A MAN of many affairs was Charles Read, and a dominant figure in pre-Revolutionary New Jersey. Scarcely an event of major importance transpired in the colony during his time in which he did not play some part. Born and bred in Philadelphia, schooled in London, trained in the British navy, and married in the West Indies, in 1739 he came to New Jersey to begin a career which in a unique way was identified with the pioneering activities of the colony. Merchant, planter, ironmaster, soldier, jurist, statesman, Charles Read was a man whose life throbbed to the gripping interplay of forces--social, economic, political, and military--which were forging a new nation. In and about his public services and his private enterprises is woven the history of New Jersey through the three decades which preceded the Revolution. In his life is dramatized the story of a commonwealth in the making.
This Charles Read was the third of a primogenitive line of five sires and sons, all bearing the identical name, which in three generations reached the heights of distinction, and in two more touched the depths of disgrace. His grandfather, Charles Read I, was a Quaker who at the age of twenty-eight left the ancestral estate Trevascon,1 in Cornwall; joining a group of emigrants to the New World, he arrived at Burlington about 1679, and subsequently settled in Philadelphia.2 His father, Charles II, had a mercantile business in Philadelphia, and was for a time mayor of the city. Charles III, the subject of this study, inherited his father's commercial tastes____________________