On November 6, 1688 the Burlington Court formed Burlington County's first townships and the large area now Maple Shade, Moorestown, Cinnaminson, Palmyra, Riverton, and Delran was called Chester Township. Originally the area of Chester was in the "Second Tenth" or "London Tenth."
In court records, June 5, 1690- February 22, 1699, Chester Township was also called Cropwell, presumably after William Matlack's hometown of Cropwell Bishop, Nottinghamshire, England. It was called Cropwell, Chester, Cropwell alias Chester or Chester alias Cropwell. In early surveys and deeds the south branch of the Pennsauken Creek was also known as Cropwell River. Today a legacy is the Cropwell Meeting House in Evesham which is somewhat near where the south branch of the Pennsauken Creek begins.
On February 21, 1798 Chester Township was incorporated along with New Jersey's other municipalities under the Township Act of 1798.
By an Act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, approved March 15, 1860, the Township of Chester was divided into the Township of Chester, and the Township of Cinnaminson.
"WHEREAS, the inhabitants of the township of Chester, in the county of Burlington, have become so numerous that it is impracticable for them to meet and transact the township business at their annual and other town meetings, with convenience and good order, in one assembly; for remedy whereof- BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, That the township of Chester, in the county of Burlington, shall be and the same is hereby divided into two townships in the following manner..."
Moorestown separated from Chester Township in 1922 taking Lenola with them. They had tried to separate from Maple Shade earlier, in 1917, as "East Chester" but did not get the votes. In the 1922 election they voted alone and Maple Shade did not request the right to vote. Maple Shade was growing fast and was in need of improvements.
On March 11, 1922, the State Legislature approved an Act to incorporate the Township of Moorestown and by special election held on April 25, 1922, the inhabitants of the Township of Moorestown approved the adoption of said Act and the Township of Moorestown became "a body politic and corporate in fact and in law by the name of the township of Moorestown, in the county of Burlington..." The separation went into effect on June 30, 1922.
The Township of Maple Shade was the last remaining part of Chester Township and by default was officially Chester Township although it preferred using the name of Maple Shade, a village named for it's railroad station.
On November 6, 1945 the voters of the Township of Chester, by a vote of 1067 to 74 voted to change the name from the Township of Chester to the Township of Maple Shade.
1682 Nov. 14. for John Roberts, of 267 a. at the Indian town of Pemisoakin between two branches of Cimsissinck Cr.
1682 Nov. 14. for Timothy Hancock, of 100 a. at Pemisoakin, adjoining John Roberts.
1682 Nov. 14. for William Matlack, of 100 a. at Pemisoakin betw. two branches of Simsissinck Cr. next to Timothy Hancock
I do not think any of them settled on the lands until 1684. Notice that their lands were around water ways as that was the method of travel at that time.
It is interesting that Chester Township lasted from 1688 to 1945 and ended on the grounds containing the pioneer lands of John Roberts, Timothy Hancock, and William Matlack. The year 2022 marks the one hundreth anniversary of both the townships of Moorestown and Maple Shade.
William Matlack, carpenter, from Cropwell Bishop Nottinghampshire, England arrived on the "Kent" in 1677. He came over as a servant to Thomas Ollive, one of the Commissioners to whom he was indentured for his passage for four years. The Kent anchored down the river near the mouth of Raccoon Creek and the commissioners immediately proceeded up the river in row boats to the present site of Burlington. Family tradition says that William Matlack accompanied Thomas Ollive in the first boat and that he was the first man to step ashore when they arrived at the site of Burlington. It is also said that he built the first two houses in Burlington, NJ. and that he built Thomas Ollive's mill in Wellingborrow.