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 1673–1674. 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.
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.
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
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
- In 1683 the four original New Jersey counties were formed, Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth Counties.
- The last county to be formed was Union County in 1857.
County Size Facts
- Burlington County (805 sq mi) is the largest county in New Jersey.
- Hudson County (47 sq mi) is the smallest county in New Jersey.
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:
- Newark (282,803) is in Essex County
- Jersey City (265,932) is in Hudson County
- Paterson (147,890) is in Passaic County
- Elizabeth (129,363) is in Union County
- Toms River (88,707) is in Ocean County
- Clifton (82,776) is in Passaic County
- Trenton (84,867) is in Mercer County
- Camden (75,550) is in Camden County
- Passaic (68,982) is in Passaic County
- 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
|County||Created||Created From||Named For||County Seat||Notes|
|Atlantic County||07 Feb 1837||Gloucester County||Atlantic Ocean, which forms the county's eastern border||Mays Landing|
|Bergen County||01 Mar 1683||One of four original counties created in East Jersey||Bergen, New Netherland settlement||Hackensack|
|Burlington County||17 May 1694||One of two original counties created in West Jersey||The old ancient name for an inland market near Bridlington, England||Mount Holly Township|
|Camden County||13 Mar 1844||Gloucester County||Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (1714–1794), an English supporter of the colonists during the American Revolution||Camden|
|Cape May County||12 Nov 1692||Burlington County||The 17th-century Dutch explorer Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who explored and surveyed the Delaware Bay to the south of the county||Cape May Court House|
|Cumberland County||07 Apr 2020||Salem County||Prince William, Duke of Cumberland (1721–1765), second son of George II of England and military victor at the Battle of Culloden in 1746||Bridgeton|
|Essex County||01 Mar 1683||One of four original counties created in East Jersey||The county of Essex in England||Newark|
|Gloucester County||28 May 1686||Burlington County||The city of Gloucester, England||Woodbury|
|Hudson County||22 Feb 1840||Bergen County||The English explorer Henry Hudson (d. 1611), who explored portions of New Jersey's coastline||Jersey City|
|Hunterdon County||07 Apr 2020||Burlington County||Robert Hunter (1664–1734), the Colonial Governor of New Jersey from 1710 to 1720||Flemington|
|Mercer County||22 Feb 1838||Burlington, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties||In honor of Hugh Mercer (1726–1777); a Scottish soldier and physician; a brigadier general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He died at the Battle of Princeton.||Trenton|
|Middlesex County||01 Mar 1683||One of four original counties created in East Jersey||The historic county of Middlesex in England||New Brunswick|
|Monmouth County||01 Mar 1683||One of four original counties created in East Jersey||The historic county of Monmouthshire in Wales||Freehold Borough|
|Morris County||15 Mar 1739||Hunterdon County||Colonel Lewis Morris (1671–1746), colonial governor of New Jersey at the time of the county's formation||Morristown|
|Ocean County||15 Feb 1850||Monmouth County||The Atlantic Ocean, which forms the eastern border of New Jersey||Toms River|
|Passaic County||07 Feb 1837||Bergen County and Essex County||"Pasaeck", a Lenape word meaning "valley"||Paterson|
|Salem County||17 May 1694||One of two original counties created in West Jersey||A Hebrew word meaning "peace"||Salem|
|Somerset County||14 May 1688||Middlesex County||The county of Somerset in England||Somerville|
|Sussex County||16 May 1753||Morris County||The county of Sussex in England||Newton|
|Union County||19 Mar 1857||Essex County||The union of the United States, which was being threatened by the dispute over slavery||Elizabeth|
|Warren County||20 Nov 1824||Sussex County||In honor of Joseph Warren (1741–1775); physician and a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill||Belvidere|
List of Old Former / Extinct New Jersey Counties
There are no New Jersey counties that no longer exist.
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