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Stories of New Jersey
The Winning Of The Prize
The English Ownership of New Jersey. (Period, 1664.)

By Frank R. Stockton

Originally published in 1896
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

But this state of things did not continue very long ; for the English, who, although they had not yet settled in New Jersey, had never given up their pretensions as the original discoverers, came in strong force, subdued the Dutch, occupied their principal town, New Amsterdam, and took possession of the country, including New Jersey.

But it seemed to be a good deal easier to discover New Jersey than finally to settle its ownership. Now that the Dutch and the Swedes were disposed of, there arose difficulties regarding the English claims to the State. Early in the seventeenth century, Queen Elizabeth had granted an immense tract of land to Sir Walter Raleigh, which was called Virginia, and that included the whole of New Jersey. Afterwards Charles II. granted to his brother, the Duke of York, an immense tract of land, which also included New Jersey, and which was called New York. So what is now New Jersey was then at the same time both Virginia and New York.

The Duke of York, who then owned New Jersey, leased the whole State – lands, forests, rivers, wigwams, Indians, fisheries, Dutch settlers, Swedish settlers, everything – to John Berkeley (Baron of Stratton) and Sir George Carteret for the sum of twenty nobles per year (thirty-two dollars of our money). Some authorities, indeed, state that the sum paid was much smaller.

After a time, however, the claims of Virginia were withdrawn; and not only did Berkeley and Carteret enjoy undisturbed possession of the State, but they gave it a name, and called it Nova Caesaria, or New Jersey, its name being given on account of Carteret's connection with the Isle of Jersey. The Latin name was used for a time; but the settlers preferred English, and so the name now stands. New Jersey was soon afterwards divided into two provinces, – East Jersey and West Jersey. The accompanying map shows the line of division between the two provinces, which was made in 1676. It ran from the southern end of what is now Long Beach, in Little Egg Harbor, to a point on the Delaware River. Two other lines of partition were afterwards made, both starting from the same point on the seacoast; one running somewhat to the west, and the other to the east, of the the original line.

After some changes in the proprietorship of the Colony, West Jersey came into the possession of twelve men, one of whom was the celebrated William Penn, whose connection with West Jersey began six years before he had anything to do with Pennsylvania.

Penn and his colleagues gave West Jersey a purely democratic government, founded upon principles of justice and charity, in which the people themselves ruled. Full freedom in regard to religious views was insured; trial by, jury was granted; and punishments were made as lenient as possible, with a view to the prevention of crimes rather than the infliction of penalties. The result of this was that for a long time there were no serious crimes in this Province, and the country was rapidly settled by thrifty Quakers anxious to live where they would have liberty of conscience.

In the course of time, East Jersey also came into the possession of Penn and his eleven associates, and as the number of proprietors was increased to twenty-four. At the end of the century the two provinces were united into one, and shortly afterwards they passed into the possession of the Crown of England, and became subject to the ordinary British laws. For a long time afterwards, however, the State was known as the "Jerseys."

"History of New Jersey." I. Mulford.
"History of New Jersey." S. Smith.
"History of New Jersey." T. F. Gordon.


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