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Nicholas Carter
1629 - 1681

By: Elbert (Nate) Carter

NICHOLAS CARTER was the eldest son of ROGER and EMMA (RAYLES) CARTER of Helperby, County of York, England and was baptized in that place 4 June 1629. He died in Elizabethtown, N.J. in October or November 1681. He emigrated to New England and settled in Stamford, Ct. sometime prior to 1652. His identity and that of his parents is disclosed in the marriage register of his brother ROGER who, at his marriage, said he was the "son of ROGER CARTER, of Helperby, and (his wife) ELLEN CARTER, and (a) brother of NICHOLAS CARTER, now in New England." The Christian name of the wife of NICHOLAS is not known but she is believed to have been related to ROBERT WATSON of Windsor, Conn. WATSON came to this country as a young man from Holdeness, Yorkshire, England.

NICOLAS was in Stamford, Conn. for only a short time as he went across the sound to Middleburg, on Long Island, about 1652. On the 12 Apr. 1656 he, along with all the male residents of Middleburg (later called Newtown), was one of the purchasers of land from the Indians for a town site at Middleburg and was given twenty acres as his allotment. Each of the "purchasers", as they continued to be called, gave according to his possessions at the rate of a shilling per acre. NICHOLAS's name is on the list for one pound which was about the average. The name of the community was soon changed to Hastings after the historically famous town in Sussex, England where William the Conqueror was victorious in battle. Shortly later in time the name was changed again to Newtown after the addition of a lot of adjoining land. Throughout this period of time until 1665 NICHOLAS was repeatedly spoken of in the Newtown records as being one of the leading men of that place.

Some examples of court action that NICHOLAS CARTER was involved in are: "Medlborowgh Octob: 1659.... a corte helld by the magistrats of the above sayd Place:....Sameull Arnall Plantive enters anaction agaynst Nicklos Cartor defendant an action of the case....The corte finds for the plantive Sameull arnall and that sameull arnall shall alowe nicklos Cartor 5 grats in the pound for the selling of his salet and seuger and the chargis of the corte to be payd by neckles cartor and nicklos Cartor is to give a true account of the sayd goods acording to the qualitey of pay he reseaved for them; as the goods was sould:" Another example: " Januarie 18: 1665... An adbitration burger Joras & John Burrough. chosen by the Cunstable to end a diffence betwene Abraham ffrost on the one partie & nicolos Carter & Ralph hunt on the other partie where in they ware bound for Richard Smith of smithfield in the value of acow if Richard smith ware cawst or did not aperore we Burger Joras & John Burroughes find that Richard smith was cast therefore they are to pay five pound the value of acow & six shillings wch belong to the cunstable & awbitraters". Another example is: "May 8:1666 Newtown A court holden by the Cunstable & overseers of the place above said.... Richerd Smith plantive enters an action against Nicolos Carter defendant an action of the Case The court fines for the defendant the plantive shall pay twentie shillings damage to the defendant & pay the charge of the sute & the band to remaine in the hands of nicolos carter till the fore damage & charges is paied & then to acquit ech other". One last example from the same day and same court: "The deposision of John ffirman who saith Abram frost said to nicolos Carter if he wold returne the money he wold deliver him a live calf & nicolos Answered that he had ben...out as much but if he delivered him a calf as good as is was he desired but is owne...(a section crossed out)...& abram demanded the band & John ffirman said then there will not be an end of it & nicolos said he would have a full end before he parted with the band & ffurther sait not".

On January 22, 1657 he and some of his neighbors joined in a letter of protest to Governor PETER STUYVESANT against the action of the town in giving to the minister at Middleburg, Rev. JOHN MOORE, an absolute deed for the parsonage. The governor decided in favor of the protestors but in 1660 NICHOLAS and nine others complained that FRANCIS DOUGHTY, who had married the widow of the preacher, was preventing RICHARD MILLS, the school teacher and preacher at Middleburg, from having peaceable possession of the parsonage and the adjoining land. Governor STUYVESANT ordered DOUGHTY to refrain from any futher molestation of Mr. Mills. NICHOLAS was one of nineteen men who signed a petition to the Dutch government at New Amsterdam for some land, "beyond the Hills by the South Sea," with the privilege to settle a town, which eventually became the town of Jamaica. The Dutch authorities, on February 4, 1660, granted them permission: "To settle a plantation vppon, or about the place mentioned, uppon such conditions and freedoms as the inhabitants of our owne Nation in this province doe Enjoye, provyded that the petitioners and theyre asoiats (associates), for theyre own Safety & common good, doe Settle theyre howse Lots Soo close as the conveniency of the place and Generall order shall admitt."

Despite the fact that he joined the movement to help create the new town, NICHOLAS was still living in Middleburg when the Dutch Autorities at New Amsterdam, on July 3, 1662, notified the inhabitants of the town and all other "plantations" that: None of them shall remove or harvest any crop, such as corn, maize, tobacco, etc., before they have agreed about the tythes for the year with the Governour General and the Council, or their Commissioners, upon forfeiture of fifty gulders.

