his own expenses back to Manhattan when the job was completed.


Articles of agreement between the honourable sir Robert Carre, knight, on the behalf of his majesty of Great-Britain, and the burgomasters, on behalf of themselves, and all the Dutch and Swedes, inhabiting on Delaware bay, and Delaware river.

1. That all the burgesses and planters will submit themselves to his majesty without any resistance.
2. That whoever, or what nation soever, doth submit to his majesty's authority, shall be protected in their estates, real and personal whatsoever, by his majesty's laws and justice.
3. That the present magistrates shall be continued in their offices, and jurisdiction to exercise their civil power as formerly.
4. That if any Dutchman or other person shall desire to depart from this river, it shall be lawful for him so to do with his goods, within six months after the date of these articles.
5. That the magistrates and all the inhabitants (who are included in these articles) shall take the oaths of allegiance to his majesty.
6. That all people shall enjoy the liberty of their consciences in church discipline as formerly.
7. That whoever shall take the oaths, is from that time a free Denizen, and shall enjoy all the privileges of trading into any of his majesty's dominions, as freely as any Englishman and may require a certificate for so doing.
8. That the schout, the burgomaster, sheriff, and other inferior magistrates, shall use and exercise their customary power, in administration of justice, within their precincts for six months, or until his majesty's pleasure is further known.

Dated October 1st 1664.


Deeds for land in Old Gloucester County frequently contained hunting and fishing rights. The owner of the land was entitled to the birds and game found on the land within the boundaries of the land purchased. If the land had a stream or creek on it or if it bordered a stream, creek,or river, the owner was entitled to the fish.

According to deeds recorded by John Reading in 1668, 1689, and 1701, some of the first people in Gloucester were those listed below.

Joseph Wood
William Warner
Robert Zane
Thomas Kondall
Francis Collins
William Choster
Joseph Austin
John Wood
John Ashbrook
Edward Bylling
Edmund Byllyngs
John Ladd
John Cornish
Thomas Bull
John Loyd
Thomas Stanton
William Cooper
Thomas Sherman
Thomas Gardiner
Mathew Medcalfe
Samuel Spicer
Andrew Robeson
Jonathan Wayhwright
Philip Paul
John Tatum
John Browne
John Brown
George Brown alias Ward
William Salsbury or Salsbery
Arthur Powell

Most of the men could not write.They used marks or symbols to indicate they had signed the deeds and the recorder wrote in the correct name.


Summary of the concessions and Agreernents of the Proprietors, Freeholders, and Inhabitants of the province of West-New-Jersey, in America.

Chapter I-Provided for commissioners to handle the division and allotment of land, location of towns, and reconstruction of towns. Gave towns the right to choose their own magistrates and officers.

Chapter II-Allowed the appointment of a surveyor and the registration of deeds to property.

Chapter III-Established dates for election, by secret ballot, of ten commissioners annually; each ten of the one hundred proprieties selected one commissioner.

Chapter IV-Granted all persons (with the consent of one or more proprietors) who went to West-Jersey before April 1, 1677, seventy acres of land for every able servant he took and seventy acres for himself; fifty acres awarded for weaker servants, male and female, over 14 years of age. Stated that fifty acres was to be given servants at end of servitude for which they were to pay one penny an acre within town boundaries and one half a penny outside town each year to the proprietor. Amount of land offered decreased each year and a time limit was placed on the offer.

Chapter V-Provided for keeping a register of surveyed land and the recording of deeds and certificates.

Chapter VI-Granted portions of land for highways streets, wharfs, keys, harbours, and public buildings; free use of these was given plus creeks, river, and other waterways. Inhabitants had the right to fish in the Delaware and along the seacoast and to shoot animals and fowl except on enclosed or planted land.

Chapter VII-After seven years registered land could not have the boundaries altered.

Chapter VIII-Owner not liable if his cattle trespassed on another's property to graze.

Chapter IX-Provided for appeal to general assembly for those the courts had found guilty of violating the laws.

Chapter X-Allowed commissioners to take actions that were necessary for safety, peace, and well-government and to collect rents due to the proprietors.

Chapter XI-Consent of the inhabitants was needed before any tax, custom, subsidy, tollage, or,assessment was imposed upon them.

Chapter XII-Provided oath for commissioners, registers, and surveyors.

Chapter XIII-Acknowledgement of fundamental rights and privileges.

