4 – John Campbell Proprietor ENJ

John Campbell came from Scotland in 1684 was a Proprietor of ENJ.  Whether or not he was related to the Duke of Argyle is not important in determining if he left descendants in the ENJ.  In fact we know he did by his will.  He left the bulk of his estate to wife Mary and a legacy to his son John Campbell Jr.  There is no real definition of what a “legacy” is in terms of this will but most secondary sources say it was the large plantation known as Duncrosk although this may have been the name for the portion of the Raritan River where the property was located.

His widow Mary survived John until at least 1705 and appeared to live in Perth Amboy.  When she died or if she left a will is unknown to me.  She would have had considerable property at the time of her death and a search of original records is needed.  This is true of her son John Campbell Jr as well.  I do not know what became of the property he inherited from either his father or (most likely) his mother.

While a detailed study of John Campbell Proprietor’s life is un-necessary, I will paraphrase his considerable activities in ENJ.  Mostly because they tell the story of a life spent as high official in early ENJ and how a young John Campbell Jr grew up.  This becomes important when determining who John Campbell Jr was when separating out all of the other John Campbells who came to ENJ as indentured servants.

In April of 1684, JC purchases 1/8 of 1-24 share of ENJ from John Drummond.  He had already had 400 acres in Perth Amboy surveyed the prior month so it is likely the purchase of the 1/8 shared was delayed in filing.  In June of the same year, while still in Scotland (or perhaps England), he sold John Dobbie 1/4 of his 1/8 share.  John Dobbie would become his neighbor on the South Branch of the Raritan River.  In all, JC’s his share (after the sale to John Dobbie) would be well over 2000 acres.

In October of 1684, he sailed to the ENJ Colony bringing with him his wife (Mary), 2 daughters, and a son John Jr.  He also bought in many servants for himself, John Dobbie and Andrew Hamilton (who was also his neighbor on the Raritan River).

  • 1684 Oct: ….. List of servants, brought into the Province by John CAMPBELL, who brought wife and three children: Robert MOORE, Alexander MICKLE, Alex. SCOTT, Collin and Robert CAMPBILL, Saml and Ezabell MATHEW, Patrick ROBINSON, Margrett STUERE, Mary STILL, Mary MITCHELL, all indentured for four years. For John DOLBY: Archibald CAMPBELL, John MOORE, Thomas DUNBARR. 195
  • 1685 Oct. 15.   List of servants, imported by John CAMPBELL for Capt.   Andrew HAMILTON in October 1684:  John HUME, William MORGAN, John COWBORNE, Thomas HUE, William PENEY, John WHITEBURNE, Robert HUME, Margeret KICKSON, Catherine and Jane HUMES, Capt. HAMILTON’s servants.  196

John knew important people back in Scotland, or at least those with titles.  He at one point struck a deal with Lord MONYVAIRD (David Toshack of Monyvaird) that he would send a footman in velvet to wait on Lord MONYVAIRD as a proprietor, when at Parliament in East Jersey. In return JC gets all of the Lord’s share in ENJ (which wasn’t very much from what I can tell, 8 acres I believe, the Lord having already sold away the rest).

By March of 1685, JC had surveyed a 1,874 acre plantation on the South Branch of the Raritan river (maybe called Duncrosk).  This was the land is located between John Dobbie and Capt Andrew Hamilton. The Warrant he files is dtd 1685 Nov 9 and is for 1675 acres but he somehow surveys 1874 acres.  Maybe he bought more, maybe he combined it with other warrants, or maybe (probably) this was just an error in transcriptions since in Jun 1686 he confirms the 1,675 acre plantation.  During this time JC also surveyed another 2 acre lot in Amboy on Water, Smith’s, and High Streets.

In Sept 1686, JC and John Barclay (former Gov of ENJ) confirm six tracts of land they own (jointly?) in and around Elizabethtown making up and additional 404 acres. And finally, in Nov 1687, JC is deeded 8 acres from David Toshack of Monyvaird (probably for the footman in velvet) and combines with his own 4 acres for another lot 12 acres in Perth Amboy.

In addition to laying out and overseeing his own land, JC was fulfilling his duties as a Proprietor which was no small task.  He was paid for this service by more land.  He also acted on behalf of other ENJ land owners who probably never came to the Colony.

