The story of the King George II Inn starts in 1681 when Samuel Clift established the ferry service between Bristol, PA and Burlington, NJ.
Ferries remained the only form of transportation between the two towns until the Burlington-Bristol Bridge opened in 1929 about 250 years later.
The same year his boat began carrying passengers, Clift opened the Ferry House at the end of Mill Street in Bristol, close by the boat landing. At the time, the road past his small inn was known as The King’s Highway or the Great Road.
The Ferry House was probably not much of a hotel, but in those days, cold rooms and bed bugs were as much a matter of course as creaking coaches and muddy roads.
From 1730 to 1765, Patrick O’Hanlon owned the Ferry House. It was during this time that inevitably George Washington slept here. Not as a general or a president, but as a young man of 25 on his way from Virginia to see the governor of Connecticut about a commission in the militia.
The Ferry House next passed into the hands of Charles Bessonett who rebuilt the hotel on a much larger scale, much as it is today, and renamed it the King George II Inn. Borough records show the Burgess and Council met at the inn frequently over the years. In fact, on September 17, 1786 their expenses for 8 meetings at the King George II Inn were detailed: 3.19s and 3½d for punch, grog, wine and porter.
Problems cropped up when a company of Yankee troops arrived in town during the Revolutionary War. They took offense at the fine pub sign painted with King George’s head and shot it down with musket fire.
After the war, Bessonett put up a new sign and wisely changed the name to the Fountain House.
By 1892 the Inn was called the Delaware House and belonged to Mrs. J.E. Lincoln, who built the porches on the riverside. The Bucks County Gazette that year reported, “a fine view of the Delaware River and of the City of Burlington on the opposite shore can be obtained from any of the rooms fronting the river.” Still true to this day!