Daniel Coxe IV, eldest son of Dr Daniel Coxe and Rebecca Coldham, was christened in St Botolph's Church in Aldgate, London on 31 August 1673. Although nothing is known of his education, from his later career it must be assumed that he received some training as a lawyer. Apart from his grandparents' wills, the next we hear of him is Dr Coxe's transfer of the remainder of his West Jersey property to his son in July 1701. The younger Daniel immediately involved himself in New Jersey affairs, supporting the continuation of Colonel Andrew Hamilton as Governor, and then, in December of the same year, changing his mind and contributing to a list of objections against Hamilton.

Queen Anne sent her cousin Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, to New Jersey as Hamilton's replacement, and Daniel Coxe probably travelled as part of his entourage, arriving in the first months of 1702. Cornbury appointed him commander of the Queen's military forces in West Jersey, giving him the rank of Colonel ; from which point onwards he was known universally as Colonel Coxe. The private purpose of his trip to America was to organise the sale or lease of the properties assigned him by his father, which made him on his arrival the largest resident shareholder in West Jersey, and of all shareholders second only to William Penn. He moved first into Coxe Hall at Cape May, his father's old administrative headquarters.

In August 1703 Daniel Finch, Earl of Nottingham - a distant connection by marriage through the Dethick and Banks families - recommended Colonel Coxe as a member of the Council for New Jersey, the upper house of the colony's two administrative tiers under the Governor. The Board of Trade stated in response that they were unaware that the younger Daniel Coxe held property in the Jerseys, which was a requirement for Council membership, and that there was no place for him. Finch's recommendation touched off a minor storm of protest from the Jersey proprietors - notably the West Jersey Society - with the result that Colonel Coxe returned to London to answer for himself to the Board of Trade, as well as to deliver papers to them from Lord Cornbury.

The proprietors claimed that Coxe had already begun stirring up trouble in the Jerseys by asserting that land ownership should not be a qualification for Council membership. The lands he claimed to have received from Dr Coxe had in fact been sold to the West Jersey Society, and his recommendation for Council membership had been improper ; the insinuation being that Colonel Coxe himself had been behind Finch's proposal. With the proprietors threatening legal action against both the doctor and the colonel, the latter appeared before the Board of Trade in February 1703/4, answering the charges in a tone "far more dignified than the criticisms lodged against him".1 He stated that the Earl of Nottingham's recommendation had been unsolicited and made without his knowledge ; that he still owned large amounts of property in the Jerseys, conveyed to him by his father, and not part of the sale to the West Jersey Society.

Colonel Coxe had also been delegated by Cornbury to protest to the Board of Trade about Quaker influence in West Jersey. He claimed that due to their pacifist principles Quaker members of the Council failed to support the militia or measures to finance it ; that Quakers refused to pay tithes and intimidated Anglicans. The Board ignored his complaints. For the rest of his life Coxe continued the campaign instigated by Lord Cornbury, taking every opportunity to attack Quakers, on one occasion stating their intent to be to "destroy our religion, lives, liberties, reputations and estates".

While Colonel Coxe was still in England, Cornbury again recommended him for Council membership, despite the earlier controversy, and on 29 November 1705 the appointment was endorsed by Queen Anne. Coxe returned to New Jersey and took his seat in the summer of 1706. This was the heyday of the "Cornbury Ring", the inner circle of the Governor's notoriously corrupt administration, which augmented the harassment of Quakers by appropriating their land by various none-too-scrupulous means. Daniel Coxe was a prominent member and energetic participant in their activities. The presiding villain, Lord Cornbury, had his picturesque side ; he was an unabashed cross-dresser, whose portrait, in "ball-gown and five o'clock shadow"2, is now hanging in the New York Historical Society.

On 8 May 1707 Colonel Daniel Coxe married Sarah Eckley, the orphaned daughter of a former Judge of the Supreme Court of Philadelphia, John Eckley, and his second wife Sarah. John Eckley came from Kimbolton in Herefordshire, near the border between England and Wales, and he and his wife were both Quakers. He had been a successful merchant in Philadelphia before being appointed a judge in 1684, and a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Council from 1688 until his death in December 1689, around the time that Sarah was born. He had a son, also John Eckley, by a former marriage. His wife Sarah (whose maiden name was probably Prichard), had also been married previously, to a Mr Burge, by whom she had a son, William, and a daughter, Mary. Sarah died in 1698, when her daughter Sarah was nine years old, and in her will she placed her youngest child under the guardianship of her Quaker friends John and Hannah Delavall of Philadelphia. She left separate legacies to the Men's and Women's Meetings of Friends in Philadelphia, and her property - in Pembrokeshire and Pennsylvania - was divided equally between her three children, all of whom were then living in Pennsylvania.