  1. 1686 Mar 16: Procures survey for Lord Melford for 154 acres on Raritan River
  2. 1686 Aug 12: Purchases 10 acres for “the behoof” of A. Hamilton
  3. 1687 Aug 6:Acting as POA (?) for Lord John Milford. Deed of Thomas KNOWLES of Amboy, stationer, to John CAMPBELL of the same place, gentleman, for account of Lord John MILFOORD for 50 acres in Middlesex Co.
  4. 1687 Oct 13: Issued Letters of Administration for the estate of Gylles Innes of Amboy Perth
  5. 1688 May 7: JC is a tax collector of sorts (?) Perhaps collecting rents (?)  Draft. Alexander SCOTT of Duncrosk on John REID to order of John CAMPBELL, who receipts for the contents of Newperth. 403  (Alexander Scott was an imported servant of John Campbell)

After only 5 years in ENJ, and having accumulated many acres and lots of land, JC dies. Leaving a will:

  • Campbell, John, late of Amboy, E.J., gentleman; will of. Wife Mary, sole heiress and executrix of temporal estate. Children – Ann, Gawinetta and John. Witnesses – Jo’n Carrington and Margaret Carrington. Proved January 1, 1690. NJ Archived, XXL, p. 179, and Middlesex Wills

In August of 1690 his widow Mary posts bond and is issued Letters of Administration. The next few years are spent liquidating JC’s land holdings.  Tradition states that his son John Jr. inherited Duncrosk but he probably did not live there.  I haven’t seen a sale of the property.

John Campbell Jr. was at least 18 by the time his father died.  We see his name occasionally in reference to his fathers estate which leads me to that assumption.  In 1692, he John Campbell Jr, surveyed an additional 200 acres of land that was being granted to his father, and was issued a warrant for 500 more. This area was located on the other side of Somerset County, NJ near the Morris County line – at least 15 miles from Duncrosk.

  • 1692:  SURVEY [East Jersey]. For John Campbell “Son of John Campbell Esq.: deceased […] in full of the Addition to the Second Dividend Land belonging to his [10th] part of a propriety”. Bordering lands of R. Barclay, Deceased. [Survey undated. Warrant date unrecorded. Years approx.]. LOCATION: 200 Acres. “Branch of the Pissaick River called Dead River”
  • 1692 Feb 16: WARRANT [East Jersey]. To John Campbell (“[S]on and heir of John Campbell Deceased”). LOCATION: 500 Acres. [Any location]

In 1696, John Jr and Barclay confirm the Elizabeth Town properties:

  •  1696 Sep 26: Conf. to John Campbell and John Barclay Both of P.A. for several tracts in/about Eliz. town (404 acres in six pieces) (EJD A:421 NJA 21:89)

From about 1695 on, we see Mary Campbell selling off her land holdings which were considerable.  I have tried to do an accounting and for the most part I can account for her land.  She probably lived in Perth Amboy the entire time she was in ENJ and certainly after she became a widow.  There is one survey that confirms this:

  • 1700: SURVEY [East Jersey]. For M. Hawden “as his proportion of Addition to the 2d Division for his quarter of a proprietie”. 4 tracts. Bordering lands of …. and John Campbell, Deceased (the Lott in Perth Amboy “on which his Widdow now Lives”). Perth Amboy (Water Street to Low Water Mark)

We also know that John Campbell Jr was still alive and still owned Duncrosk in 1700: Capt. Andrew Hamilton was now Governor had he sold his original plantation on the Raritan River which was next to the land of John Campbell Proprietors land in 1684 and now owned by his son John Campbell Jr.

  • 1700 Sep 13: Deed. Col. Andrew HAMILTON, Governour of East Jersey, and wife Agnes to Jane JOOSTEN of Marbletown, Ulster Co., N. Y., yeoman, for the following tracts: 1, 835 acres, S. E. the Rariton R., S. W. John CAMPBELL, N. E. John DRUMMOND of Londine, N. W. unsurveyed, (patent of June 1, 1686……(Note:  No mention of Deceased or Widow Campbell)

In 1719, an heir of Jan Joosten sells a portion of his land to Hendry Millar (several spelling variations).  The tract is bounded by lands of John Campbell John Drummond of Londine other lands of John Van Metre and the South Branch and is estimated to contain 37 acres. (Liber C p 2 East Jersey Deeds at Trenton NJ).  There is no reference to John Campbell (Jr) being deceased in this deed.

