Archibald Campbell arrived with his father Lord Neil Campbell (LNC) and several other imported servants in 1685. His father returned to England after the Glorious Revolution and subsequent restoration and died there. Archibald remained in ENJ for a time administering his estate then eventually returned to London. He was consecrated a Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church at Dundee 25 Aug 1711, later became Bishop at Aberdeen, and died in 1744 leaving no known descendants in ENJ.
While that should end the story of Archibald, in terms of ENJ, you can’t read about the beginnings of ENJ without coming across references to “Kells Hall” and Archibald the son of LNC. It has been written and repeated many times that Kells Hall was the plantation where Archibald lived in “Baronial” style with his many servants, using a large bell to call them from the fields at night.
In fact, there was a large bell at the Kells Hall plantation but not before 1736 and while an Archibald Campbell did own land there, it was not until sometime between 1722 and 1771. By that time, what was to become Kells Hall had several owners and been divided into two separate plantations. Perhaps the most important bit of information though is that The Kell’s Hall land was not the estate of LNC and subsequently his son Archibald. See the above map for details (locations 2 and 3).
The History of Kells Hall
The early ownership of this land wouldn’t be important to Campbell researchers given that we know that Archibald left ENJ to return to London. However, many history books state that a John Campbell also lived at Kells Hall. This would lead one to believe the families of LNC and John Campbell, Proprietor, are somehow related and that John Campbell Jr., son of the Proprietor, may have also lived at Kells Hall.
The records of ENJ tell a different story, at least of the early years. The Campbells never owned the plantation outright and even though an Archibald Campbell eventually owned a portion of the land, he didn’t own the Kells Hall home nor, in all likelihood, was he the son of LNC.
LNC owned his own large plantation near Bound Brook and his estate was bequeathed to his son in 1692 when he died. Perhaps this is from where the confusion stems. There is a newspaper article (included at the end of this document) which states that Archibald had lived on LNC plantation until he sold it in 1708.
At least one other Campbell came to occupy parts of this land. He was a prominent individual in his day but whether or not he was a descendant’s of the original Campbell Proprietor has only been stated in general and not explained in any detail.
About the Area
The location of what was Kells Hall includes the Bridgewater Township and an Area commonly referred to as Bound Brook.
Bridgewater was created by Royal Charter in 1749 and located on the northern bank of the Raritan River. New Brunswick, created in 1730, was on the southern bank. The Town of Bound Brook was created SE of Bridgewater in 1869 but from the above map we see that it was originally located just east of Bridgewater. Bound Brook itself is a tributary of Green Brook in Middlesex Co, NJ.
Proprietor, John Campbell’s large plantation was located in what would eventually become Branchburg (created in 1845). In 1710, the western portion of his land was the boundary of Somerset and Burlington County. In 1714, Hunterdon County was formed from part of Burlington and other unorganized areas directly north which placed John Campbell’s large estate on the border of Somerset and Hunterdon County.
The Codrington Estate
The Codrington land was located partially in what would be come Bridgewater and part what was known as Bound Brook (#3 on above map). It started out as a joint purchase of former Indian land by John Palmer, Thomas Codrington, John White, and John Royce. It appears they had to repurchase from the Proprietors in 1684, each receiving 877 acres. Palmer was to the west of Codrington and Royce was to the east. Transcriptions of the recorded deeds are located at the end of this document.
John Royce and John Palmer sold their portions to Thomas Codington. Regarding Royce to Codrington, there are two deeds for the same land one stating that the acreage was 877, the other for 836 acres. I’m not sure why there is a difference but they are the same properties. There is also a difference in dates.
