Cumberland County is Born
The Colonial Legislature, at a session held January 30, 1748, passed an Act stipulating the east side of Salem County as a new county to be known as Cumberland. It was so named by Governor Jonathan Belcher in honor of his patron, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, brother of the king and the victor over "Bonnie Prince Charles", (Stuart) the Young Pretender to the throne of England whose hopes were quenched at the bloody Battle of Culloden Moor.
The Act establishing the new county divided it into six townships: Greenwich, Hopewell, Stow Creek, Deerfield, Fairfield and Maurice River. The Legislature ordered the Freeholders to meet first at Cohansey Bridge, which is now Bridgeton, to arrange for the taking of a poll to determine the location of the county seat. The first court was held at Greenwich. In December of the same year, 1748, Cohansey Bridge (now Bridgeton) was chosen as the seat of county government. The selection was a compromise with Greenwich, Fairfield, and Deerfield contending for the honor, the convenience, and the practical advantage from a business standpoint.
In 1752, Cumberland County's first court house, (Cumberland has had four) was built in the center of what is now West Broad Street, east of the line of Franklin Street. During the next 15 years Cumberland County developed rapidly. At the same time dissatisfaction over Colonial rule was increasing, a feeling that brought about eventual separation from the British Crown. In 1772, Cumberland County elected two representatives to the Colonial Legislature. Theretofore, Salem and Cumberland had been jointly represented. When Downe Township was established in 1772, it was named after Governor William Franklin's wife, Elizabeth Downes, whose name was misspelled in the printed legislation and has been misspelled ever since.
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