John Campbell Jr probably kept a lot for himself in Perth Amboy.  In fact it would have been unusual for him not have a lot there since water was the primary mode of travel and trade, not to mention the home of his mother.  Even the most common of farmers would typically have a lot in a nearby town with access to major Rivers.  There is one reference to a John Campbell having a lot in Perth Amboy in 1692 (almost 3 years after the death of his father):

  • 1692 Oct 3: (Deed) James WILLOKS of Kemney, Scotland, Doctor of phisick, by his attorney, George WILLOKS of Amboy Perth, to William THOMSON of Amboy, carpenter, for 4 acres in Amboy Perth, 10 by 4 ch., E. the Sound, N. John CAMPBELL, W. David FALCONAR, S. Robert FULLERTON. 14

No mention of John Campbell, deceased or the widow Campbell, just John Campbell.  Of course this could be an omission in the transcription.

Ann Campbell (dau of John Campbell, Proprietor and sister to John Jr) m. John Stevens who was b. in 1682 and had come to New York as an indentured servant when he was 17.  In return, he was to receive instruction in “art or practice of a Lawyer or Attorney”  (“Genealogical and memorial history of the State of New Jersey” by Francis Bazley Lee, pub 1910, Google Books).  Ann Campbell and John Stevens were married 1706 Nov 28 (no reference to place) and their first 4 children were born in New York, about 30 miles from Perth Amboy.  In 1714, they settled permanently in Perth Amboy and had undoubtedly always owned property their through Ann’s family.

Gawinetta was the youngest of the daughters. She married William Harrison who was the brother to John and Edward Harrison of Perth Amboy. William was appointed coroner to the newly chartered Perth Amboy in 1718 while his brother John was sheriff.  William had probably died before 2 Mar 1723 as his brother John names “sister(s)-in-law Gowen Nette, wife of brother William” in his will.  Gawinetta Campbell and William Harrison had at least one son named William. Gawenetta died in 1758.

On 5 & 6 June 1711, John Campbell wit Ind. of Lease and Release from Wm & John Harrison to John Steven of NY, for 200A at Rocky Hill. The Harrison family owned part of a copper mine in this area of Somerset Co. and John Campbell is witnessing the release between his two brother-in-laws.

Also in 1711, a John Campbell of Amboy was commissioned High Sheriff of Middlesex and Somerset Counties. (See Documents relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey by William Whitehead) This fact differentiates John Jr from the other John Campbell’s of East New Jersey in that is specifically states “of Amboy”.  The nearest other John Campbell was in Piscataway and did not own a lot in Perth Amboy.  The other John Campbell’s were 15-20+ miles away in Monmouth County and probably wouldn’t be recommended for the position.

This Campbell family owed property in at least 4 counties (Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset, and Essex) but it seems as though the majority of their time was spent in and around the Perth Amboy area.  This would make sense since it was the main Port at the time and had access to both New York and Philadelphia.  John Sr probably never lived at the Duncrosk plantation but instead, had his servants clearing the trees and perhaps cultivating a farm.  Duncrosk was about 25 miles from Perth Amboy and a day’s travel by land (although they probably traveled on the Raritan River).  I have not seen any documentation to indicate that John Jr ever lived on Duncrosk full time.  In fact, most documents indicate he was in Perth Amboy.  I don’t know what ever became of the Duncrosk plantation after 1719.  The location of the property was in Somerset County entirely but on the line of Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.  Ann Campbell Stevens and her husband John Stevens eventually moved to Hunterdon.  The Stevens family owned land there in their own right.  It is possible the families moved there together in the later years.

There is no obvious marriage record for John Jr, no records of when his mother died, or any indication that the Campbell’s had any presence in Perth Amboy after 1711 (although we can assume John Jr fulfilled his one year term as High Sheriff). Perhaps the records have yet to be transcribed and are unavailable to me at this time, or the family could have moved to New York, Philadelphia, or even back to Scotland so it is hard to determine if John Jr left descendants in New Jersey.

There are a few claims on the internet about who this John Jr was but I have not found documentation to back any of them up.

One claim is that John Campbell Jr moved to Boston.  The author however seems to be picking up on the John Campbell in Boston who was the first Postmaster, a Bookseller and started the first Newspaper called the Boston Newsletter.


  • John Sr.’s son John Jr. born 1653, had two sisters, Anne and Gawinetta. Ann married John STEVENS, and Gawinetta married William HARRISON. Both of the sisters and their husbands seem to have stayed in Perth Amboy.
  • John CAMPBELL, Jr., born Scotland approx 1653, died 1727/28 in New York City. He married (1) Mary CAMPBELL, and (2) Mary CLARK. Children were: Mary (married James BOWDOIN), Elizabeth (married William  FOYS), Sarah (married James BOWDOIN) and James Benjamin CAMPBELL (our direct ancestor) who married Rebecca ADAMS in Middlesex Co., Mass. All of these CAMPBELLS lived in and around Boston, Suffolk County, Mass. They continued through 1726-1750 into New Hampshire, with our line going eventually into Falmouth and Belfast townships in Maine.

