The word “Surrogate” means “one who takes the place of another”. The position has been a part of governing bodies dating all the way back to the days of the Bible and Roman Emperors. In our present day, the Surrogate is actually taking the place of the Governor.

In 1710, the Archbishop of London granted the Governor of the Royal Colony of New Jersey the authority to act as the Archbishop’s “Ordinary”, or Surrogate General. The Royal Governor subsequently delegated this authority to the Surrogate’s of the respective counties. This gave the Surrogates the ability to probate wills, issue marriage licenses, and perform those functions, which were at the time in the province of the church.

Since then, the New Jersey State Legislature has codified the powers and duties of the Surrogates. Each county has a Surrogate and they act as the judge of the Surrogate’s Court. They are elected to 5-year terms, as mandated by the New Jersey state constitution, by the people of the county in which they have jurisdiction. Aside from the appointment of a guardian for a minor who comes into an estate (often a settlement arising from an accident), or the supervision of an adoption, or a sanity hearing, it is increasingly common, after death, to visit the Surrogate’s Court for the appointment of someone to handle the estate of the deceased. It is because of the duties and responsibilities of the Surrogate, that the court they administer is almost certain to touch the lives of every person in the county at some time.

SurrogateYears Served
Nicki A. Burke2006-Present
Geneva B. Wood1986-2005
John J. Crawford1981-1985
Geneva B. Wood1980 appointment
Samuel McWilliams Jr.1966-1979
Frank L. Pote Jr.1961-1966
T.B. Reed Pancoast1922-1961
Loren P. Plummer1897-1922
Henry Coombs1897 appointment
George R. Morrison1877-1897
Samuel Allen1872-1877
Samuel P. Carpenter1867-1872
Richard Grier1863-1867
William Plummer1857-1863
Henry Sinnickson1857 Appt.
Benjamin Smith1854-1857
Smith Dorman1853 appointment
Isaac Hackett1843-1848
Joseph E. Brown1838-1843
David Hurley1833-1838
Morris Hancock1823-1833
Daniel Garrison1809-1823
Jacob Hufty1808 appointment
Curtis Seagraves1804-1808
Samuel Dick1785-1796
John Hinchman1723-1785