Codrington then purchases 1,000 acres from John Royse which was located directly behind his existing properties. In 1694, Codrington sells off the lots to Michael Van Veghten
Codrington Estate and eventual location of Kells Hall
#3: 877 Acres deeded to Thomas Codrington by John Palmer (1685) and eventually sold by Codrington to Van Veghten (1694)
#4: 877 Acres deeded to Thomas Codrington by Proprietors (28 Feb 1684)
#5: 877 Acres deeded to Thomas Codrington by John Royce (1685)
#32: 1000 Acres to Thomas Codrington by John Royce (14 May 1688).
There is a little known work titled The Island Farm, Bridgewater Township, Near Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey. It is described as a “Historical American Buildings Survey” and was written by Seymour Williams, FAIA, and District Officer. The date is probably around 1938 when the pictures of the property were taken. The scope of this work was to determine the history of an 18th century building that was still standing on the property known at that time as “Island Farm”. A copy of that work, including pictures and drawings shown in this post, can be found here: http://loc.gov/pictures/item/nj0797/
The first few pages seem to confirm that Archibald Campbell was the original owner of the property, however there is an Addendum, beginning on page 4, which corrects this and further details the history of the property.
In a deed dtd 8 May 1706, Thomas Codrington and his wife Margaret sold the entire plantation at Bound Brook to Phillip French:
“With all an singular the houses, edifices, buildings, barns, stables, warehouses, landings” etc.
In his will dtd 29 May 1706, shortly after his purchase, French devised all land at the Raritan River, which he had lately bought of Thomas Codrington, to his three daughters, Elisabeth, Anne and Margaret. Should any of the three die under age or unmarried, then the land was to be divided between the remaining survivors. French also devises £5 for the poor of the Parish of Kellshall in England. This is probably where the Kells Hall name originates.
Margaret French, the youngest child of Philip French, died young and unmarried so her share was given to her surviving sisters. Elizabeth French, the oldest, married Cornelius Van Horne, a merchant from New York. Anne French married Joseph Reade. Reade and Van Horne divided the property with Van Horne retaining the western portion. It was either his wife Elizabeth French or his father-in-law Philip French who named the property Kells Hall. The division of land between Reade and Van Horne was recorded by Deed and a map dtd 20 Nov 1722.
Drawing on left is on Page 8a “The Island Farm, Bridgewater Township, Near Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey” depicting the division of the French Plantation (Kells Hall) by his sons-in-law Cornelius Van Horne and Joseph Reade. traced from the original Map drawn in 1722 and located in the Sec of the State, Trenton, NJ.
Click on picture to enlarge
A) Home built by Joseph Reade and his wife Ann French (right side- middle)
B) Van Horne Home, built by Codrington and named Kells Hall by the French Family. (right side- towards bottom)
Cornelius Van Horne died in 1771 and by his will he left half of his land to his son John and the other half to his son Philip. Philip was to receive “the mill property” with 6 acres about it. Cornelius’ wife Elizabeth had the power to sell any of the property during her lifetime to administer the estate and for her maintenance.
After the death of her husband and prior to 1774, Elizabeth Van Horne, late of Bridgewater Township, conveyed for £3000 the tract commonly called “Mountain Lott” to her son Philip Van Horne of the same place and Edward Foy of New York, Merchant. This land was described as:
“containing 800 acres, bounded east by the mountain land which Thomas McIllwrath (McElwrath) purchased from Joseph Reade, then merchant of New York, but since deceased, north by lands of the Earl of Stirling, west part by the lands of Richard Compton and part by the plantation now in possession of Archibald Campbell purchased from said Cornelius Van Horne in his lifetime, and south part by the rear of Derick Van Veighten’s land and part by the rear of “Kells Hall Plantation commonly so called” reserving thereout the grist mill, and its six acres devised to said Philip Van Home by the will of his father Cornelius Van Home deceased, (Recorded in Liber H-3, p 236, of East New Jersey records, now deposited in office of Secretary of State)
Capt. Edward Foy, co-purchaser of the above land, and Hannah Van Horne were married 26 July 1772 at Christ Church New Brunswick. Hannah was a granddaughter of Elizabeth and Cornelius Van Horne though their son John. So, while the property was sold for £3000, it remained in the family. The Foy family came from Bristol. England. There is one reference to Capt. Foy traveling to Virginia with a “Capt Campbell”:
Virginia Gazette, Oct. 8, 1772: The Arethusa, Capt. Hammond, is shortly expected” from New York, “in which . . . will come . . . Captains Campbell and Foy and some other ladies and gentlemen.”
