The County Clerk in the State of New Jersey is one of three County Constitutional Officers, along with the Sheriff and Surrogate. The County Clerk, elected to a five-year term, is responsible for the administration of a broad range of services including the filing and recording of all documents affecting real estate ownership/transfer, the processing of U.S. passport applications, assisting individuals who wish to become a Notary Public, the issuance of Identification Cards, the filing of Business Trade Names, and the supervision of elections.
The role of the County Clerk evolved from medieval times, when few could read and write. “Clericus” or “clerks” maintained records of transfer or real estate and other functions. They enjoyed the protection of the church and “benefit of clergy,” which prohibited the courts from gaining jurisdiction over them and provided exemption from punishments for crimes.
For 500 years, through the 16th century, the transfer of property occurred by documents written and held by the clerks. And because these clerks could read and write, they became “clerks to the courts” in England and then in the American colonies.
After the Revolutionary War, the State of New Jersey codified the basic concept that recording was necessary to protect purchasers of property. The “Conveyancing Act of 1799,” required property transfers to be “recorded” in a “register” or be “void and of no effect.” These laws required that these tasks be performed by the “clerks of the inferior courts of common pleas and quarter sessions” who were “appointed by the council and assembly and commissioned by the governor” (New Jersey Constitution of 1776, Article XII). The maintenance of those records was perceived as a supplemental “judicial” function under the Constitution, since the clerk of the county served first as clerk to the court and then as clerk to the citizens.
The New Jersey Constitution of 1844 removed the clerks from the control of the executive and judiciary and had their powers conferred upon them by the voters. They were made constitutional officers, and served for fixed terms.
Since 1844, the Clerks, as expert constitutional officers, perform what is now a statutory function in recording documents of title, as well as other significant responsibilities regarding elections and record keeping.
Monmouth County Clerks – (1784 to present)
|Kenneth Anderson, Jr.||1784|
|Jonathan Rhea||1784 – 1793|
|Joseph Scudder||1797 – 1807|
|Caleb Lloyd||1812 – 1817|
|Joseph Phillips||1817 – 1819|
|William TenEyck||1820 – 1829|
|Daniel H. Ellis||1831 – 1840|
|Samuel Mairs||1841 – 1845|
|Daniel Christopher||1846 – 1855|
|John Patterson||1856 – 1857|
|John W. Bartleson||1858|
|Holmes W. Murphy||1858 – 1867|
|Thomas V. Arrowsmith||1868 – 1882|
|Joseph C. Arrowsmith||1882|
|James H. Patterson||1883 – 1889|
|C. Ewing Patterson||1889|
|John T. Haight||1890 – 1892|
|Theodore Aumack||1893 – 1898|
|Joseph McDermott||1898 – 1938|
|George M. Roberts||1938|
|Raymond L. Wyckoff||1938 – 1939|
|J. Russell Woolley||1939 – 1969|
|Benjamin H. Danskin||1970 – 1974|
|John R. Fiorino||1975 – 1979|
|Jane G. Clayton||1980 – 1996|
|M. Claire French||1997 – 2015|
|Christine Giordano Hanlon||2015 – Present|