J. S. C. tc G. SURVEY
I Shelf i^i:.^i^
C OUNCIL OF P ROPRIETORS
WEST NEW JERSEY,
IN RELATION TO THE
BCTWEEN HAST AND WEST NEW JERSEY.
CAMDEN, N. J. :
S. CHEW, I'KINTER, FRONT AND MARKEl STS.
NOV 4 1912
' ''^^ Boofc is the Prono^
^e carried on Boon '
^•-ned before 7h '"""^"^ory
- calendar Year ^^ ^^P'VaHon
Tle])ort of the Committee to the Council of Proprietors of
West New Jersey in regard to the dividing line between the
Provinces of East and West New Jersey, as mentioned in the
Quintipartite deed dated July ist, 1676.
PROVINCE LINE 1SS7.
AT the annual meeting of the Council of Proprietors of the
Western division of New Jersey, held at Burlington, N. J.,
May 3d, 1886, the following entry was made in the minutes at
that time: "The committee appointed to inquire into the
action of the Eastern Proprietors, who have been granting rights
for location on Long Beach west of the dividing line, reported
progress." And also,
^'Resolved, That John Clement, Henry B. Fowler and Henry
S. Haines be a committee to procure information regarding the
recent running of the Keith line on the beach, and report the
same to the Council in writing. F. C. Woolman, clerk."
In discharge of the duty thus imposed upon your committee
they have used every effort to procure information connected
with this question. They have collected the history of this
remarkable controversy and arranged it in chronological order
to be the more easily examined and understood. They have
endeavored to explain each point as it presented itself and to
throw light upon parts that are vague, obscure and uncertain.
It will be seen that several attempts have been made to arbi-
trate this dispute, and men in every way competent called for that
purpose, who gave patient and careful attention to the subject,
but failed in every instance to satisfy the parties interested.
For these reasons the present incpiiry is a pertinent one and is
intended to be an impartial statement of the facts and from
which the conclusions arrived at, have come. The Quintipartite
deed of July ist, 1676, (or deed of division) between the
owners of the Province of New Jersey, that is, between Sir
George Carteret of the one part and William Penn, Gawen
rie and Nicholas Lucas, trustees of Edward Byllynge, of the
6 PROVINCE LINE 1887.
other part, for the purpose of establishing a line of division
between the two provinces, to be known as New East Jersey and
New West Jersey, mentions two points between which said line
should be run and which should be and remain as said partition
line or boundary.
As touching the north partition point, about which there has
always been the most controversy, it is well to bear in mind the
evident intention of the parties in interest as expressed in the
several grants of said territory.
The Duke of York, in his deed of conveyance of June
1664, to Lord John Berkley and Sir George Carteret, uses th. m
words, "And to the northward as far as the northermost
branch of said bay or river of Delaware which is in 41° 40'
latitude.'" In the deed of division July ist, 1676, between the
Trustees of Edward Byllynge and Sir George Carteret, these
words are used, '' to the northernmost branch or part of the
before-mentioned river called Delaware river and to the most
northerly point or boundary of said tract of land and premises
granted by his said royal highness, James Duke of York, unto
the said Lord Berkley and Sir George Carteret, to be called the
north partition point, "^ which proves conclusively that it was
intended the north station point on Delaware river, as mentioned
in each deed, should be the same. However widely parties may
have differed as to whether the north station point be at the
northernmost branch or at 41° 40' latitude, no one ever claimed
but that the north station point, as named in the deed of con-
veyance of 1664, is the same as that mentioned in the deed of
division of 1676.
This line, in short, and as described in said deed, is between
the north partition point on the Delaware river, "extending
southerly through said tract of land unto the most southerly
point of the east side of Little Egg Harbor aforesaid."^
About eight months after the date of said deed (Marcli 3,
1676, old style,) the concessions and agreements of the Proprie-
tors of West New Jersey were signed in London, and the next
1 Leamiiifi; and Spiccr'a Laws, page 63.
2 Leaiiiiiif; mid Spicer'S Laws, page 67.
3 Leamiug ami Spicor'S Laws, page 388.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 7
year (August 16, 1677,) commissioners representing their several
interests arrived in tlie Delaware river. The record of the pro-
ceedings of the commissioners from their arrival, in 1677, to the
close of the year 1687, having been lost or destroyed, it cannot
be known whether any action was taken by them looking to the
running of the province line.
In 1684 the Council of Proprietors of East New Jersey was
established and George Keith appointed Surveyor General. He
was a man of acknowledged ability and fully capable to discharge
the duties of the office.*
The Council of Proprietors of West New Jersey was estab-
lished February 14, 1687.
The first attempt to establish the two station points and run
the partition line may be thus stated : Gawen Laurie was
appointed Deputy Governor of East New Jersey in 16S3, and
part of his instructions was to run and fix the })rovince line.''