By the above deed we see that an Archibald Campbell purchased part of the Kells Hall land sometime between 1722 and 1770 but he was not the original owner. Was he the son of LNC? Probably not since the son of LNC, was in London by 1711 when he was consecrated a Bishop at Dundee, and later Bishop of Aberdeen (1721-1724).
Whether or not this Archibald was the above referenced “Capt. Campbell” is unknown.
Over time, Joseph Reade, the other owner of the Codrington-French Estate by marriage and inheritance, had begun selling off much of his land. From the above deed, we can guess that he had sold the northern portion to Thomas McIllwrath. The land of the Earl of Stirling, North of “Mountain Lott”, was probably not part of the original estate. Most likely, Richard Compton had purchased land from the Van Horne Estate, Cornelius Van Horne himself, or even Archibald Campbell who purchased land prior to Cornelius’ death (1770). My best estimation is the division looked something like this:
1) Land Phillip Van Horne and and Edward Foy bought from the Estate of Cornelius Van Horne
2) Earl of Stirling’s Land
3) Land owned by Richard Compton
4) Land of Archibald Campbell purchased in Cornelius Van Horne’s lifetime
5) Derick Van Veighten’s land (inherited from his father Michael who bought from Codrington)
6) Kells Hall land
7) Land Thomas McIllwrath who probably purchased from Joseph Reade
NOTE: The land of Archibald Campbell (#4) and Richard Compton (#3) could be reversed. I placed Archibald south of Compton because that land has a middlebrook running through it which may be an important clue later on.
Why Elizabeth Van Horne conveyed the property to her son and Edward Foy is unknown to me but it may have been an unsuccessful attempt at keeping the property in the family as by 1774, the Van Horne estate was insolvent. The entire estate, including the lands purchased by Edward Foy and son Phillip Van Horne, was conveyed to Charles M’Evers and Augustus Van Cortlandt as trustees to be disposed of for the benefit of the estate’s creditors. On 1 Nov 1774, the sheriff was to hold a public sale and described the property as:
…..containing about 1400 acres whereon is ‘a large brick dwelling house, orchards, grist mill, smelting house, barns, stables, and sundry outhouses’.
It seems however, that the property may not have sold until 1786.
“The 1400 acre “Kells Hall” estate was divided into 14 lots in a map of them made in February 1786 by Benjamin Morgan. By deed of 9 February 1786, William McDonald, Esq, High Sheriff of the County of Somerset, conveyed the entire tract to Jacob Rickets of Elizabethtown, NJ., as recited in deed recorded in Book E, page 9, in office of County Clerk, Somerville”
An examination of the 1786 deed (above), may tell us if the Archibald Campbell who purchased the land of Cornelius Van Horne, was still living near Kells Hall at that time. He was on the tax records of Bridgewater, Somerset Co, NJ in 1785 so most likely he was.
The portion of the land, which included the Kells Hall home and 265 acres, was subsequently sold to Peter Perrine by the above Jacob Ricketts and eventually owned by Nicholas Perrine (b. 1751).
Nicholas Perrine sold to George Smock, 1 May 1793. The author, Williams, feels it was either Nicholas Perrine or, George Smock, who tore down the original home, built by Codrington and later known as Kells Hall and built the home known as “Island Farm”. Today you can find references to this home called the “Smock-Hodges” House.
