The Province of New Jersey was one of the Middle Colonies of Colonial America and became the U.S. state of New Jersey in 1776. The province had originally been settled by Europeans as part of New Netherland, but came under English rule after the surrender of Fort Amsterdam in 1664, becoming a proprietary colony. The Dutch Republic reasserted control for a brief period in 1673–1674. After that it consisted of two political divisions, East Jersey and West Jersey, until they were united as a royal colony in 1702. The original boundaries of the province were slightly larger than the current state, extending into a part of the present state of New York, until the border was finalized in 1773.
The Province of New Jersey was originally settled in the 1610s as part of the colony of New Netherland. The surrender of Fort Amsterdam in September 1664 gave control over the entire Mid-Atlantic region to the British as part the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The British justified the seizure by claiming that John Cabot (c. 1450 – c. 1508), an Italian under the sponsorship of the English King Henry VII, had been the first to discover the place, though it likely was to assert control over the profitable North Atlantic trade. Director-General of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, (unable to rouse a military defense) relinquished control of the colony and was able in the articles of transfer to secure guarantees for property rights, laws of inheritance, and freedom of religion. After the surrender Richard Nicolls took the position as deputy-governor of New Amsterdam and the rest of New Netherland, including those settlements on the west side of the North River (Hudson River) known as Bergen, and those along the Delaware River that had been New Sweden.
In March, 1665, the Duke of York was granted a Royal colony which included New Netherland and present-day Maine. This charter included parts of present-day Massachusetts which conflicted with its charter. The charter allowed the traditional propriety rights and imposed the fewest restrictions upon his powers. In general terms, the charter was equivalent to a conveyance of land conferring on him the right of possession, control, and government, subject only to the limitation that the government must be consistent with the laws of England. The Duke of York never visited his colony and exercised little direct control of it. He elected to administer his government through governors, councils, and other officers appointed by himself. No provision was made for an elected assembly.
Part of the New York colony between the Hudson River and the Delaware River was then given by James to Sir George Carteret in exchange for settlement of a debt. The territory was named after the Island of Jersey, which was Carteret's ancestral home. The other section of New Jersey was sold to Lord Berkeley of Stratton, who was a close friend of the Duke. As a result, Carteret and Berkeley became the two English Lords Proprietors of New Jersey. The two proprietors of New Jersey attempted to attract more settlers to move to the province by granting sections of lands to settlers and by passing the Concession and Agreement, a 1665 document that granted religious freedom to all inhabitants of New Jersey; under the British government, there was no such religious freedom as the Church of England was the state church. In return for the land, the settlers were supposed to pay annual fees known as quit-rents.
In 1665, Philip Carteret became the first Governor of New Jersey, appointed by the two proprietors. He selected Elizabeth as the capital of New Jersey. Immediately, Carteret issued several additional grants of land to landowners. Towns were started and charters granted to Bergen (1668) Woodbridge (1669), Piscataway (1666), Shrewsbury, Middletown (1693) and Newark (1666).