DELAWARE & NEW JERSEY BOUNDARY DISPUTE
DELAWARE RIVER NEW JERSEY SHORE 1872 SUIT
The Delaware River boundary suit between New Jersey and Delaware has been at the Supreme court in Washington for 25 years with no action. Recently, authorities of both states have been notified arguments must be made during the next term or the suit will be dismissed.
The suit was initiated a quarter of a century ago by New Jersey, to secure an order prohibiting
Delaware exercising jurisdiction over the New Jersey shore of the Delaware River.
New Jersey Governor John W. Griggs last week said he did not know what action the state would take and Attorney-General Gray was unable to answer questions, pending information from past Attorney-General Stockton in the matter.
The dispute arose in May 1872 when twenty two New Jersey fishermen were arrested by Delaware officers while fishing off the shore of Jersey for not having licenses.
New Jersey traces her title to half of the Delaware River from 1663 when the territory was granted by King Charles II to the Duke of York.
Delaware's claim were based on a grant of Pennsylvania to William Penn , which gave him “all land bounded on the east by the Delaware River from twelve miles north of New Castle, on the south by a circle drawn twelve miles northward from New Castle, and, westward to the beginning of the 40th degree of north latitude, then, by a straight line westward, etc”.
The twelve mile circle described in the grant not only takes in all the lower water of the Delaware, but a good portion of the New Jersey Coast and the contention of old south jerseymen was that the Duke of York , who made the grant, had no rights to include crown lands nor public rivers.
The fishing matter first got into the courts in 1836 when Delaware ceded Pea Patch Island , in the Delaware River, to the United States Government and New Jersey claimed that Delaware exceeded authority. Since then Delaware and New Jersey fishermen have been at odds almost every year. Lives have been lost during fierce battles between the two sides of the river.
When the case was taken to court in 1873, New Jersey was represented by lawyers E. L. Stanton, Jacob Vanetta and F. T. Frelinghuysen and Delaware lawyers were Thomas F. Bayard, G. H. Bates and George Grey.
Abstract: Trenton Evening Times, Trenton, NJ Sunday, June 6, 1897; Genealogy Bank. com