American Revolution Records, 1778-1855

RECORD GROUP: County Clerk
SERIES: American Revolution Records
DATES: 1778-1855
VOLUME: 2 boxes, 0.5 cubic feet

David Forman
Colonel David Forman
crayon drawing by James Sharples

*** View Pensions ***
*** View Inquistions ***
*** View Confiscations ***


The American Revolution Records collection includes: 54 pension requests in loose papers, twenty-one pension requests in Miscellaneous Book B., a list of eleven pensions denied, 60 Inquisitions, 110 Confiscations, six appeals, one Company Roster, and two Spy Maps.


History of Pension Applications
Under the March 1818 act of Congress entitled, “An Act to provide for certain persons engaged in the Land and Naval Service of the United States in the Revolutionary war,” surviving Revolutionary war veterans were allowed to apply for pensions.

The Monmouth County Archives holds the applications of veterans, their widows or children who applied to the County Court of Common Pleas during the period 1818 to 1856. Pensions were not made available to all veterans only those who were unable to earn their own living or to support their families due to age or infirmity.

Each petitioner was required to make a “declaration” of his eligibility which included his age; the name of his commanding officer or officers; and company and regiment during his service.

The applicant also was required to include an inventory of his personal and real estate. Among the items listed on the applications were the house and number of acres; farming equipment or tools of his trade; farm animals; and all household articles.

Finally, the applicant named each family member, including ages, living in the house at the time of application. In many cases, the declarations name grandchildren who, for whatever reason, were living with the petitioner. Also included on the declaration was the pensioner’s occupation. The official declaration was then assigned a pension number.

History of Inquisitions and Confiscations
New Jersey enacted several laws regarding Tories, starting with An Act of New Jersey to punish traitors and disaffected persons; passed October 4, 1776. Several other laws pertaining to these matters followed.

The state appointed three commissioners in each county, who presented evidence at the inquisition to a judge or justice of the peace, along with a panel of twenty-four jurors. David Forman, Esq., of Freehold, presided as judge on thirty of these Inquisition cases. If twelve or more jurors agreed, on their oath, the justice and agreeing jurors signed the inquisition. Often the accused had fled to Staten Island and was not present at the hearing. In with some of these Inquisitions are a record of trial, record of bond, and record of confiscation. A Writ of Confiscation followed the inquisition, which was a separate document, commanding the State to confiscate and sell the offender’s real property.

History of Revolutionary War Spy Maps
These two maps of northern Monmouth County ca. 1777 were a project of the Bicentennial Committee, Borough of Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. The maps were printed ca.1976, through the courtesy of The William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Elisha Lawrence Spy Map
Lt. Colonel Elisha Lawrence, former Sheriff of Monmouth County at the start of the American Revolution, was a Loyalist who fled to Staten Island. Lawrence became the commander of the 1st Battalion of NJ Volunteers.

The Anonymous Spy Map
This map is a similar hand drawn map that was used to help Loyalists raid the countryside.


Pension Requests
There are 54 Pension Applications in loose papers. There are another 21 Pension Applications in Miscellaneous Book B. Dates range from 1777-1856.
Applications include the name of the applicant, his company, regiment, dates of service and commanding officers. Applications can contain his occupation, age, residence, physical condition, personal inventory and court determined value. It can contain information about his wife, marriage date and place, or in some cases the widow and the patriot’s date of death, his children’s names and ages and sometimes grandchildren’s names and ages and whether they are able to help support the family. Some applications are for the same soldier on different dates.

There are 60 Inquisitions online as digitized originals and as transcribed searchable pdfs. Most of these inquisitions are a standard template, where the names of the judge, or judges, the accused traitor, the dates of his disloyal service, and the jurors are written in for each case. Often more than twelve juror’s signatures are affixed.
Not all inquisitions were for males. The collection includes cases against Lydia Taylor and Sarah Dennis. Some documents are from Middlesex, Burlington, and Somerset counties. Most were single cases, but some were tried as a group. Some were families, such as Andrew, Obadiah and Philip Bowne, and Samuel Jr., Samuel Sr., and John Leonard. The dates range 1778-1786.

Writs of Confiscation
There are 110 Confiscations online as digitized originals and transcribed searchable pdfs. The confiscations from 1779-1881 are single pages from a former book which has no binding and no front or back cover. Five of the Confiscations from 1784 are re-confiscations from the earlier records. Each Writ of Confiscation is a one-page document. The Writ stated that the final judgment from the Inquisition was found against the offender and that the State is now commanded and enjoined to sell and dispose of the offender’s real estate in Monmouth County.
Confiscations during 1778-1781 name four state-appointed commissioners: Samuel Forman, Joseph Lawrence, Kenneth Hankinson and Jacob Wikoff, who were responsible for processing the forfeited estate. Each of these inquisitions were heard by and signed by John Anderson, Esquire, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Monmouth County.
Confiscations during 1784 were by John Stillwell, Esquire, Agent as the single state-appointed commissioner of forfeited properties. Each of these Confiscations were heard by and signed by Judge David Forman, Esquire, Judge of Court of Common Pleas of Monmouth County.
Writs of Confiscation mention the residence of the offender. A few Confiscations mention the offender’s occupation, or his father’s name. A few offenders are from Middlesex County or Essex County. The Confiscations include three Inquisitions and six appeals. Further information about Confiscations can be found on the website at New Jersey State Archives.

Spy Maps
The Elisha Lawrence Spy Map shows roads, creeks, rivers, bays, mills and meeting houses. The Anonymous Spy Map is similar and also shows towns, the Freehold Court House and mileages between towns. Each map measures 10.5 x 12.5 inches.


This collection is open to researchers.


All groups in this collection are available online through links at the top of the page, in the Abstract portion of this Finding Aid, and on microfilm in the Archives. For preservation reasons, originals will only be retrieved under exceptional circumstances.


Pensions in loose papers are arranged alphabetically by applicant’s surname. Inquisitions & Tory confiscations of property are also arranged alphabetically by applicant.


Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: 732-308-3771


This collection was transferred to the Monmouth County Archives by County Clerk.


The original documents have been microfilmed and scanned. An Access database of Inquisitions was created September 22, 2006. A finding aid was created by Mary Ann Kiernan in 2007; updated by Tara Christiansen in July 2013 and updated by George Joynson in October 2015. In September-October 2015, Archives volunteer Lee Moffitt transcribed all the Revolutionary War Pension Applications, Inquisitions, Confiscations and Appeals. His pdfs are online and searchable.

See Miscellaneous Book B. The front pages contain an index. More information about Monmouth pensioners is contained in The Pension Rolls of 1835; U.S. War Department, Vol. II. Regarding Monmouth County during the Revolution, see: Monmouth Country Historical Association and New Jersey Archives for Monmouth Brigade records. More Monmouth County Inquisitions are in New Jersey Archives in New Jersey Supreme Court Cases. Archives also holds the 37-volume John A. Mc Manemin Revolutionary War Book Collection , and Roster of the People of Revolutionary Monmouth County (New Jersey), by Michael S. Adelberg, 1997. Adelberg’s 2003 Expanded Roster; is available as a digital file only. Additional books related to the American Revolution are in the Archives; Book Collection.