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Located at 217 Kings Highway, in Mount Royal,
north of the railroad crossing
on Kings Highway (County Road 551)
This is now a private residence owned by
Jim and Nancy Sery

Death of the Fox Inn, in Mt Royal NJ, as it looks today
Death of the Fox Inn - Mount Royal NJ, as it looks today

For three years THE LANDSCAPE OF THIS HISTORIC BUILDING WAS ENDANGERED. . .To learn more click here

Death of the Fox Inn - Mount Royal, New Jersey
Death of the Fox Inn - as it looked from the time the Sery's
renovated it in 1999, until October 2006.

The Gloucester Fox Hunting Club sometimes ended the chase at this inn. If you visit it, you may hear echoes of the voices of Jonas Cattell, who was the spotter for the club (who warned the soldiers of Fort Mercer at Red Bank that over 1200 Hessian soldiers were approaching to take over the fort); of Samuel Nicholas, the first president of that Club, who also was the first officer of the U.S. Marines; of Jeffrey Clark, for whom the area of Clarksboro is named; Dr. Bodo Otto, Jr., Colonel in George Washington's army, and stationed with him at Valley Forge, and who died in this house; Daniel Coleman who frequented the tavern, and went on to become Secretary of State (of NJ). All of these people fought for US, so that we would have the liberties and freedoms we now enjoy. LET US NOT FORGET THEM!

Taverns during the 1700's were not just drinking places--patriots gathered here to transact business and to forge what became the future of not only East Greenwich, but also our nation. The people who met in this tavern were instrumental in the birth of our nation. Not all significant events happened across the Delaware River in Philadelphia. HISTORY WAS MADE HERE!

Late 1800s photograph of Death of the Fox Tavern
Circa late 1800's photograph of former Death of the Fox Inn
graciously provided by Maxine Brown of Mickleton NJ.
[There are shutters on the house, and unusual pattern
in the stucco that covered the stone that is now the exterior
of the house. Maxine's mother-in-law, Hannah Brown,
lived in this house when she was a girl. Nate Hoffman
was the owner at that time. If you recognize the woman in
the photograph please contact me]

From "Notes on Old Gloucester Co. NJ":
The King's Highway from Amboy N.J. passes through then continues south to Salem. Passing through Mount Royal, where the railroad to Salem intersects the stone road, stands an old stone [now stucco] dwelling that in those days was used for a hotel, which they called "Ye Death of Ye Fox".

The Land on Which It Stands
1681: William Penn, Gawen Lawry, Nicholas Lucas and Edward Bylling granted the land upon which this tavern stands to John Clarke. This John Clarke was a London Brewer. His son, also John, gentleman of Hackney County, Middlesex England, conveyed the land to Benjamin Alford, a merchant of Boston.

History of the Earliest Days:

This building was being
used as a tavern by Christopher Taylor [Tailor] as early as 1727. In 1731, the tavern which was still occupied by Mr. Taylor was offered for sale or rent in the PA Gazette. In 1733 Taylor joined with other tavern keepers in a protest against the tax of five pounds levied against taverns to support the government.

On May 10, 1734, Benjamin Peters applied for a license for the house "in which Christopher Taylor late Lived." It was described as a "common ale house," and Peters kept this house until 1749 when he moved to Raccoon Creek. There were several itinerant tavern keepers between 1749 and 1758 including Isaac Comron, (son-in-law of Robert and Margaret Gerrard and brother-in-law of Simon Sparks).

In 1763, Isaac Comron's brother [or son] John Comron became the landlord. During the five years John Comron kept the house, it was frequently a place directed by the court for creditors to meet and settle their claims against insolvent debtors. After the death of her husband, Mary Comron kept this house until her marriage to John Shaw in 1772. [1765: Richard Price, the High Sheriff, conveyed by indenture to John Comron, a son of the above Isaac Comron. There was at this time a £500 mortgage on the property, which supports the presence of a building/inn].