The greatest difficulty was to establish the north station point
on the Delaware river, and led to much controversy and dispute.
Nothing was done, however, until June 30, 1686, when Thomas
Dongan, Governor of New York, Gawen Laurie, Deputy Gover-
nor of East Jersey, and John Skein, Deputy Governor of
West Jersey, had a conference at Fort James (New York) and
agreed that George Keith, Surveyor General of East Jersey,
Andrew Robeson, Surveyor General of West Jersey, and Philip
Wells, Surveyor General of New York, should meet at the falls
(Trenton) September ist following, and proceed to establish the
north station point on the Delaware river.^
Nothing came of this appointment and seven months after
(January 8, 1686, old style,) the before named Governors of
East and West Jersey, with the resident proprietors of each
division, met at Millstone river, and agreed to submit the ques-
tion to John Reid, Deputy Surveyor General of East Jersey, and
William Emley, a surveyor of Amwell, in West New Jersey.
Bond was entered into January 8th, 1686, by the Deputy
4 Smith's History of New Jersey, pages 156-157.
5 History of Monmouth County, N. J., page 32.
New Jersey Archives, Vol. 1, paRC 517.
8 PROVINCE LINE 1887.
Governors and Proprietors of eacli province, in the penalty of
_;^5,ooo, to abide their decision.'' The award of Reid and Eniley
bears the same date as the bond. In this award they say, " the
line shall run from ye north side of ye mouth or inlet of ye
beach of Little Egg Harbor, on a straight lyne to Delaware river
north northwest and fifty minutes more westei*ly, according to
natural position and not according to ye magnet, whose varia-
tion is nine degrees westward," thus disregarding the deed of
division of 1676.
There is no other explanation to this than that George Keith
had laid before the referees his map of the territory mentioned
in his report of running the line, with the object of equalizing
the areas between the parties interested.
With this award the western owners were much dissatisfied
and Daniel Coxe, as Governor of that division under Edward
Byllynge's right, coming from the King, and the largest owner
in the province, stoutly resisted the adoption of the line by
them agreed upon. In a letter to the West Jersey Proprietors,
dated September 5, 1687, l"'^ claimed to have purchased all of
Byllynge's interest, both the government and soil, and refers to
an agreement between Byllynge and Carteret that the line should
extend from Little Egg Harbor to the most northerly branch of
Delaware i;iver in 41° 40' of latitude, &c., from which the arbi-
trators could not depart.^
The Eastern Proprietors persisted and sent a committee to the
Deputy Governor of West Jersey to proceed with the work, and
who consented that George Keith might run the line. He was
governed entirely by the award, and after fixing the point at
the southerly end of the beach at Little Egg Harbor ran the line
upon the course named in the award about sixty miles to Dobies'
plantation. As Doctor Coxe had claimed in his letter, the line
ran too far to the westward, and George Keith, discovering this
fact, abandoned it at the point before named. ^
It is proper that George Keith's own report of this proceeding
should be here introduced, it being the history thereof, interest-
7 New Jersey Archives, Vol. 1, page 5iJ2.
8 Liber F2, pji^e 435, Olllce Secretary of State, Trenton, N. J.
9 History of Monmouth County, page 32.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 9
ing and instructive as well. It is of record in the office of the
Surveyor General of East New Jersey, at Perth Amboy, in Book
O of Records, page i, &c., &c., as follows :
" By warrant from the Governor and proprietors of East New
Jersey, bearing date 22d of 2d month, 1687, I have run the line
of division from the mouth or inlet of Little Egg Harbor :
Beginning at a chestnut stake set up on the north side of the
mouth or inlet of Little Egg Harbor, standing about a chain
distance from the flood mark, marking said stake on the East
side with E on the West side with W and on the South side with
'j' and ran a straight line over the bay, north by west, and three
degrees and five minutes more westerly according to the needle
or magnetic position and by natural position N. N. W, and
50 minutes more westerly according to the agreement made
between the Governors and other proprietors of both provinces,
the variation of the needle in this place of the world being
nyn degrees westerly. The said line of division running
through the bay clear of all islands, but touching near to a bank
of sand about a pole north of it to the mouth of a creek called
by the Indian name of Oysterenr, where we set up a stake of
white oak, and so through a large marsh or salt meadow about
a mile deep to a pine tree on the upland, marked on the East
side E and on the West side W and on the South side -f. And
so through a great tract of barren lands consisting of pine land
and sand, crossing divers small brooks and cedar swamps
vay for the space of thirty-six
from the said mouth of Little Egg
the maine, thirty-eight miles
trees all along marked in
marked on the south and north side, and after the said tract of
pines, thirty miles in length as aforesaid, the greatest depth
thereof being about twenty-five English miles, the same straight
line running through to the good land but somewhat sandy and
having some pines mingled with oaks to Crosswick's creek,
about two English estimated miles; thence straight through a
neck of good land to another turning of said Crosswick's creek
lo PROVINCE LINE 1887.