There are conflicting accounts of Daniel and Sarah Coxe's wedding, but the gist of the story seems to be that the couple called at the house of Lord Cornbury's chaplain, the Reverend John Sharp, around midnight on 7 May, woke him up and asked him to marry them, for which he "received the magnificent stipend of five guineas"3. They were married according to the rites of the Church of England. After the wedding, the couple appear to have attended a further ceremony - perhaps to obtain the blessing of some of Sarah's friends, although it is difficult to imagine how Colonel Coxe, the arch-Quaker-baiter, would have behaved or been received at such a gathering. The report of this occasion is from a Quaker hand, that of Margaret Preston, a friend of the bride ; but she was not present. It supposedly took place on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River at three o'clock in the morning, "under a tree by firelight". Margaret wrote that the news of the marriage was "both sorrowful and surprising", and described Daniel as "a fine, flaunting gentleman, said to be worth a great deal of money" - for which, rather venomously, she implied Sarah was marrying him.

John Sharp later christened the "pretty" bride, and for the rest of her life she attended Church of England services. She could hardly have done otherwise. The couple settled on the Green Bank in Burlington, where their first child, John, was born in 1708.

Rumours of Cornbury's corrupt government of the province were reaching England, and that year Daniel Coxe was called upon to defend his friend and supporter. He blamed irregularities on the Scotch-Quaker-dominated Assembly, but to no avail. Cornbury was removed, and replaced in rapid succession by Governors Lovelace and Ingoldsby. Colonel Coxe, despite continued rumblings about his membership of the Council, was appointed an associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, a position he held until 1713.

In June 1710 - the year the Coxes's second son Daniel was born, in Burlington - Robert Hunter became Governor and immediately set out about defending the Quakers against the attacks and land seizures of Coxe and his associates. The colonel was still in dispute with the London proprietors - essentially the West Jersey Society - over the title to his father's former properties, and now there developed a running battle between Coxe and the new Governor. Hunter wrote to London that there would be no peace and quiet in New Jersey until Coxe and his friends were removed from office, to which Coxe retorted that he was being victimised because he was an Anglican. Queen Anne dismissed Coxe from the Council on 15 April 1713. He and Sarah returned to England, and together with the aging Dr Coxe and the colonel's brother Samuel campaigned unsuccessfully to prevent Hunter's reappointment as Governor. Back in New Jersey in 1714, Daniel wooed the Swedish voters and managed to get elected to the Assembly, the lower house of New Jersey's government. After Queen Anne's death in August 1714, however, and with the Whig party in the political ascendancy, Tories like Coxe were at a disadvantage.

He was as antagonistic to Roman Catholics as to Quakers. In 1715 he encouraged the residents of West Jersey not to pay their taxes because the assessor was a Catholic, and in 1716 himself refused to pay taxes ; his goods were seized and sold at public auction. His feud with Governor Hunter continued : in the spring of 1715 he generated rumours that Hunter would be replaced as Governor, as a result of which Coxe's party gained a majority in the Assembly. Hunter accused him of broadcasting false information and using "the rum bottle"4 to win votes, and dissolved the Assembly, but Coxe was elected again and chosen Speaker on 4 April 1716. The Governor's response was to prorogue the Assembly until 7 May, but Coxe and his faction refused to attend, and Hunter only achieved a quorum on 21 May, when once again he expelled the leading troublemaker. Again, Coxe was reelected, and again expelled by Hunter. Both Council and Assembly charged Colonel Coxe with disturbing the peace and forming a combination against the government. He fled with his family across the river to Pennsylvania, and from there to England, where his daughter Rebecca was born on 9 November 1716.

