Should west New Jersey be included in the William Penn and Early Pennsylvania Settlers project? [closed]

+15 votes

In a previous post, "Changing the scope of the: William Penn and the Early Pennsylvania Settlers Project," we discussed and agreed on several facets for the scope of the William Penn and Early Pennsylvania Settlers project that included:

* The project would cover all Pennsylvania settlers who migrated to or were born in Pennsylvania before 28 October 1701 - the date of the signing of the second frame of governance.

* The project would cover settlers to Delaware as Delaware was part of Pennsylvania at this time (Delaware was considered to be the "lower counties" of Pennsylvania before they broke off to form their own colony).

* The start date of the project would be open ended.  The Delaware River valley was originally settled by the Swedish and this community is covered by the New Sweden Project.  Later, the Dutch annexed the area and finally, the area was ceded to England with the signing of the Treaty of Westminster on 24 October 1674.  By 1675 the first Quaker Monthly Meeting appeared in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  While most Anglo settlement arrived to Pennsylvania after 1674, it was agreed that any settler who was not part of the New Sweden or New Netherlands community should be covered by this project.

One of the profiles that is currently managed by the project, Samuel Willson, didn't settle in Pennsylvania but instead on the other side of the Delaware River, as did many of Penn's commissioners, in west New Jersey.  I received a message that this profile maybe should be in a different project.

William Penn championed the idea of moving Quakers to the new world and indeed, he negotiated and organized an exodus to areas in and outside of Pennsylvania.  The ship Kent sailed in 1677 and carried William Penn commissioners; this ship landed at Chygoes Island, in present day New Jersey, and the settlers founded Burlington there.  Are these settlers Penn settlers or are they New Jersey settlers?

I would like to open a discussion about this and I invite everyone to offer their thoughts on the matter.

Thanks in advance for your input.

closed with the note: New Jersey settlers will be managed by the NJ or Quakers Projects.
in Policy and Style by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
closed by SJ Baty

3 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

Thank you SJ for starting this discussion and all who have contributed.


I appreciate and agree with Kitty’s comments.


When I look at WT’s other U.S. colonial projects, their scope is based on geography and time.


* New Netherland Settlers

* New Sweden

* Southern Colonies (an umbrella for a number of subprojects)


If we are defining a top-level colonial project for Penn's Settlers for anyone that sailed on a ship commissioned by Penn, we're not grouping people based on geography and only on the short period of time they were on the boat together. No doubt these people were often related or became friends, but we can retain the connections with ship categories.  Another reason to define them by geography is that the PA and NJ colonies had distinct political structures, so primary and secondary sources for NJ settlers have no overlap with Pennsylvania’s jurisdictions. 


I would continue to define a project for Penn's Settlers as covering anyone who settled in Penn's colony--aka Pennsylvania and initially Delaware.  That could include anyone who resided in or owned land in Pennsylvania, even if they later relocated to and/or also owned land in what became New Jersey.


Settlers in the Jersey colonies would fall broadly under the New Jersey Project and also sub-projects as appropriate. Many West & East Jersey founders are already protected by the Quakers Project and in East Jersey by NNS and New Netherland Descendants 1674-1776.  If you interested in the history of the proprietary period, I am reading this and find it helpful: Klett, Joseph. “Understanding New Jersey’s Geography in the Proprietary Period.” Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey (GMNJ), Vol. 89, No. 4 (December 2014)


There are a few subprojects for colonial New Jersey listed here. Some ideas for other colonial NJ subprojects

--New Jersey Founders—a blanket project that could cover all of Proprietary New Jersey (pre-1703); there’s a lineage society based on this distinction

--church/meeting based projects like Old Tennent Church (congregation was Scots-Irish Presbyterian) or Newton Monthly Meeting, Salem Monthly Meeting, etc.

