Throckmorton-Lippit-Taylor Burying Ground
Middletown Village Historic District
Middletown is one of the oldest settlements in New Jersey, and this is the oldest recorded family burying ground in Middletown. The men, women, and children interred here represent some of the earliest settlers of the town, and their lives reflect those who founded our country. They were merchants, cabinetmakers, carpenters, judges, farmers, and adventurers in search of religious freedom and economic opportunity for their families and themselves. Here are some of their stories.
John Throckmorton Sr. was the first person buried here about 1684. John and his wife, Rebecca, and their two children sailed from England on the ship named Lyon and arrived in Massachusetts on February 5, 1631. Roger Williams was also a passenger on the Lyon, and he and John became friends during their journey. John was so impressed by Williams that he and his family followed him to Salem, Massachusetts and settled there. Both men became disenchanted with the Puritans, so about 1636, John followed Williams into an unsettled land that would become Rhode Island. Williams purchased land from the Indians, and he deeded some of the shares of this land to John and eleven other men. They established a new settlement named Providence Plantation. It was founded on what Roger Williams called “soul liberty" with freedom of religion and conscience. Williams is also credited with establishing the first Baptist Church in America, and John and Rebecca Throckmorton were on The List of Original Members received in 1638.
John Sr. was a merchant and owned sailing vessels that traveled between Rhode Island and Virginia. He held important positions in Rhode Island such as treasurer, committeeman, and more. John was adventurous, and as a result, he participated in establishing settlements in Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey.
About 1643, John Sr. received a grant from the Dutch to settle land east of Manhattan, and his family and other families from Rhode Island developed a settlement there. It was called Throckmorton’s Neck, and the area is now called Throg’s Neck. It is at the northern end of the Throg’s Neck Bridge in New York. John’s settlement was short lived because Indian uprisings killed many in the settlement. Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was John’s friend. He wrote in his diary that Indians killed one of John’s children; thus, the Throckmortons returned to the safety of Providence, Rhode Island.
On April 8, 1665, twelve men received the Monmouth Patent signed by Colonel Nicolls. That legalized a settlement in Middletown under British law. One of the conditions was that the Patentees establish the new settlement with at least one hundred families within three years. Land was sold to those who wanted to settle there and to land speculators. John heard about the new settlement and bought some shares. He gave his shares to his sons, John Jr. and Job, and to his daughter and her husband, Deliverance and James Ashton. They were among the earliest settlers in Middletown. While John Sr. was visiting his children there, sometime between March 17th and April 25th, 1683 or 1684, he died and was buried on John Junior’s property.
The First Town Book of Middletown states that home lots were laid out and the settlers drew for their lots in Middletown on December 30th and the 31st, 1667. John Jr. received lot #24 in the village and outlot #18, outside of the village. Poricy Park is on part of John’s property, outlot #18.
On December 21, 1670, John Jr. married Alice Stout who was a neighbor living across “The Street" from him. (Kings Highway was also called The Street by the original settlers in Middletown.) She was the daughter of Richard and Penelope Stout. Her father was one of the original Monmouth Patentees. Her mother was the legendary woman who was brutally attacked by Indians and left for dead. Penelope was nursed back to health by a friendly Indian and later rescued by some Englishmen. She married Richard, bore 10 children, and was about 100 years old when she died. Tradition suggests that Penelope is interred in this burying ground, but there are no records or gravestone to confirm this.
John Jr. was very active in this community. He was elected a Deputy to New Jersey’s General Assembly and served from 1675 to 1688. John was appointed with the sheriff to build the first Monmouth County jail in 1684. For many years, he served as a judge in the Monmouth County courts and held that position until the time of his death.
John Junior’s Last Will and Testament was signed on July 17, 1690, and he died that summer. It stated, “This one Quarter of an Acre of land where my father was buried in Middletown shall not be sold but To Remain a burying place for me and my posterity and all my children forever." This burial site was left to his daughter, Sarah, who was married to Moses Lippit. It became known as the Lippit Burying Ground and is on Penelope Lane.
Job Throckmorton was born in Providence, Rhode Island on September 30, 1650. He was the son of John Sr. In The First Town Book of Middletown, he drew lot #22 and outlot # 36. He married Sarah Leonard, and they had about nine children. The Leonardo section of Middletown is named after Sarah’s family. Job was a farmer and frequently bought and sold land in the area. In 1693, he represented Middletown in the General Assembly, and in 1694 was a Messenger at the Council at Perth Amboy.
