Guide to the Notes of Nicholas Murray 1776-1853 MG 384

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Descriptive Summary
Biographical Note
Scope and Content Note
Arrangement
Restrictions
Access Points
Related Material
Administrative Information
Bibliography

Container List


Notes and Documents

Guide to the Notes of Nicholas Murray
1776-1853
MG 384
The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
library@jerseyhistory.org
http://www.jerseyhistory.org
© 2004 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Stephen Yautz as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. March 2004. Finding aid written in English.


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Nicholas Murray
Title: Nicholas Murray Notes
Dates: 1776-1853
Abstract: Consists of the notes of Reverend Nicholas Murray, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The notes cover the years 1776 to 1853, and are Murray’s research on the death of his predecessor, Reverend James Caldwell.
Quantity: 0.10 linear feet (41 items)
Collection Number: MG 384

Biographical Note

Nicholas Murray was born to Roman Catholic parents in Ireland, on December 25, 1802. At the age of three, his father had died, leaving the young family with little means of support. Eventually, by the age of twelve, Murray was sold to a merchant nearby. Murray’s bad experiences in his term of indentured servitude led him to run away on several occasions; each time, he was returned to his master. No longer able to endure the harsh treatment, he finally managed to borrow enough money from his older brother to travel to America, where he settled as a teenager.

He found employment with a printing business, Harper Brothers. George Harper was a devout Methodist, who impressed the young Murray greatly. Murray then left the Harper home to move in with the family of John Kirk, another employee of the Harper firm. Murray began attending services at Kirk’s Presbyterian congregation, where his intelligence and charm led to the church to raise funds for his religious education and training. After attending Williams College, he graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1829 at the age of twenty-seven.

Murray was assigned to the church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, which was a very poor congregation. In order to raise funds for his church, he traveled throughout the region, requesting funding from other wealthier Presbyterian churches. One of his stops was at the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He made such an impression with the congregation that he was invited to become their pastor upon the resignation of its pastor, the Reverend John McDowell in 1833.

It was during his pastorate in Elizabethtown that he began extensive research on his predecessor, the Reverend James Caldwell, who was murdered by a disgruntled Revolutionary soldier, James Morgan. It was revealed in the materials that he collected that Morgan’s motive for shooting Caldwell was that he was bribed by the British to kill Caldwell, who was very active in the Revolutionary cause, and had persuaded many in his congregation to support the American cause. The result of his efforts was the presentation of his paper at the New Jersey Historical Society in 1848 entitled, “A Memoir of the Rev. James Caldwell of Elizabethtown.”

Reverend Murray was a very active leader in his congregation; under his pastorate the First Presbyterian Church added over 1,000 new members. He remained as pastor until his sudden death on February 4, 1861, the result of a heart attack. Murray was survived by his wife and family.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the notes of Reverend Nicholas Murray, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The notes cover the years 1776 to 1853, and are Murray’s research on the death of his predecessor, Reverend James Caldwell. Based upon these notes, Murray presented a paper to the New Jersey Historical Society in 1848, in which he asserts that Caldwell was indeed murdered by James Morgan, an American soldier on sentry duty, in 1781. Murray’s supporting evidence is documented in the affidavits, correspondence, and other research notes included in this collection.

The affidavits in this collection all date from the year 1846, and are accounts by witnesses and others who knew the parties involved in Caldwell’s death. Amongst the witnesses submitting affidavits are Hannah Austin, William Clark, Samuel Downer, Mary Grover, Shepard Kollock, Elizabeth Ross, James Ross, John Stiles, Belcher Woodruff, Henry Woodruff, and Stephen Woodruff. In one instance, Samuel Downer recalls, “I well remember James Morgan… All that I heard from him, and of him, at the time has left the impression upon my mind that Morgan was a very bad man.” The consensus of the witnesses consulted was that Morgan was of bad character and more than likely was bribed by the British to shoot and kill James Caldwell.

