EARLY HISTORY OF NEW JERSEY
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THE DUTCH - MID 1600's
By the mid-1600's, the control of world shipping trade by the Dutch was of great concern to the English. And the Dutch were slowly colonizing New Netherland, a vast tract of land extending from Connecticut south to Maryland - land that the English considered to be their own. New Netherland was positioned between the existing English settlements in New England and their settlements in Maryland south through the Carolinas.
The English also faced a problem with the independent-minded Puritans in Massachusetts. Many believed that the Puritans had to be firmly integrated under a stronger English presence in the Americas.
James, Duke of York, and brother to King Charles II, emerged as a leading figure in the Royal Court in support of dealing with the Dutch problem. In 1664, King Charles granted James a wide assortment of lands extending from the St. Lawrence to the Delaware, including the Dutch area of New Netherland. James, in turn, having control over the Royal Navy, sent Colonel Richard Nicolls to oust the Dutch and to govern the territories.
Col. Nicolls and his four frigates picked up some help in Boston in July, 1664 and arrived at New York in August. Col. Nicolls succeeded in taking part of Long Island, where he raised a small group of English volunteers and also took part of Staten Island. He then blockaded New York harbor threatening a siege of the main Dutch fort and center of government at Manhattan. Peter Stuyvesant, receiving no support from the Dutch West India Company, surrendered New Netherland without firing a shot.
Col. Nicolls renamed the New Amsterdam portion of New Netherland - New York, in honor of James, Duke of York. He called Long Island - Yorkshire, and he called the area that would become New Jersey - Albania. Nicolls, now Deputy-Governor, ruled the territory from his post at New York.
ELIZABETHTOWN AND MONMOUTH PATENTS - 1664 and 1665
Within a month of the Dutch surrender, English settlers from Jamaica, Long Island applied for permission to Governor Nicolls to purchase a large tract of land in Albania (New Jersey) from the Indians. They had negotiated unsuccessfully with the previous Dutch regime.
The English settlers from Long Island were part of a strong English presence there that had occurred with the approval of the Dutch, beginning as early as the 1630's. A similar migration pattern had also resulted in an English presence in Dutch areas of Connecticut. Most of the Long Islanders were originally from Massachusetts, or indirectly via Connecticut. There were no known Skinner families in Connecticut or Long Island at the time, other than a family at Hartford, somewhat removed from the migration path.
At Long Island, the English had formed the towns of Jamaica, Easthampton and Southhampton. At Jamaica, they started what is now the oldest Presbyterian Church in the New World, providing the earliest evidence that they had likely migrated, in part, to escape the strict religious and civil society of Puritan Massachusetts, which was at odds with Presbyterianism.
The English colonies of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as the English settlements in the Dutch lands of Connecticut and Long Island, would provide the sudden and massive English influx into New Jersey and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic region.
Governor Nicolls confirmed via patent the sale of land in Albania (New Jersey) to the Long Islanders in December, 1664 with the proviso that they should furnish a yearly rent to the Duke of York. This land patent, called the Elizabethtown Purchase, involved a large rectangular-shaped piece of land in the future New Jersey, extending 17 miles along the Hudson from the mouth of the Raritan northward to the mouth of the Passaic, and extending inland 34 miles. The land included the future towns of Elizabeth, Newark, Woodbridge and Piscataway, as well as the existing Dutch town of Bergen (Jersey City). The lands extended westward into territories that would eventually comprise all of Union Co., much of Somerset Co., and some of Morris Co. Per their agreement with Governor Nicolls, the Long Islanders negotiated and purchased the lands directly from the native Indians.
In April 1665, Nicolls granted a second patent for a triangular-shaped tract of land lying between the Raritan River and Sandy Point. This grant to William Goulding and others was called the Monmouth Patent and would include the future towns of Middletown and Shrewsbury. As with the Elizabethtown Patent, the purchasers were Long Islanders who had been transplants from New England.