We see by the 1774 property description above, the home was a “large brick dwelling”. The home that existed in 1938, known as “Island Farm” was most likely built on part of the original foundation of Kells Hall. Williams describes the basement walls of Island Farm as being of brick to support the timbers, the floor in the largest room is made of brick. There are arched support structures in the basement, made of brick that were used to support two fireplaces, but the fireplaces do not exist in the “newer” home built by either Perrine or Smock prior to 1793.
George Smock conveyed the farm to John Herbert by a deed dtd 20 Feb 1817.
The Bell of Kells Hall
As mentioned earlier, another part of the Kells Hall story is that of Archibald Campbell calling his servants and slaves in from the fields by ringing a bell. The story most often told paints a picture of a man who lived in “baronial” fashion on his large plantation with many servants to attend to his every need.
This in fact is probably not true, at least of Archibald Campbell, son of LNC.
The following was taken from here: a genealogy entitled: “Ancestors and Descendants of Samuel French The Joiner of Stratford Connecticut”. 2nd Edition, 1940, Edward Brothers Printing, Ann Arbor, MI.
The estate in New Brunswick was called “Kells Hall”, undoubtedly named for the ancestral village, Kelshallm now Kelsale, in Saxmundham, Suffolk Co., England. Philip, 3rd, had bell cast in Amsterdam, Holland, inscribed “Amsterdam-1734-Kells Hall”. This bell was owned by Archibald Mollison of Bound Brook, in recent years. The New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury of May 3, 1774 contained an advertisement for the sale of the Philip French property and the Revolutionary War appears to have ended all connection of the French family with the property.
Philip the 3rd was a brother to Elizabeth French Van Horne and had taken his sick wife to Holland. He probably had the Bell made for his sister by her request or as a gift. But what became of the bell? In the latter part of the 19th century, it was owned by Archibald Mollison.
Archibald Campbell Mollison was b. abt 1812 and d. abt 1900. His great-grandmother was Jennet Campbell who married Tobias Van Norden. Various sources state that the bell hung in the old Presbyterian Church Steeple at Bound Brook after the remodel of Kells Hall. After the church was remodeled, it was given to Archibald Mollison who kept the bell in his store but it was eventually destroyed by fire (“God’s happy cluster, 1688-1963: history of the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church”, Kler, Joseph H.; 1963).
In “The story of an old farm; or, Life in New Jersey in the eighteenth century“ by Andrew D. Mellick, (no evidence of a copyright but the stated date of publication is 1889), the author writes that the bell hangs in the Bound Brook Academy. I have not searched any further for the details of the final ownership of the bell.
Joseph Reade’s Land and Phil’s Hall
Not long after Cornelius Van Horne and Joseph Reade divided the Codrington property their wives had inherited from Philip French, Reade began to sell off parcels of his land and by his death in 1783, he probably owned very little if any.
There is another seemingly well researched piece of work called North of the Rariton Lotts: A History of the Martinsville New Jersey Area. Edited by: Edward J. Maas. 1975. It is from this source that we gain additional information on the disposal of the land owned by Joseph Reade, Philips French’s other son-in-law. I will reference that work by it’s author “Maas”
The other source is a sister document to the above cited Island Farm, named Philip Van Horne House, Somerset Avenue, Bridgewater township. It is supervised and published by the same group that published Island Farm. This work details the history of Joseph Reade’s home built around 1722. I will reference that work by it’s author “S. Williams” and continue to reference the Island Farm doc by his last name only; “Williams”. I will also cite primary sources when available in either book.
The First John Campbell
According to Maas and S. Williams, on 13 March 1737, Joseph Reade sold 50 Acres of land to Aaron Lowzada and John Campbell (ENJ Deed Bk. G-2-478). There was a mill located on the “west bank of the brook, below the house” (see “A” on the map below for my best guess location).
In 1743, Lowzada, purchased an additional 300 acres from Reade, and finally, per Maas, John Campbell sold his interest in the mill to Lowzada in 1749.
