Father: George? Bonham
Spouse: Hannah Fuller
m: 1/Jan/1658(1659) - Barnstable Twp., New Plymouth Col.
Child-1: Hannah - b: 8/Oct/1659 - Barnstable
Twp., New Plymouth Col.
d: 19/Aug/1689 - Piscataway Twp., Middlesex Co., East Jersey Prov.
m: Daniel Lippington - 19/Sep/1677 - Piscataway Twp., East Jersey Prov.
2: Mary - b: 4/Oct/1661 - Barnstable Twp., New Plymouth Col.
d: ~1741 - Piscataway Twp., Middlesex Co., NJ
m: Edmund Dunham - 15/Jul/1681 - Piscataway Twp., East Jersey Prov.
3: Sarah - b: 16/Feb/1664(1665) - Barnstable Twp., New Plymouth Col.
d: ~1737 - unorg. Hunterdon Co., NJ
m: John FitzRandolph - 1/Oct/1681 - Piscataway Twp., East Jersey Prov.
5: Nicholas, Jr. - b: 1666/1667
6: Hezekiah, Sr.
7: Elijah - b: 1669
8: Samuel - b: 7/Sep/1672 - Piscataway Twp., New Jersey Col.
d: 1/Oct/1682 - Piscataway Twp., East Jersey Prov.
9: Jane - b: 29/Jan/1675(1676) - Piscataway Twp., New Jersey Col.
d: 25/Feb/1675(1676) - Piscataway Twp., New Jersey Col.
10: Priscilla - b: 11/Nov/1677 - Piscataway Twp., East Jersey Prov.
m: John Langstaff
Nicholas Bonham is the earliest verifiable ancestor of the "New Jersey Bonhams" although it is believed by many researchers, in particular, E. B. Hazie, that he was the son of George Bonham and his first wife, a Miss Bishop.1 Even so, earlier genealogists such as Savage did not make such a definitive identification.2 Within this context, Howard E. Bonham, a recent researcher of the Bonham family, did not believe that there was any strong evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to support the presumption that Nicholas was the son of George Bonham. Therefore, in any strict sense the parentage of Nicholas Bonham must be regarded as unknown. Nevertheless, it is probable that Nicholas Bonham was born in England about 1630 and came to North America as a child or adolescent. The first indisputable record of Nicholas Bonham is provided by his marriage to Hannah Fuller at Barnstable in the New Plymouth Colony on January 1, 1658 (1659 N. S.). She was from a prominent Pilgrim family, her father and paternal grandparents having all immigrated on the "Mayflower" in 1620 and her maternal grandfather being the prominent clergyman, Rev. John Lothropp. Accordingly, Nicholas Bonham must have been known well and held in high regard by Hannah's family in order for him to have been allowed to marry her. Indeed, this would suggest that he had grown up in the colony and was himself from a well respected Separatist Puritan family, which would be consistent with his identification as a son of George Bonham; however, this remains to be proven. Subsequently, along with his brother-in-law, Samuel Fuller, Jr., and his wife's, first cousin, Samuel Fuller, son of Captain Matthew Fuller, Nicholas Bonham was admitted as an inhabitant of the town of Barnstable on October 3, 1662.3 Even so, when freemen and their widows were recorded in 1670 in connection with the sale of common lands, Nicholas was not listed, although his Fuller in-laws were.4 Concomitantly, it is known that Nicholas and Hannah Fuller Bonham left Barnstable about 1665 or 1666 and settled elsewhere.Source Notes and Citations:
The motivation for Nicholas and Hannah to leave New England, apparently with their three oldest children, who would have been then quite young, is not known with any certainty; however, circumstantial evidence along with family tradition suggests that they broke fellowship with the Congregational Church at Barnstable and became Baptists. Indeed, it is known that in the middle of the seventeeth century there was considerable controversy regarding infant and adult baptism within colonial Puritan society.5 In particular, Deyo's History of Barnstable County states that, "In 1662 a virtual separation of a portion of the members occurred, the (Barnstable) church refusing fellowship with them." Although no further details of the schism were given, it was undoubtedly over some matter of doctrine of which a dispute over infant baptism, perhaps, would have been the most likely cause. Within this context, individuals holding divergent views of religious doctrine, e.g., Baptists and Quakers, were often subject to legally sanctioned persecution in early New England. This is, perhaps, difficult to understand at the present day and all the more so because the Separatist Puritans, e.g., the Pilgrims, were themselves previously persecuted in England. One might think that this would have motivated a more tolerant attitude. However, quite to the contrary, this was not the case and can be understood only if one realizes that the Pilgrim Fathers did not come to New England because they desired religious freedom and tolerance in any modern sense, but, rather, they wished to set up a "godly" society based on particular Biblical principles. Accordingly, they saw these as having the force of law and, consequently, anyone who breached them was outside the community and might be subject to banishment or worse. Therefore, although the New Plymouth Colony seems to have been more tolerant to religious differences than the neighboring Massachusetts Bay Colony, it is probable that if Nicholas became a Baptist, he would have been no longer welcome at Barnstable. In addition, this would have probably caused a rupture in family relationships as well, which might explain why Nicholas had no apparent relationship with George Bonham, if he was, indeed, his son as is commonly thought. Moreover, one could further speculate that if Nicholas and Hannah repudiated infant baptism as a matter of conscience then this might also account for the lack of baptismal records for their children born after 1665. It has been reported that Nicholas and Hannah settled in Piscataway Township (thought to be named for the Piscataqua River in New Hampshire) in the Province of New Jersey as early as 1666 and were among some of the original settlers; however, there seems to be no definitive proof of this.6 In any case, it seems certain that they were living in Piscataway Township by 1672 and probably had arrived there two or three years earlier.7 This area had been first settled by families from Dover Township in the Province of New Hampshire who were apparently attracted by the "Concessions and Agreements" published by the Lords-Proprietors, Sir John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, in 1664, which among other things promised religious freedom.8 These first settlers were almost certainly early Baptists, having come under the influence of the preaching of Hanserd Knollys about 1640. It is further believed that they left New England to avoid persecution in 1641 and may have settled first among the Dutch on Long Island before moving to the New Jersey Colony in the 1660's and 1670's. Concomitantly, it is plausible that Nicholas and Hannah Bonham may have also lived on Long Island for a time before moving to Piscataway Township, but this is not certain. However, indirect support for such a presumption is provided by Hazie's assertion that Nicholas Bonham swore allegiance to Dutch rule in 1672 and, together with his neighbors John Smalley and Daniel Denton, was elected "schepen", i.e., magistrate, for Piscataway on August 26, 1673. (Hazie further reported that they were sworn into office the following September 16th.) Of course, previously in August of 1664 the Dutch had surrendered New Netherland to the English, but on August 1, 1673, they recaptured the territory, including New Jersey, and began to reestablish their authority. At that time, the reigning Stuart monarch in England, Charles II, was not at all sympathetic with religious dissenters, e.g., Baptists, hence, the settlers at Piscataway would quite naturally have been supporters of a Dutch regime, especially if they had lived previously among Dutch colonists on Long Island. Nevertheless, on February 9, 1674 N. S., Dutch-held New York and New Jersey were returned to English rule by the Westminster Treaty. Even so, it does not seem that the colonists suffered any religious persecution or retribution for their support of the Dutch. In any case, when the Baptist Church at Piscataway was formally established in the spring of 1689, Nicholas Bonham was identified specifically as one of the original six professed Baptists.9,10
After settling in New Jersey, Nicholas Bonham was granted one hundred and twenty-two acres about three miles northeast of Piscataway.11 According to Hazie, the grant was dated September 10, 1678, and the grantee was identified as Nicholas Bonham of Piscataway. This location has since come to be known as Bonhamtown and at present lies between US Highway One and the New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate Ninety-five) about four or five miles southwest of Woodbridge, New Jersey.12 Of course, this is now part of the large urban area encompassing all of New York City and northeastern New Jersey, but for much of its history it would have been quite rural in character. Moreover, in his history of the Bonham family, Howard Bonham cites archival material held by Rutgers University which states that, "Nicholas Bonham built the first house in Bonhamtown. It stood for about two hundred years. It was a frame house, one story and a half high, entrance left side into living room, with kitchen in the rear, on the right side two bedrooms, and one bedroom upstairs. It was a good house for its time." In any case, civil records indicate that Nicholas and Hannah Bonham remained resident in this locality for the rest of their lives.13,14 H. E. Bonham further reported that on November 9, 1681, Nicholas took an oath as "Sergeant Bonham" in the local militia commanded by Captain Francis Drake. Of course, at this time the region was still quite unsettled and there may have been concern about the danger of Indian attack. (Indeed, the colonists would have no doubt been well informed of "King Philip's War", which had occurred in New England only a few years earlier.) Nicholas Bonham made his will on February 6, 1683 (1684 N. S.) and died a few months later on July 20, 1684.15,16 His will was proved the following December. There is some indication that Nicholas might also have had the name Hezekiah. This is supported by confirmation on May 1, 1697, of one hundred and eighty-two acres in Piscataway Township to Hezekiah Bonham, Nicholas's son,"in right of his late father Ezekiah". This might be regarded as merely an error in the records if it were not for a reference to "Ezekiah Bonham" in an list of inhabitants of Piscataway made in 1669. Clearly, this must have been a reference to Nicholas and not his son, who would have been only a small child at the time.