THE PROPRIETORS - BERKELEY AND CARTERET
Col. Nicolls had no way of knowing that the Albania (New Jersey) portion of the lands were not his to govern. In June, 1664, before the Col., Nicolls' fleet had even reached New Netherland, the Duke of York granted the New Jersey portion of his lands to his long-time supporters and friends Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. The Duke of York called the land New Jersey in honor of the defense of the Isle of Jersey by Carteret during the British civil war of the 1640's. Berkeley and Carteret would serve as Proprietors of their new domain.
DUAL LAND CONVEYANCE
The dual conveyance of land - first from Governor Nicolls, Acting Governor for the Duke of York, to the Long Island settlers, and the second from the Duke to Berkeley and Carteret, resulted in a series of legal and political conflicts in New Jersey that would remain unresolved for nearly 100 years - well into the mid-1750's.
PHILIP CARTERET - 1665
In February of 1665, Berkeley and Carteret commissioned Carteret's distant cousin, Philip Carteret, to govern their province of New Jersey. Philip Carteret left English waters in the ship 'Philip' in April, 1665. accompanied by some thirty colonists. In May, the ship reached Virginia where Carteret spent some weeks. He arrived in New York July 29, 1665 - the first English ship to arrive since Col. Nicolls' conquest.
A few days after meeting with Governor Nicolls at New York, Philip guided his ship to a landing spot in New Jersey at a point he called Elizabethtown or Elizabethport, in honor of Sir George Carteret's wife. Philip likely choose the Elizabethtown site to settle with the Long Islanders whose land purchases had been authorized by Nicolls. It has been written that there were probably no more than four Long Island families who had settled there at the time Philip arrived. It is from this location that Philip would govern New Jersey.
Governor Nicolls and his future successors were left to govern the remaining portion of the Duke of York's lands, which consisted primarily of New York. An angry Nicolls protested to the Duke of York saying that Albania (already called New Jersey by the Duke of York) was the best part of the Duke's territory and that he had already approved land purchases that would result in rapid settlement. His protests were in vain.
THE CONCESSIONS - 1666
The Proprietors - Berkeley and Carteret, provided Philip Carteret with the "Concessions and Agreements", a progressive constitution for the Province of New Jersey, designed to attract settlers. The Concessions defined the structure of the provincial and future town governments, outlined the method of dividing up the lands including the creation of towns, and outlined the yearly rent, called quitrents, to be paid to the two proprietors. Berkeley and Carteret later stipulated that all lands involved would be obtained through negotiation with the Indians to foster good relations with the indigenous people.
The Concessions was a liberal document that provided land to settlers, prescribed religious tolerance, and provided some measure of a representative style of government working under the proprietors. No restrictions were set forth as to the qualifications of the voting freeman - presumably all white males could vote as long as they were not indentured servants. As a further inducement to settlers, the quit-rents were to be put off for five years, until 1670.
James, Duke of York, was a member of the Royal Family and had wide latitude in his ability to govern territories and to profit from land taxes. However, it was surprising and controversial that he was able to convey these powers of government to a third party - Berkeley and Carteret. They were not just given lands to govern for the English Crown. The land was given to them, as well as all powers of governance and taxation. Years later, an English governor of New York - Governor Andros, would journey back to England to try to find out how his counterpart, Philip Carteret, the designated governor of New Jersey for Berkely and Carteret, could have been given such extraordinary power. As for the Duke of York who had made all of this possible, his hopes for a strong English presence in the New World, coupled with the benefits of rising English trade and custom duties, would be fully realized. Unfortunately, Berkely and Cateret would never see financial gain from the large opportunity that was handed to them.
DETAILS OF THE CONCESSIONS
Heads of families arriving by January 1, 1666, if armed and bringing provisions for six months, would be granted 150 acres, with that person receiving an additional 150 acres added for each manservant that they brought with them and 75 acres for each slave or female servant. Servants would receive 75 acres of their own after their term of service - typical terms of service were three or four years. The allotments were decreased for people arriving in subsequent years, to encourage rapid immigration. In line with the Concessions, Philip Cartaret did claim 150 acres of land for each of the indentured servants he imported. There is no indication, however, that any of the original servants ever received their own share of the land, upon becoming freemen, with the exception of Claude Vallot.
