Roswell M. Hancock
Morris Co. Up


Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. I., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899.

Recognized as a prominent citizen and leading surveyor of Morris County, residing in Madison, Mr. HANCOCK was born on the old homestead in Chatham township, September 24, 1845, and is a son of John W HANCOCK, whose birth occurred at the same place Aug 31, 1805. The family is of English origin and was founded in the New World by Richard and Margaret HANCOCK, who left their native England and crossed the Atlantic to Nova Scotia in 1760. They afterward removed to New York and subsequently took up their residence in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Their son, Rev. John HANCOCK, was born December 6, 1776. His father died when the son was only eight months old and later the mother married John HAND, and after his demise she became the wife of Robert FOREST. John HANCOCK learned the harness-makers trade in his early life and later the stepfather, Mr. FOREST, gave him a small farm near Madison, upon which he spent his remaining days, his death occurring on the 17th of September 1854. For a half century he was engaged in the work of the ministry, and his life was one of the most potent influences for good in the neighborhood. He donated the plat of ground on which was laid out the first cemetery in that locality and was prominently connected with all good works. On the 3d of April 1802, he married Phoebe WARD, and they became the parents of three children: Jane, wife of Vincent D. BUDD; John W.; and Mary. The father was not only connected with the religious work of the neighborhood, but was a man whose ability called him into prominence in other walks of life, and about 1829 he represented his district in the legislature.

John W. HANCOCK, father of our subject, was a surveyor, following that profession from 1827 until his death. For many years he was the only surveyor in his part of the county and did much of the surveying that led to the development of the locality. He also engaged in farming and to some extent followed the carpenter's trade, which in early life he had learned of Mr. KITCHELL, the first contractor in this part of the county. He was united in marriage to Miss Mary C. GRISWOLD, a native of Morris county, and a daughter of Captain Chauncey GRISWOLD, who located in Chatham township at an early day, and by their union were born nine children, six of whom reached years of maturity, while three died in childhood. The record of the family is as follows: Phoebe, a teacher in Newark, New Jersey; John E., a Methodist Episcopal minister of the Newark conference; Marvin G., who died November 9 1874, at about thirty-five years of age, leaving a widow and three children: Mary A., wife of Rev., D.F. HALLOCK, a member of the New York Methodist conference; Roswell M.; Robert H., who died in 1872, at the age of twenty-four years; and the three others who died in early life. The mother died in 1848, and the father afterward married Eliza RIKER of Newark. He was a judge of the court of common pleas for five years, and was a very prominent and influential citizen, active in shaping the public policy in matters social, educational, moral and material. For many years he served as president of the board of trustees of the Methodist Episcopal church, and his death occurred April 18 1875.

Roswell M. HANCOCK attended the public school of East Madison until sixteen years of age and then began learning surveying under the direction of his father, with whom he worked from the age of eighteen until the fathers death, when the son succeeded to the business, which he has since followed. Since 1884 he has also engaged in the undertaking business, established undertaking parlors in Madison in 1888, and in Summit in 1892. He is a good businessman, enterprising and honorable, and has met with fair success in his work.

On the 12th of October 1870, Mr. HANCOCK was united in marriage to Miss Lottie M TOMPKINS, a native of Orange, and they had three children: Louis D., who was born in 1872 and died in 1874; Louise W., and Jennie E. The parents are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church. In his political views Mr. HANCOCK is a stalwart Republican and has served as township collector for one year, as surveyor of the borough and as justice of the peace for fifteen years, his long continuance in that office plainly indicating the prompt, fair and able manner in which he has discharged his duties.

Transcribed by Ida King


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