How Nutley Received Its Very Unique Name

According to historical reports, the name Nutley was first used in this area by the owners of a huge, square homestead which overlooked the Passaic River. “Nutley Manor,” as the house was called, had been built around 1826 by Peter Crary, who was then mayor of New York City.


Whenever people describe the town of Nutley, they usually mention the word “unique.”  They're also quick to point out Nutley's most distinctive characteristics — its charming neighborhoods, its excellent school system, its rich cultural heritage and civic life, and. of course, its unique name.

Nutley, NJ, 100 years. Commemorative magnet, photo by A Buccino The uniqueness of is name is important to the mystique Nutley has developed through the years. As publisher Johnson Foy proudly proclaimed in his 1918 special supplement lo The Nutley Sun. “There is only one Nutley.” No other community in this country bears the name Nutley, a name which the town adopted during a reorganization of its municipal government in 1902.

Surprisingly, no one seems to know exactly where the name Nutley came from. Historians generally agree that the word is of English origin and means “a field of nuts.”

Researchers have traced the name Nutley to a three hundred year-old vicarage in Uckfield, a village in Sussex, England. However, no documentation exists to indicate if, and by whom, the name Nutley was carried across the Atlantic to this country

According to historical reports, the name Nutley was first used in this area by the owners of a   huge, square homestead which overlooked the Passaic River. “Nutley Manor," as the house was called, had been built around 1826 by Peter Crary, who was then mayor [see below] of New York City. Crary had purchased the 144-acre estate on which he built Nutley Manor from Robert Rutgers. Later, he gave the homestead to his daughter. Mrs. James Morris.

In 1844, Thomas Satterthwaite acquired the manor and it remained in his family until being demolished several decades ago.

How and when Crary's homestead came to be known as Nutley Manor is a speculative subject. Some historians have suggested that the name was derived from the array of nut trees which surrounded the house.

Before long, the name Nutley became very popular among the residents of Franklin Township. Those who lived near Nutley Manor apparently liked its name so much that they began referring to the section of town east of the Third River as Nutley. Public acceptance of the unusual name grew steadily and. When the Erie Railroad was constructed through town, one of the three local train stations was named Nutley.

The first official recognition of the name Nutley came on February 11, 1887, when the federal government designated “Nutley” as the town’s official postmark.

By the turn of the century, it was obvious that Franklin Township would have to restructure its government to handle its rapidly-increasing revenues and public services. When a special five-man commission recommended that the town’s government be reorganized. Local residents asked that Franklin’s name be changed to Nutley at that time, there were five other townships, three villages and a hamlet named Franklin in New Jersey alone. It was argued that Nutley was a unique name, much more distinctive than Franklin, and belter suited for the town's new image.

The town fathers soon finalized plans to change, both Franklin's name and government and the Town of Nutley was officially incorporated on March 5, 1902.

Source: The Nutley Sun, July 3, 1974


Vivian Noyes Fikus designed Nutley’s flag and seal. “The design’s base is a field of gray upon which are superimposed three large acorns in red. Three wavy red lines beneath the acorns tie the design together and symbolize the location of Nutley on the Third River. The acorns are symbolic of the Town’s name and its three centuries of history. In the center acorn, in white numerals, is the date, 1902, in which the year the town’s name was changed from Franklin to Nutley.

“The town’s ancient Indian, Dutch and English heritage is suggested on the first acorn. The middle acorn portrays one of the luxuriant nut trees for which Nutley was famous. A palette and quill pen with book refer to authors and writers who have lived here during the past century.

“The third acorn stresses the industrial life of the town. A sketch of the La Monte Paper Company plant with the numerals 1871 points out the date of the town’s oldest active major industry. The electronic emblem indicates the Federal Telecommunications Laboratories while the caduceus refers to the Hoffmann-La Roche Company.”

Nutley Yesterday-Today


Old Nutley Manor by the Passaic is a large square stone mansion, overlooking one of the most beautiful views of the river. It was built in 1826 or 1828 by Peter Crary, then Mayor of New York, who gave it to his daughter, Mrs. James Morris.  Mr. Morris was then building the Paterson and Hudson Railroad, now the Erie, and was President of the road.  Mr. Morris bought the estate from Robert Rutgers, from whom Rutgers College was named, and Rutgers had purchased it in 1803 from the Dikes. Thomas W. Satterthwaite purchased the estate of 144 acres in 1844 and it is still in possession of the family.

The History of Nutley, Essex County, New Jersey Compiled by Elizabeth Stow Brown, Member of the New Jersey Historical Society, 1907

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The Nutley Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serve the educational, cultural and historical needs of our community.

65 Church Street, Nutley N.J. 07110
973-667-1528

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