The New Jersey Colony
The New Jersey Colony was one of the original 13 colonies located on the Atlantic coast of North America. The original 13 colonies were divided into three geographic areas consisting of the New England, Middle and Southern colonies.
The New Jersey Colony was classified as one of the Middle Colonies. The Province of New Jersey was an English colony in North America that existed from 1664 until 1776, when it joined the other 12 of the 13 colonies in rebellion against Great Britain and became the U.S. state of New Jersey.
Around 1524, Giovanni de Verrazano became the first European to explore New Jersey. He sailed along the coast and anchored off Sandy Hook. The colonial history of New Jersey started after Henry Hudson sailed through Newark Bay in 1609. Although Hudson was British, he worked for the Netherlands, so he claimed the land for the Dutch. It was called New Netherlands.
Small trading colonies sprang up where the present towns of Hoboken and Jersey City are located. The Dutch, Swedes, and Finns were the first European settlers in New Jersey. Bergen, founded in 1660, was New Jersey’s first permanent European settlement.
In 1664 the Dutch lost New Netherlands when the British took control of the land and added it to their colonies. They divided the land in half and gave control to two proprietors: Sir George Carteret (who was in charge of the east side) and Lord John Berkeley (who was in charge of the west side). The land was officially named New Jersey after the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. Carteret had been governor of the Isle of Jersey.
Berkeley and Carteret sold the land at low prices and allowed the settlers to have political and religious freedom. As a result, New Jersey was more ethnically diverse than many other colonies. Primarily a rural society, the colony grew to have about 100,000 people.
Eventually, governing power was transferred back to England. For many years, New Jersey shared a royal governor with New York. The governorship was finally split in 1738 when New Jersey got its own governor, Lewis Morris.
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 patroon-ship 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 is not until 1660 that the first permanent European settlement of Bergen was created.
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 which 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.
- 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