WEST NEW JERSEY
Human Nature, being what it is, is nothing if not consistent.
The first colony on the east bank of the Delaware was established at or near Gloucester Point around 1623. The fort was destroyed by the Indians but repaired again and occupied by the Dutch in 1639. In 1643 the Swedes erected Fort Elsinborg four miles below Salem Creek and subsequently purchased vast tracts from the Indians and began to settle in clusters of farmsteads that were reliant on the river.
An English colony settled near Salem in 1641 (Sixty people), and was driven away by the Swedes and Dutch.
Charles II, King of England, seized New York, New Jersey, and all its Dutch Possessions in America and on March 12, 1664, King Charles II, in an act of nepotism, granted his brother, James, the Duke of York, a patent for title to property in North America including all the territory between the Connecticut River and the Delaware Bay.
On June 24, 1664, James granted the land to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. The Duke owed a favor to Lord John Berkeley and Lord George Carteret for their loyalty in the war against Cromwell and for defending the Stuart line. Additionally he needed money, so he sold his grant for the sum of ten thousand pounds from each man. Geographically there was water on almost all sides with rivers and potential harbors situated very close to the sea. Since Carteret had defended the island of Jersey off the French coast he was given the east half of New Jersey and Berkeley the west. It was divided into East and West Jersey by a line drawn from Little Egg Harbor to the mouth of the Lehigh River.
On March 18, 1674, Lord Berkeley sold his half share to two English Quakers, Edward Byllnge and John Fenwick. Byllnge (Byllinge) and Berkeley had obtained indirect access to ongoing merchant ships going to the New World. Fenwick and Byllnge had a dual motive in making such a large investment in a largely unknown and distant land. First and foremost was profit. Second, probably a distant second, was the goal of establishing a refuge for English Quakers. The territory they were buying was envisioned by them and their fellow Quaker brethren as a colony with cheap and plentiful land free of religious persecution and the morally corrupting influences encountered in England.
Edward Byllnge had envisioned all this without paying off of old debts. Subsequently Edward provided most of the financial backing, but as he was in the midst of bankruptcy, he arranged for his friend and purser, John Fenwick, to front the transaction on his behalf.
Because of the bankruptcy, Byllnge was forced to allow the deeds to be made in Fenwick’s name, and then (of course) Fenwick refused to transfer them back to Byllnge. At this point, William Penn was appointed to arbitrate the dispute. Fenwick received ten percent and the trustees established a safe haven for Quakers and sold the balance of the land as shares in the colony. Of the one hundred twenty purchasers in total, thirty-two individuals acquired one or more full shares. Real estate speculators outnumbered potential colonists. Only twenty-five percent of the purchasers actually settled in West Jersey. Most who bought shares in the colony were from the wealthiest stratum of the Society of Friends. The first settlers for West New Jersey arrived in the ship Griffith (Griffin) of London in 1675 and landed near Salem, This included John Fenwick. They were creditors of Byllinge and received as their pay some of the parts. The other eight commissioners came later on the Kent.
The initial purchasers of Byllnge’s shares did not arrive in the province until August of 1677.
Among those who purchased land on the river were two companies of Friends, one from London and the other from Yorkshire. In the summer of 1677 they came on the Kent with two hundred thirty other immigrants and landed at the site of New Castle, Delaware, August sixteenth. After the settlers found temporary shelter at Raccoon Creek in huts erected by the Swedes the commissioners proceeded to the site of New Beverley (Bridlington /Burlington) and purchased land from the Indians between the Assunpink and Oldman’s Creek for a few guns, petticoats, hoes, etc.
The Yorkshire commissioners took the upper tract and the London commissioners the lower half but they joined in settling in Burlington for mutual defense. The main street running back from the river was made the dividing line, the Yorkshire men on the east and the Londoners on the west. The market house was located in the middle. Ten lots of nine acres each were laid out for the Kent’s arrival.
Some of the Kent’s passengers who settled in Burlington included William Clayton, Thomas Eves, Thomas Harding, Benjamin Hewling, and John Woolston, The first house was a frame built by John Woolston, and the Friends meeting was held there, around 1678. When the Friends settled in Burlington there were Dutchmen who had been there first. The jurisdiction of the courts of Delaware was extended into west Jersey on the grounds that the sovereignty did not pass to Carteret and Berkley when they purchased the land from of the Duke of York.
Other boats arrived. The File-boat Martha of Hull arrived October 15, 1677, with families who settled on the Yorkshire purchase. Among them were Thomas Wright, John Lyman, Thomas Schooley, Thomas Hooten, and the families of Robert Stacy and Samuel Odds.
The Greyhound landed at Swedes Church (Philadelphia) in October, 1777, and then added additional landings in Virginia. The Willing Mind or Willing Maid came in November 1677.
The Shield of Hull under Captain Charles Towes sailed from Stockton, England and arrived November tenth, 1678. The Shield was the first English vessel that traveled up the Delaware River as high as Burlington, New Jersey. A gale of wind brought her up river and the ship had to tack back and forth because of the headwinds, and got tangled in overhanging trees at Coaquanock, the place that is now Philadelphia. They did not have permission to embark there, so they went across the river and during the night the ship was blown to shore. Legend has it that was so cold that overnight the river froze. The next morning the passengers walked ashore on the ice. The passengers settled at Burlington, Salem, and other points on the river. A few found their way into Bucks County. This included the families of John and Thomas Lambert, Thomas Revel, Mahon Stacy, Thomas Budd, Abraham Hewlings, William Hewlings, Thomas Kirby and others. Mahon Stacy built the first gristmill at Trenton. Burlington became the third largest port in the New Country. The group of Friends on the ship was in part from the Nottinghamshire Friends Society.
The Success made two voyages and also exchanged emigrants from Virginia to Salem. The Willing Mind returned and The Content sailed to the New Country.
By the end of 1678 it was estimated that William Penn had been the means of sending some eight hundred settlers to this country, mostly Friends.
English immigrants continued to arrive on the west bank of the Delaware. William Biles arrived from county Dorset. He was a man of influence and a leader, and Governor Evans sued him for slander for saying, “He is but a boy. He is not fit to be our governor. We’ll kick him out.” Governor Evans recovered three hundred pounds, but failed to collect them. He did however catch up with Biles in Philadelphia and imprisoned him for one month!! Governor Evans claimed that Biles had very much been influenced by the debauchery of Bucks county,” in which there is now scarce any one of man worth.”
By 1679, the English houses on the River were built of clapboard nailed on to a frame, but you could stick a finger through the boards. The best people plastered them with clay. The Swedes’ homes were block like log cabins. The Friends in Burlington were considered the most worldly of men in deportment and conversation.
The progenitor of the Ballinger family in America was Henry (Henri) Ballinger (De La Ballinger) born in 1660, of Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, England. He came to America in 1678 on the Kent, Martha, or the Shield, and settled in Evesham Township around Burlington, West Jersey.