Of the number of Tories in New Jersey no completely satisfactory information ever has been or probably ever will be available, for the reason that the line of demarcation between Whig and Tory was not always sharply drawn. Particularly was this true in the case of the non-combatant members of the Society of Friends, who were accounted Tories by the radical Whig element simply because the Quakers would not actively participate in hostilities. Yet the members of the society claimed to be strictly neutral, many claiming to possess Whig sympathies.
Notoriously in New York and conspicuously in Philadelphia were there many adherents to the crown--not to mention hosts of secret adherents who claimed to be friends of the movement to secure freedom, and yet who were in league with Tory leaders. Of Eastern Pennsylvania Timothy Pickering said that it was the "enemies' country," while some historians have claimed that the New Jersey Tories represented one-third of the total population of the State. In this estimate, which was made by Whigs, must be included a large number of Quakers.
Stripped of all local prejudice and appeals to passion, the argument advanced by the Tories in the State of New Jersey, though specious, was founded upon a strict construction of the system of popular representation as then practiced in England. Over-sea only one-tenth of the possible electors voted for members of Parliament; yet as the King represented the royal family and the lords another distinct social element therefore the house represented the remainder of the people. And as the colonies were an integral part of the empire so were they represented just as nine-tenths of the English population was represented--by implication. Further it was added that the right of petition lay to the throne, and if the English people were satisfied why should the colonists, who had cost the government more for their support than the government had ever received in revenue, demand more recognition than their kinsfolk?
To this the reply was made that, while such an argument might be true, the representation was indirect, and consequently legislation especially designed to advance American interests never secured proper consideration by Parliament. Distance from the colonies, ignorance of their wants and needs, led to apathy or, what was worse, the passage of restrictive laws, not in the interests of the colonists, but in favor of the British workingman, of the crown revenues, or the established church.
Until the arrival of Lord Howe at Staten Island early in July, 1776, the Tory element in New Jersey confined its efforts to argument and supporting the three great figures of their cause: William Franklin the statesman, Jonathan Odell the poet, and Cortlandt Skinner the lawyer-soldier. But relying upon the presence of the Anglo-Hessian troops, a partially successful attempt at military organization brought together those whose Tory sentiments were of sufficient strength to warrant their bearing arms. Soon after Howe's arrival sixty Shrewsbury men, inefficiently equipped, joined the royal forces. In a letter the British commander says: "I understand there are five hundred more in that quarter ready to follow their example"--a part of that supposedly "enormous body of the inhabitants" of New York and Connecticut and New Jersey who were only waiting "for opportunities to give proofs of their loyalty and zeal for government."
Already in portions of the colony the Tory sentiment found its expression in the organization of associations, created in opposition to the Whig town and county committees. One of these associations existed in Sussex County, whose members resolved not to pay the tax levied by the province as a war measure or to purchase goods that might be distrained from non-tax paying owners, or to attend militia musters. In Cumberland the committee of safety found it necessary to place in close confinement those instrumental in raising a party among the ignorant and unwary whose purpose was to oppose the measures adopted for the redress of grievances, and to recommend to the assemblies, conventions, commissions, or councils of safety measures to "frustrate the mischievous machinations and restrain the wicked practices" by disarming and keeping in safe custody those who had traduced the conduct and principles of the friends of American liberty. In Salem during the months of January and February, 1776, there were "disturbances," while the committee at Elizabethtown represented that many persons were moving into the province "who may perhaps be unfriendly to the cause of American freedom."
