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Manuscript Collections

 

Collection 7

Tinton Falls Iron Works

Records, 1668-1761



Processed by

Lois R. Densky

Edited by

Gregory J. Plunges

 

Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey

June 1980

 

INTRODUCTION

Tinton Falls Iron Works was located in Tinton Falls, near Shrewsbury in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Little is known about the development of this earliest of New Jersey Iron Works. James Grover (d. 1685), a farmer and wheel wright from Gravesend, Long Island, and one of the original settlers of Monmouth County under the 1665 Monmouth Patent, built the mill in the early 1670's. Grover discovered bog-iron on his property and began preparation to construct the iron works. In order to assist in financing this project, Grover mortgaged the property to Cornelius Steenwyck (d. 1684) of New York.

On December 29, 1675, when Grover ran out of capital, he sold one-half interest of the Works to Colonel Lewis Morris (1601-1691) of Morrisiana, NY and Barbados Island, West Indies. Morris later took over Steenwyck's mortgage and thus retained a three quarter interest in the Works. While it is unknown who owned the other quarter interest, it is possible that these associates were Henry, Samuel, Nathaniel, and Thomas Leonard, iron masters from Massachusetts, James Grover, Richard Hartshorne, and Richard Gardiner.

Col. Morris, who had been sent to Barbados by Oliver Cromwell in 1654 to command the British forces, amassed a fortune there and returned to New York in 1673 to assume guardianship of his infant nephew, Lewis Morris (1671-1746). In addition to his holdings in the Tinton Falls Iron Works, Col. Morris had a sugar plantation in the West Indies and large shipping interests in New York.

Before the 1675 purchase of the iron works, Col. Morris secured certain privileges and subsidies from New Jersey Governor Phillip Carteret to foster the development of the Works. These privileges and subsidies, which were granted by the General Assembly in 1677, included a seven-year tax exemption, five rent-free years, certain military exemptions for workers in times of war, workmen to be free from arrest for debt but not for suit, and extensive land grants and purchases to supply charcoal for iron smelting. In addition, Tinton Falls Manor, which Col. Morris constructed near the Works, was the only iron works in New Jersey to be a legally recognized manor, complete with its own petty civil court, but not subservient land holdings.

At its peak, Tinton Manor and the iron works contained nearly 6,000 acres. The facilities on the property included the forge, blast furnace, the manor house, separate dwellings for black and white workmen, and gristmills.

When Col. Morris died in 1691 at his estate in Morrisiana, NY, he left the iron works, the Tinton Manor estate, and other property to his nephew, Lewis Morris. This Lewis Morris continued operation of the iron works, but was more interested in pursuing a career in politics. He attained the office of county justice of the peace in 1687, and Supreme Court Justice of Monmouth County in 1692. In 1738, he was appointed Governor of New Jersey and served in that capacity until his death in 1746. He also was buried in Morrisiana, NY.

The Tinton Falls property passed on to his son (by Isabella Graham Morris), Robert Hunter Morris. It is not known for how long he retained it. In 1765, the property was owned by Daniel Hendrickson and later by Rueben Shrive and William Remsen, who sold it to Pierson Hendrickson in 1838. When the iron works ceased to operate, is also unknown.

DESCRIPTION OF COLLECTION

The records of the Tinton Falls Iron Works is a small, but extremely valuable collection of the earliest development of the bog-iron industry in New Jersey. The collection documents the business transactions of the Works and contains receipts, accounts, surveys, an account book, extracts of grants and patents, mortgages, proposals granted by Gov. Philip Carteret, deeds, a bill of sale, and a map of the property.

The material records the development of the Tinton Falls Iron Works by James Grover and Col. Lewis Morris. The materials date from 1668 to 1761. A calendar of the collection and a name index have been prepared. (Please see Appendices B and C). One oversize item has been removed form the collection. (Please see Appendix D).

Related material housed in the Library of the Monmouth County Historical Association that pertains to the bog-iron industry in New Jersey are the Dover Forge Papers, and the Allaire Family Papers and Records (of the Howell Iron Works Co.).

Other collections housed elsewhere in New Jersey that pertain to this collection are located at Rutgers University Library, New Brunswick (See "Robert Morris Papers, 1677 - 1943") and at the NJ Historical Society, Newark (See "New Jersey Manuscripts, 1669 - 1840", "Lewis Morris Papers, 1704 - 76", "Parker Family Papers, 1680 - 1936", "George Julius Miller Papers, ca. 1724 - 1969", "Louis Bamberger Autograph Collection, 1683 - 1929", and the "Niagara Expedition Collection, 1755 - 56".)

PROVENANCE: Acquired in 1939, a gift of Mr. Bertram H. Borden, Rumson, NJ.

RESTRICTIONS: None.

NUMBER OF ITEMS: 16.

 

 



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Monmouth County Historical Association received a general operating grant from the the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State, and an Institutional and Financial Stabilization Grant from the New Jersey Cultural Trust, a division of the Department of State.
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