(the brooks winding about from northwesterly to southwesterly)
seven estimated miles and touching upon the path from Shrews-
bury to Burlington, about a mile and a half westerly from the
most easterly part of said creek ; thence running by the same
course to the path that goeth to John Inions, on Raritan river,
to Delaware falls, near an estimated English mile southwesterly
from Stony brook, the distance betwixt the said two paths on
the line being about twelve English miles — all tolerable good
land on both sides of the line ; thence by the same course to
the south branch, but more properly to the southwest of Raritan
river and to an oak tree marked on the upland of the north side
of Raritan river, about twelve estimated English miles, all
tolerable lands on both sides the line so far as was in our view,
but somewhat stony for two or three miles near Stony brook,
and so far I have brought the line at present, the whole esti-
mated distance from the Maine over against Little Egg Harbor
to the said oak tree marked on the north side of the south
branch, but more properly Southwest Raritan river, containing
sixty English miles, the line running westerly of John Camp-
bell's purchase about one English estimated mile
westerly of Perth Amboy about twenty-five English miles and
some parts of a mile, which doth very well agree to our map
and general survey of all the coast of East Jersey from Dela-
ware river to Hudson's river and from thence to Little Egg
Harbor and is a plain demonstration of tlie truth of it so far as
the line is run.
26th, 3d mo., 1687. GEORGE KEITH.
I certify the foregoing to be a true copy of the records in the
Surveyor General's Office of East New Jersey at Perth Amboy,
taken from book O, pages i and 2, duly examined and compared.
(Note — The blanks in the first folio of this copy are caused by
part of the leaf of the record having been lost.)
Witness my hand and the seal of the Eastern Division of New
Jersey, at Perth Amboy, the 8th of May, 1854.
[l. s.] F. a. BRINLEY, Surveyor General.
This paper discloses some facts not heretofore generally known
and occasionally questioned. That George Keith was on the
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 11
beach and selected his point of beginning with some care is
beyond doubt, and but for the constant changing of the shore
and the closing of the Inlet could be more easily defined at this
time. That he made note of prominent objects as he proceeded
across the bay, at the edge of the marsh, and where he reached
the upland, is shown by reading his report.
The point (at the upland) is mentioned in 1692 in a survey
made to William Penn for 1,200 acres only five years after
Keith's /unning, and then easily found.'" The subsequent
owners of Penn's location have kept up that monument and it is
recognized and acknowledged at the present time. This survey
also bounds on the Province line for nine and a half miles,
which boundary interested parties have taken pains to preserve.
Unjust as this evidently was to the Western owners, the next
year (September 5th, 1688) Daniel Coxe and Robert Barclay,
Governors of the two Provinces, signed an agreement (in Lon-
don) that this line should so remain. In substance this agree-
ment was, that the line as run by George Keith from Little Egg
Harbor to Dobie's plantation should be the bounds between
East and West Jersey and should not be altered, and should go
from thence along the back of the adjoining plantation to James
Dundas' plantation ; thence eastward to the north branch of
Raritan river; thence up said river to the head thereof; thence
by various courses to the north partition jwint."
The only explanation that can be made to the above, after the
earnest protest of Governor Coxe, is that they regarded it
simply as a political division and to establish tlic lines between
the counties of each province bounding thereon, and not in any
way affecting their rights in the division of the territory, accord-
ing to the Quintipartite deed.
The greatest inconsistency appears in the latter clause of the
agreement, where it is said the line shall go eastward by several
plantations to the Raritan river, and thence to the north station
points, at once ignoring the spirit and letter of the Quintipartite
10 Liber E, page 2, Surveyor GcDcral's Office, PertU Amboy.
U Faden'e Map of N. J., 177T.
12 PROVINCE LINE 1887.
deed of 1676, and jeopardizing the title to all the surveys made
in that section of the country.
The only solution to this must be in the attempt to ec^ualize
the areas of the two divisions as before named — a theory that
was soon repudiated by all parties. The value of the land, the
ore and the water power in the disputed territory kept the con-
test alive, and it was waged with the same fierceness and acri-
mony as before, and until another effort was made to have the
line run from one point to the other.
In 1 7 19 the question was fairly met by the passage of an act
by the Legislature entitled, "An act for running and ascertain-
ing the line of partition or division between the eastern and
western divisions of the province of New Jersey, and for the
purpose of preventing disputes for the future concerning the
same, and for securing to the general proprietors of the soil of
each of the divisions and persons claiming under them and their
several and respective possessions, rights and just claims." ^2
The preamble of the act shows that the Legislature had a
clear understanding of the subject before it, and appreciated
the surrounding difficulties. The station point at each end of
the line as named in the act could not be mistaken and are as
follows : "That said line, that is to say, a straight and direct line
from the most northerly point or boundary of this Province of
New Jersey, on the northernmost branch of the river Delaware,
unto the most southerly point of a certain beach or island of
sand lying next and adjoining to the main sea, at the north side
of the mouth or entrance of a certain inlet, bay or harbor
commonly called and known by the name of Little Egg
Harbor, is and shall forever hereafter remain and be the
line of partition and division betwixt the eastern and west-
ern division of this Province."