An agreement was reached and the village was required to pay a tenth for that year which was eighteen schepels (3 & 7/10 bushels equal a schepel). It was to consist of half wheat and half peas. Among the forty-five signers of the agreement was the name of "NICOLAS KARTER".

War broke out between the Netherlands and Great Britain and the Dutch authority at New Amsterdam was superseded by the British. NICHOLAS applied to the Connecticut Court at Hartford and was admitted as a freeman of Connecticut on May 12, 1664 along with nine fellow townsmen of Newtown. About two years later there was a movement toward the colonization of the Jersey shore and NICHOLAS apparently joined it. On reaching that place he was required to take the "oath of Al(l)eagance and Fidelity," at Elizabethtown on February 16, 1666, his signature being "NICOLAS CARTER". He apparently returned temporarily to Newtown as he was one of the over-seers of the town from March of 1666 to November 1666. He became a freeholder on March 4, 1666.

The exact date of the occupation of the Elizabethtown purchase by the original proprietors, of whom NICHOLAS was one, is not on record as the first town records are missing. Historian HATFIELD states that some sort of habitation was attempted by the first four families as early as November 24, 1664. There are definate records showing occupancy by August 1665. It is erroneously supposed that those families were the sole proprietors of the purchase because the Indian deed expressly conveys the lands, as also does Governor NICOLS' grant, to the "Associates" of these grantees as well,

At this point there arrived in August 1665, ahead of the enterprising Aassociates" the ship PHILLIP from England with immigrants. Many of these were Frenchmen from the Island of Jersey. They were brought over by PHILLIP CARTERET who came armed with the charter, or constitution, known as the "concessions and Agreement", that was given him by the Lords-Proprietors before leaving England, establising a government for the province west of the Hudson River, and separating it from the control of Governor NICOLLS, of New York.

The settlement on the Jersey shore in Newark bay by the "Associates" under the NICOLLS' grant, and the coming of PHILLIP CARTERET did not lead to a serious misunderstanding, for they neither knew or expected to hear of the different grants. CARTERET presented his credentials and mutual explanations followed. NICOLL'S grant and the Indian deed were produced and examined. CARTERET'S authority from the Lords-Proprietors was examined. After much exchanging of views and understandings, CARTERET voluntarily was ready and willing to become an associate with them, "by carrying a hoe on his shoulder, thereby intimating his intention of becoming a planter with them."

In an examination of the names of the pioneers recorded as early as February 1666 in the second book of records we find NICHOLAS CARTER. It appears that very soon after their settlement various meetings were held for consultation and agreement in relation to the division, or allotment of the lands, and other regulations for the orderly transaction of the business of the town. Division of the town plot into lots convenient for the settlers was probably made at their first meeting. The choosing of a location for their homesite was probably determined by lot at this gathering.

Under the "concessions" of the proprietors of New Jersey, dated February 10, 1666, NICHOLAS had a right to three hundred and sixty acres, according to the re-survey of October 22, 1675, for bringing into the colony himself, his wife, a son and a maid servant. Evidently only one child had reached the age of fourteen by 1666. NICHOLAS'S house lot contained five acres, five by ten chains, bounded on the east and south by the highway, north by Elizabethtown Creek, and south by the land of WILLIAM HILL. This was his homestead of the south side of the creek and it indicates that he was evidently a man of considerable means.

The spirit of NICHOLAS was displayed shortly after taking up his residence in Elizabethtown. In May of 1671 Gov. PHILIP CARTERET caused much disaffection among the colonists by convening a special court to try WILLIAM HACKETT, captain of the Sloop "Indeavor, of Salsbery, in the Countey of Norfolk, in New England," for illegal trading in the province, mostly at Woodbridge. NICHOLAS was on the jury on the sixteenth of May. The claim of Governor LOVELACE of New York that all vessels coming in and going out of Sandy Hook enterance should enter and clear at New York, was counteracted by Governor CARTERET. He opposed it so far as it concerned the waters of New Jersey, demanding that, in order to trade in these parts, enterance and clearance should be made at the customs house in Elizabethtown. Capt. HACKETT had entered his vessel and paid duties at New York, but not here. He argued his own case with much ability and presented at least fourteen points as grounds of defence. The case went to the jury, which: "Went forth, & upon a second & third goeing forth, Declared to the Court that the matter Com(mi)tted to them (was) of too great waight for them, and Desire(d it) to make Choice of other Jurymen."

The colonists believed that the right to convene a court belonged to the General Assembly. The breach was made wider when the governor granted a lot to RICHARD MICHELL, who was one of the "menial servants" brought over by him in the ship PHILLIP, in 1665. The governor was well pleased with MICHELL'S course and was willing to reward his faithful services. He took it upon himself without consulting the town or any other than his own pleasure, to make him a grant of land for a house lot which was bordering on the "swamp in common." MICHELL fenced it in and leased a part of the ground to GEORGE PARK for a tobaco crop. On the other part, he built a house covered with clapboard, and laid out a garden. PARK subleased one half of his field to WILLIAM LETTS.

