Land of Opportunity: Woman Recalls Family Ties to Perth Amboy and South Amboy

Ancestor settled in Perth Amboy, and his many-times great-granddaughter returns to the region that includes South Amboy, New Jersey.

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A recent drive through The Amboys region (City of Perth Amboy and the City of South Amboy) in New Jersey reminded me of family ties with the area in this land of opportunity.

In the late 1600s, a respected merchant by the name of Grimstone Boude left England to set up a new business in the then-thriving colonial seaport of Perth Amboy. Like many other entrepreneurs of his time, Grimstone was a free thinker, morally at odds with restrictive English laws.

In 1753, Mary Boude, daughter of Grimstone's son Thomas, married Matthew Clarkson of Philadelphia.

They had a son, David Clarkson, who went down to St. Kitts, British West Indies, in 1787 to establish and run a shipping business dealing in mahogany and rum. At St. Kitts, he courted Ann Amory. This couple opted to live out their lives in the islands.

In 1810, their daughter, Mary, became the wife of Isaac Prince, whom she met when he was U.S. Consul at St. Bartholomew, French West Indies. Isaac, a native of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, had business interests that eventually took them to live in Philadelphia.

Among their many offspring was a daughter, Sarah. In 1854, while visiting a sister in Astoria, Sarah met and married Edward Hewitt, a native New Yorker.

Sarah Prince Hewitt was my great-grandmother.

A century later, life came full circle when I moved back to the Amboy area where Grimstone Boude began his New World odyssey – midway between New York and Philadelphia – thousands of miles from merry old England and The West Indies.

At times I wonder, if, somewhere out there, old Grimstone is observing the winding progression of things since he made the decision to leave England for Perth Amboy in quest of a more free-thinking society.

Sara Hewitt Riola
Lakewood, New Jersey

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.