The whole act of thirteen sections shows it to have
been carefully framed and designed to cover every possible
contingency of dispute that could arise. Provision was made
for the quieting and confirming the titles of claimants
who had made surveys on the west side of the line under East
la Allison's Laws, page 43.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. ^3
Jersey rights, and of claimants who had made surveys on the
east side of the line under West Jersey rights, and that
computation should be made of such located lands, and that the
division having the most of such surveys should pay the other
division an equivalent therefor.
And further, that persons using rights in locating land within
the angle produced by the two lines, be they East or West Jersey
rights, should not be dispossessed for that reason. Commissioners
or managers were appointed for each division, with power to
raise money to defray expenses and have general charge of the
work, using the money so raised to that end. They were
required to select the Surveyor General of each division and
had power to choose such other surveyors, and fit and able
persons to assist in the business in hand. March 31st, 17 19,
Robert Hunter, Governor, appointed John Johnson and George
Willocks as Commissioners on the part of East Jersey,''' and
Joseph Kirkbride and John Reading as Commissioners on the
part of West Jersey, and James Alexander, Surveyor General of
both divisions, to meet" Robert Walker and Isaac Hicks,
Commissioners, and Allan Jarratt, Surveyor General of the State
of New York, appointed by the Governor of New York, and
July 25th of the same year a tripartite agreement or deed was
signed by all except Joseph Kirkbride.
The purpose of this mixed Commission was to establish the
north partition point on the Delaware river, which interested all
parties alike, and which controlled the course of the line across
the province. Much care is evidenced in the instructions to these
gentlemen as shown in the tripartite deed. They were person-
ally to inspect the Delaware river and its several branches in the
region of 41° 40' latitude to discover the largest tributary and
to note the most conspicuous places near by.'^
The settlement of this point not only affected the interests of
each division of New Jersey, but of the State of New York as
well, and appreciating the duties before them, the Commission -
13 Liber D a, pajrc 276, Trenton.
14 Liber G2, page.
15 Liber D2, page 280, Trenton.
14 PROVINCE LINE 188^.
ers proceeded. Finding no "branch" of the river near 41°
40' latitude, they fixed the point on the river itself, (calling it
Fish Kill) and so made their report. To carry out this decision
the Council of Proprietors of West New Jersey took action as
April 9th, 1720, a committee was appointed to raise money
to pay expenses, &c., and to meet a committee of Eastern Pro-
prietors to proceed with the work.'"
June 12, 1720, compensation of surveyors and workmen was
fixed and the line to begin *' at Little Egg Harbor and run the
whole length and fix the north station point on the Delaware
river at 41° 40' latitude.""
John Chapman was selected as surveyor and in the November
following commenced the work. His purpose seems to have
been to retrace George Keith's line as run by him in 1687.
His field book says: "November i8th, 1720, went on to the
beach and to the point of land at the inlet." From this i)oint
he could see objects on the main land for he " took course to
Charles Dingee's house," and run up the beach 116 chains "to
a point of high beach where the cedar groweth" taking course
to Dingee's house at different angles in his line.
November 19th, he went to the old line on the main land
and run " to a pine by the edge of the marsh." Then he
followed Keith's line N. 18° W. about y^ north 293.00. He
continued the line 62^^ miles to the Raritan river and marked
a white oak tree by the river. The course of the old line he
found to be N. 16° 39' 53''.
There is nothing in his field book to show where he
established the station point on the beach, nor whether the beach
had made southwardly in the thirty-three years intervening
between Keith's and his runnuig. Tliis important fact does
not appear upon the map made by John Chapman of this
work, hence but little can be gathered therefrom.
Nothing came of this second attempt to establish the division
boundary, for in "A consise view of the controversy between
16 Minute l)ook No. 3, page 803.
17 I'iige 208, '^10.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 15
the proprietors of East and West Jersey," published in
1785 by the Western owners, it is said, "The Commissioners
met, <iuarrelled, executed the Tripartite deed, broke off, dis-
puted about the goodness of their mathematical instruments,
separated without running the line " — showing that so far every
effort had failed of the purpose.
One objection made by the people of the western part was
that James Alexander was Surveyor General of both divisions,
and that his interests lay largely with the Eastern Proprietors,
hence he rested under the suspicion of not dealing fairly, and
although the Western Proprietors endeavored to displace him,
yet they failed in so doing.
Be the foregoing true or false, nearly ten years after (April
gth, 1729) the action of this Commission was approved and
ratified by the owners of each division — but for want of fiinds
the West Jersey proprietors refused to join the eastern owners
and run the line.
