Judge John Berrien, (1711-1772)
Painting by Charles Willson Peale
Came to Rocky Hill as a surveyor from Long Island
in 1735. Then purchased or had Rockingham built. A portion of the
house may have been on a tract purchased from John Harrison and
obtained by him in 1701 from Indians. He became a merchant. He served
as justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. From 1763 till his
death he was one of the trustees of Princeton college, besides holding
other responsible public positions. After his second marriage in
1759 the house was enlarged and in that state it was rented and
occupied by General Washington from Judge Berrien's widow for his
use while peace treaty meetings were underway at Princeton and while
composing his Farewell Address to the Army.
John Berrien in earlier years.
On his tombstone in Princeton cemetery is the following
inscription: "Sacred to the Memory of the Hon. John Berrien,
Esq., one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of Judicature of
the Province of New Jersey, who died much lamented on the 22nd day
of April, A. D., 1772, in the sixty-first year of his age."
(see Picture above) He married Margaret, daughter of John Eaton,
founder of Eatontown, Monmouth county, New Jersey.
The Judge and second wife Margaret had six children.
On April 22, 1772 he invited several close friends, including Richard
Stockton (below) to witness his will. After they did so, he jumped
into deep part of the Millstone River near his home and drowned.
No one knows to this day why he did this, but in these times, it
was not uncommon to take one's life if they were found to have a