Under Colonel (later Brigadier-General) Cortlandt Skinner recruiting officers, appointed by Howe for the Jerseys, were directed to organize the provincial troops. With headquarters on Staten Island, the rendezvous for Tories, traitors, and deserters, General Skinner made a desperate attempt to raise two thousand five hundred men. By May, 1777, he had secured about five hundred. One year later this number was increased to one thousand one hundred. Mainly from New Jersey, five hundred and fifty additional volunteers were sent to South Carolina. In the early summer of
1778 a complete roster of the six battalions of New Jersey volunteers was printed in Rivington's army list and republished in the late Adjutant-General William S. Stryker's monograph, "The New Jersey Volunteers (Loyalists) in the Revolutionary War." In 1777-78, in spite of the inducements held out by Howe during his winter occupancy of Philadelphia, only "174 real volunteers from Jersey, under Colonel Van Dyke," joined the provincial regiment, while in 1779 the New Jersey brigade had been reduced to four battalions. In 1782 only three battalions appear, skeleton regiments being sustained until the close of the Revolution.
The operations of these loyalist regiments were confined largely to guerrilla warfare throughout the portions of New Jersey most exposed to attack. From Staten Island and New York forage raids accompanied by plundering and massacre were of constant occurrence along the fertile and easily accessible valleys of such rivers as the Passaic, Hackensack, Raritan, and smaller streams. The north shore of Monmouth County, through their efforts, was in a constant state of unrest, while the low hills of Somerset and Hunterdon Counties were subjected, less frequently, to marauding visitations of "Skinner's Greens," as the regiments were called.
Associated with these regiments, possessing a semblance of military organization, real or assumed, was a disjointed band of land-pirates known as the "Pine Robbers." Aided and abetted by the board of associated loyalists in New York City, whose most active spirit was William Franklin, the deposed governor of New Jersey, these "Pine Robbers," among whom were many refugees, raided the tidewater regions of Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Salem, Gloucester, Camden, and Burlington Counties, their depredations being yet vividly remembered in local tradition. In contrast to their outlawry and murders the Hessian was a messenger of peace. These "Pine Robbers," most of whom were Jerseymen, were actuated by a spirit of such utter depravity that even those who hired them were said to have been in awe of their consummate wickedness. Their main purpose was to steal and murder, wreaking vengeance upon the homes and persons of unprotected Whigs. Hiding by day in the recesses of the "Pines" or amid the dunes of the seashore, they rode at night, says a recent writer, upon missions at which justice and humanity stood aghast. The record of their depredations aroused such a spirit that when one of the band was captured he was instantly killed, without an attempt at trial. Fagan, probably the most notorious of the "Robbers," was hung from a tree until, swinging in the wind, the flesh dropped from the bones and the skeleton remained a warning for all future criminals.
Of the organization of the loyalist regiments material of a personal character has been preserved; a portion of its recital may throw some light upon those whose military ardor led them to take an active part. Of the long line of New Jersey loyalists many were sincerely attached to their King, ultimately sacrificing their homes and fortunes to the cause, and under the strain of poverty and social ostracism were buried in forgotten graves or died in the far away wilderness of the Canadian provinces. Others, thinking the Revolution a failure, hoped by a show of devotion to the crown to secure a reward; others were merely hired assassins.
Foremost appears Brigadier-General Cortlandt Skinner, always a consistent loyalist, the last attorney-general of New Jersey under the crown, while among his lieutenant-colonels was Isaac Allen, whose property at Trenton was confiscated. After the war Colonel Allen became a member of the provincial council of Nova Scotia. Joseph Barton, captured at Staten Island in August, 1777; Stephen de Lancey, of New York, who for some unknown reason was commissioned in New Jersey, and with Governor Franklin was held prisoner by Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut; Edward Vaughan Dongan, "a young gentlemen of uncommon merit"; John Morris, of whom little is known; and Abraham Van Buskirk, subsequently mayor of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, also appear among the lieutenant-colonels of the loyalist regiments. In the person of John Barnes, the last royal high sheriff of Hunterdon County, Trenton furnished a major, "a worthy man and a gallant soldier." Most conspicuous in the list of majors was Robert Drummond, a merchant, of Acquackanonk Landing, now Passaic. Between 1770 and 1774 he had served as a member of the New Jersey Assembly and the Provincial Congress, voting against the adoption of the State constitution. As a recruiting officer his services were of great value to General Skinner, his activity leading to the confiscation of his property in 1778. There were among the majors Thomas Leonard, of Monmouth County; Thomas Milledge, a landed proprietor of Hanover Township, Morris County; and Richard V. Stockton, of Princeton, known as the "Land Pilot," who after capture was saved from ignominy by General Washington and later sentenced to death by general court martial for a murder. Associated with these as majors were the scholarly Robert Timpany, of Hackensack, and Philip Van Cortlandt, whose cousin was General Philip Van Cortlandt, of New Jersey, and whose kinsman was Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt, of Essex County.
