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Collection Overview

Reading, Thomas, 1734-1814.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Reading Family of New Jersey Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1757-1787 (mostly 1765-1781)
1 box and 2.5 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1


Consists of correspondence and documents of three members of the Reading family of New Jersey: Thomas Reading, his brother George, and their father, Governor John Reading. Most of the material deals with incidences during the time of the American Revolutionary War.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of correspondence and documents of Thomas Reading, his father, Governor John Reading, and his brother, George Reading, dating chiefly from the time of the American Revolution. Thomas Reading's papers include a deed for land purchased from William Humphrys in Hardwick and Oxford townships in Sussex County, N.J., dated August 30(?), 1765; a return of purchases made for forage for the U.S. Army during the Revolutionary War, dated 1779; a statement of accounts, dated 1780, when he served as contractor for Hunterdon County, New Jersey; and a "Statement of certificates given," dated 1780. There are several other letters and documents sent to Thomas Reading from officials in the Continental Congress regarding army supplies and hay and forage for the starving horses of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and terminating his position as supplier of provisions for the army. These correspondents include William Chamberlain, Sidney Berry, Phillip Dils, Azariah Dunham, John Leahy, and John Matthews.

Included is a marriage license for Jacob Green and Mary Brailey signed by Governor John Reading, dated October 20, 1757, as well as the last will and testament of Governor Reading written in four parts on vellum, dated October 29, 1767.

In addition, there are two letters from Thomas's brother, George Reading. The first, sent from Ligonier Mills, Pa., and dated January 23, 1779, deals with family matters. In the second letter, dated May 22, 1787, when he was commissioned at Fork Licking in Kentucky, George writes to his brother about members of several different Indian nations stealing army horses, a treaty with the Shawnee Indians, and the Shawnees' offer to help find the individuals responsible for these thefts.


Folders are organized by accession number.

Collection Creator Biography:

Thomas Reading was born in Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, N.J. The Provincial Congress appointed him captain of the Sixth Company, Third New Jersey Regiment, First Establishment. On June 22, 1778, by act of the Legislature, he was appointed one of the agents of the State of New Jersey for procuring provisions, forage, and other supplies for the use of the army to carry on the Revolutionary War. Reading was commissioned justice of the peace in Hunterdon County for several terms, and he was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church in Flemington, New Jersey; in 1797 was ordained an elder of the church.

John Reading was the first native-born governor of New Jersey, serving in 1747, and again from September 1757 to June 1758. His father, Colonel John Reading, was the first white, major landowner in Hunterdon County. Governor Reading was also one of the founders and trustees of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University.)

George Reading, also born in Amwell, N.J., inherited from his father large tracts of land. Early in the Revolution he was sent to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was recommissioned in 1780 and sent to Bourbon County, Kentucky, where he died.

Collection History


Marriage license was transferred from the Hunt Papers, in January, 1906 .

All material, except for the marriage license, was a gift of Mrs. James Donaldson Paxton, Princeton Class of 1895, on November 4, 1936 .

Custodial History:

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Special Requirements for Access:

Some of the material is very fragile, please do not remove from Mylar folders.

Credit this material:

Reading Family of New Jersey Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184