I don’t believe the above Boston John Campbell could possibly be John Campbell Jr of Perth Amboy.  John Campbell Jr was the High Sheriff of Middlesex and Somerset Counties in 1711 so it is impossible he could also be in Boston, 250 miles away, being a postmaster or witnessing papers for his brother-in-laws.  In addition, there doesn’t seem to be anything connecting this family and the allied families to Boston. There are several indications they had connections in New York as did many families of the areas.

Boston John left a will which I have not been able to locate on the internet.  Perhaps the will specifically references the Perth Amboy or Duncrosk land in ENJ but I doubt it since none of the researchers ever referenced the details, and ENJ plantations would be a good detail. My personal feelings are that the above researchers need to do more work in order to connect Boston John Campbell to John Campbell Jr of Perth Amboy. There is no evidence supporting the assumption and many reasons to discredit it.

  • Per his obituary, John Campbell, postmaster and publisher, died at age 75 in Boston, March of 1728 (so b. in 1653). Probably a little old for John Campbell Jr:

“On Monday evening last, the 4th Currant, about 8 a Clock died here John Campbell, Esq., Aged 75 years, formerly Post Master in this Place, Publisher of the Boston NewsLetters for many years, and One of his Majesties Justices of the Peace for the Country of Suffolk.”

  • He was president of the Scots Charitable Society, 1727-28.
  • He was postmaster of Boston from 1702 to 1718

Additional information:

Not really important but I will share this here.  Passaic River Land

History of Paterson and its environs (the silk city): historical …, Volume 1. By William Nelson, Charles Anthony Shriner: P 123/124

The settlement of the Saddle River patent on the one hand and of Totowa on the other left a large and fertile tract between inviting the sturdy pioneer to make his home in this virgin region The first purchaser of these vacant lands was Marian Campbell widow of John Campbell of Perth Amboy who acquired from the East Jersey Proprietors a tract described thus Being on Passaic river Begining by the sayd River sixtie two chaines below the Mouth of Wachra brook And runing North & by west fourtie chaines thence west Ninetie five chaines thence Sowthwest & one degree fifteene minutes more Sowtherly fiftie one chaines thence Sowth East & by Sowth to the sayd Passaik River And thence downe the Streame thereof to where it began containing after allowances for barrens etc six hundred Acres This tract embraced all that portion of Manchester township fronting on the river from the Wagaraw or Goffle brook nearly to nearly Cherry lane and extending northwesterly from the river about half a mile Mrs Campbell conveyed her purchase which she probably never saw to Blandina Bayard of New York merchant by deed dated April 3 1697 Nine years later November n 1706 Mrs Bayard conveyed the same tract to George Ryerson of Pompton Ryer Ryersen of New York yeoman and Frans Ryerson also of New York yeoman By deed dated April 18 1707 Ryer Ryersen yeoman and Rebecca his wife of Hackensack conveyed to Jurian Westerfelt also of Hackensack and a yeoman likewise all that the full equal and lawful third part and proportion of the above tract for the tempting consideration of 46 135 4d or about $150 being at the rate of something like seventy cents an acre It is not probable that the owners of this tract took any steps toward effecting a settlement thereon until more than two years after the deed just mentioned Then they found some Indians still in possession and had to deal with them This Indian title was amicably extinguished as appears by the following deed…

A Letter written to John Dobbie by John Campbell

Scottish colonial schemes, 1620-1686 (1922), Author: Insh, George Pratt, 1883-

New Perth 8th of Nov. 1684. B. John

I wrote a line from Philadelphia to you, as we were coming hither, your Cousin James Dobie the bearer is in such haste, that I cannot write what I would say ; but in short, we are come here to a good wholesome Countrey, in which with little industrie a man may have a comfortable life. There is good Wheat and Oats growing here, and Indian Corn which our Servants like very well ; There is Fish and Fowl [in] abundance, and of cows and Horses ; they labour with Horse and Oxen. There is Deer through all the countrey, and Turkies which some of our servants have killed a part of already. There is Partrages and Quails very rife, that my wife yesterday morning saw about 20 of them walking before the door like Chickens. I shall say no more till I see further, for I am with others going to the countrey on Monday to see for the countrey lotts : for I have taken up the Towns already, and cut down the trees of two Acres of ground with six men in three days. My service to all friends. I am your most assured friend.

John Campbell

Source of Deeds: Patents and Deeds and Other Early Records of New Jersey, 1664-1703 By William Nelson


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