Editor’s note: The following text and images are provided by and used with permission from the Matawan Historical Society.
The Burrowes Mansion was built in 1723 by John Bowne III. It is one of Monmouth County’s most important early Georgian buildings and played an important role during the Revolutionary War in New Jersey.
It is believed that the Burrowes family first occupied this house in 1769. John Burrowes, Sr. was a wealthy grain merchant and locally known as the “Corn King.” He gathered grain transported from New Jersey farms, milled it in his nearby mills, and shipped it to New York and New England. The Mansion’s location on Matawan Creek provided easy access to shipping, and his property contained multiple docks and warehouses.
From the time of the Stamp Act, Burrowes was always devoted to the Patriot cause. It is said that he was involved with the Sons of Liberty and supported New England Patriots with provisions during the Revolution. His son, John Burrowes, Jr. served as a Captain (and later Major) in the 1st NJ Regiment, and openly drilled local Militia volunteers in the front yard of the Mansion. In addition, local Militia raiders secured their whaleboats in the Burrowes millpond (at the current site of Lake Matawan); these boats were used to attack British ships in Raritan Bay.
On May 27, 1778, the Burrowes Mansion was famously raided by the “Skinner’s Greens,” a group of Loyalist refugees commanded by Cortlandt Skinner. A full description of the raid in given on the MHS website (https://matawanhistoricalsociety.org/may-27-1778-the-raid-on-the-burrowes-mansion/), but in brief, the “Greens” tried to capture John Burrowes, Jr., but he escaped unharmed. However, his wife Margaret was gravely injured while confronting the Loyalists. The Loyalists were unsuccessful in their attempt to burn the Mansion, but they captured John Burrowes, Sr. (He was later released.) The Burrowes family was financially ruined by this attack.
In later years, the Mansion became a hotel, a tea room, and private residence of prominent Monmouth County residents. This included the Brown family, the owners and publisher of the Matawan Journal and Keyport Weekly.
HISTORY OF THE MANSION
The definitive work on the history of the Burrowes Mansion was published in 1978 by Mary Lou Koegler (Diecker). Recently digitized by the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library, the book tells the complete story of the Mansion and the very interesting families who lived in it. It is exhaustively researched and written in an engaging style, filled with vivid details of life in early Matawan.
A PDF version can be found here (provided by the Library): The Burrowes Mansion of Matawan, New Jersey: and Notations in the History of Monmouth County
A second edition of the book will be published in fall 2023 under the auspices of the Matawan Historical Society.
The Mansion Today
The Mansion has been owned by the Borough of Matawan since 1973 and is operated by the Matawan Historical Society, a non-profit educational organization. It is now a local history museum containing period rooms, antiques — including eighteenth and nineteenth century furniture — and local memorabilia. Special mini-displays and exhibits highlighting a collection of historical events are on display from time to time.
The museum is open to the public on the first and third Sundays of the month from 2 to 4 PM.
More information can be found at the Matawan Historical Society website.
Source: Matawan Historical Society