Monmouth County Tax Ratable Lists, 1731-1844

RECORD GROUP: County Clerk
RECORD SERIES #: 3800.40
SERIES: Monmouth County Tax Ratable Lists
DATES: 1731-1844
VOLUME: 112 lists, either in original format, microfilm or digital scans

tax ratables image sample

ABSTRACT
There are 112 known Duplicate Tax Ratable Lists from seven different towns in Monmouth County spanning 1731-1844. These lists contain a wealth of genealogical, social, occupational, and economic information on Monmouth County residents. They have been a neglected source for many years because of restricted access and fragile condition. The lists were hard to search, sometimes hard to read or to interpret. An Access Searchable Database containing over 45,000 names is now available at Archives to help search the lists. The lists show when and where a person lived and specific quantities of their taxable possessions. Using the lists to track a person over the years can reveal much about their lives, such as geographic mobility, profession, trade or industry, financial growth (or loss), and marital status.

Currently, the original lists are scattered throughout New Jersey and held by various organizations, including Monmouth County Archives (9), New Jersey State Archives (88), New Jersey Historical Society (4), Monmouth County Historical Association (5), Monmouth County Parks System (2), and a private individual (1). Location of a few lists that were transcribed and previously published is unknown (3).  Copies of all these lists are at the Monmouth County Archives. The collection also includes several lists of Accounts of Slave Owners.

HISTORY
Landowners in New Jersey paid annual property taxes as early as 1668, when the General Assembly levied the first tax. Local Township Assessors gathered the information, compiled the lists and forwarded it to the County Collector. “Ratables” were taxable items, such as the number of improved acres, number of slaves, cows, dogs, taverns, mills, etc. Each category was taxed at a specific amount.

Township Assessors were elected and paid for their work. Sometimes a Chosen Freeholder would make adjustments (exemptions). The lists were submitted to the County Collector. The lists were then entered into books as “duplicates.” Names on the lists in the books have been alphabetized using different formats, sometimes by surname, sometimes by given name, sometimes by first initial. Seeing the duplicate lists in these different formats seem to indicate that the names on the original list, probably taken geographically, were sorted to produce the duplicate lists.

The second half of one list containing first names J-Z, was found in Frank M. Taylor’s house, formerly Captain James Bruere’s house, when it was being torn down. Bruere was County Collector 1790-1793.This partial list (See Upper Freehold 1790/1791) was transcribed by Charles R. Hutchinson in July 1892 (See Hutchinson Collection, Reel 7, Book K, Series 4, page 174). The full list included 539 names but only the pages with 258 names found were entered into the Access database from Hutchinson’s transcript. Location of both halves of the original list is unknown.

SCOPE & CONTENT
The lists are from 7 different towns in Monmouth County: Dover (7), Freehold (21), Howell (9), Middletown (27), Shrewsbury (17), Stafford (9), and Upper Freehold (22).

Some lists indicate “single men” and separately, “single men who keep a horse.” Researchers can use the names on these lists to help determine a marital date range. Back then, it was a list of eligible bachelors; the single men with horse were the more established bachelors.

The handwritten documents are difficult to read due to ink splats, fading, water stains, page bleed-through, misspellings, incomplete pages, unique abbreviations, and sloppy handwriting. Reverend could be misinterpreted as Robert. Sutphen and Zutfin can refer to the same person, only spelled differently. Doctor could easily be misinterpreted as deceased.

An interesting facet of these lists is that the names on the list seem to be in somewhat consistent order from year to year, perhaps indicating the names were copied from previous lists.

The lists vary greatly regarding spelling, abbreviations, clarity, condition and readability, so comparing the lists from year to year can be a great help in understanding them. On one year, a name could be followed by SA, but on the next year, the assessor could have recorded the same name, but followed by a written out “son of Abraham.” In comparing the lists over the years, similar abbreviations for titles such as Collector, Constable, Captain, or Corporal can sometimes be ascertained. The abbreviation SM could be schoolmaster or son of Mathias; w of James could be widow or wife of James. One abbreviation appeared as MM after a name, but in the following year, the same name was followed by Marston’s Mill.

The Tax Ratable Lists include males, single and married, widows, and some minors as noted. Family relationships are sometimes shown, such as son of, widow of, wife of, Senior, or Junior, Executrix or Estate Administrator.

Race is indicated only for Negro.

Some occupations are shown, such as Esquire, Doctor, Captain, Colonel, Lieutenant, Governor, merchant, blacksmith, miller, staymaker, carpenter, schoolmaster, and boatman.