In 1774 when the inn was sold by Mary Shaw and Jacob Spider, executors of John Comron to William Eldridge of Cumberland County it was described as: "That old accustomed INN, formerly kept by John Comron, deceased, known by the tavern called Death of the Fox, situate in the township and county aforesaid [Greenwich Township, Gloucester County], lying on the great road leading from Gloucester, and the ferries opposite Philadelphia in Salem, Cumberland, Cape May &c being within ten miles of Gloucester, and fourteen miles of Cooper's Ferry, opposite Philadelphia, containing 198 acres of land and meadow, about 60 acres thereof cleared and within fence, the remainder well timbered; the land for the most part is very good, and produceth excellent crops of grain and very good pasture; thereon is a two story stone dwelling-house with four rooms on a floor, kitchen and other out-houses, a pump of good water before the door, barn and stables, a very good apple orchard, an excellent garden, with a considerable quantity of currant bushes, off of which may be made several barrels of wine yearly. The situation is very pleasant and healthy, being within sixty rods of an English church, about three miles of a friends meeting house, and within a quarter of a mile of a convenient in getting spirits, wine, beer, oats or any other necessary from Philadelphia on the shortest notice, and at a very small expense. At which time and place attendance will be given.." [1774: Thomas Denny, High Sheriff, by indenture, conveyed the tract of William Eldridge.]

According to the "History of Gloucester County," the well referred to in the above deed is now underneath Kings Highway, perhaps four or five feet, and the mouth of the well is covered by a flat stone. Reportedly the well was made several years prior to the establishment of the turnpike (in 1772), and from the well water was taken for use in the old tavern. The building of the turnpike necessitated covering this well.

During the American Revolution:
In 1774 William Eldridge began a tavern which lasted until 1783. William Eldridge was issued a license for this establishment by judges of the Gloucester Co. NJ courts from 1775-1782. During this period, meetings of the managers of the Repaupo Meadow Banks and the property owners along the creek were held here. The tavern during this time was known as Eldridge's Tavern or Death of the Fox Inn.

It was named thusly because the hunters of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club (1766 to 1818) often gathered at the inn after the chase. The members were composed of prominent men of both Gloucester County NJ, and Philadelphia, early in the 18th century. For a time after it was started interest waned, and then about 1760 it was revived. About 1780 an occasional meeting was held in "Death of the Fox".

A fox was once killed in a clump of bushes just south of the building, where the sportsmen in those days sallied forth astride a horse, accompanied by a dog and a gun, in quest of the wary animal. Who first reached the victim secured the coveted brush with which he decorated his hat, hastened to the old inn, where he was soon surrounded by his fellow hunters who assembled to lubricate their exhausted muscles and joints before disbanding from the chase.

Note that the Club's headquarters and kennels were at Hugg's Tavern in Gloucester Town -- this was the first such hunt club in America. [Note that Huggs Tavern, also the tavern where Betsy Ross was married in November 1773, was torn down in the late 1920s by the Camden County Park Commission for a playground and swimming pool].

Samuel Morris of Philadelphia was the first president of the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club and Gen. Robert Wharton, once mayor of Philadelphia, was the last president. Morris and 22 members of the "Fox Hunting Club" which operated from Death of the Fox Inn formed the First Troop of Philadelphia City Cavalry. After the American Revolution the Fox Hunting Club was revived and continued for over 50 years. In 1798 one of the chases is said to have carried the pack all the way to Salem, a distance of 24 miles from the inn. Foxes were very plentiful in this region then, and the farmers who suffered much from their depredations, hailed the hunters as their friends.

During the American Revolution it was the principal recruiting station in Gloucester County and was used a military headquarters.