Chapter XIV-Seven honest and reputable persons must provide testimony if someone was to be tried for treason.

Chapter XV-Charter was to be read at the beginning and end of each session of the assembly and at each of the four court sessions each year.

Chapter XVI-Established freedom in all matters of religious worship for all people.

Chapter XVII-Right to life, limb, liberty, estate, and property cannot be deprived of any person without a trial before a jury of twelve good and lawful neighbors.

Chapter XVIII-People could not be arrested or imprisoned for debt until served with a summons designating the cause, the name of the accuser, and the time and place for the court hearing. The accused had 14 days to reply to the charges and could be arrested if he did not appear for the hearing.

Chapter XIX.-Each court was to have three justices sitting with the twelve men on the jury.

Chapter XX-All cases, criminal and civil, had to have at least two witnesses who were honest and reputable. Also established penalties for false witness.

Chapter XXI-A person could withdraw charges made against another, except in cases of treason, murder, or felony.

Chapter XXII-Provided for a jury to be present during all trials. A lawyer was not necessary; people were permitted to plead their own cause.

Chapter XXIV-Provided a method to prevent fraud, deceit, and collusion in bargains, sales, trade and traffic by costly and long lawsuits. Also provided for a due settlement of estates.

Chapter XXV-Established a system to promote good understanding and friendship between the inhabitants and the Indians.

Chapter XXVI-Required payment or gifts be given to the Indians for land that was to be settled and used by the new inhabitants.

Chapter XXVII-Regulation that ship captains were not to accept people for passage unless they had the correct certificate from the proprietors.

Chapter XXVIII-Anyone found guilty of theft was required to make restitution two-fold by actual payment or by work. Anyone found guilty of deliberately causing injury to another was to be punished according to the seriousness of the offense.

Chapter XXIX-Provided for securing estates of persons who had died and for taking care of orphans.

Chapter XXX-Allowed heirs to receive estates of those who had committed suicide.

Chapter XXXII through Chapter XLIV-Enumerated the powers, duties, and rights of the Assembly.

(The document was signed on March 3, 1677.)


The "Concessions and Agreements of the Proprietors, Freeholders and Inhabitants of the Province of West-Jersey, in America," written by Edward Byllynge with William Penn's help, was signed in England by Byllynge, the trustees, the proprietor holders, and others. Two copies of this famous document, considered by many to be the forerunner of the Bill of Rights, are in existence today. One is the property of the proprietors and is kept in a vault at their office in Burlington. The other copy is in the State Library in Trenton. The first copy was signed before it left England and the second was signed on March 3, 1677, after arriving in New Jersey.

At the insistence of the Assembly, a number of members were chosen from the proprietors to transact the business of land distribution. To be eligible for membership on the Council of West Jersey Proprietors it was necessary to own at least 1/32 of one of the original 100 shares. When the control of the government reverted to the king in 1702, the proprietors continued to meet in Burlington and Gloucester.When our nation became independent, the Council continued in operation, handling land distribution. Each year since 1688, the ten members of the Council of Proprietors of West Jersey meet on April 10 in Burlington and on April 13 in Gloucester. Five
members are elected at Burlington and four at Gloucester. The Surveyor-General of New Jersey is the tenth member of the council. At the 288th annual meeting held on Gloucester Green (the Camden County Park on King Street) on April 13, 1975, Mr. Harry Green was elected to the Council of Proprietors to honor both Mr. Green and Gloucester City.

The document, written in plain language so all people of the 17th Century could understand it, guaranteed many of the freedoms taken for granted today. William Penn wrote a letter outlining the main points of the document:

"We have made concessions by ourselves, being such as friends here and there (we question not) will approve of; there we lay a foundation for after ages to understand their liberty as men and Christians, that they may not be brought in bondage, but by their own consent; for we put the power in the people, that is to say, they to meet and choose one honest man for each propriety, who hath subscribed to the concessions; all these men to meet as an assembly there, to make and repeal laws, to choose a governor, or a commissioner, and twelve assistants, to execute the laws during their pleasure; so every man is capable to choose or be
chosen; No man to be arrested, condemned, imprisoned, or molested in his estate or liberty, but by twelve men of the neighbourhood: No man to lie in prison for debt, but that his estate satisfy as far as it will go, and be set at liberty to work: No person to be called in question or molested for his conscience or for worshipping according to his conscience; with many more things mentioned in the said concessions."

