“Turbulent tymes” in a New Colony: Philip Carteret’s Letter to the Proprietors, August 3, 1666


  • Timothy Crist


In August 1666, a year after first arriving in New Jersey, Governor Philip Carteret sent Surveyor General Robert Vauquellin to London to seek guidance and secure assistance from Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley, Proprietors of New Jersey. In the letter he wrote with his provincial secretary, James Bollen, to accompany Vauquellin on his voyage, Governor Carteret described for the proprietors the daunting financial, administrative, and security challenges confronting the new colony. Transcribed here from the draft now in the Stevens Family Papers at the New Jersey Historical Society, the letter makes clear how tenuous Carteret’s position was as he worked to establish his authority as Governor, not least due to conflicts with New York. The letter’s survival, likely due to efforts by attorneys James Alexander and David Ogden in the 1740s to locate records to support their filings on behalf of the East Jersey Proprietors, illustrates how eighteenth-century legal battles over quitrents and land titles helped to identify and preserve foundational documents that continue to inform the study of early New Jersey.