1. Elmer Burt Hazie, Bonham, 1631-1973: letters, quotations, genealogical charts, military records, directory index, privately published, Los Angeles, CA, 1973: pgs. 23-4. (rev. of Emmet Lincoln Smith, Smith-Bonham, 1631-1908, privately published, Chicago, IL, 1911; also Emmet Lincoln Smith, rev. by Elmer Burt Hazie, Bonham, 1631-1959: letters, quotations, genealogical charts, illustrations, military record, directory, privately published, Los Angeles, CA, 1959 & Elmer Burt Hazie, Bonham, 1631-1975: letters, quotations, genealogical charts, military records, directory index, privately published, Los Angeles, CA, 1975.)
"The relationship of George and Nicholas Bonham has been a subject much discussed by genealogists and family researchers of the Bonham line. As most researchers have been interested in the line only as far back as the Mayflower few have taken any clear cut stand or given a clear opinion on the relationship of these two Bonhams.
Some have dodged the issue with the casual statement 'Nicholas might have been the son of George' or 'believed to be brothers.'
It remained for S. J. Bonham in Bonham Genealogy 1954 to go on record that George was the father of Nicholas. I have long been of this mind and fully support his opinion.
The basis of my conclusions are as follows:
George Bonham was married in England and evidently his wife died before he came to America in 1635. George did have a brother Nicholas in England and it seems reasonable to presume that he was of somewhere the same age, not twenty-five or more years apart. Evidently, George had a son who he named after his brother Nicholas.
According to the best records George's father died about 1629 and no doubt the older brother, William, was placed in charge of the estate, as was the custom in England.
Possibly the arrangement was not to George's liking and possibly having lost his wife decided to seek his fortune in the new America.
Just let us suppose that George did not have a son Nicholas and he said to William - 'I would like to take my young brother to America with me,' and the reply he would no doubt receive 'You most certainly will not.'
However if George did have a son Nicholas, William would no doubt say - 'You will have to take your boy with you.' I can think of no other reason why a man going to a new country would take a child of four to six years old.
The question has been asked - 'How did Nicholas get over here?' His name was not on the passenger list of the Phillip, the ship George came on, true. They took the oath of Allegiance at Gravesend on June 20, 1635 which SHOWS THEY WERE TOGETHER ON SAILING DATE.
No doubt George signed the oath for both of them.
After reading many records of passengers to America it appears to me that there was no uniform system of recording passengers, as it was entirely for the captain to decide how to list them. Hence one might list, John Jones wife and small son, another John Jones, wife and child, and another, John Jones and family, and another such as the captain of the Phillip might list the male passengers only. Under these conditions it is likely that only George was listed as Nicholas was just a small child. Proof of this is to be found in the list of male inhabitants of Plymouth Colony made in 1643 in which the names of males 16 to 60 years of age available for military duty, lists George Bonham but not Nicholas who was then still under 16 years of age.
On this basis Nicholas was 29 years old at the time of his marriage to Hannah Fuller in 1659, she being 23 years old, born in 1636
I have never credited the report that Nicholas was 'an aged man' at time of his death in 1684, nor the report of Nicholas 'born in England 1612, possibly earlier,' with nothing to support the statement, evidently of the opinion that Nicholas was a brother and not a son of George Bonham.
Another says 'It may be safely assumed that Nicholas Bonham was born about 1630. He died July 20, 1684 a middle aged man.
Another says 'The date of birth of Nicholas Bonham has not been found in the New England records. Whether in England or New England he must have been born soon after 1630 as the year of his wife's birth was 1636."
At this point, Hazie cited a record of a town meeting at Barnstable held on October 3, 1662, in which Nicholas Bonham was admitted as an "inhabitant" and asserted that this implied that Nicholas must have been a son of George, who was already an inhabitant. Before proceeding further, it should be said that S. J. Bonham did not make as strong a statement as Hazie would indicate. What he did say was, "Nicholas was generally recognized as being the son of George, although earlier genealogists noted they were brothers." It would seem clear that while S. J. Bonham apparently favored the hypothesis that Nicholas was George's son, he recognized that it remained unproven.
Indeed, Hazie's argument is open to criticism in several respects: First, his assertion that George had brothers, William and Nicholas, and that their father died in 1629 has no known documentary basis. If he was referring to William Bonham, shipping merchant of London, as the father, it is known that he did not die until 1639 and did not mention a son, George, in his will (although he did reportedly make bequests of £10 to his kinsmen John and George Bonham, who could, perhaps, have been the individuals mentioned in the New Plymouth Colony records). If he was referring to the Stanway Hall pedigree, as noted elsewhere the implied chronology is unfavorable. Moreover, the sons of Thomas Bonham of Stanway Hall are thought to be George, William, and John, but not Nicholas. The individual who died in 1629 could have, perhaps, been one of these men, but Hazie did not identify him. Second, Hazie's emphatic conclusion that George and Nicholas Bonham were together on the sailing date of the ship "Phillip" is not supported by the facts. Although it is quite true that the captain of the ship might have listed only heads of families, as H. E. Bonham suggests he would have probably also included some indication of other members in the sailing party. This he did not do. Moreover, the passenger list did not consist of men exclusively and eight women were listed separately. Of these, only one had the same surname as that of a male passenger. Accordingly, it is more likely that all of the passengers on the ship were sailing alone. In addition, there is no evidence that both George and Nicholas took the oath of allegiance to the Church of England. George certainly did, but even if Nicholas had been present he would not have since he would have been a only small child. Third, of course, is Hazie's inference based on Nicholas' admission as an inhabitant of Barnstable, but as noted elsewhere, this probably occurred because of his relationship to the Fuller family, not because he was the son of George Bonham. Nevertheless, the possibility that Nicholas Bonham was the son of George cannot be ruled out and, furthermore, it can be generally supported from the chronology.
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2. James Savage, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England - Vols. 1-4, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, MA, 1860-1862: Vol. 1, pgs. 210-1. (Reprint available from Genealogical Publishing Co., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD, 21202-3897)
"BONHAM, or BONUM, GEORGE, Plymouth, m. 20 Dec. 1644, as sec. w. Sarah, d. of George Morton, had, prob. Ruth, wh. m. 28 Nov. 1666, Robert Barron; Patience, wh. m. 28 Dec. 1670, Richard Willis; Sarah, b. 4 Dec. 1649, d. early in 1650; and Sarah, again, 12 Jan. 1651, d. prob. soon; Sarah, again, 10 Dec. 1653; d. 28 Apr. 1704, aged 86."
"NICHOLAS, Barnstable, perhaps br. of George, m. 1 Jan. 1659, Hannah, d. of Samuel Fuller the sec. had Hannah, b. 8 Oct. 1659; Mary, 4 Oct. 1661; and Sarah, 16 Feb. 1664."
