An American Family History

Sergeant Nicholas Bonham

“. . .  Whose name has persevered thru succeeding history, with favored characters of sturdiness, virility and church loyalty. “

New Jersey's first permanent European settlement was in 1660.

The Dutch were the first Europeans claim land in New Jersey. The region became a territory of England in 1664 when an English fleet sailed into New York Harbor and took control of Fort Amsterdam.

Sergeant Nicholas Bonham was born about 1630 and may have been the son of George Bonham and his first wife. Some genealogists believe he was George’s brother, rather than his son.

He married Hannah Fuller on January 1, 1658 in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on Nicholas and Hannah Bonham.

He signed the Oath of Allegiance in 1672 to Holland. Part of New Jersey was settled by the Dutch as New Netherland. In 1664 the entire area was seized by the British, and given the name New Jersey, but it was not until the Treaty of Westminster in 1674 that they gained control.

He was approved Sergeant in 1681. Nicholas named the town of Bonhamtown in Woodbridge Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

Bonhamtown, five miles northeast from New Brunswick, was named for Nicholas Bonham, who was one of the first settlers, having become a freeholder in 1682, and so recorded as owner of lands by allotment.

During the Revolution five British regiments were stationed at Bonhamtown, and robbed and harried the residents for a considerable period, burning the houses and barns, and committing other outrages. The people were very loyal to the patriot cause. (from History of Middlesex County, New Jersey, John P. Wall and Harold E. Pickersgill)

He died on July 20, 1684 in Piscataway, Middlesex County, New Jersey. His will was proved on December 18, 1684.

Children of Nicholas Bonham
and Hannah Fuller
  • Hannah Bonham Lippington
  • Mary Bonham Dunham
  • Elizabeth Bonham Slater
  • Sarah Bonham Fitz Randolph
  • Nicholas Bonham
  • Elijah Bonham
  • Hezekiah Bonham
  • Samuel Bonham
  • Jane Bonham
  • Priscilla Bonham Langstaff
  • Piscataway Township in New Jersey was first settled in 1666 by Quakers and Baptists who had left the Puritan colony in New Hampshire.

    A freeholder is the owner of a freehold estate which is an interest in land that is not fixed by a specified period of time, but which may last during the lifetime of a person.

    Old Style Calendar
    Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

    Barnstable, Massachusetts was settled in 1639 when Parson Joseph Hull came to Cape Cod with and his congregation from Weymouth. A little later in the year, the Reverend John Lothrop brought his Congregationalists. They incorporated as the Town of Barnstable.


    Learn more about the Dunham family.

    Planter is an archaic term for a settler. Plantation was a method of colonization where settlers were "planted" abroad. A plantation is also the kind of large farm that was the economical basis of many American Colonies and owners of these farms were also called planters.

    ye is an archaic spelling of "the."
    Sarah Morton Bonham (1618-1694) married George Bonham.

    Bonham, 1631-1973 by Elmer Burt Hazie

    The relationship of George and Nicholas Bonham has been a subject much discussed by genealogists and family researchers of the Bonham line. As most researchers have been interested in the line only as far back as the Mayflower few have taken any clear cut stand or given a clear opinion on the relationship of these two Bonhams. Some have dodged the issue with the casual statement Nicholas might have been the son of George or believed to be brothers. It remained for S. J. Bonham in Bonham Genealogy, 1954 to go on record that George was the father of Nicholas. I have long been of this mind and fully support his opinion.

    A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, Massachusetts, 1860-1862, by James Savage

    BONHAM, or BONUM, GEORGE, Plymouth, m. 20 Dec. 1644, as sec. w. Sarah, d. of George Morton, had, prob.
    Ruth, wh. m. 28 Nov. 1666, Robert Barrow;
    Patience, wh. m. 28 Dec. 1670, Richard Willis;
    Sarah, b. 4 Dec. 1649, d. early in 1650; and
    Sarah, again, 12 Jan. 1651, d. prob. soon;
    Sarah, again, 10 Dec. 1653; d. 28 Apr. 1704, aged 86.