For two years he continued to attack Hunter, enlisting his father's support in complaining to the Board of Trade. The campaign was so furious that it even sparked rumours that the Coxes were encouraging the Governor's assassination. But Hunter had the Board's confidence - or more of it than Coxe did - and in 1718 they wrote to him to say that his troubles with Coxe were over. In 1719 his father's appearances before the board to give evidence about the Carolana patent raised both men's hopes that the settlement project might be resurrected, which led eventually to the publication of Colonel Coxe's "
A Description of the English Province of Carolana, by the Spaniards call'd Florida, and by the French La Louisiane". This was a far more ambitious attempt to promote interest in the Carolana project than any of Dr Coxe's earlier West Jersey efforts, and was compiled almost entirely by Daniel junior from his father's collection of American travel journals and maps : it was indeed "a literary salvage of Dr. Coxe's memorials".5 It was published in London in 1722, "printed for B. Cowse at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Churchyard", and further editions were printed in 1727 and 1741, by which date its promotional intent had been overtaken by interest in the work's descriptive content. Daniel, still hoping in 1722 to attract settlers to Dr Coxe's "New Empire", stated his aims as being to provide a description of the lands covered by the patent and to defend the British claim to Carolana ; to describe the Indian nations, the native fauna and flora, and the province's attractions for settlers in terms of industry, agriculture and trade. The sources from which he drew his chapters were secondary : letters from Indian traders, the reports of expeditions (some sponsored by Dr Coxe), and other published descriptions and maps of America. In reply to doubts expressed as to the accuracy of some of those reports, the younger Daniel claimed his account was more accurate than anything so far published by the French.

The book begins with a long preface, followed by six chapters of description. To these Daniel appended copies of Charles I's original charter to Sir Robert Heath and the 1699 decision on Dr Coxe's title to Carolana by the Attorney General, followed by an abstract of the doctor's memorandum to William III, "
A demonstration of the just pretensions ... ". The preface included what has been credited as the first plan of American union to appear in print, and it is worth quoting Daniel Coxe's words. He points out the threat from French incursions southwards from Canada, stating that the frontiers of the British colonies are "large, naked and open", and that there is little cooperation between those colonies when it comes to defending them ;

The only Expedient I can at present think of, or shall presume to mention (with the utmost Deference to His Majesty and His Ministers) to help and obviate these Absurdities and Inconveniencies, and apply a Remedy to them, is, That All the Colonies appertaining to the Crown of Great Britain on the Northern Continent of America, be United under a Legal, Regular, and firm Establishment ; Over which, it's propos'd, a Lieutenant, or Supreme Governour, may be constituted, and appointed to Preside on the Spot, to whom the Governours of each Colony shall be Subordinate.
It is further humbly propos'd, That two Deputies shall be annually Elected by the Council and Assembly of each Province, who are to be in the Nature of a Great Council, or General Convention of the Estates of the Colonies ; and by the Order, Consent or Approbation of the Lieutenant or Governour General, shall meet together, Consult and Advise for the Good of the whole, Settle and Appoint particular Quota's or Proportions of Money, Men, Provisions, &c. that each respective Government is to raise, for their mutual Defence and Safety, as well, as, if necessary, for Offence and Invasion of their Enemies ; in all which Cases the Governour General or Lieutenant is to have a Negative ; but not to Enact any Thing without their Concurrence, or that of the Majority of them.
The Quota or Proportion, as above allotted and charg'd on each Colony, may, nevertheless, be levy'd and rais'd by its own Assembly, in such Manner, as They shall judge most Easy and Convenient, and the Circumstances of their Affairs will permit.
Other Jurisdictions, Powers and Authorities, respecting the Honour of His Majesty, the Interest of the Plantations, and the Liberty and Property of the Proprietors, Traders, Planters and Inhabitants in them, may be Vested in and Cognizable by the abovesaid Governour General or Lieutenant, and Grand Convention of the Estates, according to the Laws of England, but are not thought fit to be touch'd on or inserted here ; This Proposal being General, and withall humility submitted to the Consideration of our Superiours, who may Improve, Model, or Reject it, as they in their Wisdom shall judge proper.
A Coalition or Union of this Nature, temper'd with and grounded on Prudence, Moderation and Justice, and a generous Incouragement given to the Labour, Industry, and good Management of all Sorts and Conditions of Persons inhabiting, or, any ways, concern'd or interested in the several Colonies above mention'd, will, in all probability, lay a sure and lasting Foundation of Dominion, Strength, and Trade, sufficient not only to Secure and Promote the Prosperity of the Plantations, but to revive and greatly increase the late Flourishing State and Condition of Great Britain, and thereby render it, once more, the Envy and Admiration of its Neighbours.
Let us consider the Fall of our Ancestors, and grow wise by their Misfortunes. If the Ancient Britains had been united amongst themselves, the Romans, in all probability, had never become their Masters : For as Caesar observ'd of them, Dum Singuli pugnabant, Universi vincebantur, whilst they fought in seperate Bodies, the whole Island was subdued. So if the English Colonies in America were Consolidated as one Body, and joyn'd in one Common Interest, as they are under one Gracious Sovereign, and with united Forces were ready and willing to act in Concert, and assist each other, they would be better enabled to provide for and defend themselves, against any troublesome Ambitious Neighbour, or bold Invader. For Union and Concord increase and establish Strength and Power, whilst Division and Discord have the contrary Effects.