Of ten adjutants and nine quartermasters little beyond their names and military services is known, nor is there much information to be had concerning seven surgeons. John Hammell, who at the opening of the Revolution was surgeon's mate under General Heard's command, went over to the enemy, but, being later captured by General Philemon Dickinson, was committed to jail for high treason. Dr. Uzal Johnson, of Newark, like Dr. Hedden, forswore his allegiance to the Whigs, although he escaped capture. Of the chaplains Rev. Thomas Bartow had held a like position during the French and Indian War, while Rev. Charles Inglis, rector of Trinity Church, New York, and later Bishop of Nova Scotia, became first colonial bishop of the Church of England.
Captains Peter Campbell and Charles Harrison were Trentonians, Captain Richard Crayford was probably from the County of Cumberland, while Captain William Chandler was the son of the Episcopal rector of Elizabethtown, Rev. Thomas B. Chandler, D.D. From Middletown, Monmouth County, came Captain Joseph Crowell, while the notorious Captain Cornelius Hatfield, Jr., of Elizabethtown, only escaped punishment for murder by reason of the terms of the treaty of peace of 1783. As early as July 2, 1776, Captain Joseph Lee, after capture, was ordered to be confined in the common jail at Trenton, as were Captains John Longstreet and Bartholemew Thatcher. Captain Samuel Ryerson, of Pompton Plains, Captain John Taylor, of Amboy, and Captain Jacob Van Buskirk, son of Lieutenant-Colonel Abraham Van Buskirk, of Bergen County, were among the New Jerseymen holding that office.
Among the names of lieutenants appears that of the brave but vengeful James Brittain. Even a more conspicuous officer was James Moody, who, previous to the declaration of war, was a farmer. A man of decided views, he early espoused the loyalist cause, which led him into constant conflict with his Whig-sympathizing neighbors. Joining the provincial regiment, he became a lieutenant in 1781, possibly as a tardy reward for his military services, which were of the most unsavory character. "Moody is out" was a cry that struck terror to the hearts of Whig farmers. Engaged in an expedition to capture Governor Livingston, he was subsequently taken prisoner by General Anthony Wayne. The Whigs did not spare Lieutenant Moody in applying the doctrine of lex talionis--an attitude not infrequently taken by the Americans when Tory military officers of New Jersey regiments were captured. His "Narrative," which, as General Stryker says, "was believed to have been dictated by him," was printed in London in 1783. A copy with numerous manuscript annotations by Moody is in the possession of William Nelson. Other Monmouth County lieutenants of lesser note were William Stevenson and John Vought; while the names of Andrew Stockton, suggesting Princeton or Burlington, John Throckmorton, probably of Monmouth, and John Van Buskirk, from Bergen County, appear on the lists of loyalist lieutenants.
Ensign John Brittain was a brother of Lieutenant James Brittain. Equally notorious as Lieutenants Brittain or Moody was Ensign Richard Lippincott, who, until 1777, served in the First Battalion. Called to New York, he became a member of the board of associated loyalists, ranking as Captain. For the military murder of Captain Joshua Huddy Richard Lippincott was finally rewarded with a grant of three thousand acres of land upon which a portion of the city of Toronto, Canada, is now built. General Cortlandt Skinner's son, Philip Kearny Skinner, from an ensignship, which he received in 1781, ultimately became lieutenant-general of the British army one year before his death, which occurred in 1826. Philip Van Cortlandt, Jr., also appears as an ensign in his father's battalion, while John Woodward, also an ensign, of Monmouth County, was one of the "fighting Quakers" of Tory proclivities.
