"Conditions for New-planters in the Territories of his Royal Highness, the Duke of York.”
A proclamation from Governor Richard Nicolls (1624-1672)
The “Conditions for New-Planters in the Territories of his Royal Highness, the Duke of York” was written by Governor Richard Nicolls in the fall of 1664 to attract people to move to New York and New Jersey. More people moving to New Jersey would mean more money going to the Duke of York in the form of taxes, rents and tariffs. This was because King Charles II gave these territories to his brother the Duke of York.
Governor Nicolls was the first English colonial Governor of New York province from September 1664 to Summer 1668.
The conditions of the proclamation include promises of clear land ownership rights, freedom of religion, majority rule, local laws and support for economic delvelopment. These promises were made to attract people to move to New Jersey and they worked. In the years that followed the proclamation, hundreds of people moved from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Long Island to what became Monmouth County. Many of the settlers were Baptists or Quakers who had suffered religious discrimination in New England. Here are some of the main conditions and promises mentioned in the proclamation.
“The purchases are to be made from the Indian Sachems (leaders) and to be recorded before the governor.”
Getting purchase agreements from the Indian leaders and recording the transactions would reduce theft of Indian land which could result in wars. Recording the transactions would reduce the likelihood of the same land being sold multiple times and clear up disputes about land sales and ownership.
“The purchasers are to set out a town and inhabit together.”
This points out that the purchases are to be made by groups of people and not individuals. The condition to live together in a town was made for security purposes and to keep the divisons of land easier to define.
“Liberty of Conscience is allowed.”
Liberty of Conscience meant “freedom of religion”. England had just ended 20 years of Civil War because of religious differences. Freedom of conscience was not allowed in England or New England. But the proprietors wanted to let as many people as possible move to New Jersey and they didn’t care what religion they believed in.
“Liberty to make their particular laws.”
This is clearly a promise of democracy.
“Only be liable to the publick rates and payments according ot the custom of other inhabitants.”
This condition left vague the final level of rates and payments for taxes or quit-rents, but left the rates to be decided by the inhabitants. (This became a very important issue of conflict between the proprietors and the colonists).
"The Minister being elected by the major part of the householders”
This introduces the concept of majority rule by settlers as the method for establishing law in a democracy.
“Every township hath the free choice of all their officers.”
Towns could elect their own civil and military officers rather than have them appointed by outsiders.