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3. "At towne meeting the 3rd of October 1662. Ordered and agreed by ye town the sons of the present inhabitants shall successively be received as inhabitants and allowed equal Towne Privileges in the Commons and other privileges of the present inhabitants at the day of their marriage or at the age of twenty four whichever happens first ... it is further agreed that these following shall be admitted as inhabitants"
Twenty men were admitted, viz., Samuel Bacon, Samuel Fuller, Caleb Lumbard, Jabez Lumbard, Samuel Fuller, Jr., Joseph Benjamin, Nicholas Bonham, James Hamblin, Thomas Lumbard, Samuel Norman, Samuel Hicks, James Cobb, Edward Coleman, John Howland, John Sargeant, John Crocker, Edward Lewis, Daniel Stewart, Thomas Ewer, and John Lewis, bringing the number of voters in the town up to sixty-five. (Barnstable Town Records, pg. 2.)
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4. Simeon L. Deyo, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, H. W. Blake & Co., New York, NY, 1890: pg. 379.
"When the number of freemen and voters was recorded in 1670, the commons' meadows were ordered sold. The list of freemen and their widows not heretofore given, were: John Thompson, Henry Taylor, Edward Taylor, Moses Rowley, Mark Ridley, Samuel Storrs, John Scudder, William Sargeant, John Phinney, sr., John Phinney, jr., Jabez and Jedidiah Lumbard, Benjamin Lumbard, Caleb Lumbard, Widow Lothrop, Widow Lumbard, John Otis, Robert Parker, Joshua Lumbard, sr., Melt. Lothrop, Joseph Lothrop, Ralph Jones, John Jenkins, John Huckins, John Howland, John Hinckley, Barnabas Lothrop, Widow Lewis, Thomas Lewis, John Lewis, James Lewis, Edward Lewis, Shubael Dimock, Nathaniel Fitzrandal, John Fuller, Matthew Fuller, Samuel Fuller, sr., Samuel Fuller, jr., Samuel Fuller, son of Matthew, John and Nathaniel Goodspeed, Samuel Allyn, Nathaniel Bacon, jr., Peter Blossom, John Chipman, James Claghorn, James Cobb, Job Crocker, Josiah Crocker, Robert Davis, Thomas Dexter, William Dexter, William Troop, Thomas Walley, sr., John Gorham, Joseph Hallett, Bart. Hamblin, James Hamblin, sr. and James Hamblin, jr."
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5. Henry Clay Vedder, A Short History of the Baptists, American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, PA, 1907: pg. unk.
"The historians of Puritan New England assert that among the early immigrants to their colony were some tainted with Anabaptism. One of those suspected of this offense was Hanserd Knollys. Of the details of his stay in America little is known save that it was barely three years. He arrived at Boston in 1638, and very soon after became pastor of a church at Piscataway (now Dover), N. H. There is no evidence that Knollys held Baptist views at this time; as we have already seen ..., he was ordained pastor of a Baptist church in London (England) in 1645, and all the circumstances of his life up to that time compel the conclusion that he had only recently become a Baptist. While he was pastor at Piscataway his church was rent by a dispute regarding infant baptism (this we know from an Episcopalian visitor to the colony in April, 1641), which warrants the conclusion that though there were people of Baptist sentiments in the church it was not a Baptist church. To escape persecution the church in large part removed in 1641 to Long Island, and thence to New Jersey, where they formed a Baptist church (probably in 1689) and gave to it the same name the New Hampshire colony had borne. This is the story of the origin of the oldest Baptist church but one (Middletown, formed in 1688) in New Jersey. If we conclude that Knollys and his church were not Baptist, then the first Baptist church organized in America was that of Providence. But before speaking of that we must consider the previous history of its founder.
Much obscurity hangs over the early life of Roger Williams, but he was probably the son of a merchant tailor of London, James Williams, and his wife Alice. He was born about 1607, and Sir Edward Coke, the great English lawyer, attracted by his promise, secured for him entrance to Sutton's Hospital. Here he completed his preparatory studies and then entered the University of Cambridge, where he took his bachelor's degree in 1627. He was offered several livings in the Church of England, but it does not appear that he was ever actually beneficed, he was apparently ordained, since he is described on his arrival at Boston as 'a godly minister.' He embraced Puritan principles, and it is even probable that he was a Separatist in principle before leaving England. He determined to leave England, and in 1631 landed in Boston, where he hoped to find greater religious freedom. He found the Puritans fully as intolerant as Laud, and was by no means satisfied with the half-way reformation that they were disposed to make. He saw the inconsistency of the New England theocracy, in which the functions of the Church and State were so interblended that the identity of each was in danger of being lost. He had grasped the principle that the Church and the State should be entirely separate and independent each of the other. It is not at all probable that Williams had imbibed these notions from the English Baptists, or that he even knew of their holding such doctrines. At this time he was not, at any rate, an Anabaptist. He found no fault with the Congregational doctrine or discipline, but denounced the principle of a State Church, and upheld the right of soul liberty on natural and scriptural grounds alike.
In spite of his heterodoxy, Williams was called to be minister to the church at Salem, where he was highly esteemed for his zeal and eloquence. The Salem church had acted against the will of the Massachusetts authorities, and to prevent trouble Williams went for a time to Plymouth. He returned to Salem as pastor again, but was soon summoned before the court in Boston and condemned to banishment. The first (and no doubt the chief) charge against him was, 'That the magistrate ought not to punish the breach of the first table, otherwise than in such case as did disturb the civil peace.' This was also stated in the decree of banishment as the chief cause: 'Whereas, Mr. Roger Williams, one of the elders of the church of Salem, both broached and divulged new and dangerous opinions against the authority of magistrates.' Nothing can be clearer, as a matter of historical record, than that the chief cause of the banishment of Roger Williams was his teaching with regard to religious liberty, that the magistrate has no right to punish breaches of the first table of the law - those commandments, namely, that relate to the worship of God.
After his banishment, Williams made his way, in the dead of winter, to Narragansett Bay. While at Plymouth he had learned something of the Indian dialects, and he was kindly received. At what is now Providence he founded a settlement, many of his former Salem charge removing to this place. The original settlers in 1638 entered into a compact reading thus: 'We whose names are hereunder written, being desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to submit ourselves in active and passive obedience to all such orders or agencies as shall be made for the public good of the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a township, and such others whom they shall admit into the same, only in civil things.' A similar agreement was signed in 1640; the principle was embodied in the code of laws adopted by the colony in 1647, and was finally incorporated in the royal charter given by Charles II. in 1663: 'Our royal will and pleasure is, that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be in any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences of opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of the said colony.' Thus was founded the first government in the world, whose cornerstone was absolute religious liberty.
It is true that a few other countries had before this, and for periods more or less brief, tolerated what they regarded as heresy; but this was the first government organized on the principle of absolute liberty to all, in such matters of belief and practice as did not conflict with the peace and order of society, or with ordinary good morals. And though this government was insignificant in point of numbers and power, it was the pioneer in a great revolution, its principle having become the fundamental law of every American State, and influenced strongly even the most conservative European States. Though he did not originate the idea of soul liberty, it was given to Roger Williams, in the providence of God, to be its standard-bearer in a new world, where it should have full Opportunity to work itself out, and afford by its fruits a demonstration that it is of God and not of man.
Up to this time Williams was not a Baptist; but his continued studies of the Scriptures led him to the belief that the sprinkling of water on an unconscious babe does not constitute obedience to the command of our Lord, 'Be baptized.' Having arrived at this conviction, he wished to be baptized; but in this little colony, separated from other civilized countries by an ocean or a wilderness, where was a qualified administrator to be found? In the meantime, other converts to the truth had been made, whether by his agency or by independent study of the word. They resolved to follow the precept and example of Christ in the only way possible to them. Some time about March, 1639, therefore, Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Holliman, who had been a member of his church at Salem; and thereupon Williams baptized ten others, and the first Baptist church on American soil was formed. It is highly probable, though not conclusively established, that this baptism was an immersion. No other baptism is known to have been practised, in a single instance, by American Baptists. There are a number of other instances in the history of American Baptists of the formation of a church after this manner - the constituent members either being ignorant that there were other Christians who agreed with them, or being so far distant from any other Baptists that the procurement of an administrator was out of the question.
