In 2009, the Society
of Colonial Wars in the State of New Jersey funded a joint proposal
from the New Jersey State Archives and the West Jersey Proprietors
to conserve a number of 17th-century documents relating to the Western
Division of the Province of New Jersey. The parchments include the
1664 lease and release of New Jersey (or “Nova Cæsarea”)
to John, Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, and subsequent proprietary
transactions. They bear signatures and/or seals of James, Duke of
York (later King James II), and West Jersey’s founders, including
William Penn. While these manuscripts were protected by the Proprietors
for over three centuries, in order to safely reproduce and display
the documents in the future, professional treatment was needed.
In preparation for the
grant proposal, the State Archives procured treatment plans from
the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia,
PA. Proposed treatments included cleaning, repair, re-housing and
other measures. The presence of intact, ancient wax seals makes
conservation and digitization of these manuscripts especially challenging.
Further, their large size requires specialized scanning equipment.
The Society for Colonial
Wars’ funding of the first phase of the West Jersey Charters
Conservation project allowed for five parchments to be conserved.
As a result, the Duke of York’s 24 June 1664 release could
be publicly exhibited at New Jersey’s birthday celebration
at the State Museum in June 2009. Members of the Society of Colonial
Wars in the State of New Jersey participated in the celebration.
In 2010, the State Archives
and West Jersey Proprietors applied for further funds from the Society
of Colonial Wars to continue the West Jersey conservation project.
The Society granted funds for treatment of the West Jersey "Calculations
Book," which documents the process of laying out and severing
proprietary title to the lands settled by New Jersey’s earliest
immigrants. The book itself represents a history of the proprietors
and West Jersey surveyors and also contains a number of specific,
The West Jersey Proprietors Deposit
West Jersey Proprietors Deposit
In December 2005,
after several years of planning and negotiations between the proprietors
and the State Archives, the West Jersey Council unanimously resolved
to deposit its vast archive with the State. The deposit is indeterminate,
meaning that it is intended to be a permanent means to provide both
professional care and public access to the documentary treasures
of West Jersey. For further information about the West Jersey Proprietors
Deposit and our commemorations of it, please consult the following
Within the West
Jersey archive are New Jersey’s most ancient colonial indentures.
While these documents were transcribed into record books in East
and West Jersey, the Proprietors’ original parchments bear
the signatures and rare—if not unique—examples of the
wax seals of William Penn and his associates.
indenture in which William Penn, John Fenwick and Edward Byllinge
divided their rights in West New Jersey, 9 February 1674/75
William Penn, Gawen Lawry, Nicholas Lucas and Edward Byllinge
to others for six ninetieths of the ninety one-hundredths of
West New Jersey, 22 January 1676/77
|Quintipartite indenture, Sir George Carteret, William Penn,
Gawen Lawry, Nicholas Lucas and Edward Byllinge, establishing
the partition of New Jersey, 1 July 1676
Conservation in Progress
page of the Surveyor General's "Calculation Book," which
includes surveying instructions and other unique material, ca.