Also included in the notes are extracts and citations from sources that recounted the details of Caldwell’s death, as well as biographical information on James Caldwell and his family, and cover the years 1782-1844. These extracts contain a citation from the New Jersey Gazette from 1782 on the execution of James Morgan for the murder of James Caldwell.

The notes also contain Murray’s incoming letters, which covers the years 1807 to 1853, all of which is in reference to his research on Caldwell. Correspondents include J.F. Caldwell, Samuel Miller, Aaron Ogden, and William S. Pennington.

Included in the notes are some of the papers of Reverend James Caldwell, dating from 1776 to 1781. The papers are mostly transcripts of correspondence and other documents pertaining to Caldwell’s activities in support of the American cause during the Revolutionary War. One piece of correspondence is a photograph of the original letter that Caldwell sent to W. Japhet Bishop of Rahway, New Jersey, also referring to army business. Amongst the original papers of James Caldwell is a list of American soldiers that were members of his congregation in Elizabethtown.

A petition dated January 7, 1831, from the surviving children of James Caldwell, is addressed to the United States Congress, seeking indemnity for financial losses incurred by their father during the American Revolution.

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Arrangement

This collection is arranged by type of material.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Use Restrictions

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.

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.
Subject Names:
Austin, Hannah.
Bishop, W. Japhet.
Caldwell, J. F.
Caldwell, James, 1734-1781.
Clark, William, fl. 1846.
Downer, Samuel, fl. 1846.
Grover, Mary
Kollock, Shepard, 1750-1839.
Miller, Samuel, fl. 1807-1853.
Morgan, James, d. 1784.
Murray, Nicholas, 1802-1861.
Ogden, Aaron, 1756-1839.
Pennington, William S. (William Sandford), 1757-1826.
Ross, Elizabeth.
Ross, James, fl. 1846.
Stiles, John, fl. 1846.
Woodruff, Belcher.
Woodruff, Henry, fl. 1846.
Woodruff, Stephen, fl. 1846.
Subject Organizations:
First Presbyterian Church (Elizabeth, N.J.)
United States. Congress (22nd, 1st session : 1831-1832). Senate.
Subject Topics:
Presbyterian Church–Clergy.
Subject Places:
Elizabeth (N.J.)
New Jersey–History–Revolution, 1775-1783.
Rahway (N.J.)
Document Types:
Affidavits.
Letters (correspondence)
Notes.
Petitions.
Subject Occupations
Clergy–New Jersey.

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Related Material

For the paper presented on James Caldwell by Nicholas Murray at the New Jersey Historical Society on May 25, 1848, see:

Murray, Nicholas. “A Memoir of the Rev. James Caldwell of Elizabethtown,” The New Jersey Historical Society Proceedings, series 1, vol. 3 (1848): 79-89.

For the letters of Reverend James Caldwell, see:

Manuscript Group 1, Alphabetical Series Manuscript Collection

For related collections pertaining to the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, see:

Manuscript Group 125, Joseph Black Papers

Manuscript Group 388, Nicholas Murray Papers

Manuscript Group 839, Presbyteries of Morris County (N.J.), Newark (N.J.) and New York (N.Y.) Minute Books

Manuscript Group 899, John McDowell Sermon Outline Book

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 384, Nicholas Murray Notes, The New Jersey Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

This collection is the gift of Mrs. Nicholas Murray, 1861.

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Bibliography

First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Church of the Founding Fathers of New Jersey: A History. Cornish, Maine: Carbrook Press, 1964.

Murray, Nicholas. “A Memoir of the Rev. James Caldwell of Elizabethtown,” The New Jersey Historical Society Proceedings, series 1, vol. 3 (1848): 79-89.

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Container List

Notes and Documents

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Affidavits (13) 1846 Jan-1846 Apr
1 2 Extracts (6) 1782-1844
1 3 Incoming Letters: Nicholas Murray (15) 1807-1853
1 4 James Caldwell Papers (6) 1776-1781
1 5 Petition 1831 Jan 7

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