Belcher, Jonathan, 1682-1757

Alternative names
Birth 1682-01-08
Death 1757-08-31

Biographical notes:

Jonathan Belcher was born on January 8, in 1681 or 1682, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Andrew and Sarah Belcher. In 1746, upon hearing about Governor of New Jersey Lewis Morris's poor health, Belcher actively pursued the opportunity for another royal appointment. Although the Morris Family nominated the former governor's son, Robert Hunter Morris, the alliance of Quakers in New Jersey and London cultivated by Belcher and his brother-in-law, Richard Partridge, managed to obtain the appointment for Belcher, rather than Morris. Governor Belcher arrived in Burlington, New Jersey, the capital of the colony, in 1747. He soon found himself embroiled in a feud between two factions in the New Jersey legislature, the Quakers and Congregationalists on one side, and the supporters of the Morris Family on the other. Morris Family supporters in London embarked on a campaign to unseat Belcher, claiming that he was consorting with and openly supporting the rioters. London believed the charges leveled against Belcher, and was reprimanded for his alleged improprieties. Severely weakened politically by the reprimand, Belcher achieved little else while in office, in which he remained until his death in 1757.

From the description of Jonathan Belcher papers, 1738-[ca. 1900]. (New Jersey Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 53086276

Belcher, a Harvard graduate (1699), was the royal governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony (1730-1741) and of New Jersery (1747-1757). He was one of the founders of the College of New Jersey (later called Princeton University).

From the description of [Letter] 1731 Aug. 31, Boston, [Mass., to] Mr. Fairfax / J. Belcher. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 162136336

Governor of Massachusetts.

From the description of Agreement, 1741. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70958496

Governor of Massachusetts (1730-1741) and New Jersey (1747-1757).

From the description of Jonathan Belcher letters, 1736-1737. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 713870988

Merchant, colonial official; governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, 1730-1741; of New Jersey, 1747-1757.

From the description of ALS : Boston, to Henry Sherburne, 1731 Dec. 13. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122490204

Governor of Massachusetts and New Jersey and educator.

From the description of Letterbooks of Jonathan Belcher, 1723-1754. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82846066

From the description of Covers of Jonathan Belcher, undated. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79451570

Jonathan Belcher, a merchant and colonial governor, was the son of a cloth maker from London, who came to Cambridge, Mass., in the mid 17th century. He graduated from Harvard in 1699, traveled extensively in Europe, came back to Boston where he established himself as a merchant and made a great fortune. His political career began when he was elected to the Massachusetts council in 1718. In 1729 Belcher was in London on an official visit when he got news of the death of Gov. William Burnet of Massachussetts, and was able to secure the position for himself. His commission was dated 1729/30 and he became governor of Masachussetts and New Hampshire, and was re-elected for several terms. Certain factors led to his downfall, one of which was his conflicts with the British royal authorities, and on May 7, 1741, he was dismissed from both governorships. A few years later he went back to England, and in July 1746 he was appointed governor of New Jersey. He was very interested in establishing the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), and on his death bequeathed his library of 374 volumes to it. There was a proposal to name the present Nassau Hall "Belcher Hall," but he declined the honor and suggested the name now in use.

From the description of Jonathan Belcher collection, 1708-1950. (Peking University Library). WorldCat record id: 61668652

American merchant and colonial governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire 1729/30-1741 and of New Jersey 1747-1757

From the guide to the Jonathan Belcher letters and document, 1734, 1742, 1752, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)


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  • Ocean travel
  • Account books
  • Real property
  • Mohawk Indians--Treaties
  • Banks and banking
  • Privateering
  • Governor--Correspondence
  • Taxation
  • Copper mines and mining
  • Voyages and travels


  • Governor--Massachusetts
  • Educators
  • Governors--New Jersey


  • Fort Dummer (Vt.) (as recorded)
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  • New Jersey (as recorded)
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  • Massachusetts (as recorded)
  • Burlington (N.J.) (as recorded)
  • Boston (Mass.) (as recorded)
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  • Massachusetts (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts (as recorded)