This was all contrary to the fundamental agreement of 1666, made at the town meeting and consented to by the governor. The town was deeply upset by the occurrence and it was the major topic of conversation. The neighbors had occasion to meet at Goodman CARTER'S house and the matter was warmly discussed. They agreed to give PACK warning not to put a plow in the ground. He and LETTS were greatly grieved at their prospective loss, but deemed it best to regard the timely warning. A town meeting was called at which the whole subject was gravely debated. Here is the record:

"June 19th, 1671, it was agreed by the Major Vote that Richard Michhel(l) should not enjoy his lot, given him by the Governeor. Upon information, June 19, 1671, It was agreed that there should some goe the next morning and pull up the said MICHEL(L)'S fence."

The people felt that the governor had to be taught that it was not his right to give away town lots. That right belonged to the people. MICHELL had "never asked the town for it," and therefore could not have the "lott given to him by the Governor." It was "concluded to take the piece of land from him again, because it was not after (a) vote of the town that he had it." What followed was related by GEORGE PACK:

"The next morning after the said town meeting, the said RICHARD MICHEL(L) came to my house, and I went with him up to the said lot, and (on) going * we came to (the said) WM. LETT('S) house, and lighted our pipes, and when we lighted, * people came upon the said ground--Goodman MEAKER, the yooung JOHN OGDEN, JEFFERY JONES, and NICHOLAS CARTER, and we were running down to them at the corner of the said lot, (and) the said RICHARD MICHEL(L) forewarned them of pulling down the said fence, and spake to them of a riot, upon * (which), Goodman MEAKER put (his hand) to it and began (to) pluck down the fence, and then all the rest did the like and left not off till they had plucked down one side and one end."

The fence-pullers were arrested and had to appear in court on March 8, 1672 to hear the indictment and were asked --"Guilty or not guilty?." They made no response and left the court without putting in any plea at all. The governor was determined to support MICHELL, and fined the "rioters". WILLIAM MEAKER, being the leader, was fined five pounds, and the others, including NICHOLAS, three pounds each. The fines to be collected by distraint. The fines were never paid because the marshall was powerless to collect the fines in the presence of an outraged and indignant people.

During a war with Holland the Dutch repossessed New Netherland and three men of the town were elected "Schephens of Elizabeth Town," and by the order of their governor, they were deputized to administer the oath of allegiance on September 11, 1673, to the "States General" of Holland. "NICKLES CARTER", as his name reads in the record, and his son JOHN who was then of age,, were among those forced to take the solemn affirmation.

The Dutch reign was short-lived as they were driven out in the two year war that followed. When Governor CARTERET came back to resume his administration the old trouble was renewed. Because they lacked definate surveys of their ands, the people with great reluctance yielded to the compulsion put upon them by the governor, and without prejudice to their previous titles, consented to receive such as the governor chose to give them. As NICHOLAS had applied for a survey of his land a warrant was given him on October 22, 1675 for his three hundred and sixty acres.

Out of this, including his home lot, he seemed to have owned, twenty acres of upland on LUKE WATSON'S POINT and adjacent to the lands of EDWARD CASE and JACOB MELYN and forty acres of upland "in a swamp, lying at the (east) side of the blind Ridge," bounded partley by the lands of AARON THOMPSON and JACOB MELYN. He also owned seventy acres of upland next to the land of ROGER LAMBERT, of GEORGE PACK and the swamp; also one hundred and ninety-three acres of upland on the Mill Creek, bounded by the land of BARNABAS WINES, the plain, a small brook and the Mill Creek; also twenty-two acres of meadow, in the "Great Meadow," and eighteen acres on Thompson's creek. The total adds up to three hundred and sixty-eight acres.

On March 9, 1677 he bought of his neighbor JACOB MELYN, who was then of New York City, one hundred and one acres of land on the south neck. The MELYN deed was unrecorded. He sold part of the tract and house lot on March 16, 1677 to BENJAMINE WADE for thirty pounds with the sale price being payable in pipe staves. In a deed of May 18, 1681 NICHOLAS, who was recorded as yeoman, sold to SAMUEL WILSON, a New York merchant, a portion of the MELYN land.

From the land grants we find that NICHOLAS' property is mentioned as bordering other grants as follows: in the record of May 30, 1676 we find ROBERT MOSS with "six acres of meadow" land bounded on the northeast by NICHOLAS' land; another record dated August 2, 1676 we find ROGER LANBERT with "thirty acres of upland" bounded on the west by the common land and NICHOLAS' land, and still another dated April 24, 1677 gives EDWARD CASE with "one hundred acres" on LUKE WATSON'S Point bounded on the west by the land of NICHOLAS CARTER and CALEB CARWITHY.

NICHOLAS died in October or November 1681 at Elizabethtown, NJ as on November 14, 1681 the administration of his estate--a house, one hundred and ninety acres of upland, and twenty-two acres of meadow land--was granted to his son JOHN. On August 18, 1682 he mortgaged the property to JAMES HINDE and SAMUEL MARSH of the town to hold it "harmless" as his bondsmen in the administration of his fathers estate. The children of NICHOLAS were:
John, Samuel, Nicholas, and Elizabeth.