There is an old tradition that a man was hung as a Tory at this tavern during the Revolution. This story is taken from the files of the Woodbury Constitution and republished in that paper by Frank H. Stewart on December 25, 1935, runs as follows: Notes on Old Gloucester County New Jersey, [Quoting Mrs. Isaac Kay aka Deborah Eldridge, dau. of William & Deborah (Malander) Eldridge]: Deborah (Eldridge) Kay, of Timber Creek, told me she remembered well their having captured a man by the name of Seeds, who was a notorious [Tory] refugee. He was dealt with very summarily; they gave him a drumhead trial, found him guilty, and hung him on a walnut tree directly before her father's house. Her father at that time kept the "Death of the Fox", then a celebrated place in Greenwich Township. Col. Cummings swore, that the man who should cut him down without his orders, he would hang in his place. Her mother disgusted with so offensive a sight, and feeling indignant that no man could be found who dare remove such an offensive object from before their eyes, went herself and cut him down. When the Colonel came back he demanded to know who had dared to disobey his orders; her mother replied she had, and he turned upon his heel and left her.

3/27/1775: Dunlap's Pennsylvania Packet: "Was left with the subscriber at the Sign of the Death of the Fox in New Jersey, by one Richard Shee a sorrel horse and a saddle. The owner is desired to come and prove his property and pay charges other-wise he will be sold for the same in six days after date. --William Eldridge [Note: The Pennsylvania Packet was a weekly newspaper printed by John Dunlap starting in 1771]

Fall 1777- July 1778: the "Death of the Fox" was used as quarters for Col. Bodo Otto's patriot regiment. [see 1833 sworn statement by Henry Roe below]

Pennsylvania Gazette, 7/1779: "Strayed or stolen on Saturday night, the third inst. (July) out of the pasture of William Eldridge, at the Death of the Fox, in Glou. Co., state of New Jersey, a chunky well made roan horse, belonging to the subscriber, branded F. D. about fourteen hands high, shod all round, half of his mane cut off the near side, is about nine years old and a natural trotter; supposed to be taken over the Delaware, and perhaps sold to some gentleman in the D. Q. M. G. department, as he is an excellent horse for carriage or draft. The above reward will be given for horse and thief, or Fifty Dollars for the horse, and reasonable charges, if delivered to Capt. Thomas Kaine in Wilmington, Mr. William Carson in Philadelphia, Mr. William Eldridge above mentioned, or the subscriber at Cohansey Bridge. July 13." -David Otter

This was the temporary residence of Dr. Bodo Otto, Jr. and his family after the British partially burned their home in 1778, and where he died January 20, 1782. 1782: Bulletin of Gloucester Vol. 7, page 12: Dr. Bodo Otto,Jr. was the son of Dr. Bodo Otto, a German emigrant who had charge of the hospital at Valley Forge in 1778. Dr. Bado Jr's family moved from their farm residence (nearby) to the "Death of Ye Fox" after their house was burned by the British. Dr. Bado Otto Jr. caught a cold forging a river in the rain and died as a result, at the "Death of Ye Fox" on 1/20/1782. [Age 33y, 5m, 5d] he was buried in Swedesboro, Old Swedes churchyard]

It was also the site of a reunion of Rev. John Croes, first Episcopalian minister at Trinity Church, and Daniel Coleman, his former tutor. Croes later became the first Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey and Coleman because Secretary of State of New Jersey (1810) after serving as head schoolmaster in Swedesboro. [See more info about this meeting between Rev. John Croes and Daniel Coleman].

Typical Pub Menu:
New Jersey - A History: These taverns . . . Death of the Fox . . . served a startling variety of liquors with equally picturesque names. Stonewall was potent mixture of rum and hard cider. Scotchem consisted of applejack, boiling water, and a good dash of ground mustard. Stewed Quaker consisted of cider with some cider oil in it and a hot roasted apple floating on top. Most devastating of all was a rumfustian, which had no rum in it. The word rum was also an adjective meaning "very strong." Rumfrustian consisted of a bottle of wine or sherry, a quart of strong beer, half a pint of gin, the yolks of a dozen eggs, nutmeg, orange peels, sugar and spices.

