For more than 200 years Morven has played a role in the history of New Jersey and the nation. It was originally part of a 5,500-acre tract purchased from William Penn in 1701 by the first Richard Stockton to settle in Princeton. In 1754, his grandson, Richard Stockton, one of the leading attorneys in the American colonies and later a signer of the Declaration of Independence, acquired 150 acres of this land for a house. His wife, Annis Boudinot Stockton, was a prolific poet who named their house "Morven" after a mythical Gaelic kingdom in the epic poems of Ossian.
Four more generations of Stocktons resided at Morven through the early 20th century. Although all made significant contributions to their community, Commodore Robert Stockton (1795-1869) became particularly well known as a United States naval hero and President of the Delaware and Raritan Canal. General Robert Wood Johnson, Chairman of Johnson and Johnson, was the first non-family member to reside at Morven (1928-1944). He was followed by five New Jersey governors when Morven served as the state’s first Governor’s Mansion (1945-1981).
In 1982, the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion was relocated to nearby Drumthwacket and Morven began its conversion to a museum. A comprehensive restoration program was completed in 2003 and the museum opened in 2004.