It should be noted that John Fenwick did not sign the Concessions, that Edward Byllynge repudiated them in 1682, and that Dr. Daniel Coxe refused to accept them as binding. Byllynge had cleared off his debts, was solvent, and owned several unencumbered shares in West Jersey. As the recognized chief proprietor (by the Duke of York), he decided to reside in West Jersey and to assume the governorship. The Assembly of 1683 blocked this move by Byllynge by enacting measures to protect itself and the people of the colony.The most important act was the passage of a resolution which recognized the Concessions as the fundamentals of
government. It also usurped power and elected Samuel Jennings governor.

A petition was drawn up and sent to eight prominent Quakers in England to resolve the question of the legality of the Concessions. These men upheld Byllynge's right to be governor and to control the government. However, they also reminded him that it was his duty to uphold the guarantees of liberty and from abuses given in the Concessions. Byllynge then changed his mind about coming to West Jersey and appointed John Skene to act for him as deputy governor. The assembly agreed. Other problems of meddling by Byllynge continued until his death in 1687 and his heirs sold the family's interests to Dr. Coxe.

Dr. Coxe sold his rights in 1692 to 48 members of the West Jersey Society. When the Duke of York became King James, he determined to rule the colonies in his own name. In 1702 New Jersey became a royal colony under one governor appointed by the king. Burlington was made the capital of West Jersey.

Nearly Forgotten Names In Gloucester's Earliest Years

Most of the English and Irish names are recorded in various publications about the history of Gloucester and are, therefore, well-known. However, it would be remiss if a few of the Dutch and Swedes were not given the same honor in a history of the town. Following is a list of some who played a role in the history of the area but who seemed to have been lost for the past three or more centuries:

Matts Mattsson-probably the first to build a house in Fort Nassau
Johannes Paul Jaquet-Director of Fort Nassau 1623
Peter Alricks, William Beekman, Hinojassa-assistants to Jaquet
Peter Lawrenson-sent to reestablish Fort Nassau in 1631
Arent Carssen-left in charge of the fort by DeVries
Peter Hollander Ridder-bought the area from the Indians for the Swedes.
Cornelius Learson, Ole Rasen, Ole Jonsen-obtained a Swedish patent for a tract of land (Gloucester County) in 1668.
Hans Hopman, Peter Jonsen, Juns Justasen-took over the patent.

Tax records available at the County Court House in Woodbury list the old family names and also provide evidence of the intermarriage of the various European groups living in the area and of Europeans and Indians. The same large tract of land had changed hands several times. The Dutch bought the land in the 1620's, the Swedes in the 1640's, and the English in the 1660's. Each time, the Indians who sold the land were actually unaware of the meaning of the deeds they signed.

Arrival of Settlers

The Fenwick settlement at Salem was about two years old when the Kent arrived with 230 passengers to begin another settlement. The new Quaker arrivals had to remain at Raccoon Creek, occupying very crude quarters in barns, stables, and cramped small homes, until a site was selected. The London Friends had planned to settle at Arwamus Creek (Gloucester) but decided to consolidate with the Yorkshire group because they were too few in number to split up. The area which eventually became Old Gloucester County was inhabited by the Indians and by Dutch, Swedes, and Finns, who had remained after the English take-over, living in single farm houses scattered throughout the area. The new settlers bypassed the Gloucester area and began the settlement at Burlington.

The English took advantage of the abilities of the longtime residents to get along well with the local Indians and asked some of them to be interpreters. Israel Helmes, Peter Rambo, Lacy Cook, and Henric Jacobson Falconbre-all Swedes-helped the English purchase land between Rankokas and Timber Creeks. Benjamin Scott, John Penford, Thomas Olive, and Daniel Wills obtained the deed on behalf of the commissioners from the Indians on September 10, 1677. Later Benjamin Scott would be appointed to purchase Arwamus from the Indians. To begin the settlement at Arwamus, Thomas Olive sent servants to cut hay for cattle he had bought.

The Irish proprietors-Anthony Sharp, William Clark, Mathais Foster, Roger Roberts, Richard Hunter, Thomas Atherton, and Thomas Starkey signed an agreement in September, 1677, and decided that one of them would go to West Jersey to establish the propriety. They joined with Robert Turner, Joseph Sleigh, Robert Zane, Thomas Thackara, and William Bates, who jointly owned another share. The eleven men then delegated Thackara, Bates, Thomas Sharp, George Goldsmith, and Mark Newbie to establish a colony.

