John Royce, Manville’s first landlord was a crook.

1685 Landowners Map • Click to Enlarge

I was doing a little more digging on the Library of Congress website and I found a great link to a digital book entitled Historical discourse on occasion of the centennial anniversary of the Reformed Dutch church of Millstone. If you are doing any research on the Hillsborough / Manville / Millstone area this is an excellent & detailed record on the earlier settlers of the area. It also includes this great map from 1685, which I have seen in poor photocopied form before… the quality on this copy is great. You can read or download the complete book for free HERE. But for Manvillian purposes we need mostly be concerned with the dealings of John Royce.

Some of you might recognize the name Royce, since the Royce brook is still so called in Manville. The truth is that John Royce was the first official landlord of Manville. Famous for his shady real estate dealings and infringing on (and leasing out) portions of other peoples lands that lay next to his borders. He also leased said lands that he didn’t even legally fully own out to a gentleman name Charles Winder for a period of a thousand years… and then proceeded to sell parts of this leased lands to other parties. It was a nightmare that took the executors of his estate years to get sorted back out. SO you can fairly say that the first Manville landlord, like many more to come… was a crook.

On the receiving end of the shady dealings were Van Vechty & Co., which actually had to shell out money for the disputed areas twice to satisfy the discrepancy in ownership. The deal opened the floodgates 1703 for the Dutch to settle the new lands formerly known as Roycefield & Royceton so named for the former owner. They promptly renamed the area Harmony Plains, which would many years later become part of Manville.

For what its worth it’s a great story and the great story is told in more detail in the book… I extracted the relevant pages and posted them below. The map above opens in a new window, and in my opinion it’s a tremendous help to look at the map while reading to keep your bearings, as most of the property owners lands told in the tale are listed on the map. Anyway here you go… all of these pages will enlarge if you click on them…


One thought on “John Royce, Manville’s first landlord was a crook.

  1. Your interest in ALL things Manville is to be commended.I could read this stuff – like all night.
    Roycefield was also a stop on the Lehigh Valley RR during the War.It ran tracks right into the Depot in Hillsboro (Somerset County Garage) and some tracks still run over Beekman and Auten.
    As a kid I knew where the station was out in Hillsboro.

    Boy was this area a mosquito heaven then.1943 there was still plenty of dirt roads around here.You knew you were a hick if your road was dirt or stone.

    No surprising that crooks did their work back then,it will be a part of America forever.He (Royce)should have hanged.The rich impart their will thru arrogance and corruption,greed and avarice,but it will remain unchecked even as we speak.

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