Governor’s Chest



In the Museum’s collection is an old wooden chest.  It is well-weathered, has a broken lid, and only has remnants of a marbleized paper lining.  It is so unappealing that it was once questioned why it was even kept in the collection at all. The answer to this question was answered when the inscription. For His Excellency Governor / Jersey / New England / Baggage, was found on the bottom of the case
This was now no ordinary chest, but one that once belonged to a person of power, a governor no less.  However, this enticing bit of information opened man new questions…  Which governor? Why is it labeled Jersey/ New England? Why would there be a label on the bottom of this trunk?  How old is the trunk?
The construction of the chest provides some valuable clues as to how old it may be.  The simple wooden box is held together by hand-made iron nails. These hand-made nails were not commonly used once factories started producing them.
The style of the trunk is yet another clue to its age.  Its shape suggests that it was likely made in the late 18th century. The look of the letters written on the box is also in line with this time period.
trunkThis information narrows down the list of likely Governors.  It is here where the confusing addresses:  “Jersey/ New England” comes into play.  New Jersey is not part of New England, but two of her colonial governors have connections to 
both places.  William Franklin was the last colonial governor of New Jersey in 1776. After his term, Franklin was arrested and imprisoned by Revolutionary Forces in Connecticut, New England. Another candidate is Jonathan Belcher.  Before Belcher became Governor of New Jersey in 1747, he was governor of Massachusetts and New HampshirePerhaps, the “Jersey” added to the “New England” address reflected one of these governor’s moves.
There is even the possibility that the term “Jersey” is used to identify the cloth that was used during that time.
Why the chest has an address on it at all remains a mystery.  The search for similarly addressed trunks has so far come up empty.

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