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Delaware Colonial Records

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

Many records from the colonial era in New England were kept at the town or county level. Search the catalog at these levels to locate those records.

History[edit | edit source]

In 1638, the first European permanent settlement was founded in Delaware by Swedish immigrants. The colony was named New Sweden, and was conquered by the Dutch in 1655, and the English in 1664. Until Delaware's provincial assembly was established in 1703, it was under the control of Pennsylvania. Maryland claimed portions of Delaware from 1682-1736.[1]

Earliest Church Records Earliest Land Records Earliest Court Records Earliest Newspapers
1646 1640 1642 1762


Statewide Records and Resources[edit | edit source]

The earliest courts in Delaware are:

  • Chancery Courts (1684-) County courts of equity.
  • Courts of Common Pleas (1701-) Civil and criminal county court records, also includes appeals and adoptions.
  • Orphans' Courts (1728-)
  • Clerk of The Peace (1642-)
  • Probate records from 1682 are kept at the county level.
  • 1683-1744 Philadelphia Administrations, 1683-1744, Vol. 2, Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, n.d. This includes collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania and includes administrations that were granted for residents of the present state of Delaware.
  • Colonial Delaware Wills and Estates to 1880: An Index by Donald Odell Virdin, Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1994.

Church and Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Major religions in Delaware included Baptists, Protestant Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Society of Friends. Many of these church records date back to the 1680s, and an inventory of about half of the church registers was transcribed by the Historical Records Survey. These are available on microfilm. A card index of vital records, 1680-1913, is available at the Hall of Records in Dover (film 0006416 ff.).[2]

Land Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

  • 1682 - Delaware was divided by the Penn Proprietary into "hundreds." These were areas created for tax purposes and supposed to be occupied by ten families. Until 1897, the original twelve hundreds were divided and added to. The original twelve were:

Kent County
Duck Creek
Mispillion
Motherkill
Murderkill
Saint Jones

New Castle County
Appoquinimink
Brandywine
Christiana
New Castle
Saint Georges

Sussex County
Broadkill
Rehoboth

Original tax assessment records, beginning in 1693, can be found at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Military Records[edit | edit source]

  • Records of colonial military service can be found in: Delaware Public Archives Commission. Delaware Archives. 5 Vols, (Wilmington:n.p., 1911-, film 0928150ff).
  • Colonial Delaware Soldiers and Sailors 1638-1776 by Henry C. Peden, (Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1995).

Colonial Census Records[edit | edit source]

In 1693, a census was taken of the Swedes in Delaware to see if there was a need for more pastors and religious books in Swedish.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Christina K. Schaefer, Genealogical encyclopedia of the colonial Americas : a complete digest of the records of all the countries of the Western Hemisphere (Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Company, c1998), 183, 192. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 929.11812 D26 1998
  2. Christina K. Schaefer, Genealogical encyclopedia of the colonial Americas : a complete digest of the records of all the countries of the Western Hemisphere (Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Company, c1998), 183, 192. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 929.11812 D26 1998
  3. Christina K. Schaefer, Genealogical encyclopedia of the colonial Americas : a complete digest of the records of all the countries of the Western Hemisphere (Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Company, c1998), 183, 192. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 929.11812 D26 1998
  4. Christina K. Schaefer, Genealogical encyclopedia of the colonial Americas : a complete digest of the records of all the counties of the Western Hemisphere] (Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Company, c1998), 183, 192. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 929.11812 D26 1998