The first Irish settlers arrived at Salem on the Owner's Adventure in November, 1681. During the winter at Salem, Robert Turner, who had come into the Gloucester area looking for land, advised them to leave Salem and establish their settlement along Newton Creek. The families of Newbie, Bates, Thackara, and Zane with Sharp and Goldsmith started the Newton settlement in the spring of 1682. At a meeting of the Assembly later that year. William Cooper and Mark Newbie were appointed to sell land "to defray publick charges" in the Third Tenth. Thomas Sharp was named constable.

Letters to friends and relatives in England and Ireland discussed the many advantages of living in West Jersey: The spring water was better than England's and could be used to make good beer and ale. The new land produced ingredients to make excellent wine and cider. To the contrary of what they had been told, the settlers were not bothered by the musket-to fly. Although the woods had bears, wolves, foxes, rattlesnakes, and other fearsome creatures, they were no trouble. There was unlimited praise for the fruit and wheat crops, venison, fowl, herring, catfish, shad, and sturgeon. The cranberries found in the area were made into an excellent sauce by the Indians to eat with venison and turkey. Although there was some barren land, there were abundant woods from which a high grade tar and rosin ould be obtained.

More and Quakers left England and Ireland to escape religious persecution and to begin a new life in West Jersey. The price for a voyage to West Jersey-including meat, drink, and transportation of one chest-was 5 for an adult, 50 shillings for children under 12, and nothing for infants. Ships sailed from London, Hull, or Dublin and would stop at Leith, Dundel, Aberdeen, Aire, and Waterford if a group of 30 or more gathered for passage. By 1681 approximately 1400 Quakers had come to
West Jersey to establish new homes and businesses.

Among the immigrants to West Jersey were the first settlers of Arwamus. Some of these Quaker settlers were the families of Samuel and William Harrison, Matthew Medcalfe, John Reading, Thomas and Richard Bull. Joseph Hugg, whose name is found in the oldest records, was a Swede who came across the river from Delaware to settle with the Quakers in Arwamus.

Purchasing 500 acres from Robert Kane, Hugg built his house on what was thought to be the site of Fort Nassau. There were sufficient pieces of evidence (Dutch brike and ware, portions of a log wall, the blue flower) to support the theory. The founding of Philadelphia by William Penn halted the migration of large numbers of people to West Jersey. The last ship to anchor on the east side of the Delaware arrived in 1682 with 360 new settlers. However, by 1686 the Third and Fourth Tenths had grown sufficiently in population and importance to become a county. Arwamus became the county seat and was known as Gloucester Town.

Fundamentals of Government 1681

"Province of West-New-Jersey, in America, the 25th of the 9th month called November,1681.

"Forasmuch as it hath pleased God to bring us into this province of West-New-Jersey, and settle us here in safety, that we may be a people, to the praise and honour of his name, who has so dealt with us, and for the good and wellfare of our posterity to come: We, the governor and proprietors, freeholders and inhabitants of West-New-Jersey, by mutual consent and agreement, for the prevention of innovations and oppressions, either upon us, or our posterity, and for the preservation of the peace and tranquility of the same; and that all may be encouraged to go on cheerfully in their several places; we do make and constitute these our agreements, to be as fundamentals to us, and our posterity, to be held invioable; and that no person or persons whatsoever, shall or may make void or disannul the same, upon any pretence whatsoever,"

(The fundamentals are summarized as follows)

l. Provided for an annual assembly of representatives chosen by the free people of the province to handle affairs and to make necessary laws. The Governor could call special meetings if necessary.
2. Governor could not suspend or defer signing laws passed by the assembly to protect the liberties and property of the people.
3. Governor could not declare war or raise a military force without consent of the assembly.
4. Assembly could not be dissolved before elections unless they consented.
5. Governor could not make laws without the action of the assembly.
6. Governor could not levy taxes or raise money without consent of the assembly.
7.All state officers had to be elected by the assembly.
8. Governor could not send ambassadors to or make alliances or treaties with any country without consent of the assembly.
9. No tax could be passed for a longer period of time than one year.
10.Granted freedom of worship to all inhabitants of the province.

The document was signed by Samuel Jenings, Deputy Governor and Thomas Olive, Speaker of the Assembly.

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