In civil life one branch of the Lawrence family of Monmouth County were ardent Tories. The elder John Lawrence, who ran one of the several division lines between the provinces of East and West Jersey, was arrested by the Whigs and kept in jail, as was his son, Dr. John Lawrence, a graduate of the first class of the Philadelphia Medical College. Another son was Elisha Lawrence, last royal high sheriff of the County of Monmouth, who, having been active in organizing a corps of loyalists, was made lieutenant-colonel of the First Battalion New Jersey Volunteers. In the skirmishing on Staten Island, August 22, 1777, Lieutenant-Colonel Lawrence was captured by Colonel Matthias Ogden. Removing to Nova Scotia, and thence over-sea, Lieutenant-Colonel Lawrence died at Cardigan, Wales.
Another prominent Tory of the same family name was John Brown Lawrence, of Burlington, a friend of the Rev. Jonathan Odell. One of his sons was Captain James Lawrence, the famous naval commander during the second war with England, and whose death upon the "Constitution" at the entrance of Boston Harbor, June 1, 1813, was made memorable by his dying words: "Don't give up the Ship." By a somewhat peculiar coincidence another loyalist of New Jersey, Dr. Absalom Bainbridge, was the father of a distinguished naval commander of the War of 1812--William Bainbridge, who, in 1812, fought the "Java" from the decks of the "Constitution," upon which James Lawrence later died. Dr. Bainbridge's son Joseph was later a chaplain in the navy.
Associated with the loyalist movement were two ministers, both of whom attained conspicuous positions in their respective denominations. One was Benjamin Abbott, who, as an earnest revivalist and circuit rider, later spread the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal Church throughout West Jersey. The other was the Rev. Thomas B. Chandler, of Saint John's Episcopal Church in Elizabethtown, the advocate of an American bishopric and a loyalist pamphleteer of note. Of the Rev. Doctor Chandler's wife, who was active in Elizabethtown in support of the Tory cause, General William Maxwell is reputed to have said: "I think she would be much better off in New York, and to take her baggage with her, that she might have nothing to come back for." General Elias B. Dayton married one of Dr. Chandler's daughters, Bishop Hobart married another, while a third was the wife of William Dayton. A brother of these eminent women, William Chandler, was a graduate of King's College (Columbia), received a warrant as captain in the New Jersey volunteers, and died in England at the age of twenty-eight.
In the distribution of favors among the Tories who suffered at hands of the King's troops was Daniel Coxe, of Trenton, once a member of his majesty's council for New Jersey. After the burning and pillaging of his property by his friends the State of New Jersey confiscated what remained, and Daniel Coxe, impoverished and broken hearted, sailed for England in 1785.
To refugees from other colonies New Jersey early offered an asylum. Acting Governor James Habersham, of Georgia, whose philanthropic purposes led him to accompany Whitefield to Savannah, left his colony about May, 1775, and found a welcome in New Brunswick, where in a home upon the banks of the Raritan he died during the following August. In February, 1776, John Tabor Kempe, the last royal attorney-general of New York, fled to the protection of the British ships in New York Bay, and there, in eulogistic verse, welcomed his brother office holder, Cortlandt Skinner, last royal attorney-general of New Jersey.
Source: New Jersey as a Colony and as a State One of the Original Thirteen By Francis Bazley Lee Associate Board of Editiors William S. Stryker, LL.D.: William Nelson, A.M. Garret D. W. Vroom: Ernest C. Richardson, PH.D. Volume Two; The Publishing Society of New Jersey; New York MDCCCCII: transcribed by Fred Kunchick
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