the PERTH AMBOY Papers

In 1769 Perth Amboy was a Province of  'East Jersey' & also it's capital; and located in Middlesex County. Today it is considered part of greater New York City and then, even as now, one of the major Scotch-Irish entry points into their new found "Land of Canaan". Newton, Sussex County, found itself within the province boundaries of 'West Jersey'. Burlington, Burlington County, was the capital of 'West Jersey'. Now Burlington is a suburb of Philadelphia. New Jersey was admitted to the Union in 1787.

Thus, as we read this story, do not be confused about the place names found in the court documents to be presented herein. It simply means that the authorities of one jurisdiction are communicating with the authorities of another jurisdiction. What follows here is a summary of four court documents found in the New Jersey Archives, Trenton, New Jersey by Ted Lindsay i June 2012.

Basically it relates a tale of a woman named Elizabeth who incurs an obligation to John Chetwood and William Luce for "goods wares and merchandise" in Perth Amboy in 1767 while she was a single person (solo). By 1769 she is married (or reported to be married) to a David Lindsay and they are thought to be in Sussex County where Newton is the county seat. The Newton Sussex County court records is where David Lindsay was first documented as living in New Jersey in 1769. (He may have been there earlier.) The correspondence herein cited is between the jurisdictions located in Perth Amboy and that of Burlington and it centers on locating David and Elizabeth, thought to be living in Sussex County, New Jersey.

Sussex County court documents (earlier research) first record the presence of a David Lindsay in 1769 and who until recently is thought to be my gggGrandfather. These new Perth Amboy documents raises the question of the validity of my assumptions! Namely, the original bible records furnished by David Lindsey Wilcox indicate that gggGrandfather David's first wife (and mother of all his children) was named Rebekah and the New Jersey court documents itemized  here indicate David  having married an Elizabeth!

NOTE: The September Form of 1769 reports David and Elizabeth married. This instrument uses the wording: “after the marriage between them January 10, 1769 may indicate the marriage date of David and Elizabeth.



Synopsis of Documents:

a) April 13, 1769     SUMMONS

Chief Justice of city of Burlington requested sheriff of Sussex County ordered to take custody of David & Elizabeth Lindsay (If found) & remove them to city of Perth Amboy. Issue is the debt incurred by Elizabeth to John Chetwood and William Luce who seeks payment of the original obligation of Elizabeth (while single) of "goods wares and merchandise" valued at £32-12 shillings-4 pence half pound. Apparently a judgment of £50 is now sought which includes damages. 

The obligation by Elizabeth was apparently incurred at Perth Amboy, Middlesex, NJ the judicial center of East Jersey. That the Justice of Burlington issued the summons is because Sussex County (and Newton, the county seat) is under West Jersey jurisdiction wherein Burlington City resides. 

If understood correctly, the notation of "cepi corpus' on the face of this document means "I have taken the body", indicating custody of the couple. But the summons of September 10, 1770 indicates David & Elizabeth was not taken into custody!


b) September Form 1769     New Jersey Supreme Court; Middlesex County  

John Chetwood and William Luce “complain of David Lindsay and Elizabeth his wife in custody” that Elizabeth (solo) on August 17, 1767 in the city of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey indebted herself of £32-12 shillings-9 pence half penny for “goods wares and merchandise” delivered by Chetwood and Luce. 

Again it is reported that David and Elizabeth Lindsay after their marriage “collaborated little regarding the promises and assumptions”. David and Elizabeth “contriving(ly) and "fraudently, subtly" to “deceive and defraud” Chetwood and Luce. They “have not yet paid” the debt. 

The date January 10, 1769 is mentioned: “after the marriage between them January 10, 1769” in Perth Amboy, it goes on to say that David and Elizabeth Lindsay refused to pay “the damages of £50”, therefore this lawsuit.


c) April 7, 1770   SUIT & JURY JUDGMENT

To the sheriff of Middlesex County whereas John Chetwood & William Luce have previously been in court (“without our writt*”) charges Elizabeth that on August 17, 1767 at city of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County indebted herself to Chetwood and Luce £ 32-12 shillings-4 pence half penny of either New York or New Jersey money value for “goods wares and merchandise” while she was solo**.  

This recitation of the grievance goes on, emphasizing that Elizabeth incurred the debt for “goods wares and merchandise” when she was solo and further, after David and Elizabeth were married “collaborated little regarding the promises and assumptions” Elizabeth made.” Contriving and fraud” are insinuated and descriptions of “crafty, subtly and defraud” are adjectives used in the failed repayment. August 18, 1769 is a date David and Elizabeth were in Perth Amboy but it is unclear (to me) what significance this implies. There is a clear statement that David and Elizabeth refuse to pay damages of £50 and therefore the suit is evoked. 

It is “commanded” that a jury of twelve men on the “second Tuesday of May next” (May 1770) hold an inquisition to deliberate the issue. 


The inquisition was held in the house of Elijah Dunham at Pert Amboy on May second [correct]. Damages were assessed at £20-7 shillings-3 pence plus an “expanded” 6 pence for reasons unclear. The twelve jurors signed the legal instrument.


d) Sept. 10, 1770            SUMMONS 

Chief Justice of Middlesex County at Perth Amboy to sheriff of Sussex County who was commanded earlier  (at Burlington, now past) by the sheriff of Middlesex County to keep David & Elizabeth, if they were found, & deliver them to the court at Perth Amboy to satisfy John Chetwood and William Luce of damages now described as £31-5 shillings-11 pence. 

Apparently it is thought David & Elizabeth "lurks" & “secrete?” in Sussex County. If they are found, the sheriff is commanded to keep them and further, deliver them to the court in Burlington on second Tuesday November "next". (Nov. 1770) 

*Writ [t]: An order issued by a court requiring that something be done or giving authority to do a specified act.

The development of English Common Law relied on the courts to issue writs that allowed persons to proceed with a legal action. Over time the courts also used writs to direct other courts, sheriffs, and attorneys to perform certain actions. In modern law, courts primarily use writs to grant extraordinary relief, to grant the right of appeal, or to grant the sheriff authority to seize property.  

**Solo: can carry the meaning of alone, apart, or solitary. One usage of alone carries a sense of independence; unaided, or perhaps isolated. In another sense it has the idea of unabetted; unsupported or even unassisted. Because these documents continuously refer to a marriage of David and Elizabeth following the date of indebtedness, its concluded that “solo” as related to Elizabeth (Lindsay) indicates a non-married status signifying single.

Final Document    Damages