Salem is a city in Salem County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 5,146, reflecting a decrease of 711 (−12.1%) from the 5,857 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 1,026 (−14.9%) from the 6,883 counted in the 1990 Census, an overall drop of more than 25% over the two decades. It is the county seat of Salem County, the state's most rural county. The name "Salem", in both the city and county, is derived from the Hebrew word shalom, meaning "peace".
The town and colony of Salem was laid out in 1675 by John Fenwick and the community was given permission to choose officers in October 1693. It was incorporated on February 21, 1798, as part of the initial group of 104 townships established by the New Jersey Legislature. On February 25, 1858, it was reincorporated as Salem City.
Salem was founded by John Fenwick, a Quaker. Fenwick had been involved in a financial dispute with an Edward Byllynge, another Quaker, who had received the undivided portion of New Jersey territory that James Stuart, Duke of York had granted to Lord John Berkeley in 1664. Berkeley had sold his share to Byllynge in 1675 for 1,000 pounds, but Byllynge had become bankrupt and so had the property turned over to Fenwick to hold for Byllynge and his assigns in trust. Byllynge and Fenwick came to disagree over the property.
William Penn was asked to adjudicate the matter and he awarded 90% of the claim to Byllynge and the remaining 10% and a cash settlement to Fenwick for his share.