Williams was, however, one of the most erratic and unstable men of his time; and a few months later he came to the conclusion that this baptism by one who had not himself been baptized in an orderly manner was not valid baptism. He withdrew himself from the church, and for the rest of his life was unconnected with any religious body, calling himself a 'seeker.' He seems to have been misled by an idea that, if logically carried out, would unchurch every church, by making all administration of ordinances invalid.
Whether the present First Baptist Church of Providence is the lineal successor of this church founded by Roger Williams is a difficult historical question, about which a positive opinion should be expressed with diffidence. Tradition maintains that the line of succession has been unbroken; but the records to prove this are lacking. The facts appear to be that after the departure of Williams, one of those whom he had baptized, Thomas Olney, became the head of the church, to which was added soon after a number of new-corners, chief among which were William Wickendon, Chad Brown, and Gregory Dexter. The original members were of Puritan antecedents and Calvinists; the new-corners appear to have been Arminians, and inclined to make the laying on of hands after baptism an article of faith. It has been conjectured that the three men named were associated with Olney in a plural eldership, but all these matters are doubtful since the earliest records of the Providence church begin with the year 1775,1 and back of that we have only tradition and conjecture. All that is certain is that controversy began and continued until it reached the acute stage in 1652, when the church was divided. A part, the smaller, apparently, adhered to the original faith of the church, and remained under the pastoral care of Thomas Olney. This wing of the church became extinct somewhere about 1720. The larger part of the members adhered to Wickendon, Brown, and Dexter, and became a Six-principle church, remaining such until a comparatively late time in 1771, through the influence of President James Manning, the majority adopted a Calvinistic creed, whereupon the Six-principle minority seceded. Both these branches still survive, the former now bearing the title of the First Baptist Church of Providence.
There is another church that disputes with this the honor of being the oldest Baptist church in America. Its founder, Dr. John Clarke, is one of the most interesting characters of his time, but his early history is much involved in dispute and obscurity; the true date of his birth even is unknown. According to one authority, perhaps the best, he was born in Suffolk, England, October 8, 1609. We know that he was a scholar in his manhood, with a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew such as men seldom gained in England outside of the universities; but which university he attended, and what degree he took, are facts not as yet discovered by investigation. An extant legal document bearing date of March 12, 1656, is almost the only relic of his life in England in that he describes himself as a physician of London. There seems no room for doubt that he was of the Puritan party, and that he left England to escape persecution and enjoy the greater freedom of the new world.
When he reached Boston, in November, 1637, it must have seemed to him that he had truly jumped from the frying-pan into the fire. There had been trouble among the Puritans there, and Sir Henry Vane and others had been deprived of their arms and ordered to leave the colony. Clarke became the leader of certain of these in establishing a colony elsewhere. A constitution was drawn up and signed in March, 1638, which made the law of Christ the law of this new community. An experiment was made in New Hampshire, but the climate was thought too cold, and a location was sought farther south. This led to the purchase from the Indians of the island of Aquidneck, which was renamed Rhode Island. Two settlements were formed, the northern one called Portsmouth and the southern Newport. The original code of laws has not been preserved, but in 1641 it was 'Ordered that none be accounted a delinquent for doctrine, provided that it be not directly repugnant to the government or laws established.' The Providence compact limiting the authority of the magistrate to civil things was made in 1639, and is the older instrument, but Newport divides with Providence the honor of first establishing this principle in civil government.
In the same year in which the colony was founded, a church was organized in Newport, and Mr. Clarke became its teaching elder, apparently from the first. What sort of a church this was we do not positively know.2 There is no evidence at present known to exist by which the religious opinions and practices of Clarke up to this time may be determined. He may have been imbued with Baptist doctrine before coming to America, but there is nothing in his conduct inconsistent with the theory that he came here simply a Puritan Separatist, like Roger Williams. Our first definite knowledge of this church comes from the report made in March, 1640, by the commissioners from the church in Boston. Of the faults they allege, Anabaptism is not one, whence it seems a safe conclusion that at this time this was not a Baptist church. When and how it became such we do not know. The date 1644 is purely traditional, and the first positive knowledge we have is October, 1648, when we know3 that a Baptist church existed in Newport, having fifteen members. In 1654 or 1656 a controversy arose in this church, as in that in Providence, and with a like result - a Six-principle church was constituted, under the leadership of William Vaughn, who had previously received the rite of laying on of hands from Wickendon and Dexter at Providence.
Doctor Clarke retained his connection with the church he founded until his death, though much of his time was absorbed by public duties. In the autumn of 1651 he was sent by the colonists to England, to obtain a new and better charter. He remained there twelve years, finding it impossible to gain his end during the Protectorate. Shortly after his arrival he printed his 'Ill News from New England,' which shares with Roger Williams' 'Bloody Tenet of Persecution,' the praise of advocating liberty of conscience at a time when that doctrine was decried even by those who called themselves friends of liberty. Finally, what he could not procure from the Cromwells he succeeded in obtaining from Charles II., who on July 9, 1663, set his hand to a charter that secured civil and religious liberty to the colony of Rhode Island - a charter under which the State was governed until the year 1843.
Returning to Newport in 1664, Clarke became one of the chief citizens of the colony. He was deputy governor in 1669, and again in 1671, having declined the office in 1670. Soon after he retired to private life, and died suddenly April 20, 1676. His services to his State, and to the cause of liberty, were quite as great as those of the better known Williams. But for him the charter of 1663 would never have been obtained; and there is good reason to infer, from internal evidence, that a good part of that instrument was drawn by him. He was the most eminent Baptist of his time in New England, and his name deserves to be held in the highest honor.
The formation of Baptist churches in Massachusetts was greatly impeded by the resolute opposition of the colonial authorities. A theocratic government had been established, in which all rights of citizenship were denied to those who were not members of the churches of the Standing Order.4 From the first there were individuals who came into collision with this government, by reason of their Anabaptist convictions. These the magistrates proceeded to deal with sharply. In 16445 one Thomas Painter, of Hingham, refused to have his child baptized, and stoutly protested against such a ceremony as 'an anti-Christian ordinance,' whereupon he was tied up and whipped. In the same year, and for several years following, there are records of several presentments to the Salem court of men who withheld their children from baptism or argued against infant baptism. These men were proceeded against on general principles, without authority of law, but in November, 1644, the General Court enacted a statute that whoever 'shall either openly condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants, or go about secretly to seduce others from the approbation or use thereof, or shall purposely depart the congregation at the ministration of the ordinances, or shall deny the ordinance of magistracy, or their lawful right and authority to make war, or to punish the outward breaches of the first table, and shall appear to the court wilfully and obstinately to continue therein after due time and means of conviction, every such person or persons shall be sentenced to banishment.'
The most prominent among the violators of this law was Henry Dunster. A native of Lancashire (born about 1612), he was educated at Magdalen College, Cambridge where he took his bachelors degree in 1630 and the master's in 1634. He probably took orders in the Church of England, but his advancement was made impossible by his adoption of Separatist ideas, and he decided to seek a career in the new world. He arrived at Boston toward the end of the summer of 1640, and in the following year he was chosen, almost by acclamation, to be the president of the new college established by the Massachusetts colony. For this post his learning, his piety, and his skill in affairs combined to make him an ideal occupant, and for twelve years he discharged the duties connected with his important office with universal satisfaction and applause.
In the year 1653 the birth of a fourth child brought to an issue doubts that he appears to have entertained for some time regarding infant baptism. He now definitely made known his conviction that only believers should be baptized, and set forth his reasons in sevem sermons. Great excitement was at once provoked by this procedure of Dunster's, and no wonder. The denial infant baptism was a blow at the very foundations of the Puritan theory of Church and State, and Dunster had become a dangerous enemy of the Commonwealth. Either he must be suppressed or the whole social fabric of Massachusetts must be remodeled. We need not be surprised that the former alternative was chosen. Dunster was virtually compelled to resign the presidency at the college, but it is possible that no further proceeding would have been taken against him save for his own indiscretion. He insisted on being heard during a service of the Cambridge church, and set forth his views at length. For the offense of thus disturbing worship, he was indicted, tried, and condemned to receive an admonition from the General Court. He was also presented for refusal to have his child baptized, and required to give surety for his further appearance in court at Boston, in September, 1657. No record of further proceedings against him remains, and his death in 1659 removed him from the jurisdiction of the General Court of Massachusetts.
