Founding and History of the New Jersey Colony

Map Of Camden, New Jersey, & Environs
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John Cabot was the first European explorer to come into contact with the New Jersey shore. Henry Hudson also explored this area as he searched for the northwest passage. The area that would later be New Jersey was part of New Netherland. The Dutch West India Company gave Michael Pauw a patroonship in New Jersey. He called his land Pavonia. In 1640, a Swedish community was created in present-day New Jersey on the Delaware River. However, it was not until 1660 that the first permanent European settlement of Bergen was created. 

The Motivation for Founding the New Jersey Colony

In 1664, James, the Duke of York, received control of New Netherland. He sent a small English force to blockade the harbor at New Amsterdam. Peter Stuyvesant surrendered to the English without a fight. King Charles II had granted the lands between the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers to the Duke. He then granted land to two of his friends, Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, that would become New Jersey. The name of the colony comes from the Isle of Jersey, Carteret's birthplace. The two advertised and promised settlers many benefits for colonizing including representative government and freedom of religion. The colony quickly grew.

Richard Nicolls was made the governor of the area. He granted 400,000 acres to a group of Baptists, Quakers, and Puritans. These resulted in the creation of many towns including Elizabethtown and Piscataway. The Duke's Laws were issued that allowed for religious tolerance for all Protestants. In addition, a general assembly was created.

Sale of West Jersey to the Quakers

In 1674, Lord Berkeley sold his proprietorship to some Quakers. Carteret agrees to divide the territory so that those who bought Berkeley's proprietorship were given West Jersey while his heirs were given East Jersey. In West Jersey, a significant development was when the Quakers made it so that almost all adult males were able to vote. 

In 1682, East Jersey was purchased by William Penn and a group of his associates and added with Delaware for administrative purposes. This meant that most of the land between the Maryland and New York colonies were administered by Quakers. 

In 1702, East and West Jersey were joined by the crown into one colony with an elected assembly. 

New Jersey During the American Revolution 

A number of major battles occurred within the New Jersey territory during the American Revolution. These battles included the Battle of Princeton, the Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Monmouth

Significant Events

  • New Jersey is divided into East and West Jersey in 1674. It is reunited in 1702 when it becomes a royal colony
  • New Jersey was the third state to ratify the Constitution
  • New Jersey was the first to ratify the Bill of Rights
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Your Citation
Kelly, Martin. "Founding and History of the New Jersey Colony." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Kelly, Martin. (2023, April 5). Founding and History of the New Jersey Colony. Retrieved from Kelly, Martin. "Founding and History of the New Jersey Colony." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).