Several ineffectual attempts were subsequently made on the
part of the Eastern Proprietors to induce the Western Proprietors
to proceed with the work (as was alleged for want of funds on the
part of the western owners) but nothing was done until 1740,
when Governor Lewis Morris appointed John Hamilton and
Andrew Johnson to settle the boundary.
In 1743, by request of the eastern owners the Governor, Lewis
Morris, commissioned John Lawrence "to run, mark, fix and
ascertain the said line of partition pursuant to the said act of
Assembly." His commission bears date August 26th, 1743,
with instructions attached. He was empowered to employ Mar-
tin Ryerson or Gersham Mott as assistant surveyor nnd the
necessary axemen, chain bearers, markers, &c., &:c.
In the months of September and October of that year (1743)
John Lawrence did run, mark, fix and ascertain said line, by
running a random line from Little Egg Harbor to the north sta-
tion point at 41° 40', He then established the course of 39°
45' W. and traced the boundary, and to which line, as claimed
by the eastern owners, the western owners acfjuiesced, and for
several years made no protest.
1 6 PROVINCE LINE 1887.
This was not true, however, as the minutes of the Council will
show. They read as follows :
November 3d, 1743. Council received information that the
eastern owners had run the line ex parte. Committee appointed
to discover where they began, &c., &c/^ The next year the
following minute was entered : February 8th, 1744. Commit-
tee with eastern committee to fix the station points at Little Egg
Harbor, according to the Quintipartite deed, rejDorted map, &c.
Ordered filed. "^^
Much dissatisfaction certainly existed among the western
owners, especially as to the station at Little Egg Harbor, for,
as may be seen, after the line had been run by John Lawrence,
an effort was made to establish that point according to the
Quintipartite deed of 1676, It is unfortunate that the map
made on that occasion has been taken from the office and lost,
which might explain many things not now understood.
The wording of the minute last before named bears much
significance and proves that they held to the broad principle
that the intention of the parties must be adhered to if the words
of the covenant are sufficiently explicit to discover such intention.
The fixing of the south station point of the province line at
Little Egg Harbor by John Lawrence, in 1743, was in entire
disregard of the work done by George Keith in 1687, and of the
spirit and letter of the deed of division as well. It has long been
known that the tendency of the Inlets on the New Jersey Coast,
south of Barnagat, is to the southward. John Lawrence practically
admits this fact as to Little Egg Harbor inlet by his map, forgetting
however that the monument as fixed by the deed of 1676 at
that place was not to be controlled by the action of the elements.
The deed of 1676 was in its language neither vague nor uncer-
tain, and the parties in interest fully understood its import and
meaning. Fifty-six years did not weaken its force, and John
Lawrence was as much bound by it in 1743 as George Keith
was bound by it in 1687. He did not do it ignorantly, for
he, as shown by his map, projected two lines from the wliite oak
18 Miiiiitt' book No. 5, page 106.
19 Page 1C9.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 17
tree by the river Raritan as marked by John Chapman in 1720—
one by Keith's line to Keith's original corner by the sea, and
another to the point whence he took his departure at what was
then the southerly end of the beach— forty-two chains southerly
from Keith's station point, as stated by Mr. Alexander, and
seventy-six chains as measured by Professor George H. Cook.
^ Judge Potts discussed this question very fully in the case of
Cornelius & Empson vs. Giberson and reported in ist Butcher's
Reports, page i, &c., and arrived at the conclusion that the line
as run by John Lawrence had been accepted by the Western
owners, tacitly at least, by various acts of those who had made
surveys east of that line under West Jersey rights. There was
no doubt various reasons for this, not consistent with an
acknowledgment of Lawrence's line, but from a desire to avoid
litigation and expense,^"
The reasons urged by the New York owners in a paper touching
this subject applied as well to the claims of West New Jersey as
to those of New York and the acceptance of the report of the
Commissioners appointed by the King, dated November 30th
1774, upon this question is conclusive upon the same point'
Judge Potts, in the absence of many valuable documents now
accessible, very naturally fill into a once prevalent error, that
John Lawrence was governed by the expressions of the two deeds
before named, when in fact he relied entirely upon the act of
1 719 and was so governed in his work, and it was equally
natural that Professor George H. Cook, Surveyor General of
East New Jersey, in presenting the claims of that division on the
occasion of the bi-centennial celebration of its proprietors, in
1884, should accept and advocate this theory.
