East Jersey

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The original provinces of West and East New Jersey are shown in yellow and green respectively. The Keith Line is shown in red, and the Coxe and Barclay line is shown in orange
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The original provinces of West and East New Jersey are shown in yellow and green respectively. The Keith Line is shown in red, and the Coxe and Barclay line is shown in orange

New Jersey was governed as two distinct provinces, West Jersey and East Jersey, for the 28 years between 1674 and 1702.

Determination of an exact location for a West Jersey/East Jersey borderline was often a matter of dispute, but the old provinces correspond roughly with South Jersey and North Jersey today.

Where West Jersey involved a fairly focused group of people interested in establishing a Quaker colony, East Jersey felt the influence of a variety of cultures early on. There had been Dutch settlement prior to the English conquest in 1664 but the Dutch had mostly abandoned the west side of the Hudson River after conflicts with the native people.

Between 1664 and 1674 most settlement was from other parts of the Americas, especially New England and Long Island. Elizabethtown and Newark in particular had a strong Puritan character. South of the Raritan River the Monmouth tract was developed primarily by Quakers from Long Island.

Although a number of the East Jersey proprietors in England were Quakers and the governor through most of the 1680s was the leading Quaker Robert Barclay, the Quaker influence on government was not significant. Even the immigration instigated by Barclay was oriented toward promoting Scottish influence more than Quaker influence, partly because his friend William Penn was now getting Philadelphia well-established as the most promising Quaker colony.

Frequent disputes between the residents and the mostly-absentee proprietors over land ownership and quitrents plagued the province until its surrender to Queen Anne's government in 1702. In 1682 Barclay and the other Scottish proprietors began the development of Perth Amboy as the capital of the province, but for the rest of the life of East Jersey, as a separate province, New York stymied attempts to declare it a legal port of entry.

see also: List of Governors of New Jersey

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