Truly a remarkable figure in American history and a strong force in the Revolution, Joshua Huddy was raised in Salem County, the son of a merchant and grandson of a Burlington County Judge. His family traced its lineage back to England and the Crusades. Huddy married Catherine, the widow of Levi Hart, the owner of a tavern on the Burlington Path, which is now the Colts Neck Inn.
The Huddys lived in the Hart home located on this site, while Huddy participated in every way he could in the Revolution… in 1777 he headed an artillery company for the New Jersey Regiment, in 1778 he was the master of a privateer’s whaleboat, giving him the right to capture the enemy. In September 1780, Huddy was without assistance in the house that stood here, with only the servant girl, a teenage girl named Lucretia Emmons in the building. A raiding party of Tories, 75 members strong, all Americans who remained loyal to the King, stormed the house attempting to capture Huddy and bring him to trial for the death of British soldier Philip White. White was killed while in the custody of the patriots and it was widely reported Huddy had made the noose for his hanging.
The house had been used by the American militia and was filled with muskets and gunpowder. While the refugees attempted to gain entry, Huddy ran from window to window, firing at the enemy constantly and from different areas, while Emmons continued to reload the muskets. The actions led the Tories to believe there were many forces inside, so they fell back, but not before one set fire to the house.
Then followed another two hours of fierce fighting, until Huddy agreed to surrender if they would put out the fire. He was moved to a boat in a nearby stream then taken by boat enroute to New York for trial. But again he was rescued by the NJ Regiment and jumped from the boat to join his militia. Imprisoned, he once again escaped, and in 1782 was placed in command of the Toms River blockhouse. This was a small defensive fort built to protect the salt works, an important commodity for preserving food in an era of no refrigeration.
Here again Huddy was attacked by a raiding party of 100 Tories. He and his men surrendered when they ran out of ammunition. The raiding party burned the village and took Huddy and two of his men prisoner, bringing them to New York. A vindictive Capt. Richard Lippincott, a Tory officer and friend of White, wanted Huddy hung as revenge for White’s death. Governor William Franklin, the last royal governor of NJ and the estranged son of Benjamin Franklin, agreed to a hanging for Huddy without a trial. The cry was “Up goes Huddy for Phillip White,” and a note to that effect was pinned on his chest. Huddy was hanged at Gravelly Point, Highlands, believed to be where Huddy Park is located on Shore Drive and Bay Avenue. Going bravely and quietly to his death, Huddy wrote his last will and testament on the barrel on which he would be hung minutes later. His last words on April 12, 1782, were “I shall die innocent and in a good cause.” Huddy was actually in prison at the time of White’s killing, so could not have had any connection with it.
Huddy was buried in an unmarked grave at Old Tennent Church cemetery.
Lippincott, a Loyalist born in Shrewsbury, received a 3,000 acre land grant from the King for his services during the war.
Catherine Huddy sold the house in 1784. It was later owned by General Charles Haight of Freehold. The remains of the house, after a fire sometime in the early 1800s, were torn down in 1842.
The site of Huddy’s House in Colts Neck is
Huddy House Site
Hyers Mill Rd. at Route 537
Colts Neck, NJ