Anglo-European records of Burlington County date to 1681, when its court was established in the Province of West Jersey. The county was formed on May 17, 1694, "by the union of the first and second Tenths." The county was named for the Bridlington, a town in England. The township's name is a corruption of the English town of Bridlington. Burlington County was also the seat of government for the Province of West Jersey until its amalgamation with East Jersey in 1702, forming the Province of New Jersey. The county was much larger and was partitioned to form additional counties as the population increased. In 1714 one partition to the north became Hunterdon County, which itself was later partitioned to form three additional counties. The county seat had been in Burlington but, as the population increased in the interior, away from the Delaware River, a more central location was needed, and the seat of government was moved to Mount Holly in 1793.
Arney's Mount as seen from Saylors Pond Road (CR 670)
According to the 2010 Census, the county had a total area of 819.84 square miles (2,123.4 km2), including 798.58 square miles (2,068.3 km2) of land (97.4%) and 21.26 square miles (55.1 km2) of water (2.6%).
Most of the land in the county is coastal and alluvial plain with little relief. There are a few anomalous hills, such as Apple Pie Hill and Arney's Mount, the highest of not only the entire county but also among the highest in South Jersey at approximately 240 feet (73 m) above sea level. The low point is sea level along the Delaware and Mullica rivers.
Average temperatures in the county seat of Mount Holly have ranged from a low of 22 °F (−6 °C) in January to a high of 87 °F (31 °C) in July, although a record low of −25 °F (−32 °C) was recorded in February 1934 and a record high of 104 °F (40 °C) was recorded in July 1936. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.92 inches (74 mm) in February to 4.87 inches (124 mm) in August.
There were 166,318 households, of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.3% were married couples living together, 12% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.5% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the county, 23.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 29.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.4 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.6 males.
There were 154,371 households out of which 34.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.70% were married couples living together, 10.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.70% were non-families. 22.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the county the population was spread out with 25.20% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 31.50% from 25 to 44, 23.30% from 45 to 64, and 12.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 97.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $58,608, and the median income for a family was $67,481. Males had a median income of $46,381 versus $32,228 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,339. About 3.2% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.5% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.
Burlington County is governed by a Board of chosen freeholders consisting of five members who are elected at large by the voters of Burlington County in partisan elections and serve staggered three-year terms, with either one or two seats up for election each year in a three-year cycle. Burlington County's Freeholders have both administrative and policy making powers. Each Burlington County Freeholder oversees a particular area of service: Administration & Natural Resources; Education & Justice; Public Works & Veteran Services; Public Safety & Health and Human Services; and Hospital and Medical Services & Elections. The Board is currently completely held by Republicans.
As of 2016[update], Burlington County's Freeholders are:
A moderate and swing county in New Jersey politics, Burlington County in recent years has become an important area for the Republican Party, especially in more affluent communities that have developed new residential areas, such as Medford, Mount Laurel, Moorestown, and Evesham (as opposed to areas along the Delaware River occupied by minority and working class households). It does however, tend to lean and vote Democratic particularly in federal elections.
As of October 31, 2014, there were a total of 292,538 registered voters in Burlington County, of whom 94,520 (32.3%) were registered as Democrats, 67,733 (23.2%) were registered as Republicans and 130,003 (44.4%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 282 voters registered to other parties. Among the county's 2010 Census population, 65.2% were registered to vote, including 76.8% of those ages 18 and over.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 126,377 votes countywide, ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 87,401 votes (40.2%) and other candidates with 2,158 votes (1.0%), among the 217,428 ballots cast by the county's 291,760 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.5%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 131,219 votes in the county, ahead of Republican John McCain with 89,626 votes (39.9%) and other candidates with 2,329 votes (1.0%), among the 224,740 ballots cast by the county's 280,836 registered voters, for a turnout of 80.0%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 110,411 votes in the county (52.9%), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 95,936 votes (46.0%) and other candidates with 1,609 votes (0.8%), among the 208,540 ballots cast by the county's 264,532 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.8% .
