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EDITED, WITH AN HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION ON THE
EARLY MARRIAGE LAWS OF NEW JERSEY, AND THE
BY WILLIAM NELSON.
/ / 3
PATERSON, N. J.:
It is not necessary to expatiate on the interest and importance of the contents of this volume. The lawyer will often turn to these marriage records to solve obscure questions of title to land. The historian will find here much information throwing light on obsolete laws and customs of the past. The student of sociology will discover many odd facts bearing on questions of race, heredity, social usages and other problems affecting the development of society. To the genealogist of course the book will be invaluable.
This work had its beginning in a resolve to print the manuscript index, in the office of the Secretary of State at Trenton, to the marriage bonds on file, and the records of marriage licenses, in that office. The origin of these bonds and of these licenses seemed to deserve explanation, out of which grew the Historical Introduction on the Early Marriage Law of New Jersey, which follows. In order to expand the volume to a suitable size it was concluded to add the other marriage records which will be found succeeding those in the Secretary of State's office. These exhaust the extant inarriage records prior to 1801,
for the counties of Bergen, Hudson and Essex, so far as the editor has been able to learn. The early Dutch churches as a rule were scrupulously careful to keep and preserve in the church archives registers of baptisms and marriages. The churches of other denominations not only were not so particular, but when the records were made they were often regarded as the private property of the pastors, and were carried away by them on their removal to other charges.
The first Reformed (Dutch) church in New Jersey was that at Bergen, dating back to 1660. Its marriage records are well preserved, and are reproduced down to iSoi, in
this volume. This was in 1800 the only church within the present Hudson county.
Bergen county had a number of churches in Soo, as follows: Hackensack, established in 1656; its marriage records are well kept and are given herewith. Schraalenburgh, 1724; printed here. Ponds (Oakland), 1710; records destroyed about 1880, by fire. Paramus, 1725; no marriage records have been preserved before iSoo. English Neighborhood (now Leonia), 1770; no records prior to 1812. There were two or three Lutheran churches in the Saddle River valley, some of them dating well back toward 1700, and there may be early marriage records kept by their pastors, but the editor has not been able to find them. There was a French Reformed church near Hackensack before 1700, but its records are not known to ex
In Essex county there were these churches previous to 180o, in the chronological order given: First Presbyterian, of Newark, 1667; Reformed (Dutch), at Second River (Belleville), 1700; Orange Presbyterian, about 1719; Reformed (Dutch), at Fairfield, 1720; Trinity (Episcopal), of Newark, about 1743 ; Christ (Episcopal), Belleville, about 1755; Lyons Farms Baptist, 1769; Caldwell Presbyterian, about 1780; Bloomfield Presbyterian, 1798. The writer has been unable to discover any marriage records of these churches except the incomplete registers of the Belleville Reformed church, and those of the Lyons Farms Baptist church. All the records of the First Presbyterian church existing at the time of the Revolution are understood to have been lost or destroyed in that troublous period, and the writer has been informed that the church possesses no marriage records earlier than 1850. The records of the Fairfield church are believed to have been destroyed in a fire which consumed the parsonage about 1875. The records of Trinity church in the eighteenth century were examined some years since by the writer, who found them to be very fragmentary, with no marriage registers among them. The session records of the First Presbyterian church of Orange are understood to have been destroyed by fire in 1802. Those in existence begin January 30, 1Soz.
It is a monotonous history of disaster to church records thus
enumerated—"destroyed by fire," and emphasizes the importance of a work like this, which multiplies and so preserves such records beyond the chance of destruction. By a singular irony of fate, however, a large collection of copies of other church records, which had been procured during a long period of years by the editor with infinite labor and much expense, for a second volume like this, went the way of so many originals, in a single night, in the great Paterson fire, February 8-9, 1902. If time and opportunity permit perhaps the effort to gather another volume of such material may be renewed. But vita brevis est !
In this connection the work of the Holland Society, in New York, and of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania is worthy of commendation. The former has caused copies to be made of all the records of the old Reformed Dutch churches in New Jersey, and has published those of the Hackensack and Schraalenburgh churches to iSoo. It is expected that others will follow. The latter Society, organized so late as 1892, has procured copies of the records of a large number of churches of various denominations in the southern part of New Jersey, and has them bound in stout quarto volumes, well indexed, which are preserved in the fireproof rooms of the Historical So. ciety of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. It is intended to publish shortly the records of St. Mary's Church at Burlington, which dates back to 1704, and which numbered among its members many of the most prominent men in New Jersey, in the Provincial era. These records were copied for the New Jersey Historical Society, but for the purpose of publication were placed at the disposal of the sister Pennsylvania Society.
The following records of New Jersey churches have been published :
Belleville Reformed (Dutch)-baptisms, births, marriages and membership, 1794-1827. Proceedings N. J. Historical Society, Third Series, I., 178-196 ; II., 65-72, 131-144, 177185.
Bergen Reformed (Dutch) --marriages, baptisms, deaths, 1665-1850.
Winfield's Land Titles of Hudson County, I., 329-419. 8. New York, 1972.