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Archiver > FINE > 2005-11 > 1131051671

From: "Glen Fine" <>
Subject: New Jersey Fine Research
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2005 13:01:11 -0800

I have visited New Jersey and Pennsylvania twice in the past few months looking for a connection between Thomas Fine who was in Shenandoah County, Virginia in 1775 and the Fine/Fein families in New Jersey. I need to go back again but thought I should let the list know that I believe I have found connection.

In minutes of the Hunterdon County Court of Common Pleas, 1754 to 1756, there are records of Thomas Fine, Peter Fine and Philip Fine. Thomas would have been of an appropriate age to be the Thomas Fine in Virginia. Peter and Philip would be of appropriate ages to be Peter Fine Sr. and Philip Fine Sr. who are found in records of Frederick County, Maryland.

In minutes of the same court, Andrew Fine is recorded in 1762 and Andress Fine in 1782. This could well be the same person as the Andres Fine listed as a militia member in Virginia, 1775.

In church records: Johannes and Elisabetha Fein baptized a son, Thomas, at the Reformed Church in Easton, PA in 1748(a sponsor was Elames Fein), and William and Eva Fein baptized a daughter at the Readington Church in Hunterdon County, NJ in 1751.

So, there are records of 7 Fein/Fine men who would have been of the generation of Thomas Fine in Virginia: Thomas, Peter, Philip, Andress, Elame, Johannes and William.

I collected a lot of information about the Fine families around Finesville, New Jersey including Philip Fine, founder of Finesville. These people were consistently recorded as Fein in church records and as Fine in civil records. The Feins in this region are regarded as Germans. It seems safe to assume that all Feins/Fines in this region are related. The name was not common and population in the mid 1700s was sparse.

I learned that the old German naming tradition was give the child first a Saint's name and second a name to be called by. For example in the above 1748 baptism record Johnannes and Elisabetha named their son Johann Thomas Fein. He would be known as Thomas. (and Thomas and apparent mother, Elisabetha, are in the Lutheran Church records, Phillipsburg, NJ from 1771) Johannes Fein would be one named for a Saint and it was desired that he be called by the Saint's name - hence he was given only the one name (Johannes Fein died in Sussex County,NJ in 1759 - recorded of course as John Fine).

A carrying on of this naming tradition is seen with Philip Fine in St. Louis, Mo. He named a son, David Melchior, who was consistently known as Melshor/Melsher (Melchior, a common German name, must be pronounced Melsher in English).

I was mindful that there is a belief of uncertain origins that Thomas Fine's father may have been Philip Peter Fine. I have found numerous Philip Fines and Peter Fines in New Jersey and Maryland, but have yet to encounter the name Philip Peter Fine.

If anyone has questions or wants more than what I'm forwarding here, let me know. Below are my notes about the old Hunterdon County, NJ court records.



April 22, 1754, Peter Low versus Thomas Fine

This action commenced a series of minute records on this case. On 8-8-1754 following Peter Low against (abbreviated as “a”) Thomas Fine is recorded:

Inquisition being Read? whereby the Jury find for the plaintiff the sum of six pounds, fifteen shillings and four pence. Money at eight shillings the ounce and six pence costs on Motion of B.Lagrange Atty for the Pltf ordered that the same be filed and Judgmnt. Ent? ? ?.

Several minute records on Peter Low versus Thomas Fine follow that are difficult to read. It is likely (from judgments on other cases) there was an order to sell personal property to satisfy the debt.

February Term 1755 Peter Low versus Thomas Fine: ? ? Returned for custody on motion of B.Lagrange Atty for the Plaintiff order to be committed. (this is likely an order that Thomas be taken into custody for failure to satisfy debt – common action at the time)

October Term 1755 Thos Fine versus Peter Low and others: this and all actions on the page are noted “the like rule as before” and I didn’t copy the previous page. This had to be a counter action filed by Thomas.

February Term 1756: Thos. Fine versus Peter Low – Thomas is the plaintiff and action is “the like rule”. The preceding rule is to order the plaintiff released from custody of the Sheriff as a “proper Object of relief having complied with what on his part and behalf is required to be done and performed in and by an Act of the Gen. Assembly of the province of New Jersey Entitled as an Act for the relief of poor distressed prisoners for debt according to the purpose True intent and meaning of the said Act.”

