From Fort Nassau to Gloucester Town

The Dutch colony of New Netherland was surrendered to the English starting 1664 and in 1674 the Dutch renounced all claims to the area.

As early as 1675 the British, at least on paper attempt to settle the area under the name “Bethlem Township”.  This is what was the first attempt by the English to settle what would later become Gloucester. But not much came of “Bethlem Township” but it does appear on maps from the period.

Gloucester Town was created when Gloucester County was created in 1686.  Gloucester County then was what today is all of present day Gloucester, Camden (1844) and Atlantic  (1837) Counties.  Prior to that Gloucester County was part of Burlington County.  

Gloucester Town was the county seat for Gloucester County from 1686 until 1786.  When a fire destroyed the county court house, it was decided to move the county seat to Woodbury which continues to serve at the county seat for Gloucester County.

Gloucester Town became part of Camden County when it was created in 1844. 

As part of its role as the county seat Gloucester Town would host the courts, gaol (jail) and often was the place of punishment including executions.    Inns & Taverns were needed to host those having business with the county.    

1686 - Gloucester Town

Thomas Sharp laid out Gloucester Town in 1686.

Market Street, then know as High Street appears as the main road running east from the Delaware River.

The market square would the present intersection of King and Market Streets.

(Click on image for West Jersey History Project image)

1686 Gloucester Town property owners



( Click on image for link to Mickle's book online )

1686 - The Liberties of Gloucester

Sharp's survey of Gloucester Town and it's surrounding suburbs or liberties.

(Click on image for West Jersey History Project image)

Gloucester Town resident, Samuel Harrison, the Mariner and sometimes a smuggler. 

Gloucester Town resident Samuel Harrison had a plantation in the north end of Gloucester along the Newton Creek.   His home was located on present day North Brown Street.

Harrison's profession was that of a Mariner and he was  caught trying to bring in un-taxed cargo in 1694 on board the "Pennsylvania Merchant".  This resulted in confiscation of the 80 ton vessel.  It appears Harrison would be able to re-acquire the vessel by likely paying court imposed the liens.

Samuel Harrison, the Mariner is captured by pirates.

In the month of April, 1700, the 80 ton vessel "Pennsylvania Merchant" was mastered by Samuel Harrison of Gloucester Town, NJ.

The "Pennsylvania Merchant" was coming from London and was heading to Philadelphia. As she approached the Delaware Bay she was followed by another vessel which was the pirate vessel "La Paix".

Captain Samuel Harrison's vessel was chased south to Cape Henry Virginia where the "Laypasse" [ aka the "La Paix"] forced surrender.

The pirates took the cargo and passengers from the "Pennsylvania Merchant" and set fire to her and she sunk.

Hugg's Tavern on the Delaware River around 1929 just prior to it being torn down.

Hugg's Tavern was built in 1721 and was located only feet away from the Delaware River. The tavern would serve host not only to the ferry customers, it would also host visitors having business in Gloucester Town when the courts and county sessions took place.

The Gloucester Fox Hunting Club at Gloucester Town

The most famous inn & tavern in Gloucester Town was Hugg's Tavern which beside hosting court business, was rendezvous point for the member of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club from 1766 until 1818.

The hounds for the fox hunt club were kept at Gloucester Town.  The Gloucester Fox Hunt Club members were some of the most prominent members of Philadelphia society along with number of Gloucester County residents.   

Hugg's Tavern was located on the Delaware River also was a the location of the Gloucester and Greenwich Point Ferry landing which afforded the members of the club an convenient crossing from Philadelphia to New Jersey.

Read more on the club and it's members can be found in this 1830 account: 

Memoirs of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club by William Milnor, Jr.

1773  Marriage License for John & Betsy Ross

The November 4, 1773 marriage of John Ross & Elizabeth Griscom; better known as, Betsy Ross likely took place at Hugg's Tavern since John Ross was said to be a friend of the Hugg family.   

The Justice of the Peace James Bowman of Gloucester Town, who lived at the nearby malt house, performed the ceremony.

Their marriage license, like all marriage licenses at that time is signed by the (last) Royal Governor of New Jersey;  William Franklin who was Ben Franklin's son.