Job died on August 20, 1709. His tombstone is the reddish brown slab in the style of those used in the pre-Revolutionary War years. “The top of the slab curves to outline the head and wings of the moon-faced angel who presided there." This tombstone was erected beside his father’s and brother, John’s. (Theirs has not been found.) Job’s is one of the oldest headstones, in existence, in Monmouth County.
Moses Lippit was married to Sarah Throckmorton, and they and several of their children are buried here. Moses was a cooper, which meant that he was a carpenter who made barrels. That was a very important job in the colonies because barrels were used to store grain, beer, and other goods. He and Sarah died in the early to mid 1700’s. Upon their death, this burying ground was left to their children. On April 9, 1754, their son, John Lippit, sold their town lot that included this burying ground to Squire Edward Taylor. Thus, it became known as the Taylor Burying Ground.
Edward Taylor, Esq. was born on August 20, 1712 and died January 18, 1783. He married Mary Ogborne, and both of them are buried here. Edward resided in the house built by his father in 1729. It was east of Christ Church on The Street. In 1758, he took over the Old Tavern that was established by his father, and it was located in front of his residence. During the American Revolution, he owned Marlpit Hall (one of Middletown’s historic landmarks) and was the largest landowner in Middletown with 1,200 acres. He also built and ran a mill that was known as Arrowsmith’s Mill, and it was located in what is now Hazlet.
Edward was a Member of New Jersey’s General Assembly in 1768, 1772, and 1774, and a member of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey in 1775 and 1776. At the beginning of the American Revolution, he supported the Patriots’ cause by sending supplies to the people in Boston. When his son, George, became a Colonel in the British army, Edward became sympathetic to the Loyalist’s cause. Brigadier General David Forman sent a letter to him dated July 2, 1777. Edward was put under house arrest, in his home in Middletown, until further notice. Some of his neighbors suspected that he was a British spy who had given information to his son that enabled him and his soldiers to escape from the militia. The war years were very difficult for Edward because his political convictions differed from those of his neighbors.
Colonel George Taylor was Edward’s son. He married Deborah Carman in 1752, and they are both buried here. During his early military career, George was an officer in the militia. When the American Revolution began, he was commanding a battalion of militia in the Continental Army until he had a change of heart. In July, 1776, he resigned his commission with the militia and joined the Loyal Volunteers and became a colonel in the British army.
Women were very important in colonial America. They maintained the home and raised the children. Their husbands’ economic and political status brought some of them prestige and for some ridicule and hardship. One of those ladies was Phebe Taylor.
Phebe Taylor was born around 1708 and died on July 10, 1791. Her life must have been very interesting because her husband and brother were prominent figures during the American Revolution, and they were on opposite sides. Phebe’s husband was Squire John Taylor, Edward’s brother. He was very wealthy, and their home in Middletown was the site for many social festivities. John was also a Royal Sheriff of Monmouth County, a judge, and a Loyalist. In 1777, John was appointed His Majesty’s Lord High Commissioner of New Jersey, and that elevated his standing with the British. As a result, it was reported that he entertained General Henry Clinton and his staff at his home in Middletown as they retreated after the Battle of Monmouth on June 28th, 1778. It can be assumed that Phebe was probably there and the hostess at that occasion. Because John was a high ranking Loyalist, there was a lot of dissension between him and the Patriots in Middletown. At the end of the war, his neighbors took part of his land for public use and paid him with depreciated Continental currency, denying him the true value of his property. Phebe is buried here with three of her children.
Phebe’s brother was General Nathaniel Heard in the Continental Army. On June 19, 1776, during a midnight raid, he arrested William Franklin, New Jersey’s Royal Governor and turned him over to the Patriots. After being released from a prison in Connecticut, Franklin ultimately sailed to England. Heard’s brigade took part in George Washington’s evacuation of New York City on September 12, 1776. His brigade consisted of sixteen companies of 160 officers and 1,762 enlisted men. During the war, Heard kept Washington apprised of what the British were doing at Sandy Hook. General Heard left part of his estate to Phebe. He is buried in Woodbridge.
The term “a house divided" pertained to the Taylor family of Middletown. Edward, Colonel George, and John Taylor were Loyalists, and other family members were Patriots. Colonel George’s son, Edward, was a Captain in the Continental Army.
Eleanor Taylor Lyell, daughter of Edward Taylor, Esq., was married to Captain Fenwick Lyell. He was a captain on merchant vessels and was lost at sea. Their sons, Fenwick and John, were talented cabinetmakers who had shops in Middletown Village and New York City in the late 1700’s. Some if their pieces are with the Monmouth County Historical Association in Freehold. Eleanor and her sons are buried here.
The men and women who are interred in this burying ground were courageous and adventurous. They founded new settlements in the wilderness and followed their political and religious convictions with dignity. Their commitment for a better life continues today in the spirit of Middletown.
