Robert Treat (February 23, 1622 – July 12, 1710), was an American colonial leader and governor of Connecticut between 1683 and 1698. Treat was born in Pitminster, Somerset County, England, but was brought to Massachusetts as a child. His father was Richard Treat and his mother was Alice Gaylord. His family was among the early settlers at Wethersfield, Connecticut. He settled in Milford, Connecticut in 1639 and became one of the leaders of the New Haven Colony, serving in the General Court as its Assembly was known.

On Christmas day, December 25, 1647, he married Jane Tapp in Milford, with whom he reared eight children.

Biography of Robert Treat

When the Connecticut Charter of 1662 forced the New Haven Colony to merge with Connecticut in 1665, Treat led a group of dissidents who left the colony. They moved to New Jersey in 1666 where they were joined by other dissidents from Branford, Connecticut, another part of the former New Haven Colony. The dissidents from Branford were led by the Rev. Abraham Pierson, Sr.

For hundreds of years, the land we have come to know as East Orange had been inhabited by Native Americans, who lived, farmed and hunted in the area. What is now Main Street (formerly called First Road and then Orange Road) was once a trail used by the Hackensack Indians (Lenni Lenape), who used it to get around the swamplands, which were described in early reports as “impenetrable.” Main Street twists and turns through the Oranges because the first road built by European settlers followed the Native American trail.

In 1666, the Native Americans made a land deal that was to change the destiny of the entire area. All the land from Newark to what is now Montclair, was "sold" to Captain Robert Treat, leader of a band of Puritans who had originally settled in New Haven, Connecticut, after arriving from England to seek religious freedom.

The Puritan colonists "purchased" the land for “four barrels of beere, 850 fathoms of wampum, 3 trooper's coates, 2 ankors of liquer” and other items.

Chief Oraton was leader of the Hackensacks when the New Haven Colony came to settle the area. He was old, and was not known to deal directly with the settlers. Oraton Parkway is named in his honor and a bronze tablet commemorating him may be found where the Parkway intersects Park Avenue.

Keep in mind that the Native Americans did not have the same concept of "selling land" as the Europeans. The Native Americans accepted these gifts more as "rent" for the use of the land. When they made use of land, they did not divide it up and surround "their" property with fences. The land was for all the people, not just for the permanent use of one person or family. This difference in understanding of land "ownership" was the cause of many of the conflicts between Native Americans and Europeans.

Robert Treat wanted the new community to be named Milford, New Jersey. Pierson, a devout Puritan, preferred the name New Ark, and this place is now known as Newark. Robert returned to Milford, Connecticut, in 1672 and lived there the rest of his life.

Treat headed the colony's militia for several years, principally against the Narragansett Indians. This included participating in King Philip's War in 1676. He served on the Governor's Council continuously from 1676 to 1708. He was first elected Governor in 1683.

Sir Edmund Andros supplanted him in 1687, and attempted to make Connecticut part of the Dominion of New England. Treat is credited with having a role in concealing the state's Charter in the Charter Oak, and resumed his job as governor when the dominion scheme fell apart in 1689. He was re-elected annually until 1698. Robert Treat died in Milford.

His great-grandson, Robert Treat Paine, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Robert Treat Paine Biography

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Further Resources of Interest on this subject:

A History of Millburn Township
by Marian Meisner
Jointly published by the Millburn/Short Hills Historical Society and the Millburn Free Public Library.
Copyright, July 5, 2002.

Lenni-Lenapi Information

Life Among the Lenni-Lenape

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