    Nicholas [Bonham], Barnstable, perhaps br. of George, m. 1 Jan. 1659, Hannah, d. of Samuel Fuller the sec. had
    Hannah, b. 8 Oct. 1659;
    Mary, 4 Oct. 1661; and
    Sarah, 16 Feb. 1664

    from Barnstable Town Records
    At towne meeting the 3rd of October 1662. Ordered and  agreed by ye town the sons of the present inhabitants shall successively be received as inhabitants and allowed equal Towne Privileges in the Commons and other privileges of the present inhabitants at the day of their marriage or at the age of twenty four whichever happens first ... it is further agreed that these following shall be admitted as inhabitants Twenty men were admitted, viz.,
    Samuel Bacon,
    Samuel Fuller,
    Caleb Lumbard,
    Jabez Lumbard,
    Samuel Fuller, Jr.,
    Joseph Benjamin,
    Nicholas Bonham,
    James Hamblin,
    Thomas Lumbard,
    Samuel Norman,
    Samuel Hicks,
    James Cobb,
    Edward Coleman,
    John Howland,
    John Sargeant,
    John Crocker,
    Edward Lewis,
    Daniel Stewart,
    Thomas Ewer
    , and
    John Lewis,
    bringing the number of voters in the town up to sixty-five. 

    Bonham and Related Family Lines by Howard Eugene Bonham and Jean Allin.

    Nicholas and his family removed to New Jersey after the birth of their third child, Sarah, who was born 16 Feb 1664/5 in Barnstable, Massachusetts.  It is still uncertain when Nicholas did leave Massachusetts. . . [The first] Piscataway planters were soon followed by other friends and acquaintances from New England ... A list of men followed this statement which included Nicholas Bonham, John Langstaff, the Fitz Randolphs, Drakes, Samuel Walker, John Smalley, Benajah Dunham and Jeffrey Manning .. .Nicholas Bonhams name appears in the list of Piscataway residents who took the oath of allegiance to the Dutch Government 1673, Aug. 26. 

    Nicholas, having found favor with the Dutch government when it came into possession of New Netherlands, was elected schepen, or magistrate, for Piscataway, together with his neighbors, John Smalley and Daniel Denton. They were sworn 16 Sep 1673.

    The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) was between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 colonies which became the newly formed United States.

    Baptist churches were found in early colonial settlements and grew out of the English Separatist movement and the doctrine of John Smyth who rejected infant baptism.
    The town common (commons) was a small, open field at the center of the town which was jointly owned. It was used as a marketplace, a place for the militia to drill, or for grazing livestock.

    from History of South Carolina, Volume 3, edited by Yates Snowden, Harry Gardner Cutler

    The family tradition is that three Bonham brothers came to Virginia from England between 1625 and 1640. One, Hezekiah, was a ship builder and sailing master, trading in his own vessels along the coast as far north as Massachusetts. After sailing on one of these expeditions he was never again heard of. His son frequently accompanied him on his voyages, and is believed to have settled in Massachusetts. At Barnstable, Massachusetts, there was living between 1658 and 1665 Nicholas Bonham.

    Nicholas married Hannah Fuller, a descendant of one of the signers of the Mayflower compact. Nicholas Bonham was a disciple of Roger Williams, and on account of his religious principles was banished from Massachusetts about 1669-70 and went to New Jersey, where he acquired a tract of land and founded the Village of Bonhamton.

    Roger Williams was a Protestant theologian who advocated religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636 he provided a refuge for religious minorities by founding Providence Plantation. He started the first Baptist church in America, but left to become a Seeker.
    Colonial Maryland
    Colonial New England
    Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
    Quakers & Mennonites
    New Jersey Baptists
    German Lutherans
    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
    Midwest Pioneers
    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
    An American Family History is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
    an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
    As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.