[ There is no evidence that Betsy Griscom was born in Gloucester Town.  Betsy's parents Rebecca and Samuel Griscom,  are both listed as residents of Philadelphia at the time of their own marriage in 1741 and Samuel was from a long line of carpenters living in and working in Philadelphia.  Samuel is listed as a member of the Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia.

In 1754, Samuel Griscom is listed as a point of contact for the sale of a farmer in Newton Township (present day Camden NJ ), but he lived at Combs's Alley in Philadelphia at that time.   Samuel would be listed as a point of contact for other properties in the Philadelphia area as well.  The 1754 advertainment is used by some as proof that Betsy was born in New Jersey and that the Griscom's moved to Philadelphia when she was three. ]

1675 : English Map of New Jersey 

John Seller & William Fisher 

This map was used by William Penn for the purpose of enticing investment in his interest in New Jersey.

John Carter Brown Collections  /  The John Carter Brown Library

ca 1678 map of “Bethlem Township” and the Dutch fort.

As early as 1675 the British, at least on paper attempted to settle the area under the name "“Bethlem Township”.  This is what was the first attempt by the English to settle what would later become Gloucester. Not much came of “Bethlem Township” but it does appear on maps from the period.

John Carter Brown Collections  /  The John Carter Brown Library,-New-J#

1768- Marriage of John Heritage and Susannah Marple

8th of December 1768

Justice of the Peace John Hinchman

Heritage ran a Tavern on King Street 

made a land purchase on July 4th 1776.

[ Gloucester City Historical Society / file 54-1 ]

Patent for Gloucester Town

8th of December 1773

On behalf of King George III

by William Franklin

Colonial Governor of New Jersey.

Large land area between Newton Creek and Little Timber Creek  extending out beyond present day Mt. Ephraim and Bellmawr.   About 8.5 sq miles compare to Gloucester City's 2.3 sq. miles.

"Patent for Gloucester Town 1773"

Published in 1921 "The true origin of old Gloucester County, N.J. by Godfrey, Carlos E."


George the Third by the Grace of God of Great Britain

France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c—To all to

whom these presents shall come Greeting. Know ye. that We

of our especial Grace certain knowledge and meer Motion have

given & granted and by these Presents do give and grant for

us our tieirs and Successors to the Inhabitants of the Town

of Gloucester in the County of Gloucester in our province of

New Jersey within the following Boundaries viz*. Beginning

at the Mouth of Newton Creek Thence down Delaware River

to the Mouth of Great Timber Creek Thence up the same to

the Mouth of a Branch called the Beaver Branch Thence up

the same to the head thereof in the Lands of Jacob Jennings

Thence North five degrees East to the line of Newton Township.

Thence along the 2d. Line to the head of the Southerly

Branch of Newton creek in David Horley's Field. Thence

down the same to the main Creek Thence down the main Creek

to the Place of Beginning to be & remain a perpetual Township

& Community in word and in Deed to be called & known by the

name of the Town of Gloucester and we further give and grant

to the sd. Inhabitants of the Town afsd. and their Successors

to choose annually Overseers of the Poor and all other necessary

Officers for the Town afsd. and to have and hold & enjoy

all other Priviledges Rights Liberties and Immunities that any

other Township in our sd. Province doth or may of Right

Enjoy And the said Inhabitants are hereby constituted and

appointed a Township aforesaid To have hold and Enjoy the

Privledges afsd. to them and their Successors forever

In Testimony whereof We have here unto Caused the

Great Seal of our Province of New Jersey to be afhxed

Witness our Trusty and welbeloved William Franklin Esquire

Captain General Governor & Commander in Chief in & over

our Province of New Jersey & Territories thereon depending

in America Chancellor & Vice Admiral in the same &c—at

Burlington the 8th day of December in the 14th Year of our

Reign Anno Domini 1773                                                  Pettit.



Poem about the chalybeate spring in Gloucester Town

Poem by Rev. Nathaniel Evans;c=evans;idno=N09733.0001.001;view=text;rgn=div1;node=N09733.0001.001:35

May 7, 1767 - The Chalybeate Waters at Gloucester

The Chalybeate Waters as they were known would have been near Newton Creek around the area of present day Collings Road on the Harrison Manor.

During Colonial times, Hugh Jones would have needed to get a license to operate a Inn as it was illegal for just anyone to charge travels for lodgings.

( Chalybeate waters are mineral springs.)