If the inference for such proceedings was drawn from the
wording of the act of 1719, which says, "unto the most
southerly pomt of a certain beach or island of sand lying next
and adjoining the main sea on the north side of the mouth or
entrance of a certain inlet, bay or harbor commonly called and
known by the name of Little Egg Harbor," it was erroneous,
20 Dutclier'B Reports, vol. 1, page 1.
1 8 PROVINCE LINE 1887,
for the legislature had neither the power or the right, by the act
of 1 719, to change the position of the monument established
in good faith by the owners of the soil, and seriously
affect the title to surveys made upon the land near that
point or the line running therefrom. The fixing of that point
was not a legislative act, nor was it arrived at by the decision of
any judicial tribunal, but was a covenant made by the owners of
the soil — persons who were capable of making a contract and
who infused into it an elementary principle always to be recog-
nized and always to be sustained.
Some years after John Lawrence had finished his work (1750)
James Alexander, Surveyor General of both provinces, and a
man whose interests were largely in East Jersey and with eastern
owners, reviewed his proceedings and has left his methods
and opinions on record in his journal now on file in the Sur-
veyor General's office, at Burlington, N. J. He there states that
he found in Dennis' journal that Nicholas Wainwright testified
that he was shown, fifty years before, a red cedar post on the
beach by William Bond, who told him that it was the beginning
of the partition line as fixed by George Keith, verifying Keith's
report in this particular.^'
Dennis' journal was dated prior to 1750, and after Lawrence's
running, which would carry the information derived by
Nicholas Wainwright back to within a few years of Keith's
establishing this point. Another extract from Dennis'
journal says James Pharo was with John Chapman in
1720, when he ran Keith's line and found one of the line
trees near Wading river, which Mr. Alexander regarded as
showing that John Chapman found Keith's line and run it.
James Alexander examined the facts as collected by John
Lawrence and considered his manner of their application fairly.
He also gathered from Dennis' journal enough to convince him
that John Chapman adopted the true theory and fixed the
beginning where Keith had set the chestnut stake. The course
of the line, as computed by James Alexander from Keith's
running, in 1687, and from Chapman's running in 1720, with
21 James Alexander's Journal, Surveyor General's ofllcc, Burlington, N. J.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 19
the variation computed to the present time is found to be
S. 16° 05' E. and corresponds with the course of the line given
on the Geological map of New Jersey for 1885, ^"^ terminates
at the same point on the beach. The conclusions of James
Alexander, after thorough examination of everything laid before
him, and mature deliberation, were that John Lawrence had
committed an error in changing the south station point and that
there was no warrant for so doing.
In 1690 Daniel Coxe made a survey on the beach at Little
Egg Harbor, extendir.g from the province line on the south to
Sonman's line on the north and made return thereof under East
Jersey rights to the Council of Proprietors of East Jersey, which
body confirmed his title thereto in severalty according to the
rules. '^ This survey had special reference to the province line
and was intended to include all the lands on the beach
from Sonman's line southerly that lay in East New Jersey.
After various conveyances this survey become the property
of the "Long Beach Company," and in the mean tune
the inlet at Little Egg Harbor had changed, and the beach
following the inlet made about one mile southwardly. John
Monroe and others, on behalf of the beach company, in
1774 located the land between the province line and the
new inlet under West Jersey rights and returned the same to
the Council of Proprietors of West New Jersey, which body
confirmed its title thereto in severalty, according to the rules. ^'
No regard was paid to John Lawrence's line at that time
and the title to the land thus located was not questioned, and
is part of the division made among the owners of the two
adjoining surveys in 1818. In that division parts of lots No.
17 and No. 18, and all of lot No. 19 are within the bounds of
the last named survey. If the position of Lawrence's line be
correct, then that part of the survey made in 1774 between
Keith's line and Lawrence's line is void and the land vacant.'^*
This is a serious question and throws a shadow on the title of
22 I5ook O of lecoiilti, pa-^o SO, Perth Amboy.
23 Book (J,, pai;e 103, Burlington, N. J.
24 Files of the Supreme Court, Trenton, N. J,
20 PROVINCE LINE 1887.
part of that survey, and the same theory will apply to large
tracts of land between the two lines and which must suffer in
During this controversy between the provinces of New Jersey,
there was another element of discord growing out of the word-
ing of the grant to Carteret and Berkley and which somewhat
affected the settlement in question. That was the claim of the
State of New York as to the true position of the State line be-
tween that commonwealth and New Jersey, as applied to the
north station point on the Delaware river and identical with the
north station point in the division of East and West Jersey. ^^
The discontent of the people on either side of and near the
State line induced the Legislatures of New York and New Jersey
to pass similar acts, asking the King to appoint a commission to
fix the points on the Hudson and Delaware rivers and establish
the boundary between said States.^® These acts were passed in
1764, and application was made to the King for a commission
to settle this long disputed question, pursuant to the two said
acts. His majesty named the persons October 7, 1767, who met
in New York City July 18, 1769, and proceeded to dispose of
this troublesome controversy. The Commissioners were Charles
Stuart, John Temple and Peter Randolph, Surveyors General for
the district of Quebec and of the northern and southern districts
of America, respectively ;^' Andrew Elliott, Receiver General of
the quit-rents in the province of New York ; Chambers Russell
Judge of the Court of Vice Admiralty for the province of
Massachusetts ; William Allen, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania ;
Samuel Holland and William DeBrahm, Surveyors General of
lands in the northern and southern districts of America'^*;
Andrew Oliver, Secretary of the province of Massachusetts ;
