Ploughs and Politicks: Charles Read of New Jersey and His Notes on Agriculture, 1715-1774

By Carl Raymond Woodward | Go to book overview
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Eight: Secretary

ALTHOUGH READ'S capacity for private business enterprise was truly extraordinary, nevertheless it was excelled by his penchant for public office. While occupying the posts of court clerk and collector of customs at Burlington, in 1743 or earlier he was appointed clerk of the circuits at an annual salary of £20.1 Chief Justice Robert Hunter Morris, son of Governor Lewis Morris, was instrumental in securing the appointment for him. Richard Partridge, the New Jersey provincial agent in London, also began to pull wires in Read's behalf. As early as 1740 and for several years thereafter, in cooperation with Peter Collinson, he tried to get Read appointed to the council. In the manner of the time, he acknowledged, there was "money already ordered . . . for that purpose," but it did not accomplish the desired result.2

Partridge, however, was persistent and after taking "a pretty deal of pains," procured Read's appointment to the important post of secretary of the province.3 The secretaryship was a patent office, that is, appointment was directly by the Crown. It was a common practice for the appointee, who customarily remained in England, to farm out the office to a deputy in the colony. Archibald Home had been made deputy secretary in 1741 and on his death in 1743 he had been succeeded by his brother James. When the following year James Home announced his intention to remove to another province, it was important to fill the secretaryship promptly, "to the Intent that the business of the Said office may not be interrupted for want of a Person Sufficiently authorized for the Due Execution of the Same." Thanks to Partridge's efforts, Read received at the hand of Governor Morris a royal commission to serve as

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1
N. J. Arch., 1st ser., XVI, 75, 79.
2
Richard Partridge to Richard Smith, April 1, 1745. Pemberton Papers, III, 164. See also Ferdinand John Paris to James Alexander, Feb. 10, 1746, Paris Papers.
3
Richard Partridge to John Kinsey, June 4, 1744. Pemberton Papers, III, 126.

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