The lands were to be laid out in large tracts, except in designated towns, with 1/7 of all the lands reserved for the Proprietors. The Surveyor General would be issued warrants instructing him to lay out lands for persons entitled to them. The Surveyor General would then certify that the land had been surveyed for a particular person.
In specific towns and villages, smaller lots were to be laid out, with 1/7 of the lands also being reserved for the proprietors. Two hundred acres would also be set aside for the town minister, exempt from quitrents. The annual quit rent would be one-half pence per acre, payable annually by March 25, and beginning in 1670. Constables were charged with collecting the quit rents.
In theory, the lands were to be given away free of charge to settlers, except for the modest costs incurred in making the purchases from the Indians. In practice, however, most persons stayed near the existing population centers where they would have had to purchase lands from the Elizabethtown and Monmouth Patent Associates that came before them.
Philip Carteret seems to have made the best of a potentially bad situation with the Long Islanders. The land grant from Col. Nicolls was respected, though the settlement, government and taxation of the lands would be per the Concessions - not per a format that Nicolls had developed. Philip, in fact, legitimized the Nicolls land grant by purchasing shares in the Elizabethtown land grant from one of the original Long Island associates.
Under Carteret's direction, the town of Elizabethtown was laid out and rights to outsiders offered at 4 pounds apiece. Home lots were six acres in size, second-lot rights were twelve acres in size and third-lot rights consisted of eighteen acres. This pricing structure, which lowered the price per acre as you purchased more lots, was designed to settle as much land as possible. The six acre town lots began on the first upland beyond the salt marshes, extending about two miles on both sides of the creek that divided the town. Note that the 'Elizabethtown book' was lost in 1718 so that many details will never be known.
Attempts to populate the Elizabethtown tract were very successful. The first town of Elizabethtown had 66 residents by early 1666, according to the records of the Oath of Allegiance that settlers took at that time. This population count did not include Richard Skinner and the other indentured servants, who were not permitted to take the Oath. Except for Philip Carteret and his party, practically all of the settlers were from Long Island. Later settlers to Elizabethtown would include French and English transplants from neighboring Staten Island.
Early on, Philip had sent copies of the Concessions to Long Island and New England in the hopes of attracting immigrants. The civil and religious freedoms built into the Concessions attracted large numbers of New Englanders, many of whom were clearly at odds with the strict religious and civil society of the Massachusetts Puritans. And the Concessions perpetuated the lack of strong English rule and lack of control by the Church of England that had already been achieved in Massachusetts. This created the seeds of a strictly American society - with governments and church structures that were independent of those in England and the rest of Europe.
In May, 1666, the Long Islanders and Carteret sold the southern half of their Elizabethtown patent to representatives from Newbury, Massachusetts, who founded the town of Woodbridge. The town was named for the revered Newbury, MA minister - Rev. John Woodbridge. All of the early Woodbridge settlers were from Newbury and neighboring Haverhill, MA, though some of Philip Cartaret's party also purchased land at Woodbridge. Woodbridge home lots were 10 to 20 acres in size, and each purchaser was entitled to receive 60 acres of upland and 6 acres of meadow. The mandatory 1/7 share for the Proprietors was consolidated at neighboring Amboy Point, the future Perth Amboy. Note that no known Skinner families were recorded as living in or having roots in Newbury or Haverhill, MA.
In December, 1666, the early Woodbridge Associates sold one-third of the Woodbridge lands to a second group of persons from Massachusetts, creating the town of Piscataway. The Piscataway settlers came from a variety of small towns above and below Boston, but primarily from the Piscataqua region of New Hampshire/Maine (then Massachusetts). The region was very close to the Newbury, MA origins of the Woodbridge settlers. There were no known Skinner families in the Piscataqua region or in early Piscataway, NJ. Skinners first appear at Piscataway, NJ in the early 1700's.