Daniel believed that Spain and England should share the Carolana territory, with the Mississippi River as a dividing line, echoing the suggestion his father had made in 1719 concerning France and England. But Dr Coxe's fears that the French might squeeze the British out of their rightful possessions in America found full and furious expression in his son's preface.

Towards the end of 1722 Daniel and Sarah returned to New Jersey, where their last child, William, was born on 27 April 1723. In March his sister Anne Harris sent a chest containing gifts for "Brother Dan and Sister Coxe", addressed to "Coll. Daniel Coxe in Philadelphia", and some other items for Mrs Mary French. She was the elder daughter of Daniel's English attorney and agent, Leonard Streate, and his wife Mary, formerly Mary Plaisted ; the Streates lived in Cheapside, London, and their younger daughter Abigail later married Daniel Coxe V, Daniel and Sarah's second son. The chest was shipped on board the
London Hope, under Captain Annis, sailing from Shadwell Dock, London, on 30 March ; a copy of the Bill of Lading, dated 2 April and addressed to Sarah Coxe, was sent by the same vessel. The list of presents for the Coxes, on which Anne spent 5 1s 6d, was6 :

Six yards and Half of English Green mantua silck three quarters of a yard wide
One pair of Black woosted stockins for Brother Dan Coxe
a Pattern to worck a Bed
Two Pounds of woosted in grain Cullers
Seven Pounds and Tenn ounces of shades of Cullers
an Hundred of needles to worck ye bed with

And Mrs French's consignment, which came to exactly 8 :

a Pair of Stays
One Douson of white Kid gloves
One Pair of Green silck shooes
One Pair of yellow Breed shooes
One Pair Blue callimancae shooes
One pair Scarlett callimancae shoos
two Pair of silver Trimings for shooes
Two Pair of silck Trimings for shooes
One pair of silver Trimings for Cloggs
One Pair of Scarlett vellvet Cloggs
One Pair Blue vellvet Cloggs
Strings for Harpsicords and one Douson of Eagles quills
One mount for a fann
a Fann
feathers
Cloaths and Leafs for four Rosses
a sheet of green paper


Robert Hunter had now been replaced as Governor by William Burnet. Daniel resumed his political activities, standing in 1725 as a Burlington candidate for the Assembly. The new Governor accused the sheriff of Burlington of favouring Coxe over his Quaker opponent by changing the polling station's location and keeping it open for two weeks ; a charge which probably speaks more to Colonel Coxe's methods and reputation than to Burnet's character. It is not known whether he was elected on this occasion.

Sarah Coxe died, aged 35, at Cape May on 25 June 1725 and was buried at St Mary's Church in Burlington. In the same year there is a record of an iron works, part-owned by Daniel Coxe, at Farnsworth's Landing, Bordentown. The premises also contained a grist-mill, and the works used bog iron from Crosswicks Creek. This property was still in Daniel's possession at his death, and sold soon afterwards by his sons. It does not appear to have contributed significantly to his income, which almost from the moment he first arrived in America derived mostly from land speculation and property rents. His title to those properties of his father's to which he laid claim was no longer in dispute, and in 1728 he became a member of the Council of Proprietors of West Jersey. He was by now one of the largest landowners in the province.

In England he had been a freemason, a member of Lodge No. 8 of London. On 5 June 1730 he was deputised by the Duke of Norfolk, Grand Master of the English Lodges, as Provincial Grand Master of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the first such appointment in America. A year and a half later, visiting the Grand Lodge on one of his English trips, he was toasted as "Provincial Grand Master of North America." There is no evidence, however, that he was active in his American masonic role.