What he thus escaped may perhaps be inferred from the treatment of John Clarke, the founder of the Newport church, and Obadiah Holmes, who was destined to be Clarke's successor. While they were spending the Lord's Day with a brother who lived near Lynn, it was concluded to have religious services in the house. Two constables broke in while Mr. Clarke was preaching from Rev. 3:10, and the men were hailed before the court. For this offense they were sentenced to pay, Clarke a fine of twenty pounds, and Holmes one of thirty pounds, in default of which they were to be 'well whipped.' A friend paid Clarke's fine, and he was set at liberty whether he would or no; but on September 6, 1651, Holmes was 'whipped unmercifully' (the phrase is Bancroft's) in the streets of Boston, for the atrocious crime of preaching the gospel and of adding thereto the denial of infant baptism.
These repressive measures were quite unavailing; Anabaptist sentiments continued to increase among the Puritans, and in addition, immigrants began to come who had been Baptists in the old country. John Myles, who, as we have seen, was the founder of the first Baptist church in Wales, was one of the victims of the Act of Uniformity, and soon after it went into effect he and a number of the members of the Ilston church came to the new world and at first settled at Rehoboth. Here, in 1663, they organized a Baptist church, which was in 1667, removed to a new settlement, named Swansea, it memory of the city near which they had dwelt in Wales. This church, the first formed in the Massachusetts colony, has had an uninterrupted existence to this day. As became its origin, it was a strongly Calvinistic body, but a second Swansea church was formed in 1685 that was strongly Arminian.
The time was now ripe for an organized protest agains the errors of the Puritan churches, by the formation a Baptist church in Boston itself. The leader of this enterprise was Thomas Goold, or Gould, a friend of President Dunster, a resident of Charlestown. Influenced, no doubt, by his friend's teaching and example, Goold refused, in 1655, to present an infant child for baptism, and was duly admonished therefore by the Charlestown elders. A course of warning, expostulation, and discipline continuing for ten years so far failed to convince Thomas Goold of his error, that on May 28, 1665, a Baptist church was organized in his house, where meetings of Baptists had been held more or less regularly for several years. A storm of persecution at once broke upon this little band of nine, of whom two were women. The Swansea church, being situated on the borders of Rhode Island, was comparatively undisturbed; not so the church in Boston. At the time of its organization the Puritan churches were torn by the dissensions that finally resulted in the adoption of the Half-way Covenant; but, as in all family quarrels, both parties to the contest were ready to pounce upon any intruder. Such they considered this new Baptist church to be, and a determined effort was made to suppress it. Shortly after its organization the members were summoned before the court and ordered to 'desist from such theire meeting, & irreligious practises, as they would Answer the contrary at theire peril.'
They were not the desisting kind, however, and persisted in teaching their 'damnable errors,' and holding meetings, whereupon nearly all of them were at one time or another, and several more than once, imprisoned or fined, or both. Thomas Goold, who had become the first pastor of the church, was the severest sufferer, though he had several companions; and his health was so broken by his frequent and long imprisonments that he died in October, 1675. In 1670 he removed to Noddle's Island, and the church met in his house there, coming from Boston, Woburn, and other places for the purpose.
In the latter part of the year 1678 the church began to build a meeting-house in Boston, on what is now Salem Street, a modest frame building, on ground owned by two of the members. This was indeed flying in the face of the Puritan State, and by order of the General Court the marshal nailed up the doors and posted the following notice upon them: All Psons are to take notice yt by order of ye Court ye dores of this howse are shutt up & yt they are Inhibitted to hold any meeting therein or to open ye dores thereof, without lishence from Authority, till ye gennerall Court take further order as they will answer ye Contrary att theire p'ill, dated in boston 8th march 1680, by orde of ye Councell EDWARD RAWSON Secretary.
This was, however, the last serious persecution of the church. The court did not venture to enforce its order beyond a single Sunday; on the following Lord's Day the doors were found open, and there was no further interference with the worship of the church. Before 1671, while the persecution was at its height, twenty-two (including eight women) had united with the church. After persecution ceased the growth was naturally still more rapid. Much indignation had been caused, both in the colony itself and in England, by the Puritan persecutions of Baptists and Quakers - the latter suffering even more than Baptists, some even to death - and there was great danger that the charter would be lost. This, in fact, befell a few years later. The Puritan theory had broken down - a theocracy had been proved an impossible form of government in New England. In 1691 a new charter was given by William and Mary; Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay were consolidated into the one colony of Massachusetts, and the charter assured 'liberty of conscience to all Christians, except Papists.' Baptists were henceforth exempt from persecution, but not from taxation to support a State church."
Citations and Notes by Vedder:
1. Callendar, "R. I. Hist. Coll.," Vol. IV., p. 117.
2. A majority had been members ef Cotton's church in Boston. Winthrop's Journal shows that from September, 1638, Clarke was their preacher.
3. Callendar, "R. I. Hist. Coll.," Vol. IV., p. 117.
4. Order of the General Court, quoted by Wood, 'History of the First Baptist Church of Boston," p. 6.
5. Backus (Vol. I., p. 93) shows there was an attempt to organize a church at Weymouth in 1639."
(available electronically at The Reformed Reader - Baptist History, www.reformedreader.org/history/list.htm, 2005.)
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6. Howard Eugene Bonham and Jean Allin, Bonham and Related Family Lines, Bonham Book(s), 5104 Bridlington Ln., Raleigh, NC, 27612, printed by Genie Plus, Bradenton, FL, 1996: pgs. 3-14.
"Nicholas and his family removed to New Jersey after the birth of their third child, Sarah, who was born 16 Feb 1664/5 in Barnstable, MA. It is still uncertain when Nicholas did leave MA. Some reports, quoting from New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 29, p. 38, stated Nicholas was in New Jersey by 1666. We obtained a copy of this same record, but did not find the same information, i. e.:
O. B. Leonard wrote an article in January, 1898 for the above publication titled: Pioneer Planters of Piscataway, N. J., During The First Half Century Of Their Settlement, 1666-1716. He noted the first four men (patentees: Hugh Dun, John Martin, Hopewell Hull, and Charles Gilman) who took up land under the generous terms of 'The Concessions and Agreements of the Lords Proprietors of the Province of New Jersey.' ...
According to Leonard:
They came in 1666 from the most northeasterly settlements in New England on the border line between what is now the States of Maine and New Hampshire. Their Woodbridge (NJ) friends, from Newbury, Mass., a short time before, had bought, for 80 pounds, from the 'Elizabethtown Grant,' of 1664-5, a large tract lying between the Rath Way [Rahway] and Raritan Rivers. This Woodbridge deed was dated December 11, 1666. Just a week thereafter, December 18, 1666, one-third of the purchase was conveyed to the four persons above named, who called the place 'New Piscataqua,' at first, in memory of the district they came from in New England. By an endorsement made on the deed, May 11, 1668, there had been 'joined to them in the meantime, to be their associates, John Gilman, Benjamin Hull, Robert Dennis and John Smith,' all from neighboring localities in the most remote Eastern provinces.
Leonard added, '... as a provision in the deed specified the speedy settlement of two townships, no delay must be had in fulfilling this agreement ... These few Piscataway planters were soon followed by other friends and acquaintances from New England ...'
A list of men followed this statement which included Nicholas Bonham, John Langstaff, the Fitz Randolphs, Drakes, Samuel Walker, John Smalley, Benajah Dunham and Jeffrey Manning.
Leonard further stated: 'But the required number of actual settlers up to this time, 1670-71, had not yet purchased land and made improvements as were specified in the grant to the original patentees.'"
"From Mr. Leonard's article, and from other records, we conclude that Nicholas was probably in New Jersey between 1668 and 1670-1."
"1672. Nicholas Bonham's name appears in the list of Piscataway residents who took the oath of allegiance to the Dutch Governement. [Bonham Revised 1975, Section II, p. 9.]