Charles Morris, Surveyor of lands and one of the Council of
Nova Scotia ; Peyton Randolph, Attorney General and one of
the Council of Virginia ; Benjamin Franklin, of the province
25 Bi- Centennial Celebration of Bast Jersey Proprietors, 1884, page 45.
26 W. A. Whltliead's paper on the north boundary— Proceedings of N. J. His. Soc.
Vol. 8, page 159.
27 Gordon's His. of N. J., page 72.
28 New Jersey Archives Vol. 9, page 447.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 21
of Pennsylvania, and Jarrett Ingersoll, of the Colony of
New York and New Jersey were each represented by able
counsel. All the documentary and oral evidence that could
be secured was presented. The services of David Rittenhouse
were obtained to test by proper observation the degree of
latitude on the Hudson and Delaware rivers, and every source
of information exhausted, so that an intelligent and satisfactory
conclusion could be reached. =*" October 7th, 1769, a report
was submitted to the King, fixing the Mackhackamack as the
northerly branch and where that stream falls into the Delaware
river (in 41° 21' 37'' of north latitude) as the north station point.
The King approved the award April 27th, 1773, which
practically ended the trouble between New York and New Jersey.
By this East Jersey lost 2,000,000 acres of land to New York
and West Jersey laid claim to all the territory between
Lawrence's line and the line running from the mouth of the
Mackhackamack to the south station point at Little Egg
Harbor. In 1771 the legislature of New York passed an act
confirming the award of the Commissioners and the next year
(1772) the legislature of New Jersey a similar law, which laws
were approved by the King September ist, 1773.^^
In 1775 the West New Jersey Proprietors asked the legislature
to pass an act giving them power to assert their right to the land
between Lawrence's line and the line from the mouth of the
Mackhackamack to Little Egg Harbor, containing about
1,850,000 acres, which was refused. This was renewed in 1782
but was again defeated.
The report approved by the King and confirmed by the acts
of the legislatures of New York and New Jersey was in
compliance with the claim as always made by the western
owners, and settled the question as to the north station point,
but the refusal of the legislature of New Jersey, in 1775 and in
29 G. n. Cook's statement Bi-Centennial celebration ot East Jersey proprietors 1884,
30 Bi-Centennial celebration of East Jersey Proprietors 1804, page 46.
31 W. A. Whithcad's paper, (see ante.)
22 PROVINCE LINE 1887.
1782 to grant the request of the Western Proprietors, so that the
report and acts before named could be enforced, left them
without remedy, except in the courts of law.
From the passage of the acts in 1 764 to the approval of the King
in 1773, all parties interested participated in the proceedings.
The ability and fairness of the gentlemen comprising the commis-
sion were not questioned, and each province used its best endeavor
to present its case ; but the East Jersey owners demurred and
did not submit to the award. Nor were the West ' Jersey
owners entirely satisfied, for their only remedy (after the refusal
of the legislature, in 1775 and in 1782, to confirm the title to the
land that fell to them by the award) lay in the courts of the
State — a slow, expensive and uncertain process.
To show that the Council of Proprietors of West New Jersey
were not indifferent to their interests in this protracted contro-
versy, extracts of the minutes of the proceedings of that bod)
are here inserted, as follows :
May 8th, 1761. The boundary (piestion was again agitated,
when it was found that several of the committee to run the line
were dead and others removed from the province, which vacan-
cies were supplied.'"
November 5th, 1762. The committee of East Jersey Proprie-
tors was in attendance and proposed the appointment of a com-
mittee to join them to settle the dispute. The proposition was
accepted and the former committee continued.'"
May 7th, T765. A letter was received from the eastern board,
acknowledging the notice of acceptance and hoping the dispute
could be settled.^*
November 6, 1771, the board sent deputy surveyors to take
course and distance from Dobie's plantation to Lawrence's line,
to know the amount of acres between the two lines. ^^
February 4, 1774, new committee appointed with power to
retain the services of four eminent lawyers to defend their
32 Miuutc book No. 6, page 232.
33 Page 285.
34 Minute book No. 7, page 7.
35 Minute book No. 8, page 34.
36 Pages 79, 82, 84.
PROVINCE LINE 1887. 23
February 17th and March 22d, 1774, General meeting of the
proprietors called and these questions discussed, showing that
much uneasiness existed as to the conduct of the eastern owners.
From that time until the present, notwithstanding that portions
of the line have at various times been run, no results have been
attained to justify the hope of a settlement of the points at issue,
now deemed possible by your committee.
