RECORD GROUP: : Municipalities
RECORD SERIES #: 8600.15
SERIES: Middletown
DATES: 1897-1991
VOLUME: 18 volumes

Historical records from Middletown, New Jersey, were placed on deposit in the Monmouth County Archives and Records Center on April 23, 2009, pursuant to a municipal resolution and a depository agreement which provide that Middletown retains ownership of the records and that the Monmouth County Archives can provide access to them.

The following historical narrative about Middletown was prepared by Randall G. Gabrielan, Director, Monmouth County Historical Commission, for the book, Town by Town: Impressions of Monmouth County (Freehold: Office of the Monmouth County Clerk, 2002):

Middletown, among New Jersey’s earliest permanent settlements, was settled in the mid-1660s around the time Richard Nicholls, the royal governor of King Charles II, granted the Monmouth Patent to a group of twelve Britons in 1665.  Its name likely stems from its locale between two contemporary settlements, the short lived Portland Point and the enduring Shrewsbury.  Middletown’s public records begin in 1667, but earliest claims to settlement date to 1664.  Middletown was one of three original townships formed when Monmouth County was organized in 1693.

Early settlers fished in nearby waters, hunted, and farmed.  Pioneer Richard Hartshorne wrote to an English friend in 1675 describing bountiful water and animal life. He wrote that people may be able to live better here than in England.  The township’s first decades are represented by a circa 1700 home in public ownership, the Seabrook-Wilson House in Port Monmouth, and older Hartshorne houses in private ownership.

Most major faiths are represented in Middletown.  One, the Baptist, was founded in New Jersey by their Middletown church.  The congregation of the First Baptist Church, now known as Old First Church, still meets at their landmark location at 69 Kings Highway.

Sectional identity became pronounced in the 18th century, a characteristic still felt strongly in the 41 square mile township in which some of its neighborhoods have separate post offices, including Belford, Leonardo, Lincroft, and Port Monmouth. The township, reflecting New Jersey’s divided loyalties during the Revolution, was a hotbed of contention between rebellious residents and those loyal to the crown. The era’s conflicts are symbolized by the homes of representatives of the opposing forces, which are open to the public. Marlpit Hall is the home of the notable loyalist Taylor family and the farm of slain patriot Joseph Murray is the centerpiece of Poricy Park.  During the Revolution, British forces encamped in Middletown’s hills prior to their departure for New York following the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778.

The founding of the Franklin Academy in 1837 is an educational highlight from a period of inadequate public instruction.  The township began to replace its one-room schools in the first decade of the 20th century. The high school, which opened in 1913, was one of Monmouth County’s earliest.

Major parts of the northern and western sections of the original 1693 township were separated in 1848, reflecting a statewide trend for smaller municipalities of manageable size.  The formation of Raritan Township took the Middletown Point business district.  Federally owned Sandy Hook is symbolic of Middletown’s military history.  It was, for many decades, a major coastal defense fortification that is often not associated with the township.  Middletown is also home to the Earle Naval Weapon Station, the shore component of the major naval supply facility.

The opening of railroad lines in 1861 and 1875 boosted growth, while providing a market for productive farms.  The area above the Navesink River appealed to country estate builders, while other lands, notably along the bayshore, were divided into small lots for seasonal cottages.  The arrival of the township’s first trolley line in 1904 was the first major change that helped establish the township’s present suburban character.  The country estate era is represented by two important properties. One is the township-owned MacLeod-Rice House in Leonardo, part of which is occupied as a historical museum.  The other is Brookdale Farm, part of which is the county’s Brookdale Community College, while another part is Brookdale Park, which includes the headquarters of the Monmouth County Park System.

The automobile age transformed the township.  Middletown village became congested, resulting in the construction of a highway cut-off.  Easy automobile access stimulated the subdivision of farms into tracts for permanent housing.  The trend, which began in the early post-World War II years, mushroomed after the 1954 opening of the Garden State Parkway.  The township assumed a bedroom suburb character; one balanced by a later 20th century trend for professionals and office businesses to locate in Middletown.

Middletown is proud of its stature as an early New Jersey Certified Local Government. Although most of the township is fully developed, Middletown strives to maintain open space and conserve historic resources.

Scope and Content

The records consist of 18 volumes as follows:

• Governing Body Minutes, 3 volumes, 1897-1916
• Ordinances, 1 through 2,220, 15 volumes, 1900-1991


Minute Books
1897, May 29
1902, Mar. 22
1902, Apr. 12
1912, Dec. 19
1913, Jan. 1
1916, Nov. 17

Ordinance Books [1]

Ordinance #
1900, June 12
1922 [2]
1923, Jan. 11
1924 [3]
1925, Feb. 5
1940, Aug. 22
1941, Sept. 11
1949, July 13
1949, Sept. 14
1960, Dec. 28
1961, Mar. 8
1966, May 24
1966, June 14
1970, Dec. 8
1970, Nov. 10
1973, June 26
951-1102 [4]
1973, June 12
1976, July 27
1976, July 27
1978, Feb. 28 [5]
1978, Mar. 14
1981, July 14
1981, July 14
1984, Apr. 2
1984, Mar. 26
1986, Feb. 24
1986, Mar. 10
1988, Oct. 17
1988, Aug. 15
1991, Feb. 25

[1] Dates given are dates approved except as noted.
[2] Last ordinance not dated. Last ordinance with date approved Sept. 6, 1922.
[3] Last ordinance not dated. Last ordinance with date approved Jan. 31, 1924.
[4] Ordinance 1103 not present.
[5] Ordinance 1234 passed but it was not approved. Date given is passage date.

There are no restrictions on use of the material.