In contrast to this, according to S. Williams, there is another deed dtd 1794, that references “Luzada and Campbell’s mill lot”.
Since, I am citing secondary sources and have not seen transcriptions of the above agreements, I am unable to tell if John Campbell had ever lived on the land and continued to do so or was just a partial owner of the mill. The earliest Campbell listed in Bridgewater is Archibald Campbell in a 1781 tax list who was probably living on the land he purchased of Cornelius Van Horne.
The Second John Campbell
There is another John Campbell that purchased land on what was formally known as Kells Hall. He also bought the former home of Joseph Reade known as Phil’s Hill.
During the Revolution, it is known that the son of Cornelius Van Horne was living in his Uncle Joseph Reade’s home called “Phil’s Hall”, “Convivial Hall” and eventually “Phil’s Hill”. But why is Philip Van Horne living in his Uncle’s house?
According to Mass who is citing and old Somerset Co. mortgage deed, dtd 16 Mar 1750, Philip purchased an 84 acre parcel of land from the executors of the will of Jacob Janeway which included the former house of his Uncle Joseph Reade. How or when Janeway purchased the land is unknown but given the dates, he probably purchased it directly from Joseph Reade. In addition, there is an agreement between Reade and Janeway’s brother in law, John Hagawout, that Hagawout could operate the grist mill for a term of 5 years (until 1736). This seems to fit since it is known that Aaron Louzada and John Campbell purchased the mill in 1737. Janeway operated a store in Bound Brook from at least 1735-1746. His account book lists many names of families in the surrounding area. Janeway died in 1746.
Philip Van Horne, son of Cornelius and Elisabeth French Van Horne, married Elizabeth Ricketts of New York City, she was a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Walton) Ricketts, and a sister of William Ricketts of Elizabethtown, New Jersey. This was a wealthy family who had a plantation and sugar works in Westmoreland, Jamaica, West Indies.
Philip and Elizabeth lived on the 84 acres and were known to entertain both British and American forces during the Revolution in the house on “Convivial Hill”. Looking at the map, I can only guess that the 84 acres was the triangle shaped piece of land bounded W by his father’s former Kells Hall plantation and the 2 brooks NE and SE but this is only a guess. What seems unusual is that Philip purchased this property during his father’s lifetime instead of building a home on existing Van Horne land which he was to inherit anyway. It may be that Philip was interested in owning/operating a Mill since his father, years later, specifically stated he wanted Philip to have the Mill property on the Van Horne land.
Either way, we know the 1722 house built by Joseph Reade, sold (probably next) to Jacob Janeway, then it was owned by Philip Van Horne. Philip died in 1783 and the next known deed is dtd 1 Nov. 1794, when the property sold to John Campbell of Trelawney Jamaica.
Many more Campbell’s would come to own land on Codrington’s original purchase. In fact most of the Campbell’s who lived in Somerset County lived on or near this property. It is important to distinguish however that this land was not the original land of the Proprietor Campbell’s (John or LNC) although this was a popular tradition at the time the first history books of the area were being written (mid 1870’s). In fact, maybe they aren’t altogether wrong.
John Campbell, Proprietor, came to ENJ in 1684 with a wife, 3 children and 11 servants although not all were his. I doubt this wealthy and well connected man would do so without having made prior arrangements for accommodations. Codrington had built his house as early as 1683 and it was the only house in Bound Brook at the time. Being a merchant in New York, Codrington was not using the home full time. Also, being a merchant, he would have connections abroad.
I think it entirely possible that John Campbell, Proprietor, may have leased the house from Codrington until such a time he could have his own land laid out and a home built in Perth Amboy. Perhaps LNC and his son Archibald also leased the property when they came a year later giving rise to the tradition that it was Archibald who owned Kells Hall when in fact he did not.
If this is true, and I have no proof that it is, it would explain the stories of Archibald Campbell, Kells Hall and the infamous bell which was not in existence at the time.
