Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 574, Montgomery-Burnet Family (Monmouth County, NJ)
Papers, 1700-1857 (Bulk dates: 1720-1800), 0.2 linear feet / ½ small box
Call Number: MG 574
Financial and land transactions, and ars calami of Robert Montgomery, a lawyer from Allentown, Monmouth County, and Robert Montgomery (1787-1847) of South Trenton. The elder Montgomery's letterbook, 1793-1802, includes financial records kept by Stephen Pangburn from 1771 to 1778. There are documents signed by Philip Freneau and John Reid.
Robert Burnet came to America sometime around the end of the 17th century. He became a large landowner and a proprietor for the Eastern Province of New Jersey. He had either brothers or sons named William and John and at least two daughters. Upon the marriage of his daughter, Isabel, to William Montgomery, he sold some of his land in Upper Freehold, Monmouth County (near Allentown, New Jersey) to his new son-in-law. This estate was called "Eglinton." William Montgomery probably had three sons, John, William, and Robert. John and William were merchants in Philadelphia, and Robert, who was probably named after his paternal grandfather, inherited the family homestead of "Eglinton." He married Elizabeth ( ) and had four surviving daughters: Lucy, Hettie, Sarah, Elizabeth.
The source of this collection is unknown. Many of the documents are labeled on the back in blue ink with the words "Robt Montgomery’s papers 1881," and it is therefore possible that they were donated to The New Jersey Historical Society in 1881. The collection was given the title of "Montgomery Family," but this was changed to "Montgomery-Burnet Family (Monmouth County, NJ)" at the time it was processed.
This collection contains papers largely from the Montgomery and Burnet families dating between 1700-1857, with bulk dates of 1720-1800. The papers are divided by type: financial records, land documents, legal documents, correspondence, and miscellaneous; and then, if possible, by family: Montgomery, Burnet, or other. Within each folder, items are arranged chronologically, with the exception of the correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically by receiver.
The collection is mostly made up of financial and land records. The financial documents include receipts, bills, accounts, and promissory notes. Of particular interest is a receipt dated October 21, 1723 for the sale of a "negro lad named York" to Robert Montgomery by David Lyell (folder 2). There are also numerous receipts from such individuals as James McClaland (or McClalen), Colonel William Imlay, John Imlay, Robert Parent, Mary and Robert Pearson, and the estate of Arthur Lefferson.
The land dealings of the Montgomery and Burnet families are documented in this collection through survey maps and deeds for land in Monmouth County, New Jersey. A number of the items document the transfer of land between the two families.
Robert Montgomery’s letterbook/account book further highlights the connection between the families. The letters range from 1793-1802 and largely deal with Montgomery’s settlement of William Burnet’s estate. The pages are numbered and there is an index on pages 48-49. The book also contains a small number of accounts which read from back to front. These accounts date from 1771-1778 and document such transactions as hauling and the sale of corn, buckwheat, flour, cider, and pigs.
The legal documents in this collection range in subject matter. There is a copy of the will of Robert Montgomery made in 1827, a report for the Orphan’s Court, and two depositions discussing the alleged mob attack of Sarah Steward in 1761. The relation between Sarah Steward and the Montgomery and/or Burnet families is unknown. The same is true for the individuals concerned in the last item in this series, a signed document giving permission for Frances Tantum to marry Sarah Hepburn.
The correspondence in the collection is also haphazard and does not revolve around any one individual or one topic. Correspondents include Robert Montgomery, William Burnet, Steven Warnes, Alexander Montgomery, Jonathan Rhea, Tilton Woodward, and the Township Committee of Upper Freehold. The last folder contains miscellaneous items, mostly penmanship lessons.
Processed by Kim Charlton, November-December 1999 as part of the "Farm to City" project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The New Jersey Historical Society