Rockingham was the home of John Berrien I (1712-1772) and George Washington's final headquarters of the Revolutionary War, located in what is now Franklin Township, New Jersey near Rocky Hill. The house has been moved within southern Franklin Township several times, and is now closer to the Franklin portion of Kingston than to Rocky Hill. The residence is a featured part of the Millstone River Valley Scenic Byway. The oldest portion of the house was built as a two-room, two-story saltbox style house between 1702 and 1710. A kitchen and additional rooms were added on in the early 1760s, expanding with the Berrien family. The first reference to the house as "Rockingham" does not appear until a 1783 newspaper advertisement to sell the house, a name given most likely in honor of the Marquess of Rockingham.
John Berrien I
was a surveyor and land agent from Long Island whose business brought him into the Millstone River valley in the 1730s. In 1735, he purchased the small house that overlooked the river. Berrien eventually became a judge, first in Somerset County before eventually being named to the Supreme Court of New Jersey
. His first wife, Mary Leonard of Perth Amboy died in 1758 without bearing children; the next year, he married Margaret Eaton, whose father founded Eatontown, New Jersey. Together John and Margaret had six children, four boys and two girls. John Berrien drowned in the Millstone River in 1772, leaving his estate in the hands of his wife. He is buried in Princeton Cemetery.
General George Washington
stayed at Rockingham from August 23
to November 10
. He was invited to the area by Congress, who were headquartered in Nassau Hall
in Princeton while awaiting the news of the signing of the Treaty of Paris to officially end the Revolutionary War
. Washington was accompanied by three aides-de-camp, a guard of between twelve and twenty-four men, his servants and, until early October, his wife Martha Washington
. He spent his time at Rockingham entertaining Congress and other local figures until word of the end of the War reached him on October 31. Washington composed his Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States at Rockingham, a document dismissing his troops and announcing his retirement from the Army.
In 1802, Margaret Berrien sold the house to Frederick Cruser
, who continued the expansion of the house. Storage space and servants sleeping quarters were added to the kitchen wing, a second-story balcony added to the front of the house, and the roofline raised to accommodate a third-story attic. The Cruser family occupied Rockingham until 1841. The house changed hands many times until the 1890s when the property was bought by the Rocky Hill Quarry Company
The first move of the house was in 1897 to remove it from the Rocky Hill Quarry Company property in Rocky Hill. Kate McFarlane and Josephine Swann helped create the Washington Headquarters Association of Rocky Hill, which raised the money to purchase the structure and move it away from the quarry. In August 1897, the house was opened to the public. In 1935, ownership was turned over to the state of New Jersey.
By 1956, the quarry had expanded and the house again was too close to active quarrying. Rockingham was moved a half mile eastward along County Route 518
The house made its final move in 2001. It now sits on a 27 acre lot on CR 603 (Somerset County)
, adjacent to the Delaware and Raritan Canal
, on the outskirts of Kingston. The site reopened to the public in 2004 and is open year-round.
- 1705 (circa) built
- 1735 John Berrien buys house and property
- 1783 George Washington uses house as headquarters
- 1802 House sold to Frederick Cruser
- 1841 House sold to David H. Mount
- 1844 House sold to Martin A. Howell
- 1890 (circa) house and property sold to Rocky Hill Quarry Company
- 1897 House moved away from quarry
- 1956 House moved farther away from quarry
- 2001 House moved to Kingston