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History and Facts of New Jersey Counties

Today’s New Jersey counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

Province of New Jersey (1664–1673)

The province had originally been settled by Europeans as part of New Netherland. In September 1664, it came under English rule as a Proprietary Colony of England.

The English organized the Province of New Jersey in 1665. The Dutch Republic reasserted control for a brief period in 16731674. In 1674, the English divided the territory into East Jersey and West Jersey.

No New Jersey counties were formed during this period.

Provinces of East Jersey and West Jersey (1674–1702)

From 1674 to 1702, the Province of New Jersey was divided into East Jersey and West Jersey, each with its own governor. The first New Jersey counties were created as administrative district courts within each province.

In 1675, East Jersey was divided into 4 district courts (counties) for administrative purposes: BergenEssexMiddlesex and Monmouth.

In 1681, West Jersey was divided into 2 district courts (counties) for administrative purposes: Burlington and Salem.

On March 7, 1683, the courts of BergenEssexMiddlesex and Monmouth was officially recognized as an independent counties by the Provincial Assembly of East Jersey.

In 1685, West New Jersey the created the Court of Cape May, and in 1686 the Court of Gloucester.

On May 7, 1688, the Province of New York, the Province of East Jersey, and the Province of West Jersey were added to the Dominion of New England.

In 1688, East Jersey the created the Court of Somerset.

In 1689, the Dominion of New England was dissolved after colonists rose up in rebellion.

On May 17, 1694, the courts of Burlington, Salem and Gloucester was officially recognized as independent counties by the Provincial Assembly of West Jersey.

On April 17, 1702, the East Jersey and West Jersey Provinces merged and the courts of Cape May and Somerset was officially recognized as independent counties by the Provincial Assembly of New Jersey.

Province of New Jersey, Royal Colony (1702–1783)

On April 17, 1702, Proprietors of East and West New Jersey surrendered to Queen Anne their rights to govern their colonies, and the two colonies were united into the single royal Province of New Jersey.

The New Jersey counties of Hunterdon (1714), Morris (1739), Cumberland (1748) and Sussex (1753) counties were formed during this period.

Province of New Jersey Counties

The original boundaries of the province were slightly larger than the current state, extending into a part of the present state of New York, until the border was finalized in 1773.

New Jersey’s first state constitution was adopted on July 2, 1776. The State of New Jersey entered the union as the 3rd state on December 18, 1787 with a total of 13 counties. New Jersey would add 8 more counties between 1824 to 1857 bringing the total to 21 counties

New Jersey Counties Today

Today, New Jersey is divided into 21 counties. States bordering New Jersey are New YorkPennsylvania and Delaware.

New Jersey, each county serves as the local level of government between the state and municipalities.

County government in New Jersey includes a Board of Chosen Freeholders, sheriff, clerk, and surrogate (responsible for uncontested and routine probate), all of which are elected officials.

Counties traditionally perform state-mandated duties such as the maintenance of jails, parks, and certain roads. The site of each counties administration and courts is called the county seat.

Fun Facts about New Jersey Counties

New Jersey counties contain 565 municipalities / administrative entities;

  • 250 boroughs
  • 52 cities
  • 15 towns
  • 244 townships
  • 4 villages

Counties by Year

County Size Facts

County Population Facts

  • Bergen County (905,116) is the most populated county in New Jersey.
  • Salem County (66,083) is the least populated county in New Jersey.

New Jersey City Facts

New Jersey’s 10 largest cities (2019) are:

  1. Newark (282,803) is in Essex County
  2. Jersey City (265,932) is in Hudson County
  3. Paterson (147,890) is in Passaic County
  4. Elizabeth (129,363) is in Union County
  5. Toms River (88,707) is in Ocean County
  6. Clifton (82,776) is in Passaic County
  7. Trenton (84,867) is in Mercer County
  8. Camden (75,550) is in Camden County
  9. Passaic (68,982) is in Passaic County
  10. Union City (69,815) is in Hudson County

Boundary Changes of New Jersey Counties from 1816 to 1872

This Interactive Map of New Jersey Counties  show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from the creation of New Jersey from 1683-1928.

List of New Jersey Counties

List of Old Former / Extinct New Jersey Counties

There are no New Jersey counties that no longer exist.