In 1667, several persons were granted the right to purchase a large tract of land north of Elizabethtown, where the town of Newark was chartered. The first Newark families were from Milford, Branford and Guilford, Connecticut - in the vicinity of New Haven. These first settlers were Puritans who were looking for one more chance to try to create the perfect marriage of government and religion.
None of the Newark settlers were Skinners and there were no Skinner families in the Connecticut towns that fed the Newark migration, though there was a family at Hartford, Connecticut to the North.
Less than three years after the Dutch had surrendered to Nicolls, seven towns had been established in New Jersey. Elizabethtown, Woodbridge, Piscataway were situated on the lands of Nicolls' original Elizabethtown patent. These towns, like Newark to the north, had strong Puritan overtones, including strict town laws against witchcraft and undisciplined children, to name a few. The town of Bergen (Jersey City), the only town originally settled by the Dutch, saw a strong presence by the Dutch Reformed Church.
Two towns had been established on the lands of Nicolls' original Monmouth patent - Middletown and Shrewsbury. Middletown was populated by Baptists from Rhode Island and Shrewsbury by Quakers from Long Island. The Quakers, in particular, took advantage of the offer of religious freedom inherent in the Concessions.
This general area of eastern New Jersey was settled almost entirely by immigration from olde New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island), until the beginning of a Scottish migration that lasted from 1681 to 1687. This was in sharp contrast to the later settlement of West Jersey, which was settled primary by immigration directly from the British Isles.
This early success in populating the land did not continue for long. From 1668 until the beginning of the Scottish influx in 1681, population growth slowed. Disputes with the proprietors, particularly over taxation, was a major factor. The reliance on the limited population of New England for immigrants was also a factor. Population growth stopped completely during a brief retaking of all of New Netherland by the Dutch in 1673.
The Huguenots were the persecuted Protestants of France. The Edict of Nantes, signed in 1598, afforded these Protestants the ability to settle in England, Holland and other parts of Europe where they were warmly welcomed and afforded some degree of citizenship. It was inevitable that many would eventually want to migrate to the New World. In the 1660's, the Dutch made plans to accommodate interested Huguenots with land in New Netherland, particularly near the strong Dutch presence at New York (New Amsterdam). Just prior to the British takeover, the first plans were made by a small party of Huguenots to migrate to lands they had been shown at Staten Island by the Dutch. Many of the early Dutch settlers of Staten Island intermarried with the early residents of Elizabeth and Woodbridge, NJ.
Philip Carteret's arrival at New Jersey on board the ship "Philip" introduced the first Huguenots to New Jersey. The ship's passengers included several Huguenot indentured servants and most notably - the Frenchman Robert Vauquellin, who served as New Jersey's Surveyor-General for many years. Within a few years, other Huguenot settlers established a strong presence in Staten Island and also founded the town of New Rochelle, NY (named after La Rochelle, France). Many English and French families migrated from New York to New Jersey, with the French intermixing with the early NJ settlers.
The Edict of Nantes was repealed in 1685. In the early 1680's, just prior to that, the threat of repeal caused as many as 500,000 persons to flee France, accelerating the Huguenot migration to the British colonies. Tracking this French migration is difficult due to the incorrect and corrupted name spellings of the French names in the English and Dutch records.
QUITRENTS - 1670
All of the early towns were settled within the guidelines of the Concessions spelled out by the Proprietors. Opposition to the Proprietors by the newly settled towns came later, particularly in regards to the first collection of quit rents in 1670.
Philip had great difficulty collecting the early quit rents, particularly in Elizabethtown, Newark, Middletown and Shrewsbury. Many persons purchased lands from the original Long Islanders, but did not register the land with the proprietors to avoid ending up on the quitrent rolls. At Elizabethtown, Carteret was accused of illegally presiding at the town meetings, of arbitrarily creating freemen, and of selling lots to indentured servants to assure himself control of the town.
These problems would be on-going. The majority of the residents of early New Jersey were families that had originally purchased the Elizabethtown and Monmouth lands from the Indians, under Governor Nicolls' authorization. They did not recognize the ability of the Proprietors and their Governor to rule the land, did not agree with the government structures Philip tried to implement, did not follow the Concessions in terms of how the land should be subdivided and the proportion to be set aside for the Proprietors and, of course, did not want to pay the quit-rents. This same anti-proprietary sentiment was shared by later settlers in outlying areas who made purchased directly from the Indians (after such individual purchases were outlawed.)
