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Although the location of Lewes was developed in the 17th century, it wasn’t until the early 19th century that the town’s administrative bureaucracy began to take shape. In 1818, the General Assembly established a town government of five commissioners, a treasurer, and an assessor, all to be chosen by a vote of the town’s freeholders.1 The commissioners were then to engage a competent surveyor to formally plot the town’s streets and boundaries. All other aspects of the public health and safety were to be monitored and acted upon by the commissioners as well, including such matters as the regulation of thoroughfares, buildings and bridges. A town constable was to be appointed to keep the peace, in conjunction with the chairman of the board of commissioners, who served as alderman for justice of the peace purposes. The assessor was empowered to levy, and in conjunction with the treasurer, collect appropriate taxes.2

By 1887, the number of commissioners was reduced to four3 and, in 1901, the town was reincorporated with a mayor, two commissioners, a treasurer and an assessor.4 It was again reincorporated in 1941.5

Presently, Lewes has a mayor and a four-member town council. The city manager oversees daily operations in the town, including a streets department and Board of Public Works.

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1 5 DL, ch. 175.

2 11 DL, ch. 429.

3 17 DL, ch. 184.

4 22 DL, ch. 199.

5 43 DL, ch. 170.

clm/jrf December 22, 1988