Legend has it that the borough’s name is derived from early settlers who bought the land from the Native Americans in exchange for some rum. But as far back as 1663, long before the area was officially named Rumson, Native Americans called it “Navarumsunk”. Over the years it has been shortened to “Rumson”, though sources also talk of a Chief Alumson as a source of the name. Other names Rumson has been known by include Black Point, Port Washington, and Oceanic.
Rumson was purchased by English settlers in pieces. The first purchase was dated January 25, 1665, and it included parts of Middletown. The rest of the area was purchased later that year.
Rumson is known for its many sprawling 19th-century estates located along the shores of the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and along historic Rumson Road, which serves as one of Rumson’s main thoroughfares. Now an upscale suburb, Rumson was then a summer colony for wealthy New York bankers and industrialists. The oldest of Rumson’s homes was the Tredwell House, named after a family that summered there for almost 100 years. The oldest part of the house was from 1670, and the estate once occupied 700 acres (2.8 km2). It was the second-oldest building in Monmouth County when it was destroyed by fire in June 2006.
In the 19th century, Rumson’s summer residents enjoyed many activities, such as swimming and boating in the adjacent Navesink River and the Atlantic Ocean, or taking wagon rides. In winter, residents used the river for ice boating.