Friday, November 9, 2007

William Hancock House, Hancocks Bridge, New Jersey

This house, located in Salem County New Jersey, is of blue glazed brick. It was erected in 1734 by William Hancock and his wife Sarah, whose initials are woven into the gable on the west end (W.H.S). The house remained in the possession of the Hancock family until about 1865.

William Hancock, the builder was a Justice of the Peace for the County of Salem in 1727 and a member of the colonial legislature. When he died in 1762 the house passed to his son William, who also succeeded his father in the legislature and as a Judge of the County Court of Pleas in Salem County.

The house was the scene of a massacre on the night of March 20, 1778, a few days after the battle of Quinton Bridge. Sleeping American militia were attacked as they slept here by Major John Simcoe and his troops. Sixteen were killed and eleven militia taken prisoner.

Judge Hancock, a Tory who had fled during the American occupation returned to his home earlier that night and had been captured by the Revolutionists. He mistakenly was killed by his friends in the dark. Reportedly the blood stains from this event are still visible on the floor where the militia were bayoneted

In 1932 the Hancock House was purchased by a commission, and the title passed to the State of New Jersey. The house is under the care of the Salem Historical Society, and it is now used as a museum, depicting the history of the Fenwick Colony.

Photograph from American Memory.

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