1673, Aug. 26. Nicholas, having found favor with the Dutch government when it came into possession of New Netherlands, was elected schepen, or magistrate, for Piscataway, together with his neighbors, John Smalley and Daniel Denton. They were sworn 16 Sep 1673. Apparently he held no other office. [Bonham Revised 1973, Section II, p. 10.]"
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7. Oliver B. Leonard, History of the First Baptist Church of Piscataway, Pakenham & Dowling, Steam Printers, New York, NY, Stelton, NJ, 1889: pg. 114.
"THE BONHAMS. NICHOLAS BONHAM came to Piscataway from Barnstable, Mass., about 1669, being a neighbor there of the Fitz-Randolph family. He was married January 1, 1658, to Hannah Fuller, the oldest child of Samuel Fuller, one of the original passengers in the 'Mayflower,' and Jane Lothrop, daughter of the distinguished Puritan preacher. Their daughter, Mary, married Rev. Mr. Dunham in 1681, with whom his son, Hezekiah Bonham, about 1700, had the traditional conversation concerning secular labor on the Lord's day, which resulted in the ultimate establishment of the Seventh Day Society in Piscataway, in 1705-7, when its constituent members withdrew from the mother Church for that purpose."
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8. Samuel Smith, History of Nova Caesarea, William S. Sharp, pub., Trenton, NJ, 1890: pg. unk. (reprint of the original 1765 version)
"The concessions and agreement of the lords proprietors of the province of New-Caesarea, or New-Jersey, to and with all and every of the adventurers, and all such as shall settle or plant there. [A.D. 1664]
IMPRIMIS, We do consent and agree, that the governor of the said province hath power, by the advice of his council, to depute one in his place and authority, in case of death or removal, to continue until our further order, unless we have commissioned one before.
2. Item. That he hath likewise power to make choice of; and take to him six councellors at least, or twelve at most, or any even number betwixt six and twelve, with whose consent and advice, or with at least three of the six, or four of a greater number (all being summon'd) he is to govern according to the limitations and instructions following, during our pleasure.
3. Item. That the chief secretary or register which we have chosen, or shall choose, (we failing) that he shall choose, shall keep exact entries in fair books, of all publick affairs: And to avoid deceits and lawsuits, shall record and enter all grants of land from the lords to the planters; and conveyances of land, house or houses, from man to man, as also all leases for land, house or houses, made or to be made by the landlord to any tenant, for more than one year; which conveyance or lease shall be first acknowledged by the grantor or lessor, or proved by the oath of two witnesses to the lease or conveyance, before the governor, or some chief judge of a court, for the time being, who shall under his hand, on the backside of the said deed or lease, attest the acknowledgement or proof as aforesaid; which shall be a warrant for the register to record the same: Which conveyance so recorded shall be good and effectual in law, notwithstanding any other conveyance, deed or lease for the said land, house or houses, or for any part thereof; altho' dated before the conveyance, deed or lease, recorded as aforesaid: And the said register shall do all other thing or things that we by our instructions shall direct, and the governor, council and general assembly shall ordain, for the good and welfare of the said province.
4. Item. That the surveyor general that we have chosen or shall choose, (we failing that the governor shall choose) shall have power by himself or deputy, to survey, lay out and bound all such lands as shall be granted from the lords to the planters; and all other lands within the said province, which may concern particular men, as he shall be desired to do, and a particular account thereof certify to the register, to be recorded as aforesaid. Provided, that if the said register and surveyor, or either of them, shall misbehave themselves, as that the governor and council, or deputy governor and council, or the major part of them, shall find it reasonable to suspend their actings in their respective employments, it shall be lawful for them so to do, until further orders from us.
5. Item. That the governor, councillors, assembly men, secretary, surveyor, and all other officers of trust, shall swear or subscribe (in a book to be provided for that purpose) that they will bear true allegiance to the king of England, his heirs and successors; and that they will be faithful to the interests of the lords proprietors of the said province, and their heirs, executors and assigns; and endeavour the peace and welfare of the said province; and that they will truly and faithfully discharge their respective trust, in their respective offices, and do equal justice to all men, according to their best skill and judgment, without corruption, favour or affection; and the names of all that have sworn or subscribed, to be entered in a book: And whosoever shall subscribe and not swear, and shall violate his promise in that subscription, shall be liable to the same punishment that the persons are or may be, that have sworn or broken their oaths.
6. Item. That all persons that are or shall become subjects of the king of England, and swear or subscribe allegiance to the king, and faithfulness to the lords, shall be admitted to plant, and become freemen of the said province, and enjoy the freedoms and immunities hereafter expressd, until some stop or contradiction be made by us the lords, or else the governor, council aad assembly; which shall be in force until the lords see cause to the contrary: Provided, that such stop shall not any ways prejudice the right or continuance of any person that have been received before such stop or orders come from the general assembly.
7. Item. That no person qualified as aforesaid, within the said province, at any time shall be any ways molested, punished, disquieted or called in question, for any difference in opinion or practice in matters of religious conceruments, who do not actually disturb the civil peace of the said province; but that all and every such person and persons, may, from time to time, and at all times, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their judgments and consciences, in matters of religion, throughout the said province, they behaving themselves peaceably and quietly, and not using this liberty to licentiousness, nor to the civil injury or outward disturbance of others; any law, statute or clause contained, or to be contained, usage or custom of this realm of England, to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
8. Item. That no pretence may be taken by our heirs or assigns, for or by reason of our right of patronage and power of advouson granted by his majesty's letters patents, unto his royal highness James duke of York, and by his said royal highness unto us, thereby to infringe the general cause of liberty of conscience aforementioned: We do hereby grant unto the general assembly of the said province, power by act, to constitute and appoint, such and so many ministers or preachers as they shall think fit, and to establish their maintenance, giving liberty beside to any person or persons to keep and maintain what preachers or ministers they please.
9. Item. That the inhabitants being freemen, or chief agents to others of the province aforesaid; do, as soon as this our commission shall arrive, by virtue of a writ, in our names, by the governor, to be for the present (until our seal comes) sealed and signed, make choice of twelve deputies or representatives, from amongst themselves; who being chosen, are to join with the said governor and council, for the making of such laws, ordinances and constitutions as shall be necessary for the present good and welfare of the said province: But so soon as parishes, divisions, tribes, and other distinctions are made, that then the inhabitants or freeholders of the several respective parishes, tribes, divisions and districtions aforesaid, do by our writs, under our seals, (which we ingage shall be in due time issued) annually meet on the first day of January, and choose free-holders for each respective division, tribe or parish, to be the deputies or representatives of the same: Which body of representatives, or the major part of them, shall, with the governor and council aforesaid, be the general asaembly of the said province; the governor or his deputy being present, unless they shall wilfully refuse; in which case they may appoint themselves a president during the absence of the governor, or the deputy governor. ...
Given under our seal of our said province, the 10th day of February, in the year of our lord 1664. BERKELEY, G. CARTERET."
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9. John W. Barber and Henry Howe, Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey, S. Tuttle, Pub., New York, NY, 1844; pg. 323.
"The earliest authenic history of this township is gathered from the public records, which state 'that a large tract on the east side of the Raritan river, which comprises the towns of Piscataway, Elizabeth, &c., was purchased from the Indians in 1663. The purchasers were John Bailey, Daniel Denton, Luke Watson, and others, who obtained a patent in 1664 from Gov. Nichols, who acted under the Duke of York.' The names of the first settlers on record are, the Gillmans in 1663; the Blackshaws, Drakes, Hands, and Hendricks, in 1677; the Dotys and Wolfs, in 1678; the Smalleys, Hulls, and Trotters, in 1679, the Hansworths, Martins, and Higgins, in 1680; the Dunhams, Laflowers, and Fitz Randolphs, in 1681; the Suttons, Brindleys, Bounds, and Fords, in 1682; the Davises and Slaughters, in 1683; the Pregmores, in 1684; the Grubs and Adamses, in 1685; the Chandlers and Smiths, in 1687; the Mortons, Molesons, and McDaniels, in 1689. It is supposed that most of these persons were Baptists. The tradition is, however, that there were but six professed Baptists, viz: Hugh Dunn, who was an exhorter, John Drake, afterward their pastor, Nicholas Bonham, John Smalley, Edmond Dunham, afterward minister of the Seventh-day Baptists, and John Fitz Randolph. The above persons were constituted a Baptist church in the spring of 1689, by the assistance of the Rev. Thomas Killingsworth, who was then pastor at Middletown and Cohansey churches."