1. In response to my query, J. L. Purchase, Secretary to the Lord Mayor of Bristol, England, very kindly sent the following letter: “. . . There were several members of the Foy family who were merchants of Bristol in the eighteenth century. One of the most notable was Nathaniel Foy, councillor, 1756-1783, who became an alderman in 1776 . . . Mayor, 1772-1773. … By his will, made 21 December, 1779, which is preserved in the City Archives Office, the chief beneficiaries are Hannah Foy ‘widow of my late nephew Captain Edward Foy’ deceased, and her only child, Nathaniel Foy/ who was a minor in 1779.”
2. “Sunday the 26 ult Capt. Foy was married to Miss Hannah Van Home, daughter of John Van Home Esq. of Kills-Hall.” New York Journal, Aug. 6, 1772.
3. ‘The Arethusa, Capt. Hammond, is shortly expected” from New York, “in which . . . will come . . . Captains Campbell and Foy and some other ladies and gentlemen.” Virginia Gazette, Oct. 8, 1772.
Formation of the Codrington Estate
Source: NJ Colonial Records
Purchase of Indian Land
1682 April 26. Deed. John DELAVALL to John PALMER, Thomas CODRINGTON, John WHITE and John ROYSE for all his share in the Indian purchase of May 4, 1681, called Raritan.
Original Purchases from the proprietors:
1683-4 Feb. 28. Deed. The Lords Proprietors to John PALMER of Staten Island for 877 acres on the Northside of Raraton R., adjoining Thomas CODRINGTON on the East and John WHITE on the West.
1683-4 Feb. 28. Deed. Same to Thomas CODRINGTON of N. Y., merchant, for 877 a., bounded S. by Raraton R., W. by John PALMER, N. by the Commons, E. by John ROYSE.
1683-4 Feb. 28. Deed. The Lords Proprietors to John ROYSE of N. Y., merchant, for 877 acres, bounded S. by Raraton R., W. by Thomas CODRINGTON, N. by the hills, E. by the Proprietors
Codrington purchases from Palmer and Royse:
1683 Dec. 15. Do. John ROYSE, late of London, now of New York, merchant, to Thomas Codrington, for 877 acres on the Northside of Raraton R., “of Right belonging unto mee,” bounded S. by the river, W. by grantee, N. by hills, E. by land laid out for the Proprietors
(SAME PROPERTY AS ABOVE)
1685 Aug. 13. Do (Deed). John ROYSE of N. Y., merchant, to Capt. Thomas CODRINGTON of Raraton, Middlesex, for a tract on the Northside of Raraton R., bounded W. by grantee, N. by the hills, E. by the Proprietors, 836 a. (patent of February 8, 1683-4)
1685 Aug. 13. Do (Deed). Capt. John PALMER of N. Y. and wife Sarah to Capt. Thomas CODRINGTON of Raraton, for a plantation on the North side of Raraton R. in Midlesex Co., 836 acres, bounded S. by said river, W. by John WHITE, N. by common lands or hills, E. by grantee, as granted by patent of February 28, 1683-4.
Codrington purchases an additional 100 acres of Royse (Royce):
1688 May 14. Patent to Thomas CODRINGTON of Raraton, Middlesex Co., for 1,000 acres at the foot of the Blew Hills, purchased of John ROYCE, S. grantee, on all other sides unsurveyed land.
Codrington sells the Palmer land to Micheal Van Veghten:
1694 Aug. 2. Do. Capt. Thomas CODDINGTON of Rariton on Rariton River and wife Margaret to Michael Direcksen VAN VEGHTEN of Rariton R., both in Sumerset Co., for 836 acres there, S. said river, W. John WHITE, N. the Commons or hills, E. grantor; first patented to Capt. John PALMER February 28, 1683-4.
Sale of LNC and Archibald Campbell’s large estate
Paper: New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy Date: 4 Sep 1749
See circled/squared are below: