Manuscript Group 380, Frelinghuysen Family (Newark, NJ) Papers, 1799-1924 (Bulk date: 1820-1880)

Archive Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 380, Frelinghuysen Family (Newark, NJ)
Papers, 1799-1924 (Bulk date: 1820-1880), 0.2 linear feet / 24 items
Call Number: MG 380


Correspondence and documents of various members of this prominent New Jersey family. Included are letters relating to politics, temperance, and reform. Included is correspondence of:

Benjamin F. Butler Theodore Frelinghuysen Jacob S. Thomson
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen William Nelson William A. Whitehead
George C. Frelinghuysen Edmund Perry Isaac H. Williamson

Biographical Note:

The Reverend John Frelinghuysen came to America from Holland in 1720 and settled in New Jersey. His son, Frederick Frelinghuysen (1753-1804), a member of the Continental Congress, had three sons: John, Theodore, and Frederick.

Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787-1862)

Theodore Frelinghuysen was born on March 28, 1787 in Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1804 and studied law under his brother John Frelinghuysen, and later, Richard Stockton. He was admitted to the bar as an attorney in 1808 and as a counselor in 1811, and set up a law practice in Newark, New Jersey during this time period. In 1817, Theodore Frelinghuysen was appointed the Attorney General of New Jersey. He was twice re-appointed, staying in office until his election as a U.S. Senator in 1829.

Frelinghuysen failed to win re-election to the Senate and returned to his Newark law practice at the end of his term. In 1837, Theodore was elected the second Mayor of the newly incorporated city of Newark and under his guidance the city began its transformation into a manufacturing and transportation hub for the area. Frelinghuysen served as Mayor until 1839, at which time he was chosen as the Chancellor of the University of New York and moved to New York City. He was nominated as the Whig Vice Presidential candidate in 1844, running with Presidential candidate Henry Clay. They lost the election. In 1850, he accepted the position of President of Rutgers College and moved for the final time to New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Frelinghuysen was also active in religious and social causes. He was President of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1841-ca. 1857), President of the American Bible Society (1846-1862), President of the American Tract Society (1842-1846), Vice President of the American Sunday School Union (1826-1861), and Vice President of the American Colonization Society. He was an ardent supporter of temperance and was against slavery.

Theodore Frelinghuysen married Charlotte Mercer (d. 1854) in 1809. They had no children together, but they adopted the son of Theodore’s brother Frederick after the latter’s death in 1820. Theodore Frelinghuysen remarried in 1857 to Harriet Pumpelly. He died in New Brunswick, New Jersey on April 12, 1862.

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen (1817-1885)

Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen was born on August 4, 1817 in Millstone, New Jersey, the son of Jane Dumont and Frederick Frelinghuysen (1788-1820). Frederick Frelinghuysen died in 1820 at the age of 32, leaving his widow, three daughters and two sons. Frederick T. was three years old at the time of his father’s death. He was adopted by his uncle, Theodore Frelinghuysen, and lived with him and his family in Newark.

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen graduated from Rutgers College in 1836 and studied law under his uncle. He was admitted to the bar as an attorney in 1839 and as a counselor in 1842. He gained experience as counsel for the Central Railroads of New Jersey and the Morris Canal and Banking Company.

Frelinghuysen soon expanded into public office becoming the City Attorney for Newark and a member of its City Council. He was a delegate to the Peace Congress in Washington in 1861 and that same year was appointed the Attorney General of New Jersey. He served in that position throughout the Civil War, resigning when he was appointed to fill the empty U.S. Senate seat of the Honorable William Wright. He was then elected to finish out Wright’s term and served until 1869.

In 1870, Frederick T. Frelinghuysen was nominated and confirmed as the Minister to England. Legend has it that he turned down the position on his wife’s insistence. He was soon elected to again serve in the U.S. Senate and was in office during the Reconstruction years of 1871-1877. Frelinghuysen served on the Judiciary and Finance Committees, on the Committees on Naval affairs, Claims, and Railroads, and he chaired the Committee on Agriculture.

President James Garfield’s death in September of 1881 raised Vice President Chester A. Arthur into the Presidency. The new President soon appointed the much-respected Frederick T. Frelinghuysen to his cabinet as Secretary of State, a capacity in which he served until March of 1885 when Grover Cleveland took office.

Like his uncle, Frederick was active in religious organizations. He was a pillar of the Dutch Reformed Church, President of the American Bible Society, and a frequent speaker at both religious and political functions.

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen married Matilda Griswold on January 25, 1842. They had three daughters and three sons: Matilda Griswold, Charlotte Louise, Frederick, George Griswold, Sarah Helen, and Theodore. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen died at his home in Newark on May 20, 1885, only a month and a half after returning from Washington, D.C.

Frederick Frelinghuysen was born on September 30, 1848. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1868, was admitted to the bar as an attorney in 1871 and as a counselor in 1874. He was associated with a number of financial institutions throughout his lifetime, including the Howard Savings Institution and Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company of Newark.

Frederick Frelinghuysen married Estelle B. Kinney on July 23, 1902. They had five children together. He died in 1924.

George Griswold Frelinghuysen was born on May 9, 1851. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1870, received his Bachelor of Laws from Columbia University Law School in 1872, and was admitted to the New Jersey and New York bars in 1872 and 1876 respectively. He became a patent lawyer, eventually working for and becoming President of P. Ballantine & Sons Company.