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10. "PISCATAWAY (OR PISCATAUQUA) (MIDDLESEX)(1689) The constitution of Piscataway Church dates back to the period of our Colonial history when New Jersey was under the proprietary form of government, to the very year that William and Mary of Orange came to the throne of the mother country. The records of the Church, from the time of its constitution till 1781, a period of nearly one hundred years, were either lost or willfully destroyed during the Revolutionary War.
The names of Drake, Stelle, Smalley, Runyon, Martin, Dunham, FitzRandolph, Sutton and Smith were prominent on the register of the Piscataway Church. Of these early settlers tradition will allow only six to have been professed Baptists, namely: Hugh Dunn, John Drake, Nicholas Bonham, John Smalley, Edmund Dunham, and John [Fitz]Randolph. These persons were constituted a Gospel Church in the spring of 1689, by Thomas Killingsworth, who came to this country soon after his ordination in England, and became the first pastor of the Cohansey Church, which was constituted the following year (1690). (Note: The History of the Philadelphia Association says this church was planted in 1686.) The name of no female appears among the constituent members either of this Church or of the Middletown and Cohansey Churches. Of the six constituent members, three were exhorters or lay-preachers, namely: John Drake, Hugh Dunn, and Edmund Dunham." (Robert Webb, "Church and Family History Research Assistance for Primitive Baptist Churches in the State of New Jersey", www.carthage.lib.il.us/community/churches/primbap/NewJersey.html,2005.)
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11. Andrew D. Mellick, Jr., The Story of an Old Farm or Life in New Jersey in the Eighteenth Century, The Unionist-Gazette, Somerville, NJ, 1889: pg. 194.
"... John Martin, Charles Gilman, Hugh Dun, and Hopewell Hull, had removed to New Jersey from Piscataqua, New England, in response to the 'Concessions and Agreements' published in the East by the lords-proprietors, Berkeley and Carteret. They received a grant on the eighteenth of December, 1666, for the large area of territory which now embraces the township of Piscataway. Within twenty years settlers from New England and the old country had augmented the nucleus of population formed by the Piscataway families to about four hundred. Among the persons to whom land was allotted previous to 1690 are to be found the following names: Nicholas Bonham, 122 acres; Benjamin Clarke, 275 acres; George Drake, 424 acres; Hugh Dun, 138 acres; Benajah Dunham, 103½ acres; Edmund Dunham, 100 acres; John FitzRandolph, 225 acres; Rehoboth Gannett, 224 acres; Charles Gilman, 340 acres; Hopewell Hull, 284 acres; Benjamin Hull, innkeeper, 498 acres; John Langstaff, 300 acres, John Martin, 334 acres; Jeffery Maning, 195 acres; John Mollison, 100 acers; Nicholas Mundaye, 101½ acres; Vincent Rongnion, 154½ acres; John Smalley, 118½ acres; Edward Slater, 464 acres."
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12. John P. Wall and Harold E. Pickersgill (eds), History of Middlesex County, New Jersey, Lewis Historical Pub. Co., Chicago, IL, and New York, NY, 1921: Vol. 2, pgs. 444-6.
"The pioneer settlers were the Stelles, Martins, Campbells, Bonhams, Dunns, Dunhams, Edgars, Comptons, Tappens, Thornells, Hamptons, Ackens, Laings, Kellys, Ayres, Freemans, Bloomfields, Paynes, Robins, Mundays, Carmens, Rowlands, Laforges and others.
The village of Piscatawaytown ... is the earliest settlement, dating back to 1668, and described as three miles from New Brunswick, one mile from the Raritan river and on the turnpike road from that city to Woodbridge, and contains an Episcopal church, a Baptist chapel, a store and some twelve dwellings. It was an old Indian village, and was once the seat of justice for Middlesex and Somerset counties, the courts being held alternatively at that place and at Woodbridge. Stelton, about four miles from New Brunswick, was settled by the Stelles in 1668. Bonhamtown, five miles northeast from New Brunswick, was named for Nicholas Bonham, who was one of the first settlers, having become a freeholder in 1682, and so recorded as owner of lands by allotment."
"During the Revolution five British regiments were stationed at Bonhamtown, and robbed and harried the residents for a considerable period, burning the houses and barns, and committing other outrages. The people were very loyal to the patriot cause."
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13a. William Nelson (ed), New Jersey Archives - First Series (alt. title Calendar of Records in the Office of the Secretary of State, 1664-1703. Part I: East Jersey Records. Part II: West Jersey Records), New Jersey Historical Society, Trenton, NJ, The Press Printing and Pub. Co., Paterson, NJ, 1899: Vol. 21, pg. 121.
Jun. 26, 1685. "Do. Same [Elizabeth FitzRandolph] to her son John Fitzrandolph for: 1, 2 houselots, 30 acres, E. a small brook, N. Nicholas Bonhame, S. John Gillman, formerly Israel Foulshame, W. a small spring, coming from John Martine snior; 2, 60 acres of upland, W. Nicholas Munday, E. Mistris Higgines, N. a swamp, S. John Martine junior; 3, 5 acres of meadow, S. Raraton R., N. unsurveyed meadow, E. Woodbridge line, W. Richard Smith and Joseph Fitzrandolph."
b. ibid.: Vol. 21, pg. 140.
Dec. 30, 1679. "Deed. Nicholas Bonham to Benjamin Hull, both of Piscataway, for all his rights, title, etc. in and to a lot of land at Piscataway. N. W. Jabish Hendricks, S. E. John Smally junior, 70 acres, fronting on Raritan R."
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14. William Nelson (ed), New Jersey Archives - First Series (alt. title Calendar of New Jersey Wills. Vol. I: 1670-1730), New Jersey Historical Society, Trenton, NJ, The Press Printing and Pub. Co., Paterson, NJ, 1901: Vol. 23, pg. 170.
May 14, 1678. "ffoulsham, Israel, of Piscataway. Account of the estate of, by the adminstrator thereof, his kinsman John Gilman of Piscataway, showing payments to Dr. Greenland, George Drake, Hugh Dun, Mr. Bonham, Benjamin Hull, Mr. Doell, John Langstafe, and Leonard Headley, bill of Haman Edwards not yet paid."
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15. "In the name of God, Amen. The sixth day of February in ye year One thousand six hundred eighty-three, I, Nicholas Bonham of ye Towne of Piscataway in County of Middlesex in East New Jersey being feeble in body but of good and perfect memory thanks be to ye all mighty God and calling to remembrance the uncertain estate of this transitory life & yet all flesh must yield unto Death when it shall please God to call, do make, constitute, ordain and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and forme followinge, revokinge and annulinge by those present all and every Testaments and Testaments, Will and Wills heretofore by me made and declared either word or Writinge and this is to be taken only for my last Will and Testament and none other ...
And first being penitent and sorry from yee bottom of my heart for my sins past most humbly desiringe forgiveness for ye same I give and consine my Soule unto Almighty God my Savior and Redeemer in Whom and by ye Mercies of Jesus Christ I trust and believe assuredly to be saved & so have full remissions and forgiveness of all my sins and that my soul with my body at ye general day of Resurrection shall rise againe with joy and through ye merits of Christ's death and passion passes & inherit ye Kingdom of Heaven prepared for his Elect and Chosen and my body to be buried in such place where it shall please my executor hereafter named to appoint. And now for ye things of my temporal estate & such goods, chattels & debts as it hath pleased God far above my deserts to bestow upon me I do order give and dispose ye same in manner and form following that is to say ...
ffirst I will yt all those debts and duties as I owe in right or conscience to any manner of person or persons whatsoever shall be well and truly contented and paid, or ordained to be paid within convenient time after my decease by my executors hereafter named ...
