Biography and History

Jonathan Rhea (1758-1815), a Trenton attorney, was born April 9, 1758, to Robert and Mary Forman Rhea. He served in the army during the American Revolution, attaining the rank of captain, and later served as a colonel during the Pennsylvania Insurrection (Whiskey Rebellion) of 1794. Rhea was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1784 and served two terms as clerk of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1793 to 1807 and as clerk of Monmouth County Court of Common Pleas. In 1789, Rhea served as a presidential elector. Rhea subsequently served as Quartermaster-General of New Jersey from 1812 to 1813 and was president of the Trenton Banking Company from 1807 until his death on February 3, 1815.

Jonathan Rhea married Mary Matilda Rutgers (1763-1800) and they were the parents of four children, Richard (1788-1816), Anthony (1791-1793), Nicholas (1792-1817), and Mary (1792-1817) who married Garret Dorset Wall (1783-1850). Garret Dorset Wall worked with Jonathan Rhea in his legal practice, and also served as clerk of the New Jersey Supreme Court, as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, as United States District Attorney for New Jersey, and as a United States Senator.

Rhea worked closely with several other prominent New Jersey politicians and attorneys including Charles Ewing (1780-1832) and James H. Imlay (1764-1823).

Source: From the finding aid for C0521

  • Jonathan Rhea Legal Papers. 1774-1892 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0521

    This collection consists of correspondence and legal documents of eighteenth-century lawyer and legal clerk Jonathan Rhea (1758-1815), of Trenton, New Jersey, as well as legal records created by others following his death. The materials mainly reference land transactions, lawsuits, and the collecting of debts in the Trenton area, but also extending to New Brunswick, Burlington, Monmouth County, and other localities.