--Fenwick's Colony

--city based projects like Burlington, Perth Amoby, or Trenton

--Cape May Project (founded mostly by PGM descendants)


I volunteered to coordinate the New Jersey Project and first order of business was some gnarly pre-1700 help requests, so I have spent my time building the New Jersey Sources guide we can point to for reference. The Primary Sources section is mostly complete and I am now combing through the State Library’s compilations of print works for NJ counties. Project management takes a lot of work and I'm not able to take this on solo. If you could support the NJ project as a co-coordinator or would like to start a subproject, I will be thrilled. 


Again, thank you for this discussion.  I love to see us research and connect communities in addition to personal trees, this is one of the things that makes Wikitree so special.  Peace.

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by H Husted G2G6 Mach 6 (69.7k points)
selected by SJ Baty
Thanks Heather for your thought out, logical and well written explanation.

You make some good points and I'll admit it is hard to counter them.

Heather,you brought up some insightful points and very happy you did as it clarified the scope of the William Penn and Early Pennsylvania Settlers project for me.

I am thinking more and more that William Penn and the Early Pennsylvania Settlers Project should be re-labeled simply as the the Early Pennsylvania Settlers project. 

The creator of the project intention was that "Penn Project should only cover early Pennsylvania settlers"

Penn Fleet Passengers (no matter where they ended up - Pennsylvania, Western New Jersey, Delaware, ect - would have it's own sub-project? How does that sound?

+8 votes

It sounds like to me they were probably Quakers for the Quaker project.  Wikipedia says, "Quakers first settled in what is now Monmouth County as early as 1664. They established the first Quaker meeting in Shrewsbury (now Little Silver) in 1665. A meeting house built in 1672 was visited by George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, the same year. (This meeting house was replaced by the present meeting house in 1816) Much of West Jersey was settled by Quakers who established congregations and founded towns throughout the region, including eponymous Quakertown in 1744."

Of Burlington, New Jersey, Wikipedia says, "

The council of West Jersey Proprietors purchased roughly 30 miles (48 km) of riverfront land in 1676 from the Lenape Native Americans. Burlington was founded on part of that land by English settlers (primarily Quakers) in 1677, and served as the capital of the province until 1702, when West Jersey and East Jersey were combined into a single Crown Colony.[24]

Burlington takes its name (including the county name) from the English east-coast town of Bridlington, of which Burlington was a district. It is now amalgamated into the larger Bridlington town.[25][26][27]

The Quakers formally established their congregation in 1678."

If the first Quakers settled there in 1664, I think the Kent ship should be in the New Jersey Colony project and the Quakers as appropriate.  I do not think they should be in Early PA Settlers.

Thanks for bringing this all in order!  Kitty

by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (590k points)

Hi Kitty, thanks to you for getting it all started!  Chipping away at it, week by week.

From all I had read, the Quakers who settled west New Jersey were inspired, if not organized by Penn.  Don't know if that is wishful thinking or assumption - I'm still reading up on early Pennsylvania history.


"... the first important settlement in West Jersey was made in 1677, when two hundred and thirty people sailed up the Delaware and founded Burlington, and within two years several hundred more had made their homes in the vicinity. Two wholly separate governments were now set up, and they were as different as white from black. The stern New England Puritans had settled in East Jersey in sufficient numbers to give coloring to the laws, and in these laws (enacted by the first assembly before the division) we find enumerated thirteen crimes for which the penalty was death. In West Jersey the government was exceedingly mild. A code of laws with the name of Penn at the top gave all power to the people, and made no mention of capital punishment. This was the first example of Quaker legislation in America."


"Based on the joint rights granted by the Duke of York to Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkeley, New Jersey became a proprietary colony with eastern and western divisions. East Jersey’s development was tied to New York, New England, and the former Dutch colony of New Netherland. The settlement of West Jersey on the Delaware River was initially a Quaker venture, and was associated with William Penn and others involved in the colonization of Pennsylvania."

Probably a third of the passengers of the Kent (1677) and other ships of this time (prior to Penn's fleet) probably had an admix of Quakers and other Protestants.  The Penn project is a perfect fit for non-Quaker early Pennsylvanians.  I wonder then where do early west Jersey (non-Quaker) settlers fit?  If not Penn, perhaps an early west Jersey project or sub?