Following the American Revolution:
1789: William Eldridge conveyed the property to Daniel Smith. (Daniel Smith was the Quaker diarist Samuel Mickle's step father).

1792: The Scrap Book of the Gloucester County Historical Society shows Daniel Smith as the owner.

12/27/1792 - from Samuel Mickle's diary - Daniel Smith and wife Leze late Price, here on their way to "Death of Ye Fox Inn". He has sold it to Jeffry Clark. [Robert Friend Price and his first wife Hannah were parents of Margery, Blanche, Hannah, (Polly and Robert) I am not sure if they belong to his 1st or 2nd wife, Mary Thorn. Elizabeth Thorn Hugg was Robert F. Price's third wife. She outlived him; he died August 01, 1782. She later married Daniel Smith around 1790. She died in 1799].

Oct 1800: Lightning set fire to 3 different heaps of cornstalks in George Lawrence's field on the "Death of the Fox" place. [Note: Deborah (Malander) Eldridge's mother's maiden name was Laurentz].

Dec. 24, 1802, Samuel Davenport, and Ann, his wife, deeded to William Thompson fifty acres of land, on which stood the "Death of the Fox Inn." The deed was recorded May 23, 1803, in liber G, folio 31, of deeds. This property was later owned by J.D. Hoffman and Isaac Davidson.

In 1811, William Sailer first appeared as the proprietor, of the old Death of the Fox Tavern, which he continued until 1813, when it was closed up and Sailer was granted a license for the tavern at the Cross-Roads, or Sand Town. In 1817, Sailer reopened the Death of the Fox and it remained in the Sailer family for many years [Sarah M. Sailer, his widow, and Samuel Sailer, a son--see below]

[My thanks to Trudy O'Hare of Salem Co NJ for providing the following information about this house] Trudy O'Hare provided me with a copy of a deed for this property, from Paul and Sarah Gray Brown to Sarah Sailer dated about 1818. Sarah Sailor later in 1822 opened the tavern called "Death of the Fox" at same location. Sarah Gray Brown was the only child of Davis Gray & Mary (Stephens) Brown. Davis Gray purchased the land from Wm. and Sarah Cozens 2nd day of April 1796 in Greenwich Twp. along the Salem Road.

Notes on Old Gloucester Co., 2:6/7, Tyler TX Libr.: In 3/1819 license was granted to Sarah Sailer for the Death of the Fox in Greenwich Twp.

2/13/1822: the undersigned recommend Sarah Saior suitable to keep a public house at 'Death of the Fox' ... she never allows gambling, fiddling or dancing ... (petitioners) [Notes on Old Gloucester Co. NJ, 2:38]

4/16/1823:An undivided ninth part of the "Death of The Fox" tavern kept by Sarah, widow of Wm. Sailer was advertised for sale. [Notes on Old Gloucester Co. NJ, 2:47]

1824: Doctors . . . offered free vaccination for those unable to pay at "The Death of the Fox" tavern.

1/15/1825: A meeting was held at Mrs. Sailors Tavern [Death of the Fox] regarding the question of moving the county seat from Woodbury to Camden. [Notes on Old Gloucester Co. NJ, 2:60]

3/1825: Following tavern licenses granted: (among whom was listed) Sarah M. Sailer. [Notes on Old Gloucester Co. NJ, 2:61]

1832:Following tavern license issued: Sarah Sailer "Death of the Fox", Clarksboro.

Notes on Old Gloucester, Stewart, Vol. IV page 556, 3/29/1871: Sarah M. Sailer (widow of William who died in 1817]) died on the 2nd day, 27th inst. at age of 100, at the residence of her son-in-law James Taggart, near Clarksboro.

On 7 May 1833 [Henry Rowe died in 1834] sworn declaration made before the Inferior Court of Gloucester Co. NJ, in a claim for benefits for serving in the Revolutionary War:"... Col. Bodo Otto Regt. We quartered at Swedesborough and remained there for several months, cannot say exactly how long, was there as appears from papers now in his possession in the fall of the year 1777, in the winter and spring of 1778, and until July 16th 1778, that is Swedesborough was our head quarters, but during this period we were at Woodbury part of the time. At the DEATH OF THE FOX between Woodbury and Swedesborough in both of which places we quartered and remained a few weeks...."

