Daniel Coxe, “an unfortunate failure.” (West Jersey, 1687-92)

Daniel Coxe was all about the Benjamins. (Can you be all about the Benjamins before Benjamin was born?) He was a land speculator and absentee governor. West Jersey was just part of his vast land holdings which would eventually cover major swaths of the south. 

After he came to hold twenty-two out of 100 proprietary shares he took on the role of governor though he was willing to give it up for one thousand guineas. His main accomplishment seems to be the settling of the border dispute between East and West Jersey. He ended up accepting the line surveyed by East Jersey which was widely thought to be unfavorable to the West. However, the other West Jersey proprietors seemed satisfied to have the issues resolved though Beck writes “The dispute was to have repercussions for almost another century.” This line is more interesting than the rest of the essay on Coxe.

He sold his holdings and the right of government to the West Jersey Society in 1692. “It is not known whether his decision was prompted by continued friction with the resident proprietors, the outbreak of war with France, or the unfriendly attitude of the British government toward proprietary colonies.”

Beck ends with this:

As a scientist Coxe was brilliant; as a businessman he was shrewd; but as a governor he lacked the compassion necessary to good administration. His governorship must be considered an unfortunate failure.


This is the fifth in a series of brief summaries from The Governors of New Jersey. These posts are not meant to be comprehensive and I urge you to pick up a copy of the book if you have any interest in New Jersey history

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