South Orange, officially the Township of South Orange Village, is a suburban township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the village's population was 16,198, reflecting a decline of 766 (-4.5%) from the 16,964 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 574 (+3.5%) from the 16,390 counted in the 1990 Census. Seton Hall University is located in the township.
"The time and circumstances under which the name South Orange originated will probably never be known," wrote historian William H. Shaw in 1884, "and we are obliged to fall back on a tradition, that Mr. Nathan Squier first used the name in an advertisement offering wood for sale" in 1795. Other sources attribute the derivation for all of The Oranges to King William III, Prince of Orange.
Of the 565 municipalities in New Jersey, South Orange Village is one of only four with a village type of government; the others are Loch Arbour, Ridgefield Park and Ridgewood.
South Orange Village dates back to May 4, 1869, when it was formed within South Orange Township (now Maplewood). On March 4, 1904, the Village of South Orange was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature and separated from South Orange Township. In 1978, the village's name was changed by referendum to "The Township of South Orange Village", becoming the first of more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis.
What is now South Orange was part of a territory purchased from the Lenape Native Americans in 1666 by Robert Treat, who founded Newark that year on the banks of the Passaic River. The unsettled areas north and west of Newark were at first referred to as the uplands. South Orange was called the Chestnut Hills for a time.
There are two claimants to the first English settlement in present-day South Orange.