Historic Roadsides in New Jersey, page 45, pub. 1928: Clarksboro: 3 1/2 miles north from Woodbury, residence of Nathan P. Hoffman, in colonial days, "Death of the Fox Inn", rendezvous of the Gloucester Hunting Club.

Susan Bell Harrison wrote to me recently, saying the following: "I was startled and pleased to see the web site you have created about the Death of the Fox tavern. The recent restorations are wonderful and I loved your current and historic photos.

My maternal grandmother grew up in the Death of the Fox, which was used as a farmhouse at that time, and my mother spent many summer weeks there with her grandfather during her childhood. My great grandfather was Nathan (Nate) P. Hoffman (born 23 Jun 1850; died 29 Aug 1931). His wife was Beulah Kirby Richards (born 11 Feb 1856; died 15 Aug 1904). Their only child was my grandmother, Elsie Richards Hoffman who was born 4 Feb 1881.

I am unable to clearly see the figures in your picture of the house in the 19th or early 20th century, when it was owned by Nathan Hoffman, but believe that the female figure may be my grandmother or great grandmother.

You may be interested that my grandfather, was James Seldon Shute, who grew up in the Samuel Shute house nearby. I have attached a picture of the present vacant house which, unfortunately, will soon be demolished for a senior community. This property has been farmed by Shutes for nearly 200 years and was farmed until recently by Harold Shute.

Thanks for your work on early Clarksboro. It was a pleasure to see your site."

At some point the old stone house was covered with stucco, and the windows set with small panes of glass were replaced by frames with large glass panes. In the interior, the large room running across the house was converted into two smaller ones.

Recent History:
In 1999 Jim and Nancy Sery the new owners removed two layers of this cement stucco from the exterior of the house, exposing the original stone that was hidden for around 125 years, and repointed the aging mortar. They also restored windows to their historical approximations. They continue to restore this house and it has been opened several times to the public for tours.

The stone house has seven fireplaces, wide plank floors restored in some rooms and some original doors and the hardware. A marker noting the house's historical significance is located on the road at the front of the residence.

In October of 2006 the Sery's replaced the roof (see top photograph).

In July 2007, the Sery's generously gave a personal tour of their home to Janice and Gordon Steele of California. Janice is a direct descendant of William Eldridge (he is her 4th great-grandfather) who owned the Death of the Fox Tavern from 1774-1783 [see history above].

Death of the Fox, Mt Royal NJ
Gordon & Janice Steele in doorway of Death of the Fox
Largest of the 7 fireplaces
Gordon & Janice Steele inside Death of the Fox

It is evident from various deeds, drawings, and newpaper articles, that the original burial ground of Jeffrey Clark and his family was located at the southeast corner of the Death of the Fox property. When the railroad was built, human remains were found here, and were moved to Eglington Cemetery. This removal caused quite a stir in town (no pun intended). Another grave worth mentioning, that was removed from this location, was of one JOHN MORROW, who died Nov. 18, 1768.

SEE 16 Dec 1868 "Constitution" article about John Morrow grave and the finding of remains on the "Death of the Fox" property (JPG file)

SEE February 1869 news article regarding the removal of remains to the current Eglington Cemetery. (PDF file)

SEE Sketch of "Death of the Fox" tract during Isaac Comron's ownership in 1760 (JPG file)

- My personal thanks to Maxine Brown, Trudy O'Hare, Jean Raymo, and Susan Bell Harrison for providing photographs, deeds, documents and personal knowledge for this above history.
- various records collected by the Gloucester County Historical Society

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) are among the largest and most heavily used collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. See the photographs, floorplans, and documents submitted in 1940 regarding this historic building.

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