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 79,220 votes countywide, ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 46,161 votes (35.8%) and other candidates with 1,512 votes (1.2%), among the 129,060 ballots cast by the county's 289,900 registered voters, yielding a 44.5% turnout. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 66,723 votes in Burlington County (48.0%), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 63,114 votes (45.4%), Independent Chris Daggett with 6,333 votes (4.6%) and other candidates with 1,661 votes (1.2%), among the 139,030 ballots cast by the county's 282,209 registered voters, yielding a 49.3% turnout rate.
In the 2012 General Election, Democrats Aimee Belgard and Joanne Schwartz won election as Freeholders over Republican incumbents Bruce Garganio and Mary Ann O’Brien, despite being outspent by a six-to-one margin. However, in 2014, both Garganio and O'Brien were successful in winning back seats on the Freeholder board, while Aimee Belgard lost her bid for U.S. Congress, losing the popular vote in both Ocean and Burlington Counties.
In 2015, Republican newcomers Kate Gibbs and Ryan Peters ousted Belgard and Schwartz, again giving the Republican Party full control on the Freeholder Board.
Most municipalities have their own municipal courts, and the county has a Superior Court as well. Municipal courts handle traffic and minor criminal and civil matters, while Superior Court handles the more serious cases.
The Burlington County Library became the first county library in New Jersey when it was established in 1921 in Mount Holly. Library service grew in popularity and several moves ensued as more space became a necessity. By 1971, a new headquarters facility had been constructed, Cinnaminson and Bordentown had joined the system as branches, and a bookmobile visited areas without local facilities. Medford and Evesham had joined the system by 1975. The Pemberton Branch joined the system in 1987. Maple Shade became a branch in April 2001 while Riverton, the newest branch, joined in December 2003. With a larger network of 9 additional member libraries, the system provides a range of services to its residents.
The BurLink bus service provides six routes, under service funded by the county and operated by the South Jersey Transportation Authority, providing connections to New Jersey Transit's bus and rail service.
^Colimore, Edward. "Traffic changes eyed for area of joint base", The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 3, 2011. Accessed November 2, 2013. "More than 22,000 people work at the joint base, which is surrounded by Wrightstown, New Hanover, North Hanover, Pemberton Borough, Pemberton Township, and Springfield Township in Burlington County, and Lakehurst Borough and Manchester, Jackson, and Plumsted Townships in Ocean County."
^Zimmaro, Mark. "Military bases set for merger", Burlington County Times, August 28, 2009. Accessed November 2, 2013. "The 42000-acre facility will be called Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.... The pay discrepancies are because Fort Dix and McGuire are primarily in Burlington County, where salaries are based on Philadelphia wages."
^Levinsky, Dave. "Republicans outspent Democrats 6 to 1 in losing freeholder campaign", Burlington County Times, December 13, 2012. Accessed September 30, 2013. "Released earlier this month by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the campaign finance reports showed Freeholders Bruce Garganio and Mary Ann O’Brien spent a total of $642,778 in their losing effort, including $85,000 on television advertising during the last two weeks before the election.... By contrast, Democratic Freeholders-elect Aimee Belgard and Joanne Schwartz spent a combined $82,707, none on TV commercials."
^Widening Program Overview, New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Accessed October 3, 2013. "The NJ Turnpike Interchange 6 to 9 Widening Program (Widening Program) consists of approximately 35 miles of road widening and associated interchange improvements from the vicinity of Interchange 6, in Mansfield Township, Burlington County (Milepost 48) to just south of Interchange 9 in East Brunswick Township, Middlesex County (Milepost 83). The proposed improvements to the Turnpike include: Widening the mainline from 6-lanes to 12-lanes from a point approximately 2 miles south of Interchange 6 to the existing 10-lane dual-dual roadway south of Interchange 8A."