The dispute over whether property had been given by Dr Coxe to his son, or had been sold to the West Jersey Society, raised its head again in 1731. The bone of contention was a large tract of land in Hunterdon County, including the township of Hopewell. This land had been part of Dr Coxe's Indian purchase of March 1688. Daniel had had the Hopewell tract resurveyed in 1707, but after the removal of his supporter Lord Cornbury had not pursued his claim, and the West Jersey Society's ownership had gone undisputed for over twenty years, in which time the Society had settled hundreds of families in the area. The fact that Colonel Coxe had also been selling property in the same area during the 1720s went unnoticed, or was not commented upon by the Society. In 1731 Coxe asserted his title to Hopewell, claiming the land had never been sold to the West Jersey Society. If it had - as the Society maintained - they had failed to register the transfer, which amounted to the same thing. Coxe persuaded High Sheriff Bennett Bard to serve writs on about a hundred Hopewell residents giving them a choice of paying for their land again or being evicted. On 22 April fifty of the settlers entered into a compact to test the validity of Coxe's claim, and filed a counter suit naming him as the sole defendant. New Jersey's Supreme Court eventually issued Writs of Trespass and Ejectment in 1732 against those settlers who had neither repurchased nor left their property ; in 1733 the case came to trial in Burlington. Despite an all-Quaker jury, who could hardly have been sympathetic to the colonel or his methods of land acquisition, it was eventually decided in Coxe's favour and against the "Fifty Men's Compact" and the West Jersey Society. When the plaintiffs appealed to New Jersey's Chancellor, William Cosby, a year later, the original decision was upheld. To add irony to injury, they were faced with the fact that a further appeal would only have brought the case before Coxe himself, who had just been reappointed a justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court - a position he held until his death. The settlers left Hopewell, but not before a group of them, issuing death threats to the colonel, had tarred and feathered two of Coxe's new tenants and burnt down one of his properties. Many of the families of the fifty Compact members found their way to North Carolina and established a settlement on the Yadkin River which became known as the Jersey Settlement.

Around the time that the Hopewell dispute erupted, Daniel Coxe, now in his late fifties, took a mistress. She was Mary Johnson, a spinster, who lived in a "stone house"7 in Trenton. Between 1733 and 1737 they had three children - Charles, Thomas and Mary - who were all born in Trenton and bestowed with their father's surname, despite the fact that Daniel and Mary never married. Daniel died at Trenton on 25 April 1739 and was buried next to Sarah in front of the chancel steps at St Mary's Church in Burlington, of which he had been one of the first subscribers and incorporators. In his will, dated 21 March 1736/7 and proved five days after his death, he left a hundred acres for the use of the church at Maidenhead, the last of many gifts to the Anglican church in New Jersey. His estate was divided mainly between his four legitimate children and Mary Johnson's two sons - her daughter Mary had only lived for a year - and comprised all the property he had accumulated in New Jersey, as well as in New York and Massachusetts. Charles and Thomas were left 350 acres in Hunterdon County ; their mother's house in Trenton went to their half-brother William.

The volley of criticism and condemnation levelled at Colonel Coxe during his lifetime and afterwards seems justified. Most of his contemporary critics - like his arch-rival Robert Hunter, who called him "a noisy old fool"8, and William Penn, who described him as "one of the falsest of men"9 - had their own adversarial positions to maintain. "Powerful, greedy and villainous"10, applied indiscriminately to both Dr Coxe and Colonel Coxe by a recent writer, seems a little harsh on the former. Throughout his long political career in New Jersey Colonel Daniel Coxe displayed a relish both for intrigue and for a simple scrap. On his arrival in America he evidently expected to be treated as one of its leading proprietors, and never relinquished that attitude, even when forced to return to England for long periods. The fine, flaunting gentleman of 1708 put on a little weight in later years, judging by his portrait, in which his expression suggests that his vanity was flattered but he was impatient for the sitting to be over.

He was not an habitual writer like his father. Apart from
Carolana, he published only one short piece, around 1720, defending West Jersey's claim to the Island of Burlington in the Delaware River and arguing its importance to the town of Burlington. Otherwise he put his pen only to petitions and memoranda - mostly to the Board of Trade - concerning his many grievances. For nearly forty years, in and out of office or favour, through periods of exile and absence, his combative nature ensured that his voice would be heard. His stormy political career, his acquisition and retention of property and his benevolence to the Anglican church in New Jersey all left their mark, but Colonel Daniel Coxe is most widely remembered as the author of Carolana.


NOTES

1. Coker, Introduction to Carolana.
2.
Newsweek, 23 May 1994.
3. John Sharp's diary, quoted in DuBin,
Coxe Family.
4. Coker, Introduction to
Carolana.
5. Crane,
The Southern Frontier 1670-1732.
6. Anne Harris's household book.
7. Will of Daniel Coxe, 1737.
8. Jacob E. Cooke,
Tench Coxe and the Early Republic, University of North Carolina Press, 1978.
9. Cooke,
Tench Coxe and the Early Republic.
10. Ethel Stroupe,
First Families of Jersey Settlement, Rowan County Register, 1996.





Back to Contents page

Coxe family history - other chapters

Chapter 1 - Somerset Coxes and Dr Thomas Coxe
Chapter 2 - Daniel Coxe II of Stoke Newington and his children
Chapter 3 - Dr Daniel Coxe of London
Chapter 5 - The Norton family of London and Virginia
Chapter 6 - The Jennys family