24 – John Campbell of Piscataway

Older history books of ENJ cite this John Campbell as the son of John Campbell, Proprietor.  How or why they have come to this conclusion is unknown to me.  He was the first John Campbell that left a will in the area other than JC the Proprietor so may be it was a natural assumption.  While this John was of the right time frame, he is most likely one of the indentured servants brought over by Lord Neil Campbell (LNC).  In addition, John Campbell Proprietor would have/should have left a large estate to his son and this man seemed to be a skilled worker.

I’m going to note a few points that have helped me in my research to differentiate the 2 Johns, but I encourage you do look at the work of Marge Campbell which has been very helpful to me.  You will find several links to her work in Post #25 Sources and Links or just copy a line of my work into google and it should come up.

Through DNA, I have come to conclusion that this family is likely not connected to the Campbells I am researching (see notes below) so I’m writing this with all the enthusiasm of a non-relative. Keep that in mind and double check my work!! I try hard to be accurate but I could be misunderstanding the work of others. This branch of Campbells is not easy.

In the year of 1720 William Sharp and John Campbell, both residents on Lord Neill’s plantation in 1686, made the following depositions.

  • John Campbell of Piscatua in the county of Middlesex in the province of New Jersey, aged about fifty eight years maketh deposition on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God that in the year of our Lord 1686, this deponent was coming down Raritan river with several of the servants of Lord Neil Campbell going to Woodbridge meeting.  There being no way this deponent knew but through the enclosure of Mr. John White, deceased, they were stopt by Mr.  White by his gate for some little time, but then not before this deponent and other servants returned.  Ye said Mr.  White went to Amboy to Governor Lowry and complained against them, who were called before the said Governor Lowry, and answered they knew no other way.  The Governor said there should be a way to go up the country clear of Mr.  White and the other inhabitants improvements.  Accordingly, before this deponent, with others aforesaid, went up the way marked out, leading from Bound Brook near Mr.  Giles house, through the lands late in tenure of Mr. John Rudyard, behind the rear of all the improved lands behind his fields, and so several inhabitants on the said Raritan River, to the North Branch thereof, at or near the upper end of a plantation on the west side of the said branch belonging to Peter Van Voste (Neste), and that during the space of nine years that said deponent lived up the Raritan and South Branch thereof, he always understood that to be ye highway layed out by ye authority of ye government of East Jersey. John Campbell, April 29, 1720.”

Source http://www.docstoc.com/docs/3826668/THE-OLD-YORK-ROAD-settlements-on-the-east-side-of  p 689

So assuming this is the same John Campbell of Piscataway from above, it seems he was probably imported by LNC and worked for him for 9 years. He was “about 58” in 1720 which would have his date of birth abt 1662. Keep in mind, LNC left the colony after the Glorious Revolution in 1688 but his son Archibald stayed for several years after. Archibald left no descendants.

More differentiating evidence comes via above referenced Marge Campbell:

  • On 6 June 1709, John Champbel (sic) is listed in the Session Records of the Church of Christ, Presby., Woodbridge, NJ


  • John CAMPBELL, Jr of Perth Amboy was “on a voyage beyond the seas: – so attested in to by his mother who signed 23 June 1709 deed for him through his Power of Atty., which had been granted her 27 Aug 1708 (almost one year earlier)

Somewhat compelling that John Campbell Jr son of the Proprietor and a John Campbell of the session records are two separate Johns.

Starting in 1699, we have John Campbell of Piscataway purchasing 160A SW of the Dismall Brook.

  • 1699 Dec. 5.   Do.   Hugh DUNN to John CAMPBELL, both of Piscataway, for 160 acres there, E. Woodbridge line, S. unsurveyed, S. W. Dismall Brook, N. Wm. FROST.      202 (NJ Colonial Records)

Today Dismal Brook and Dismal Swamp make up the 1,240-acre Dismal Swamp Conservation Area in Northern Middlesex County. You can read more here: www.metuchennj.org/Metuchen-Greenway-Final-Report.pdf

John of Picataway had d. by 1734

  •  1733 April 18. Campbell, John Sr., of Piscataway, Middlesex Co., mason; will of. Wife, Mary. Children – John, Duglas, James, Margaret, Janet, Ann, Neill. Executors – Wife, and son James. Witnesses – Joseph Ayers, William Macdaniel (one other name indecipherable). Proved April 18, 1733 (Source: NJ Colonial Documents p.82)

Per Marge, it is highly unlikely the son of JC, Proprietor would identify himself, or even be, a “mason”.  This seems more indicative of a skilled craftsman that was imported as an indentured servant.  The proprietor’s son would be more likely to be identified as “gentleman” or “yeoman”.

History of Middlesex County, New Jersey, 1664-1920, Volume 2: By John Patrick Wall, Harold E. Pickersgill. Lewis Publishing Company: p. 446 states that there is a John Campbell buried in:

  • ….the old Presbyterian cemetery near the railroad station in Metuchen. In this ancient God’s Acre, are gravestones with dates ranging from 1731 to 1836 and bearing the names of Campbell, Compton, Ayres, Carman, Bloomfield, Eddy, Ford, Freeman, Knapp, Hampton, Kelly, Laforge, and many others. The oldest is that of John Campbell 1731 aged 72 years. Next to that is the grave of Neil Campbell who died 1777 aged forty three.

John Campbell oldest stone close upFrom the tombstones, John Campbell would have been b. abt 1659 and d. 1731.  There is a great website here: http://www.jhalpin.com/metuchen/metindex.htm  that I’ve had fun reading and found some good information including a transcription of John’s stone:  http://www.jhalpin.com/metuchen/history/boy22.htm

as you are now so once was I
in health and strength though here I
as I am now so you must be
Prepare for death and follow
John Campbell dec Octobey 15 1731
Aged 72 years.

 Neil Campbell who d. 1777 at age 43 is said to be buried next to John. Neil would have been born abt. 1734 and could not have been the son of this John.  More likely a grandson if related.

It is also important is that in his 1720 deposition, John Campbell Sr stated he was “about 58 years old”.  That would mean he was b. about 1662 not 1659 as implied by the dates on the stone.

Also at issue is that this grave states the date of death is 1731. John Campbell of Piscataway’s will was not proved until 1733. While this does not eliminate him as being the same person, it is worth noting. There is another John Campbell of Woodbridge that appears to have d. around the same time but I believe that to be in error (see John Campbell of Woodbridge).

It’s not important to identify who is in the “oldest grave” from a genealogy standpoint. However, between the listings for the grave sites, and the transcriptions of wills and the various discrepancies amongst all of them, it demonstrates how frustrating is can be for the “internet genealogist”.  I think a good study of original records is needed. With this particular group of Campbells, it feels like we are pounding in pieces of the puzzle. They don’t quite fit but if we whack ’em hard enough….

There is quite a bit of information on the children of John Campbell of Piscataway which I will discuss in another post.


As stated above, I believe 2 descendants of this family are a part of the Campbell DNA project.


  • Kit# 6341: Elias Campbell (1794-1873) Northumberland Co., PA
  • Kit #28324: Nathan Campbell (1761) Monmouth, NJ

These two kits match 65/67 with each other which indicates a possible relationship to each other but they do not link to my the Jessamine Campbells (59/67).


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