February Term 1756: Thos. Low versus Peter Fine - Unless the clerk made a mistake, Peter Fine in this case had prevailed against Thomas Low and here Thomas Low is released from custody for the same reasons as described above.

October 17, 1755: Robt. Paterson versus Phillip Fine – Phillip is defendant in a debt case and I have yet to decipher the judgment

August Term 1765: Jost Happagh versus Peter Fine – entries run to February 1767 – they are John Happagh administrator for Jost Happagh, deceased against Peter Fine who owed money to the deceased. No disposition here but there is more on this case later.

August Term 1776: John Martin versus Thomas Fine – this Thomas Fine is believed to be the younger (not the Thomas in the above 1754-1756 records) Thomas Fine, presumed born 1748, son of Johannes and Elisabetha Fein. There are subsequent cases involving this Thomas Fine or his son Thomas Fine that go on to at least 1830.

May Term 1782: Andress Fine versus Peter Huffman – Huffman owes money to Andress Fine. There are entries August and October Terms 1782 with the last a judgment levied on goods of the defendant to value of the debt and costs.

Based on records reviewed, the Court of Common Pleas was exclusively occupied during this time with matters of debt collect. It must have been hard economic times. Don’t know the details but there were farmers land riots in New Jersey in the 1740s. Rioting was likely related to payment of quitrents on their “free” land to the wealthy friends of the King in England who owned rights to collect quitrent on their vast tracts granted them by the King.

Peter Low was an active guy in the court with cases against many individuals. He was either a merchant who had given credit or a collector of quitrents.


A great many old Hunterdon County records were microfilmed by LDS and microfilm copies are available in Trenton, New Jersey at the State Archives and also at the LDS center in Salt Lake City. The “Miscellaneous Records” were not microfilmed because someone deemed them to be of little value for genealogical research. The Miscellaneous Records remain as original documents at the Hunterdon County Archives in Flemington, New Jersey. These records are I think mislabeled since they all seem to be case files related to the Minutes of the Court of Common Pleas referenced above. All records referenced below are from review of the originals.

Happaghs versus Peter Fine: Peter Fine signed a statement that he was in debt to Josh Happagh in 1759. Josh died and John Happagh, the administrator of Josh’s estate sought to recover the debt. Peter at one point was ordered to custody of the Sheriff. Peter countered that he had paid Josh before he died. Eventually the case went before a jury and the jury ruled against Peter in 1769. There are numerous records from 1765 to 1769.

The records consistently describe Peter as “Peter Fine(or ffine) ffarmor otherwise called Peter Fine of the County of Hunterdon in the province of New Jersey ffarmor...”

1758 – case involving Philip Finn and Hugh Doran – he is probably a Finn and not a Fine

1758 – case involving Philip Fin and Daniel Carroll – he also is probably a Finn not a Fine

1760 – Estate of Zackariah flomerfelt (could be Homerfelt) owes Peter Fine 54 pounds. The case was resolved in Peter’s favor in 1768.

May Term 1782: Andress Fine versus Peter Huffman – Huffman owes Andress Fine 60 pounds and was ordered into custody of the Sheriff.

4-16-1762: Andrew Fine versus Jacobus Cock. Cock owes Andrew 30 pounds since 1760. David Cock and Jacobus Cock signed acknowledgement of the debt. Jacobus is called Jocobus Cock yeoman otherwise called Jacobus Cock of Lebanon yeoman. Andrew is called Andrew Fine Taylor.

A yeoman is a farmer who owns and farms his land. So, Andrew must be a tailor. And, Peter Fine, above, must be a farmer who does not own his own land.

Andrew Fine is undoubtedly the same as Andress Fine.

Many more original “miscellaneous” records involving Fines were reviewed. Those above were most pertinent to this research. There were no case files relating to the 1754 to 1756 Minutes of the Court of Common Pleas involving Thomas, Phillip and Peter Fine.

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