George Griswold Frelinghuysen married Sara L. Ballantine on April 26, 1881. They had two children together. Frelinghuysen died in 1936.

See Frelinghuysen Family Tree.

Provenance Note:

The Frelinghuysen Collection is an artificial collection, complied from a number of different sources. The photostat copy of the Theodore Frelinghuysen letter to William Coxe was donated by M. Richard Durnin in 1962. The originals of the typescript Theodore Frelinghuysen letters are located in the Rutgers University Library. The Theodore Frelinghuysen letter to Jacob S. Thompson was removed from the James E. Howell Papers. The rest of the collection was purchased.

Scope and Content Note:

The Frelinghuysen Collection includes documents dating from 1799-1924, with the bulk of the materials dating between 1820-1880. The majority of the collection is comprised of the correspondence of Theodore Frelinghuysen and Frederick T. Frelinghuysen. These documents consist of letters of recommendation, professional letters dealing with court cases and politics, business letters dealing with university trustee affairs, and miscellaneous letters, including lecture invitations and autograph requests. Of particular interest is a letter from Frederick T. Frelinghuysen to ( ) Congar discussing black suffrage and the outcome of an upcoming election (folder 20); a letter from Frederick T. Frelinghuysen as Secretary of State to William Nelson, the Recording Secretary of the New Jersey Historical Society, discussing legislation dealing with government and foreign records of importance to American history (folder 22); and a letter from Theodore Frelinghuysen to the Honorable Tristram Burges discussing his own recent election loss and the reasons behind it (folder 6).

Other documents in the collection include a summons to the Chancery Court of New Jersey, witnessed by Theodore Frelinghuysen; a resolution to abstain from “ardent spirits” signed by the Temperance Association of the New Jersey Essex County Bar; and two pieces of correspondence dealing with Frederick T. Frelinghuysen’s sons, Frederick Frelinghuysen and George Griswold Frelinghuysen.

Related Collections:

Manuscript Group 848, Joseph Sherman Frelinghuysen (1869-1948) Scrapbook
Manuscript Group 1363, New Jersey People: Individuals, Families, and Group Photographs

Folder List:

Folder Title Dates
Theodore Frelinghuysen
1 Theodore Frelinghuysen to William Coxe (photostat copy) October 20, 1799
2 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Jacob S. Thompson July 9, 1821
3 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Thomas Gibbons (typescript copy) January 16, 1823
4 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Samuel Hubbard (copy) May 10, 1828
5 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Benjamin F. Butler February 6, 1834
6 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Hon. Tristram Burges (typescript copy) October 18, 1834
7 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Robert Lee August 19, 1835
8 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Thaddeus B. Wakeman and Jno. Faulie September 7, 1836
9 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Thos H. King, Thos. I Woolford, S.T. Tyner, O.E. Nisbit, P.I. Ramsay, and Moses Fort (typescript copy) July 18, 1844
10 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Edward Gould July 11, 1851
11 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Rev. Dr. Kirkpatrick (typescript copy) July 13, 1853
12 Theodore Frelinghuysen to James Neilson (typescript copy) November 1, 1853
13 Theodore Frelinghuysen to Gov. Rodman M. Price (typescript copy) March 20, 1854
14 Theodore Frelinghuysen to A.P.F. Tenney (typescript copy) July 17, 1857
15 Theodore Frelinghuysen to ( ) January 27, 1859
16 Theodore Frelinghuysen to F. Augustus Wood (typescript copy) December 10, 1859
17 Isaac H. Williamson to Theodore Frelinghuysen June 3, 1825
18 Summons to the Chancery Court May 8, 1821
19 Resolution to abstain from “ardent spirits” signed by the Temperance Association of the New Jersey Essex County Bar June 25, 1828
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen
20 Frederick T. Frelinghuysen to ( ) Congar November 12, 1867
21 Frederick T. Frelinghuysen to Edmund Perry February 12, 1873
21A Frederick T. Frelinghuysen to George W. Lane February 15, 1883
22 Frederick T. Frelinghuysen to William Nelson December 30, 1884
Frederick Frelinghuysen and George Griswold Frelinghuysen
23 Newark Babies Hospital Society to Mrs. Frederick Frelinghuysen (Estelle Frelinghuysen) April 10, 1924
24 George Griswold Frelinghuysen to William A. Whitehead May 31, 1883

Frelinghuysen Family Tree:

Reverend John Frelinghuysen, immigrated from Holland in 1720


Frederick Frelinghuysen (1753-1804)


John Frelinghuysen (1776-1833)

Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787-1862) = 1) Charlotte Mercer, 2) Harriet Pumpelly

Frederick Frelinghuysen (1788-1820) = Jane Dumont

| (5 children)

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen (1817-1885) = Matilda Griswold


Matilda Griswold Frelinghuysen

Charlotte Louise Frelinghuysen

Frederick Frelinghuysen (1848-1924) = Estelle B. Kinney

George Griswold Frelinghuysen (1851-1936) = Sara L. Ballantine

Sarah Helen Frelinghuysen

Theodore Frelinghuysen

Processed by Kim Charlton, October 1999 as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


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