History of the Clerk's Office

History of the Clerk's Office

Governor Lewis Morris

Robert Harris McCarter, 1818

Robert Harris McCarter

History of the Clerk's Office

Elias Briant Mott (1888)

John McCarter

John McCarter

History of the Clerk's Office

Daniel S. Vorhees

History of the Clerk's Office

Alfonse Scerbo

History of the Clerk's Office

Elias Bertram Mott (1961)

When the County of Morris was incorporated in March of 1739, each County Clerk was appointed by the Governor with no set term limit. That eventually changed in 1776, with the adoption of the New Jersey Constitution. County Clerks were then appointed by the Legislative Council and General Assembly to serve for 5 year terms and were eligible to be reappointed. At that time, the position was considered to be a part of the judiciary, with their primary duties being that of the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions. The Conveyancing Act of 1799 first established the necessity for all transfers of legal title of property from one person to another and all encumbrances, such as mortgages and liens, to be recorded in a register or be deemed void.

When the New Jersey Constitution of 1844 was ratified, County Clerks were to be elected by the citizens of the county during annual elections and were no longer considered to be officers of the court, but rather completely separate constitutional officers. The Constitution of 1844 did nothing to change the duties they performed, only that their powers were considered to be bestowed upon them by the people. To this day, the Office of the Morris County Clerk continues to perform the important function of recording every conveyance of property within the county but has grown to provide a multitude of other services for its citizens.

Samuel Gouverneur was appointed as the first County Clerk by Governor Lewis Morris and held the office until 1765. Since then, there have been 29 different County Clerks that have served Morris County. Elias Bertram Mott was, by far, the longest serving. Beginning in 1897, he worked as an aide to his father, Elias Briant Mott, who also served as Morris County Clerk from 1888 to 1898. He was then appointed as Deputy County Clerk under Daniel S. Voorhees from 1898 to 1908. He succeeded to the position of County Clerk and held the office for 52 years, winning 11 elections, from 1908 until his death in 1961. In total, he served the public while in the Morris County Clerk’s Office for an extraordinary 64 years of his life.

Complete List of Morris County Clerks

Clerks, 1739-1848
Clerk Dates Served
Samuel Gouverneur 1739 – 1765
Samuel Tuthill 1766 – 1776
Silas Condict 1776 – 1781
Joseph Lewis 1782 – 1787
Caleb Russell 1787 – 1805
Charles Russell (Son of Caleb Russell) 1805 (June – November)
John McCarter (Died while in office in December) 1806 – 1807
Charles Russell 1808 – 1808 (served again from January – October)
Edward Condict 1808 – 1813
Robert H. McCarter 1813 – 1823
Zephaniah Drake 1823 – 1828
David Day 1828 – 1833
Joseph Dalrimple 1833 – 1838
David B. Hurd 1838 – 1843
George H. Ludlow 1843 – 1848

In 1844, the law changed where County Clerks were now elected to a 5 year term.

Clerks, 1848-present
Clerk Dates Served
Albert H. Stanburrough 1848 – 1858
Samuel Swayze 1858 – 1863
William McCarty 1863 – 1868
Richard Speer 1868 – 1873
William McCarty 1873 – 1878
Melvin S. Condit 1878 – 1888
Elias Briant Mott 1888 – 1898
Daniel S. Voorhees 1898 – 1908
Elias Bertram Mott (son of Elias Briant Mott) Deputy Clerk 1898 – 1908; County Clerk 1908 – 1961
Frank A. Headley Deputy Clerk 1956 – 1962; County Clerk 1962 – 1981
Larry Mills 1981 – 1983
Joseph J. Bell 1983 – 1988
John Loughman 1988 (Acting)
Alfonse Scerbo 1988 – 1998
Joan Bramhall 1999 – 2013
Ann F. Grossi 2014 – Present