- Vital Records
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SOURCE: SOUTH JERSEY, A History, 1664-1924, edited by Alfred H. Heston; Vol 1, 1924, Lewis Historical Publishing Co Inc., New York and Chicago.
JUDGE JAMES MONROE EDMONDS HILDRETH [excerpts only]--Descended from that stalwart band of seafaring men, who throughout the whole course of its history, has lent to Cape May a place and rank that is unique in the State and Union. Judge James Monroe Edmonds Hildreth is today a representative of that line and his career sheds an added honor to that heritage left him by his forebears. From the lack of authentic records, the earlier generations of this family, like many others, are lost in the myths that gather around the exploits of these noble mariners. His grandfather, however, was George Hildreth of Cape May County, who lived at Cold Spring and became a pilot on the Delaware River. He was one of New Jersey's staunchest Democrats, who served his township in various offices, besides being an ardent churchman, working with all his power for the benefit and uplift of humanity, and to better the conditions of human life. His eldest son was Alvin P. Hildreth, the father of Judge Hildreth, who in his early life was engaged in teaching school, and completed his education at Yale University. He was a man of strong individuality and marked intellectuality, and served in many important positions of public trust and responsibility, at one time being a member of the Riparian Commission of New Jersey, and twice being elected to represent his district in the Assembly of the State. In local affairs he also exercised a marked influence, always lending his support and cooperation of movements and measures that tended to advance the welfare and progress of the community. He married Lydia Hughes Wales, whose genealogy follows, and they were the parents of Judge Hildreth.
Desire (Howland) Gorham, who died at Barnstable, Massachusetts, October 13, 1683, was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Tilley) Howland, and granddaughter of John Howland, one of the "Mayflower" passengers, who died February 23, 1673; married Elizabeth, daughter of John Tilley, another "Mayflower" passenger. Hannah Gorham, daughter of Capt. John and Desire (Howland) Gorham was born in Barnstable, MA, Nov. 28, 1663; married about 1683 Joseph Whilldin, of Yarmouth. Hannah Whilldin, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Wildman) Whilldin, granddaughter of Joseph, son of Joseph and Hannah (Gorham) Whilldin, was born about 1690, died at Cape May March 18, 1784; married Ellis Hughes. Ellis Hughes son of Ellis and Hannah (Whilldin) Hughes was born August 16, 1745, died April 16, 1827; married 1763 Thomas Hirst, born January 10, 1769, died Nov 10, 1839, married December 3, 1788, was the son of Ellis and Eleanor (Hirst) Hughes. Sarah Hughes, born May 31, 1800, was the daughter of Thomas Hirst and Lydia (Page) Hughes; married in 1818 Eli B. Wales. She was the mother of Lydia Hughes Wales who married Alvin Parker Hildreth.
Judge James Monroe Edmonds Hildreth, the third child and son of Alvin Parker and Lydia Hughes (Wales) Hildreth, was born iN Cape May City, New Jersey, December 9, 1858. He received his early education in his native city and then was taken to Mount Holly Academy where he completed his schooling. Determining then that he wanted to enter the legal profession, he became a student in the law office of his uncle, Walter A. Barrows, and also studied under the supervision of the Hon. Joseph H. Gaskill, later president judge of Burlington County. He was a faithful stsudent, mastering the principles of jurisprudence, and was admitted to practice in the courts of New Jersey in June 1881. He then returned to Cape May City and entered upon the practice of his profession, building up a clientele extensive as well as representative.
Judge Hildreth has also been much interested in Cape May real estate, owning much property in the city and vicinity...In Feb 1888 he was admitted to the New Jersey bar as a counselor, and in 1883 after having practiced law for two years in the State he was chosen by the city council for the office of city solicitor, which position he held for two terms. In March 1893 he was chosen as the chief executive at Cape May City, and in that year he was instrumental in holding a Fourth of July celebration that will ever be memorable in the annals of the city. Ex-president of the United States Benjamin Harrison was the distinguished guest of honor at this time and was the principal speaker, and Judge Hildreth won the warmest praise from his fellow citizens for his manner in presiding on this occasion. During the period of his incumbency there were marked improvements made in the city... In 1895 the city council once more elected Mr. Hildreth to the office of city solicitor, and in 1897 he was again elected mayor, his administration as before being marked by a spirit of progress and benefit to the community. In 1898 he was a prominent candidate for congressional honors in the first district, but while he had not sought nomination he received a most flattering vote of eighty-one ballots. In 1900 he was also spoken of prominently by his friends as a candidate for congress. In 1904-05-06 he was elected to the New Jersey Legislature from Cape May County, and in 1907 he was elected city solicitor of Sea Isle City, a position which he long retained. In 1906 he was appointed by Governor Stokes of New Jersey Judge of Cape May County. In 1912 he was again sent to the State Legislature, and during the World War he won an honorable record as the head of the Legal Advisory Board in Cape May.
Judge Hildreth is a member of the free and Accepted Mason; the Improved Order of Red Men; a Heptosoph; and belongs to the New Jersey Society in Pennsylvania; he is an active member of the Yacht Club, in which he is associated with many of the most eminent and distinguished citizens of Cape May and of Philadelphia. In politics Judge Hildreth is an earnest champion of the principles of the Republican party, and in his religious affiliation he is a member of the Presbyterian Church of Cape May.
Judge James Monroe Edmonds Hildreth married November 12, 1884, Martha Orr, daughter of Jeremiah and Mary (Orr) Mecray. They have one child, Mary Mecray, born October 24, 1885; married April 5, 1906, John Daniel Johnson Jr. of Mount Holly, NJ, and they have two children: Kathryn Hildreth Johnson, born May 18, 1907; and Mary Elizabeth Johnson, born October 28, 1911.