DUTCH RE-CONQUEST - 1673
The Dutch retook control of New Netherland from August, 1673 until 1674. Their brief control over New Jersey left little impact, except that their system of government brought together the largely anti-proprietary town leaders who became better acquainted. The Dutch did require an Oath of Allegiance in the various towns, thus preserving the names of the settlers for posterity. Richard Skinner, former indentured servant, appears on the Oath rolls.
The English re-took control of New Netherland via agreement of the two governments in 1674. Following the English takeover, the settlers had to have their lands re-surveyed or lose them.
DIVISION OF NEW JERSEY INTO EAST AND WEST JERSEY - 1676
The corrupt and broke Lord Berkeley sold his one-half interest in New Jersey in 1674 to Major John Fenwick, a newly converted Quaker who was acting as a front man for another Quaker - Edward Byllynge, who was in bankruptcy proceedings. Persecuted in England because of their dislike of church ritualism, the Quakers were looking for lands in America, and were further enticed by the favorable treatment given Quakers in Shrewsbury. In addition to Shrewsbury, the Quakers had recently established the town of Salem in South Jersey under the Concessions.
In 1676, Sir George Carteret, the remaining Proprietor of New Jersey, signed the Quintitite Deed with the Quakers. This deed divided New Jersey into two halves. Sir George Carteret's half-interest in New Jersey would now be defined as being East Jersey. The Quaker signers of the document, including Byllynge and William Penn, would receive West Jersey, as representing Berkeley's former half-interest. The dividing line was a diagonal line running from Little Egg Harbor in the south to the northwestern point of New Jersey.
Like Carteret, the Quakers established a liberal constitution called The Concessions, which would become one of the models for the later Constitution of the United States. In addition to populating their town of Salem, the Quakers quickly negotiated with the Indians establishing Burlington and Trenton.
END OF AN ERA - 1680-1682
Sir George Carteret died in January of 1680. Sir Edmund Andros, a successor to Governor Nicolls of New York, used the death as an opportunity to bring the 5000 residents of East Jersey back under the authority of New York. Soldiers were sent over the Hudson to imprison East Jersey's governor - Philip Carteret. In a surprising outcome of a jury trial, Philip was found to be not guilty and released. However, Philip was weakened in health by this ordeal and by the on-going challenges to his proprietorship in East Jersey. He died in 1682.
Sir George Carteret's East Jersey was sold at public auction in London in 1682 to twelve new owners - most of them Quakers, including William Penn. Just before the sale, Elizabeth Carteret, widow of Sir George and apparently acting as his heir to East Jersey, apparently deeded herself additional land in Elizabethtown in the name of the servants imported by Phlip Carteret.
For a short time, the Quakers dominated both West and East New Jersey. However, Quaker philosophy never took hold in East Jersey because their liberal beliefs would not permit interference with East Jersey's well-entrenched Baptists and Congregationalists. In addition, William Penn began to shift his interest in building a 'City of Brotherly Love' from Paulsboro, New Jersey to Pennsylvania.
The number of East Jersey proprietors began to dramatically increase as the new owners sold partial shares to many others. Eventually, East Jersey became a business enterprise with the numerous proprietors organizing a Board of Proprietors at Perth Amboy in 1684 to oversee their business. They still operated under agreement from the Duke of York.
In 1682, Robert Barclay, one of East Jersey's proprietors and of Scottish background, was elected Governor of East Jersey by the Proprietors. With Quaker interest in all of New Jersey waning, the proprietors allowed Barclay to take the lead in arousing Scottish interest in East Jersey. Barclay sold proprietary shares to Scottish persons, as those shares became available. More than half of the proprietors of East Jersey soon were Scottish. This was accompanied by a large influx of Scottish settlers and indentured servants occurring between 1683 and 1687. The Scots were largely Presbyterians, fleeing Scotland where the King Of England had outlawed Presbyterianism. The Scottish influx helped drive Presbyterianism to dominance in New Jersey. A century later, half of New Jersey's soldiers in the Revolutionary War would be Scotch-Irish Protestants.