Ultimately, are we saying that the William Penn and Early Pennsylvania Settlers project is the project for Early Pennsylvania Settlers or is it the William Penn (settlers and) and the Early Pennsylvania Settlers?

I have always thought of it as early PA settlers, some of which were Penn Quakers.

I have been working on many Quakers from England inspired by Penn that settled in West Jersey, specifically Gloucester and Deptford. I have no idea if Penn's Project should embrace the NJ counterparts. It's tempting to add them but I wonder if we should stick with early PA settler which also encompass some Penn Quakers.

Maybe the NJ Penns, Quakers could have their own sub-project sticker? 

Here is an example of a profile I have been working on and they were totally West Jersey, and sailed on the Lyons:

I should add that I have no strong feelings on the West Jersey Quakers.  I would not add them to early PA, but I am happy with whatever you decide, SJ.  Thanks for your work on this!  Kitty
Thanks for chiming in too, Kitty. SJ is amazing! So thanksful for his help.
Kitty, I will add that I have no strong feelings about adding the WNJ settlers either.  Because I saw some WNJ settlers in the Penn project and read that William Penn was instrumental in not only attracting immigration to WNJ but that he also was a proprietor there, I just "assumed" that it was part of the project.  Today I've done some more reading and I see that Penn was also a proprietor in east New Jersey.  If the scope is expanded to include WNJ, what about east NJ, Virginia, etc?  Quakers settled all over.

As for who's in and who isn't, I'll have to say that it isn't my decision - I'm seeking collaboration and we will go with the consensus! ;-)

As for my ancestor, even though he came on the Kent and lived for a bit in Burlington, he eventually landed in Delaware which was at that time just a part of Pennsylvania.  So I know I'm at least in the right project ;-)
Thanks for the accolades Maggie - I am very thankful for your help and support of the project!
What about Penn's Fleet?

I just received a notification of a merge completion on this profile and when I looked at it, I can see that it is going to be one of the "grey zone" profiles:

Sailed in the William Penn Fleet, but settled in west New Jersey.

The scope of the project is settlers who settled in Pennsylvania (including Delaware) until Oct 1701.  Should the scope also be widened to automatically include the Fleet Passengers? (at one time, the project was ONLY the fleet passengers).
No one has replied to this yet & I wanted to add a follow up thought: I think that all of the Penn Fleet Passengers should be in the Penn project regardless of where they settled.  If anyone has an objection to that, please post it.

Considering that there are profiles that are both Quaker and Penn projects, should a west New Jersey settlers project ever get off the ground, I don't see why a profile couldn't be Penn and WNJ projects both!
I agree on this idea about WNJ and others under Penn Fleet.

"I have always thought of it as early PA settlers, some of which were Penn Quakers."

If it will be agreed that the project will only cover Pennsylvania (and Delaware by default as it was part of PA) settlers, I wonder why it isn't just called the "Early Pennsylvania Settlers Project?"

I guess it will come down to whether or not we include Jersey settlers who arrived in Penn Fleet ships - I'll address Heather's answer there.

Regarding the Penn fleet arrivals who settled in New Jersey, might any of them have been in geographic areas that were disputed between the colonies or where boundaries shifted? I don't know much about New Jersey geography and I don't think I have access to the journal article that Heather mentioned, but I do know that there were a number of boundary issues in colonial America (including the region where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania abut one another), so I figured I should ask...
+3 votes
Many of my Pennsylvania anscestors settled in New Jersey before moving west to Pennsylvania. They were Palatines rather than Quakers, but their story isn't all that uncommon. It makes some sense to include Western New Jersey as many families seem to have straddled the boundary.
by J Briller G2G6 (9.7k points)

I believe the Palatine migration was just after the period covered by Penn’s Settlers Project (which stops in 1701 when PA became a state), when did your folks arrive in NJ? Have you checked out yet?

There was then and continues to be travel, commerce, commuting, and lots of close relationships between PA and NJ, we were hammering out how to group these very early settlers in projects. 

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