Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Friday, October 25, 2013

State of New Jersey v. Peter Brewer and Luke Johnson

Item no. 22 in Abstracts of Early Monmouth County Court Papers, Part I, is a record from the Court of General Quarter Sessions held at Freehold in October 1786. It is a case of the State of New Jersey v. Peter Brewer and Luke Johnson Junior of Monmouth County, who are indebted to the State of New Jersey for the sum of twenty pounds.

No. 22. State of New Jersey v. Peter Brewer and Luke Johnson

I'll make an effort at a full transcription. Please note, that although there are two pages to this file, both are scans of the same page. The original was on legal size paper, to large for the scanner bed, therefore not possible to be scanned as one page. The fifth line down from the top of page one, is the first line of page two. The last two lines of page two, are not included on page one. There are a few words (or abbreviations) that I cannot decipher.

Monmouth, to wit, The State of New Jersey , To the Sheriff of the County of Monmouth Greeting: Whereas on the fifteenth day of October Seventeen hundred and Eighty-six before Garret Longstreete Esquire one of the Justices of the said County the Peace to keep

aforesaid (?) came Peter Brewer and Luke Johnson Junior of the County aforesaid and acknowledged themselves to owe and be indebted to the State of New Jersey each in the sum of twenty pounds to be livied of their and each of their goods and chattels lands and (?) for the use of the said State of New Jersey upon condition nevertheless (?) that if the said Peter Brewer should be and appear before the next Court of General Quater Sessions of the Peace to beholden at Freehold in and for the County of Monmouth aforesaid Tuesday the Seventeenth day of October then next following to answer to such things as should on the part of the State be then & there objected against him. And whereas at the said Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace holden at Freehold aforesaid in and for the County aforesaid on the said Seventeenth day of October before Elisha Lawrence, John Emlay, and Denis Denice Esquires and others theri fellow Justices assigned (?) the said Peter Brewer altho solemmly demanded came not, and the said Luke Johnson altho solemmly called to bring forth the body of the said Peter Brewer made default and each of them made default whereupon on motion of the Attorney General of the said State the said Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace hath awarded a Writ of Scire Facias against the said Peter Brewer and Luke Johnson. Therefore you are hereby commanded as before you was commanded to make knowing unto the said Peter Brewer and Luke Johnson that they be and appear before the Justices of the said Court of General Quater Sessions of the Peace to be holden at Freehold in and for the County aforesaid on Tuesday the twenty fourth day of April next (?) if anything they have or know to say for themselves, why the said (?) once ought not to be forfeited judgement entered against them and execution to (?) thereon pursuant to any of Act of Assembly in (?)

Unfortunately, this does not tell us anything more about Peter Brewer and Luke Johnson Junior that might help in identifying the two. The court action takes place in October 1786, so we can assume that both are of legal age at that time. They would have certainly been over the age of twenty-one, and probably over the age of twenty-five, and so born, at least, before 1765 and probably before 1761. The document only tells us that they were of Monmouth County, and does not state which town they lived in. Luke Johnson is referred to as "Junior," but this does not necessarily mean that his father was also named Luke Johnson. During the colonial period, the suffix, "Junior," was not used solely for identifying a son as opposed to his father. It may be that there was another man named Luke Johnson, known to the Court, who was older then the Luke Johnson Junior mentioned in the hearing. The suffix, "Junior," in this case may simply be a way of identifying the younger of two men named, Luke Johnson, whether they are related or not.

We do know that Pieter Brouwer and Antje Van Dyk did have a son named Petrus/Peter born in 1759 and baptized at Freehold-Middletown. We also know that Hendrick Brouwer and Abigail Hunt had a son named Petrus/Peter who was baptized at Freehold-Middletown in 1770. However, assuming this Peter was born in that same year (1770) he would certainly be too young to be the Peter Brewer who is the subject of this court record. Among the descendants of Adam Brewer, of Shrewsbury, his son William Brewer (wife Sarah Allen) is stated to have had a son named Peter Brewer (by William J. Hoffman in his "Brouwer Beginning" manuscript notes) but no independent evidence for such a son has been found (I have the impression that Hoffman was placing Peter Brewer, the first husband of Antje Van Dyk, as a tentative son of William Brewer and was unaware of the presence of some descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands in Monmouth County during the 1700s). Antje Van Dyk married, as her second husband, James Johnson. A thorough study of the Johnson family (or families) of Monmouth County may throw some light on who Luke Johnson was and how, or if, he might be related to Peter Brewer. Petrus/Peter, the son of Pieter Brouwer and Antje Van Dyk would be the best candidate to fit here as the Peter Brewer of this court hearing, but more evidence is needed.

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