THE REVOLUTION - 1700
There had always been problems between the Proprietors and the settlers. Early on, the problem was one of collecting the quit-rents. No more than half of all persons regularly paid the quit-rents, and the Proprietors were barely able to cover their costs of governance. Towards the end of the 1600's, the situation grew worse as serious land disputes began to surface. Violence became so common that the term 'The Revolution" was used to describe it.
A confusing situation had developed in East Jersey over time in which numerous persons owned land that was originally purchased from the Indians and Long Islanders, without that land being properly surveyed with the Proprietors - and without quit-rents being paid. The Proprietors began to aggressively enforce their 1/7 claim to the land under the Concessions by evicting unauthorized settlers. The situation was made worse by the large tracts of land that the Proprietors awarded to themselves, particularly in the outlying areas of Somerset and Monmouth counties.
Though all of the literature blames this situation on the dual conveyance of the original Elizabethtown and Monmouth land patents, it is fairly obvious that the later Proprietors deviated from the land planning and allotments laid out in the Concessions, and that they did not carry out the level of bookkeeping that their predecessors - Philip Carteret and Surveyor-General Robert Vauquellin, had maintained.
In the so-called Clinker Lot division, Elizabethtown Associates divided up a large tract of land without regard to proprietary rights. Scenes of violence with authorities became commonplace and the king was petitioned to grant relief from the proprietors.
The proprietors of both West and East Jersey, tired of years of conflict with the settlers, decided to turn over the right of government to the English Crown in 1702. From that time forward, the English Crown, not the Proprietors, would appoint the Governor of New Jersey.
ROYAL GOVERNOR PERIOD
From 1702 until 1738, a period of relative calm returned. During this period of time, New York and New Jersey were united under a single governor who directed that property disputes be settled not by legislative action, but by the courts. Some court rulings favored the proprietors, some did not.
In 1738, New Jersey petitioned for and received its own Governor - Lewis Morris. Problems again developed during his administration. Defendants in suits from 1741 to 1743 included Wright Skinner and Benjamin Manning, Manning being a brother-in-law to Cornelius and Nathaniel Skinner. Verdicts for the plaintiffs were invariably rendered. In 1745, eighteen actions of ejectment were still at issue.
In 1730, John Hamilton succeeded Lewis Morris as Council President. In 1748, Andrew Johnston was elected President and James Parker in 1762. James Alexander held the important post of Surveyor General from 1716 until 1756. He held the same post in West Jersey. Council members included Elisha Parker, beginning in 1745, Cortlandt Skinner, John Stevens, Dr. John Johnson, the Earl of Sterling and David Ogden from 1750 to 1760. These names are important in discerning the difference between the Perth Amboy Skinners and their in-laws and peers, including the officials just mentioned, versus the Woodbridge Skinners.
THE PETITION - JULY, 1744
A petition was created and signed by 309 persons appealing directly to the King of England to put an end to the continuous ejectment suits brought by the Proprietors.
The petitioners indicated that problems started to develop in 1693 between themselves, as heirs and assignees of the Nicolls' conveyance, and proprietors and other persons claiming rights to the land, based upon conveyances from Carteret in East New Jersey and conveyances from Lord Berkeley in West New Jersey. The petitioners indicated that more than fifty years of expensive and exhausting legal problems had resulted from the dual conveyance of the land. These problems included expensive judgments levied against them and the loss of homes and property. The petitioners also indicated that their problems were multiplied by the fact that the civil government and associated courts and officers represented the interests of Berkeley and Carteret and later proprietors, and were, in fact, interested parties in the on-going controversy.
The petitioners indicated that they could not remedy their grievances in the Province of New Jersey and requested that the king himself review the dispute or appoint neutral authorities from other colonies to do so. Petition signers included some names of possible interest - Samuel Oliver, George Jewell, Jr., David Dunham and Richard Scudder, but no Skinners or Mannings.