Item, I give and bequeath unto my dearly beloved wife Hanah Bonham the house and lot yt I now live on and ye bed yt we now lye on duringe her natural life and after her decease to loving son Hezekiah Bonham ...
Then, I give unto my said son Hezekiah Bonham all ye rest of my Lands lying within ye Towneshipe of Piscataway or else where to him his heirs and assigns forever ...
Item, I will order and appoint yt all my Cattell with my household goods shall remain in hands of my executors hereafter named for ye supporte of my ffamely and ye bringinge up of my Children and as any of the Marries such parts of ye Cattel and goods to be given as my Executors shall think meet with & by ye advise & consent of my Overseers hereafter named ...
Item, I will and bequeath unto my Grand Children now livinge or shall be borne within a year after ye date hereof, one Bible to each of them to be bought & paid for out of my estate by my executors hereafter named ...
Item, after ye decease of my said wife what Chattles, goods or lands that is then undisposed of I do will & bequeath unto my son Hezekiah Bonham he being my sole Heire, exceptinge ye legacies before mentioned and and ye other disposures in ye articles above mentioned ...
Item, I do will, constitute & appoint my wife Hanah Bonham & my son Hezekiah Bonham to be my whole and sole Executors to dispose of my estate above mentioned accordingly as is above ordered and appointed with and by ye advice and consent of my overseers hereafter mentioned ...
Item, I do request and desire my friends Isaac Smalley and Edward Slater to be my overseers to assist & advise my said executors about ye disposinge of my estate and affairs as above said ...
Given under my hand and seal this Sixth day of February One thousand six hundred eighty three. /s/Nichs. Bonham (seal)
Signed and sealed in the presence of Edward Slater and Isaac Smalley."
The will of Nicholas Bonham was proved before Samuel Dennis, John Bishop, and James Giles, Justices of the Peace, on December 18, 1684. Nicholas Bonham was called "yeoman". Hannah Bonham, called "widow and relict", was appointed executrix on August 23, 1686.
"A true Inventory of all & singular the goods, Chattles & Credits of Nicholas Bonham yeoman, deceased, prised att Piscataway this 28th day of July 1684 by Isaac Smalley and Edward Slater as ffolloweth"
His Apparall 02.09.00 Two beds & furniture 05.19.00 Table linen 00.12.00 One old Chest & Deske 00.06.03 #8 cotton wool 00.08.00 A parcel of old Caske 00.08.06 A great spinninge Whele with a Tobacco wheel and a pair of Scales with an Iron beam 00.07.00 6 lb. of Linen Yarn 00.09.09 One Old Chest 00.02.06 To his Armes 01.02.06 To Pewter & tin ware 00.13.03 One Iron Pot & Pestell Two Tamels, one old frying pan & 2 Gridirons 01.15.00 Two old brass Kettels and a brass skillet 00.07.06 Earthen Ware and glass Bottels 00.02.00 Two books 00.04.00 Wooden ware 00.02.00 Axes, Hoes, sickels & sithes 00.10.06 Carpenter Tooles 00.06.00 One Cow bell and brandiron 00.02.03 A five bottom & fineshing Iron 00.03.06 Two shovels & two old bridels 00.04.00 One old plow & plow tackinge 00.16.00 Two Oxen 08.10.00 Two Cows 08.00.00 Two yearlings and one two year old 03.10.00 One horse 03.10.00 Two small sows and five Pigs 01.10.00 Wheat in ye barn 01.02.00 Debts owinge him 02.00.00 Other goods 00.01.06 Summe Total £43 6/ 9d
"We the Apprisors as above said herein set our hand the day and year above written /s/Edward Slater /s/Isaac Smalley"
The sum appears incorrect which suggests that some figures have been transcribed incorrectly. As it is, the total sum would be £45 14/. (Wills and Inventories, 1670-1900, Middlesex Co., NJ, Secretary of State - Genealogical and Colonial Records, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, NJ, (microfilm: roll 875; GSU Reel #545469). (cited op. cit. (H. E. Bonham): pgs. 10-2.))
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16a.. op. cit. (W. Nelson): Vol. 21, pg. 72.
Feb. 6, 1683 (1684 N. S.). "Do. Do. of Nicholas Bonhame of Piscataway. Wife Hannah, son Hezekiah, grandchildren mentioned. Executors the wife and son. Witnesses Edward Slater, Isaac Smalley. Proved Dec. 18, 1684. Letter of administration granted to executors January 5, 1686-7."
b. ibid.: Vol. 21, pg. 260.
Jan. 9, 1687 (1688 N. S.). "Do. John ffitsrendolph to his brother Benjamin ffitsrendalph, both of Piscataway, for 70 acres of land and 5 a. of meadow there, of which 30 a. are bounded S. by Israel ffaulson, W. a small brook, West (query: N.?) Nicholas Bonham, E. a brook; 40 a. on Ambrose Brook, S. W., N. W. and N. E. unsurveyed land, S.E. Edmond Donham; the 5 a. of meadow, E. Woodbridge line, S. rariton R., W. Richard Smith, N. Joseph ffitsrendalph."
c. ibid.: Vol. 21, pg. 128.
May 10, 1688. "Do. to John Fitzrandolph of Piscatawy, for: 1, 60 acres in Middlesex Co. at Dismal Swamp, W. Nicholas Munday, E. Mrs. Higgines, N. said swamp. S. John Martine junior; 2 houselots 30 acres, E. a small brokk, N. Nicholas Bonham, S. John Gillman, formerly Israel ffoullshame, W. a small spring; 3, 5 acres of meadow, S. Raraton R., N. unsurveyed meadow, E. Woodbridge line, W. Richard Smith and grantee." This conveyance was made after the death of Nicholas Bonham, but it does not appear that his estate we settled in 1688.
d. ibid.: Vol. 21, pg. 271.
Jul. 20, 1697. "Do. Benjamen Fitsrendolph of Piscataway, carpenter, and wife Sarah to John Royse of Roysefield, Sumersett Co., for 72 acres in Piscataway as follows: 1. 12 acres, called Bonham's lot, S. grantors, W. Martine, N. Martine and the Commons, E. a small run; 2, 30 a., E. a small brook, N. Nicholas Boneham, S. John Gillman, formerly Israel Foulsham, W. a small spring coming from John Martine's junior; 3, 30 a. near townlanding on the Rariton R., S. said river, E. and W. two brooks, N. grantor, formerly his brother John."
e. ibid.: Vol. 21, pg. 331.
Jun. 14, 1701. "Patent to Robert Webster of Piscataway, yeoman, for land in Middlesex Co.: 1, 72 acres, N.W. Jabish Henricks, S. E. John Smally, senior, N. E. unsurveyed, S. W. Rariton R.; 2, 72 a., formally John Smallys senior, S. E. John Langstaff, N. W. the first lot, formerly Nicholas Bonum's, N. E. unsurveyed, S. W. said river."
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16. William A. Whitehead, Contributions to the Early History of Perth Amboy and Adjoining Country, D. Appleton & Co., New York, NY, 1856: pgs. 26 & 402-3.
17. New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 29, No. 1, pgs. 38-42, 1898.
18. Joseph R. Klett, Using the Records of the East and West Jersey Proprietors, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, NJ, 2004: pg. 4. ("Exploring Your New Jersey Roots II", www.njarchives.org/links/pdf/proprietors.pdf, 2004.)
19. Orra Eugene Monnette, First Settlers of ye Plantations of Piscataway and Woodbridge, olde East New Jersey, 1664-1714, a period of fifty years, The Leroy Carman Press, Los Angeles, CA, 1930-35: Part 4, pg. 229.
20. Olive Barrick Rowland, Genealogical Notes of the Sutton and Rittenhouse Families of Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Garrett & Massie, Pub., Richmond, VA, 1935: pgs. 105-7.
21. Trula Fay Parks Purkey, Genealogy of William Bonham, Pioneer Settler of Grayson County, Virginia, 731 Rockbridge Rd., Trout Dale, VA, 1984: pgs. 4-8.
22. Samuel Jeremiah Bonham, The Bonham Family, privately published, Niles, OH, 1955: pgs. 4-8.
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