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The New Jersey Historical Society
Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. October 2003. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
Andrew Bell, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Bell (d. 1778), was born on June 4, 1757 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His family moved to New Jersey where he was a law student of Cortlandt Skinner at the outbreak of the Revolution. Bell, a loyalist, joined the royal army in New York and in December of 1776 was appointed a clerk in the office of the British Commander in New York. He served under various men in that office, including Sir Henry Clinton and Sir Guy Carleton, and was involved in a number of skirmishes, including the Battle of Monmouth.
In 1779, patriots confiscated the New Jersey estate Bell had inherited upon his father’s death the year before. Bell’s sister, Cornelia (1755-1783), however, married William Paterson (1745-1806), an active patriot, creating ties to both the loyalists and the patriots for the Bell family.
At the close of the war, Bell settled in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and started over as a merchant. He was successful despite uncertain times and his loyalist background, and was appointed the collector of Perth Amboy’s port in 1800 for the final year of John Adams’ presidency. During this time period, he was also the deputy surveyor general of the East Jersey Proprietors and for approximately thirty-five years, ca. 1806-1842, served as the surveyor general. During his lifetime, he was active in St. Peter’s Church of Perth Amboy.
On September 23, 1782, Andrew Bell married the widow Susannah Moore (b. 1755), the daughter of Margaret and Daniel O’Brien, in New York City. They never had children. Andrew Bell died in Perth Amboy on July 19, 1843.
Click here for a Bell-Paterson Family Tree
The papers mostly document the professional life of Andrew Bell, consisting of receipts, shipping documents, land surveys, maps, and a diary written during the Revolution. The papers date from 1745-1866, have bulk dates of 1770-1820 and measure three linear feet. The majority of the documents have been glued into large bound volumes and organized by record type: receipts, accounts, and shipping papers; court records; land surveys and maps – and then arranged chronologically.
While the majority of the receipts in the collection belong to Andrew Bell, there are a number of receipts documenting the Paterson family, which Bell’s sister Cornelia married into. The papers contain receipts of Richard Paterson, William Paterson (1745-1806), William Bell Paterson, William Paterson (1817-1899), Andrew Bell Paterson, Euphemia (White) Paterson, Thomas Paterson, and Stephen Van Rensselaer Paterson. These items document goods bought and jobs paid for and include accounts and pew rents for St. Peter’s Church of South Amboy, of which Andrew Bell was an active member. There are also a number of documents belonging to various other individuals, most of whom seem to be merchants or shippers from Perth Amboy, Philadelphia, New York, or Providence, Rhode Island from the 1750s-1790s. These include: John Brayton, John Brown, Thomas Brown, John Cooshin, John Halsted, John Murray, Matthew Adams, Robert Stewart, the Lyell family, and the Terrill family.
There are also documents more closely related to the shipping business, particularly to trade at the Port of Perth Amboy. These items include manifests of cargo, including one listing “A return of loyalists’ property shipped on board the William & Mary;” an abstract of duties on the tonnage of vessels in the District of Perth Amboy, 1796-1799; and a list of licenses from the comptroller’s office at Perth Amboy, 1798-1800. The receipts and accounts in the collection are often for goods shipped or the hiring of men for various vessels.
The papers also contain court records from Sussex County, New Jersey. These items include depositions, court orders, summons, warrants, sheriff’s bonds, subpoenas, and articles of agreements.
Andrew Bell’s career as a land surveyor is well documented in three volumes of land surveys filed together with the pertinent survey maps and correspondence from deputy surveyors. The surveys are arranged alphabetically by county, then township, and lastly by date. While most date from Bell’s time as surveyor general, there are some documents addressed to and signed by Bell’s predecessor John Rutherfurd (1760-1840). The collection also contains a number of larger, loose maps of regions in Middlesex, Monmouth, Sussex, and Union Counties, New Jersey, along with two volumes registering surveys throughout New Jersey from the years 1785-1842. These registers record the surveyor, when the survey was received, who received it, and at whose request it was performed. One of the volumes also contains accounts for individual deputy surveyors, tracking each surveyor’s jobs and fees.
Lastly, the papers contain a copy of a diary written by Andrew Bell while serving under Sir Henry Clinton in the Revolution. The entries run from June 17-July 2, 1778 and document the British march across New Jersey, troop movements, and various skirmishes including the Battle of Monmouth. The diary was published in the Proceeding of the New Jersey Historical Society, Series I, Vol. 6, pgs. 15-19.
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.
Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.
The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.
This is a selective list of related collections at the New Jersey Historical Society.
Gift (in part) of Andrew Bell Paterson.
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 45, Andrew Bell Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Honeyman, A. Van Doren.“Early Career of Governor William Paterson”Somerset County Historical Quarterly (July 1912) Vol. I, No. 3, pgs. 161-179;Vol. I, No. 4, pgs. 241-250.
Jones, Alfred E. “The Loyalists of New Jersey” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society (April 1926) Vol. XI, No. 2, pgs. 219-221.