In 1854 commissioners were appointed by the legislature to
run and mark the boundary line between the counties of Bur-
lington and Ocean, which was the retracing of George Keith's
line from Crosswick's creek to the mouth of Little Egg Harbor
inlet as known in 1687. This work was carefully done and
stones put in along the line at proper places, without protest
from the property owners or the authorities of either county,
showing the approbation of those most familiar with this ancient
boundary at that time.
And your committee would repeat that every available source
of information has been taken advantage of; that the report of
George Keith of 1687, the field notes and memoranda of John
Chapman of 1720, the field notes and memoranda of John Law-
rence of 1743 and the field notes of Franklin W. Earl of 1854 have
been examined and compared. That part of the westerly line of
William Penn's survey of 1,200 acres, made in 1692, and
boundmg on the province line as run by George Keith in 1687,
has been carefully traced on the ground, passing over the ancient
monuments before named and continued across the marsh and
bay on to the beach, and where at the end of said line a granite
post has been placed. This post is marked with the letter E on
the east side and with the letter W on the west side to conform
to the marking of the chestnut stake as set up by George Keith
Regard was had to the evidence of the old inlet, which is
sufficiently apparent in the sand hills along the ocean front to
satisfy your committee of the beginning point as established by
George Keith. The line run and adopted as the true one is
, upon a course of S. i^ 05' E. by the true meridian passing over
' two of the stone monuments put in by the Commissioners in I
/QjUl^ /Ca^z ' ■'■ 'y a/.^ i^
24 PROVINCE LINE 1887.
running the line between Burlington and Ocean counties in
1854, and the stone where formerly stood a willow tree, the
corner of Penn's 1,200 acre survey before named. In the
judgment of your committee this is upon the line run by George
Keith, if the various authorities consulted and the evidence on
the ground are to be relied on. The termination of the line is
fixed nearer the sea than that shown as the Commissioners'
monument, and a short distance more easterly, occasioned
probably by the diurnal variation of the magnetic needle.
The ordinary difficulties incident to field work have been en-
countered, the difference of instruments, of magnetic variation
and the errors of measurement have been reconciled as far as possi-
ble, and it is hoped that the true position has been fixed upon
to show the beginning of the line as named in the deed of 1676,
and that the reasons for so doing will prove satisfactory to all,
and put an end to future controversy.
In reviewing the history of this dispute, which has extended
over two centuries of time, the proceedings of the parties inter-
ested show many inconsistencies, and which at this day add
much to the complications of the question — the award of John
Reid and William Emley, January 8th, 1686, and the running
of the line of George Keith in 1687, according to that award,
when it was known and acknowledged to be wrong, and the ap-
proval thereof by the Governors of the two provinces. The
first proceedings under the act of 1719 proved abortive, for
John Chapman followed the footsteps of George Keith, whose
error the act was intended to correct. These proceedings were
also approved and ratified by each division, but the true line
was not run.
The work done in 1743 by John Lawrence was claimed by the
West Jersey proprietors as ex-parte and entirely in the interest
of the eastern owners. The changing of the south station point
at Little Egg Harbor by him was wrong and the fixing of the
north station point at 41° 40' and on the main river certainly
had not the approval of the authorities of New York and of
which the Eastern Proprietors could not have been ignorant.
The proceedings under the joint acts of 1 764 were regular and
ably conducted, but related entirely to the north station point
PROVINCE LINE jSSy. 25
as between the States of New York and New Jersey and
identical with the north station point between East and West
New Jersey, as expressed in the deed of purchase of 1664 and
the deed of division of 1676. It was in good faith, for each
division of New Jersey and the State of New York became
parties thereto and each was well represented before the
Commission. The character of the persons who constituted the
Commission proved the care of the King in their selection and
of his desire to end a dispute that agitated part of his subjects in
America. And if the north station point as named by the
original contracting parties, and as established by the commission
of 1773, be conclusive as against the Eastern Proprietors, and
identical with the point of division of 1676, then so much of this
controversy should be forever put at rest.
Sufficient has already been said as to the south station point
at Little Egg Harbor, as fixed by George Keith in 1687 and
never questioned until attempted to be changed by John Law-
rence in 1743. And if the premises assumed as to the north and
south station points be correct as here stated (and approved by
the council) then the line of division between East and West
New Jersey should be between the station at the mouth of the
Mackhackamack, on the Delaware river, and the station at Little
Egg Harbor, and so claimed by the proprietors of the western
And in this view it becomes the duty of the Council, as the
representative of the original owners of the soil, to enter this
report upon the minute book of its proceedings — not in the
spirit of contention nor to provoke litigation, but to preserve a
concise history of the facts relating thereto and to show that
these conclusions are the legitimate result thereof.
John Clement, ~)
Henry B. Fowler, ■- Committee.
Henry S. Haines, )
Dated May ist, 1888.
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