William Trent (Trenton)

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William Trent
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
1723 – December 25, 1724
GovernorWilliam Burnet
Preceded byJohn Johnstone
Succeeded byJohn Johnstone
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the Burlington County district
In office
1721 – December 25, 1724
Serving with Thomas Lambert
Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court
In office
November 23, 1723 – December 25, 1724
Preceded byDavid Jamison
Succeeded byRobert Lettis Hooper
Personal details
Bornc. 1653
Inverness, Scotland
DiedDecember 25, 1724
Trenton, New Jersey
Resting placeFriends' burying-ground, Trenton
Spouse(s)Mary Burdge
Mary Coddington
ChildrenJames, John, Maurice, Mary, Thomas, William
ResidencePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Trenton, New Jersey

William Trent (c. 1653—December 25, 1724) was a prominent trader and merchant in Pennsylvania and New Jersey around the turn of the 18th century after which the capital of New Jersey, Trenton, was named. Little detail is known of his early life, including exactly when he was born.

Early life and education[edit]

He emigrated to the North American colonies with his brother James in the 1690s.[1]


By 1693, Trent had immigrated with his brother James to the British colonies, and settled in Philadelphia. As a merchant trader, he became quite wealthy, eventually being one of the most affluent men in the city.[1] He had extensive trading interests in furs, goods, and slaves, with contacts/clients in the colonies, Caribbean colonies and England. He owned an interest in more than 40 ships, exporting such products as tobacco, flour and furs while importing wine, rum, molasses and dry goods. He also imported indentured servants from the British Isles, and African and West Indian slaves from Africa and the Caribbean. Trent became one of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia.[2]

Politically active, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Provincial Council from 1704 to act as an adviser to the governor (the council was similar to the contemporary governor's cabinet). He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. After being elected to the Assembly, Trent was elected as its Speaker.[2]

Marriage and family[edit]

Trent was believed to have married Mary Burge (d. 1708) soon after his arrival in Philadelphia. They had four children together: James (named for his father), John, Maurice and Mary.

After his wife's death in 1708, Trent remarried, to Mary Coddington. They had two sons together: Thomas, who died in infancy; and William Trent, born in 1715/1718, who survived to adulthood.[2]

Later years[edit]

In 1719, Trent built a country house below the falls of the Delaware River in central New Jersey. He platted a town or settlement around his house, which came to be known as Trent's Town, and later Trenton.[2] It became the state capital. After his move, he became active in New Jersey politics, being elected to its Assembly and appointed as chief justice.[1]

During the American Revolutionary War, his house was used by Hessian officers fighting for the British. In the Battle of Trenton, it was attacked by Continental Army troops.

After Trenton was designated as the state capital, the Trent House was used as the governor's mansion for many years.

William Trent died on Christmas Day, 1724, probably[weasel words] of a stroke. Three slaves were arrested and hanged in 1737 for allegedly poisoning him.[2]

Legacy and honors[edit]


External links[edit]