In April 1661, after the defeat of Oliver Cromwell, Charles II was returned to the English throne. In March 1664 he granted his brother the Duke of York, Lord High Admiral of the King’s Navy (and later James II) vast territories in the New World including all of New Netherlands. The Duke outfitted four ships and charged his commander John Carr with the mission to take over the lucrative Dutch trade and territory. At New Amsterdam, without any bloodshed, the Dutch Governor Stuyvesant surrendered the colony. With Carr was Colonel Richard Nicolls, the Duke’s new deputy governor for his conquest.
When the English took possession of what had been Dutch New Netherlands in 1664, the land west of the Hudson, was still a vast, nearly empty wilderness. A few Dutch farms were sprinkled in the Passaic and Hackensack valleys, a small settlement was at Bergen on the Hudson River and along the Delaware were a scattering of small Dutch and Swedish farms. It is estimated that even the native population numbered fewer than 2000, living in small groups mainly inland and coming only to the coast to fish.