Lead up to Conflict

1765 to 1775

As the county seat of old Gloucester County, Gloucester Town hosted many of the formal meetings, informal gatherings, court hearings; as well as, the county goal (jail). 

Leading up to the break with Great Britain and American Independence, Gloucester was witness to some of these events and in 1777 and 1778, war would visit Gloucester Town. 

Some of the most famous participants in the American Revolution would fight at Gloucester.

At Gloucester Town, New Jersey, in November 1777, British General Lord Cornwallis and his forces would face American troops under the command of the marquis de Lafayette, Colonel Richard Butler and the Morgan's Riflemen along with Captain Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee and his horse troop.

On June 18, 1778, Gloucester Town would be selected by the British as the location to cross the Delaware River when they evacuated Philadelphia.  Nearly 11,000 British & Hessian troops would cross the Delaware River into New Jersey with the goal of reaching New York City.   

Ten days later, these same British forces would face the rejuvenated American Army at the Battle of Monmouth Court House, before continuing on to New York City.

Below are some of the events leading up to the break with Great Britain which are tied to Gloucester City's history.

The STAMP ACT of 1765

"As the vessel passed Gloucester Point all the ships in the harbor hoisted their Colours to half Mast.  All the bells began to ring until evening Mourning the approaching Lost of Liberty."

( His Majesty's Yacht Royal Charlotte was originally named HMY Royal Caroline )

HMY Royal Charlotte

On the 5th of October 1765, the HMY Royal Charlotte along with the Man of War HMS Sardine sails up the River Delaware and passes Gloucester on it's way to Philadelphia. 

The Royal Charlotte carried Stamped Papers for Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

November - December 1773

The Tea ship POLLY.

Gloucester Town had a front row seat to a well known event involving the tea ship POLLY.

The tea ship Polly under Captain Ayres arrives in the Delaware River.

A committee of Philadelphian's stop the vessel off of Gloucester Point (PA) asking Captain Ayres not to land his ship or face the destruction of it's "detested Tea"; as well as, possible harm to his vessel and crew.

( Tar and Feathering was planned )

The POLLY stayed at Gloucester Point while Captain Ayres proceeded with the committee to Philadelphia.

Captain Ayres having made port in Philadelphia before surely was known to the merchants and agreed, wisely not to bring his vessel into Philadelphia.

His ship was resupplied and left with it's cargo of "Detested Tea".

Unable to off load the tea anywhere else in British North America, the POLLY return to England.

The Boston Tea Party took place on December 16, 1773.

Philadelphia's Broadside side was dated November 27, 1773

You can see the broadside by clicking on the link for the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbpe.14303100/

July 11, 1774

"at the Court-house in the town of Gloucester..."

"... some proper measures to be taken in

the support of AMERICAN FREEDOM,..."

July 18, 1774

Support for Boston and appointment of a committee related to the First Continental Congress.

At the Gloucester County Court-House in Gloucester Town:

( southwest corner of King and Market Streets )

"At a general meeting of the magistrates, lawyers, freeholders, and other respectable inhabitants of the county of Gloucester, in New Jersey, held at the Court-House in the said county, July 18, 1774, the following resolutions were read, maturely considered, and unanimously agreed to; the third only excepted.


November 23, 1774

Joseph Ellis of Gloucester Town turns over funds raised by Gloucester County for the relief of Boston. 

Ellis having already fought in the French and Indian War, would go on the become a General in the NJ Militia. 

May 18, 1775

"A deadly enemy to Liberty lurks here"

Gloucester County instructions given to the committee related to the Second Continental Congress.  There is great distrust of the New Jersey's Royal Governor and those who in the Legislature.

The last line states:

"Our legislative representatives hold that important trust, not during the will of their constituents; nor for any limited time; but during the Governor's pleasure.

— A deadly enemy to Liberty lurks here!"

( Seems to say they think there is a 'fox in the hen house'.)

Click on image or hyperlink to view the full document at the Library of Congress:  https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbpe.09906600/

1777 - Quakers Jailed at Gloucester Town

Starting in January 1777, Thomas Redman and Mark Miller were imprisoned in the Gloucester County goal (jail) at Gloucester Town for eight weeks.

Redman and Miller were Quakers and were imprisoned for eight weeks due their stance of not supporting the Revolution; as well as, for refusing take a pledge of loyalty to the State of New Jersey.

The Quakers throughout the area would come to Gloucester Town to support Redman and Miller during their eight weeks imprisonment.

The jail was in poor condition, it did not have glass in the windows, it had no furniture or bed.

Sheriff Joseph Ellis who lived only a few hundred feet away from the court house was a former Quaker would visit these men.   He would take them to his house for dinner and would have them stay the night, returning them to the jail after breakfast.

When they finally went on trial, they were fined but refused to pay the fine.   At such time Sheriff Joseph Ellis announced that the fine had been paid.

It's believed that Ellis had paid the fine.

January 21st, 1777

Quaker Mark Miller was put in the County goal (jail) for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the newly form State of NJ.

He would spend several long cold weeks in the jail at King and Market Street in Gloucester Town ( Gloucester City ).

Elizabeth Drinker's Diary

Elizabeth's husband, Henry Drinker travels to Gloucester Town to visit two jailed Quakers, Mark Miller and Thomas Redman.

Both had refused the oaths of loyalty to the new New Jersey state government. Quakers called it the “Test”.  Refusing would lead to fines and imprisonment.