John Fell


I was known as the “Great Tory Hunter.”

I was born in 1721 in New York City where I studied the law and learned the business of international trade. I married widow Susanna MacIntosh in December 1749. By 1759 I had my own shipping business.

In 1766 we moved to Bergen County, to what is now called Allendale. I retired from shipping and became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. I started to become involved in the growing movement for independence from Britain, and in June 1774, I led 328 citizens to Hackensack’s Courthouse to pledge allegiance to that cause. After that, I was appointed to the Committee of Correspondence and named chairman of the Bergen County Committee of Safety.

But I did much more than that. I decided to pursue and capture anybody who opposed our fight for freedom; this earned me the reputation as, “the Great Tory Hunter.” Not surprisingly, this made me a target for the British and loyalists, and I was captured and sent to a notoriously brutal place in New York City called the Provost Jail. While I was there, I kept a secret journal of my experience and information about other captives, and how badly we were treated.

In May of 1778, I was released. I returned home, served in the Continental Congress, and helped ratify the Constitution in 1787.

I died in 1798, at the age of 77.

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