The Throckmorton-Lippit-Taylor Burying Ground is the property of the Township of Middletown.
This biographical narrative is written by Suzanne Bugbee for Brian Bugbee’s Boy Scout Eagle Project, June 2003. As a result of this Eagle Project, the burying ground is registered with the United States Genealogical Website Tombstone Project.
Row 1 is closest to Penelope Lane. Number one is on the left side of this site (except for Job Throckmorton in row 5).
- Paul Micheau, died July 17, 1849, age 63 years, 5 months, 25 days
- Mariah Micheau, daughter of Paul and Mary Micheau, died June 28, 1835, age 19 years, 5 months, 28 days
- Colonel George Taylor, died March 4, 1799, age 65 years, 1 month, 6 days
- Deborah Taylor, wife of George Taylor, died January 15, 1814, age 82 years
- Fenwick Lyell, died December 20, 1822, age 55 years
- Asher, son of John and Mary Taylor, died March 13, 1797, age 22 years, 1 month, 10 days
- Benjamin Micheau, died May 25, 1835, age 74 years, 4 months, 27 days
- Mary, wife of Benjamin Micheau, died May 17, 1822, age 63 years, 11 months, 14 days
- Eliza Jane, daughter of George and Mina Cooper, died August 23, 1826, age 3 years
- Ellenor Lyell, died July 18, 1818, age 1 year, 2 months, 19 days
- Margaret Field, died Feb. 22, 1831 age 27 years and her son Sydney, died Feb. 24, 1831, 15 days old
- Ann, wife of Charles Conover, died Jan. 21, 1822, age 29 years, 11 months, 6 days
- John Lyell, died October 24, 1811, age 42 years
- Eliza, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Micheau, died June 15, 1792, age 4 years, 7 months, 6 days
- Eleanor, wife of Capt. Fenwick Lyell and daughter of Edward and Mary Taylor, died December 30, 1794, age 57 years, 4 days
- Edward Taylor, Esq. died January 18, 1783, age 71 years and 5 months
- Mary, wife of Edward Taylor, Esq., died December 30, 1772, age 61 years, 6 months, 20 days
- William Conover, died Aug. 17, 1807, age 44 years, 4 months, 10 days
- Daniel Conover, died Dec. 26, 1808, age 71 years, 11 months, 5 days
- George Conover, died Dec. 26, 1826, age 59, 9 days
- Mary, wife of George Conover, died July 26, 1852, age 84 years, 4 months, 16 days
- John Powell, only his footstone remains here
- William, son of John and Sarah Powell, died Nov., 1821, age 18 years
- William, son of William and Elizabeth Conover, died March 24, 1816, age 18 years, 4 months, 20 days
- Elizabeth, daughter of William and Elizabeth Conover, died Oct. 19, 1821, age 25 years, 8 months, 7 days
- Job Throckmorton, died August 20, 1709, age 58 years, 10 months, 21 days
- William, son of John and Phebe Taylor, died March 13, 1745, age 1 year, 6 days A daughter of John and Phebe Taylor was born and died on Sept. 30, 1745
- Phebe, wife of John Taylor, Esq., died July 10, 1791, age about 83 years. Only her footstone remains here.
- Elizabeth, daughter of Ezekiel and Sarah Cooper, died May 11, 1783, age 8 months
- Ezekiel Cooper, died Dec. 28, 1782, age 39 years. Only the base of his headstone remains here without an inscription. His footstone is here.
- Sarah, wife of Ezekiel Cooper, died March 12, 1818, age 72 years
The following people are interred here but there are no signs of their headstones or footstones:
- John Throckmorton Sr., from Providence, Rhode Island, died about 1684
- John Throckmorton Jr., died in the summer of 1690
- Sarah, daughter of John Throckmorton Jr., and her husband, Moses Lippit and several of their children
- Alice, daughter of John Throckmorton Jr., and her husband, Thomas Stillwell and their son, John and his wife, Mercy Burrows
- John Powell, died June 8, 1728, age about 40 years
- Anna, wife of John Lufburrow, died Sept. 13, 1848, age 83 years
- John Lufburrow, died March 24, 1828, age 72 years
- Phebe, daughter of John and Phebe Taylor, died Aug. 14, 1742, age 4 years
John E. Stillwell, M.D. compiled this information in 1909 by deciphering the inscriptions on the headstones. (Historical and Genealogical Miscellany, Early Settlers of New Jersey and Their Descendants)
Suzanne and Brian Bugbee used Dr. Stillwell’s information to decipher the inscriptions on the headstones and footstones and to organize that information into this map in June 2003.
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