Early lists show the tax shown in pounds, shillings and pence.

Columns include total acreage, improved acres, number of slaves, boats, cattle, horned cattle, horses, spare wagons, sleighs, and dogs owned. Some lists show gristmill, sawmill, fulling mill, or tavern.

The Monmouth County Archives is in possession of nine original lists:

  • Freehold, 1771, by Constable James Wilson, account of slave owners
  • Freehold, 1788, by Assessor Duncan Campbell, tax duplicate
  • Middletown, 1771, by Richard Morris, account of slave owners
  • Middletown, 1771, by Richard Stout, account of slave owners
  • Shrewsbury, 1787, by Assessor Thomas Little, tax duplicate
  • Shrewsbury, 1771, no name, account of slave owners
  • Stafford, 1782, by Assessor Amos Pharo, tax duplicate
  • Stafford, 1771, by J. Crawford, account of slave owners
  • Upper Freehold, c.1791, by Assessor James Lloyd, tax duplicate

The page numbering for Upper Freehold 1839, is odd numbers only, since the data runs across both pages, but the names are only on the left side of the left page.

The lists can reveal economic status compared to other town residents, by comparing the total tax levied, or improved acres of land. Who owned the most cows (ships, slaves, dogs, wagons, hogs, etc.) in Freehold or Stafford in 1780 or 1790? That kind of information is available.

One can also trace progress (or lack of) of a resident, by examining the number of improved acres, or the increase (or decrease) in livestock, over the years of tax lists available.

In some cases, you can estimate the year of death, when a name drops off the list and the wife appears as a widow.

On the Freehold list made January 1782, the largest land owner was Captain Kenneth Hankins, with 659 acres. Monmouth County Justice of the Peace Joseph Goodenough, Esq., is listed on 14 or more different lists.

ACCESS RESTRICTIONS

This record series is open to researchers.

USE

The Access searchable database was created with the intent of helping the researcher find which town, year and page the name they are researching appears on. Once identified, the researcher can use the database information to go directly to the page and make their own interpretation. The database is not an exact transcript. All names in the database were entered in the same ‘Surname, Given Name’ format. For each town and year, names and corresponding page numbers are listed in the database.

ARRANGEMENT

The nine original lists at the Monmouth County Archives are arranged in two manuscript boxes by town, then year.

As previously noted, the arrangement of names within lists varies. Some lists were alphabetized by surname while others were listed alphabetically by first name or first initial of given name. These variations makes searching without a database difficult. Most pages on each list were numbered.

REPOSITORY

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

ACQUISITION INFORMATION

The nine original lists in the Monmouth County Archives were transferred by County Clerk Jane Clayton before 1994.

In 1963, Ed Raser purchased microfilmed copies of the Monmouth County Tax ratables held at the New Jersey State Library, which preceded the establishment of the New Jersey State Archives as a separate agency. On September 12, 2018, Raser donated his three rolls of microfilm to the Monmouth County Archives.

The 1793 and 1798 Middletown Tax Ratables lists and the 1798 Slave Tax lists were found at Longstreet Farm, then later purchased at auction and are now in possession of Monmouth County Parks. On November 15, 2018, MC Parks forwarded transcripts to Archives.

On November 18, 2018, Randy Gabrielan loaned photocopies of his original Middletown 1815 Tax List to Archives, which was scanned at Archives.

On November 20, 2018, Monmouth County Historical Association loaned all of its original tax lists and photocopies of other tax lists to Archives, which were scanned at Archives.

On March 27, 2019, Veronica Calder at New Jersey Archives forwarded five scanned lists and on April 17, 2019, forwarded eleven more scanned lists. Scanning of lists at the New Jersey State Archives was not completed at the time this finding aid was prepared.

PROCESSING INFORMATION

This finding aid and Access database were created by George Joynson on September 12, 2018.

RELATED MATERIAL

Some of the names of the Town Assessors can be found in the Oaths database.

Microfilm copies are also at the New Jersey Historical Society and the Family History Library. A transcript of the 1731 and 1758 Tax Ratable lists for Upper Freehold are in Ellis’ History of Monmouth County, pages, 613-614, but location of the originals of these two lists is unknown.

The following sources have published transcripts of indexed lists:

  • New Jersey Tax Lists, 1772- 1822, by Ronald Vern Jackson, 1891, four volumes.
  • Revolutionary Census of New Jersey: An Index, Based on Ratables . . . 1972, by Kenn. Stryker-Rodda, 1972.
  • The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey (GMNJ), in Volumes 4 through 90. Some years are combined and in some years, the list page numbers were omitted.