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RELATING TO THE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY.
FREDERICK W. RICORD and WM. NELSON.
JOURNAL OF THE GOVERNOR AND COUNCIL.
VOL. I. 1682–1714.
TRENTON, N. J.:
This volume contains the Journal of the Governor and Council of East Jersey from December 1st, 1682, to April 29th, 1703, both dates inclusive, and covering the whole period of the Proprietary Government by a Governor and Council. The original manuscript volume containing this Journal is a stout folio, well bound in old sheep, and is in perfect preservation, except that a part of one leaf has been cut out, as noted on page 16 of this book. The very
existence of the Journal had been forgotten, as it was not in the State Library, nor elsewhere in the State House. One day in the year 1870 or 1871, a former manservant of a deceased New Jersey statesman came into the office of Mr. Garret D. W. Vroom, in Trenton, with a great bag of books, which he said he had gathered together in “clearing up” the house and office of his late employer. Mr. Vroom asked him to empty bis bag and show what he had, which he promptly did. The first volume to tumble out upon the floor was this Journal, from 1682 to 1703—a book of priceless value, as it had never been printed nor even copied. Mr. Vroom immediately deposited it in the State Library, where it is now kept in a fire-proof safe by the careful State Librarian. The State caused it to be copied and printed in 1872, but the copyist being unfamiliar with the peculiar chirography of the seventeenth century, many errors crept into the printed volume, and the lack of an index still further impaired its value. As the New Jersey Historical Society proposed to print the
whole of the Journal, from 1703 to 1776, it was deemed best under the circumstances to reprint this portion. So far as ordinary type will admit, every peculiarity in the original manuscript has been scrupulously reproduced here. One exception is the case where a character closely resembling P is very frequently used for the syllable per, pre or pro. These syllables are printed here in full. The use of this contraction led to many errors in the edition of 1872, notably in one case where the word impiously was transcribed and printed as impiously, instead of imperiously! The original manuscript is for the most part in a very clear and neat court-hand of the period. Other portions are in different handwriting, not so easily decipherable. The ink, though faded, is still distinct. A good idea of the manuscript is given in the frontispiece herewith.
The present volume also contains the Journal of the Governor and Council of the Province of New Jersey, from the surrender of East Jersey and West Jersey to the Crown, and their union as one Province under a Governor and Council appointed by Queen Anne. The records of this body do not appear ever to have been printed. Undoubtedly the original record was kept in the Province, and an authenticated copy was regularly transmitted to England by the Governor for the time being. What has become of the original Journal it has been impossible thus far to ascertain. From 1703 to 1776 it would fill six or eight folio volumes. It has been conjectured that these records, with other papers, were carried off by Governor Franklin when he was conducted from New Jersey to Connecticut. What became of his papers is unknown. It has also been suggested that possibly the Secretary of the Province in 1776 might have retained these records. Search in the New York State Library, at Albany,
has failed to reveal the missing Journals. It is true that they may have been destroyed during the troublous times of the Revolution, or they may have gone the way of waste paper at a later time, but the unexpected turning up of the earlier Journal, from 1682 to 1703, shows that it is possible that the other records may yet be found reposing upon some shelf or in an out-of-the-way corner in some ancient house in New Jersey. For lack of the originals, recourse has been had to the contemporary copies sent to England by the Royal Governors, now preserved in the Public Record Office in London. Copies of these copies were procured by the New Jersey Historical Society some years ago through the agency of the late Henry Stevens. They fill twelve large portfolios. The printed sheets of this volume were sent to Benjamin F. Stevens, whose familiarity with the public record offices of Europe is unequaled, and he has caused them to be compared with the copies in London, and has noted every deviation, no matter how slight, from the records there. The appended table of Errata and Addenda gives the result of this careful comparison.
It will be observed that there is a hiatus in the Journal from August 20th, 1703, to December 20th, 1708. Much effort has been made to discover whether any records existed of the transactions of the Governor and Council during this period, and if so, where they might be found.
B. Fernow, the accomplished historiographer of New York State, wrote in reply to an inquiry on this subject : “I find that Lord Cornbury went to New Jersey on public business, from June 19th to 29th, 1702; August 10th to 31st, 1703, to publish his commissions ; November 9th to December 23d, 1703; August 28th to October 6th, 1704; November 7th, 1704, to February 6th, 1705; May 8th to June 9th, 1705 ;