Nothing is known as to the Kings response to this petition.
When the earliest meeting houses were built in the 1680's, the churches were Independent and Congregational in framework - Independent meaning of no set religion and Congregational meaning there was little church hierarchy. This was in the Massachusetts Pilgrim and Puritan mold. Early social town laws also saw the Puritan influence in terms of the strict regulation of personal conduct. However, this was a very diluted form of Puritanism that disappeared over time.
The history of the first settlers guaranteed that the Massachusetts style of Puritanism would have only a small impact in New Jersey. The Long Islanders who settled Elizabethtown, for example, came from a region where there was a strong Presbyterian presence, which was at odds with the Puritan style of Congregationalism. Many of the Long Islanders had originally left Massachusetts to remove themselves from the overbearing Puritan influences there. The Woodbridge founders from Newbury, MA took their name from the revered Newbury minister, John Woodbridge, who had tried to introduce a form of Presbyterianism at his Newbury, MA church. The Huguenots who came to New Jersey, or indirectly via Staten Island, were reformers of Presbyterian leaning. And the large influx of Scotch-Irish were primarily persecuted Presbyterians.
Thus, the early independent meeting houses at Newark, Elizabethtown, and Woodbridge began with strong Congregational influences and turned largely to Presbyterianism by the early 1700's.
The situation was somewhat different in Piscataway. Four of the first Massachusetts families to settle in Piscataway were Baptists. As a result, this area became an early Baptist stronghold. Nathaniel Skinner, one of two Skinner brothers who settled in the western edge of Piscataway by the early 1700's, was said to be a Baptist minister.
Most of the settlers grew up in America, with a small fraction bringing a diluted form of Massachusetts Puritanism with them, and a large percentage being Independents who had escaped Puritanism. This left little room for influence from the Anglican Church of England (Episcopal Church). The Church met with some success in Piscataway and Amboy Point, but had little presence elsewhere. Per (Monnette, pages 110-111) -
" From a letter written by Rev. Thos. Halliday (p.44), in 1716, it is stated: "In this part of East Jersey there are three large Townships, Newark, Elizabeth Town and Woodbridge which consist of upwards of a thousand families the chief settlers of which were New England Independents, who are now old and confirmed in their erroneous way. ....." "
In the 1680's, Perth Amboy was selected as the seat of government by the Proprietors who succeeded Berkeley and Carteret. Much more closely connected with the English crown, it was natural that the Proprietors would more strongly support the Episcopal church than the surrounding areas. In the 1700's, William Skinner, the progenitor of the Perth Amboy Skinner family, became an early minister of Perth Amboy's St. Peter's Episcopal Church. As the Revolutionary War years arrived, it was also natural that Perth Amboy would become the center of those persons, such as the Perth Amboy Skinners, who were Loyalists. The extensive landholdings of many of the Proprietors in Monmouth County, to the south of Perth Amboy, also made this region a Loyalist stronghold.
The above copied or taken from:
"History of Elizabeth, New Jersey", by Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield, D.D., Carlton & Lanahan, 1868.
"New Jersey as a Royal Province", by Edgar F. Fisher, Columbia University, 1911.
"The Province of East New Jersey 1609-1702 - The Rebellious Proprietory, by John E. Pomfret, Princeton University Press, 1962.
"The New Jersey Proprietors and their Lands", by John E. Pomfret, New Jersey Historical Society, 1964.
"Colonial New Jersey, A History", by John E. Pomfret, Charles Scribner's Sons.
"East Jersey under the Proprietary Governments", by William A. Whitehead, New Jersey Historical Society, 1846.
"The History of New Jersey", by John O. Raum, 1877.
"The Heritage", by Thomas Weber, Ph.D., 1967.
"New Jersey - America's Main Road:, by John T. Cunningham, Doubled & Company, 1966.
"First Settlers of Ye Plantations of Piscataway and Woodbridge of Olde East New Jersey", by Ora Eugene Monnette