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Delaware Public Archives

The 17th Century - A Period Of Growth And Change

Examining the 17th century through the documents of the Delaware Public Archives

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ca. 50,000-15,000B.C. - Ancestors of Native Americans crossed Bering land bridge

ca. 30,000-10,000B.C. - Settlement of eastern North America

25,000 - 8,000 B.C. (Primitive nomadic hunters)

25,000 B.C - Oldest fossil evidence of humans in Americas

9,000 B.C. - Extinction of big-game animals

8,000 B.C. (Forest hunting of smaller grassland mammals and food gathering - more permanence in lives--had to travel shorter distances for food)

4,000 B.C. - Upper Paleolithic nomads arrived in region in search of grassland mammals

7,000 B.C - Plant cultivation begins in North America

ca. 700-1600 - Rise of West African Empires

8,000 B.C. - CONTACT (Farming, production of clay pots, and trade--more control over food supply with permanent year round villages. Island Field and other sites in Delaware were eastern terminus for trade routes that extended to the Mississippi River region.)

1000 - Tobacco in use throughout North America
Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows

1096-1291 - The Crusades

1400-1600 - Renaissance in Europe

1451 - Founding of Iroquois Confederacy

17th century (Well-balanced economic system--little real impact on environment until arrival of Europeans whose demand for furs depleted resources of region, destroying Native American habitats and lifestyles, making Native Americans dependent on trade with Europeans)

1492 - Christopher Columbus first arrived in Caribbean

1497 - John Cabot explored North America for England

1517 - Protestant Reformation began

1524 - Verranzano possibly explored Delaware Bay region

1558-1603 - Reign of Elizabeth I

1583 - Sir Humphrey Gilbert failed at establishing a colony in North America

1585 - Sir Walter Raleigh established a colony at Roanoke Island

1588 - English defeated the Spanish Armada

1590 - Roanoke found abandoned

1603-1625 - Reign of James I

1607 - First permanent English colony in North America established at Jamestown by the Virginia Company

1609 - Henry Hudson, sailing for Holland, explored the Delaware Bay region, hoping to find the Northwest Passage

1610 - Samuel Argall, an English captain, took refuge in a storm and named the bay in honor of the governor of Virginia, Thomas West, Lord De La Warr. (The Dutch later called the river the South (Zuydt) River to differentiate it from the North (Noordt) or Hudson River.)

1614 - Delaware Bay region named New Netherland. The United New Netherland Company was formed and lasted 3 years.

c. 1616 - Corneilus Hendricksen reported to the Dutch government what he had seen in the Delaware Bay area

1618-1648 - Thirty Years War in Europe

1619 - First Africans arrived in English North America at Jamestown in Virginia

c. 1620 - Cornelius May explored area near present-day Cape May on the east side of the Delaware Bay

1620 - English Pilgrims settled Plimouth (Plymouth) Colony

1621 - Dutch merchants incorporated under West India Company to run New Netherland and were given a monopoly for trade in the New World and West Africa
Dutch West India Company fully organized

1624 - Dutch established New Netherland

1625-1649 - Reign of Charles I

1625 - Fort Amsterdam was founded

1628-1629 - Charter for New Netherland prepared and approved by the Dutch West India Company (Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions)

1630 - English Puritans founded Massachusetts Bay Colony
Peter Minuit of New Netherland made first grant in Delaware Bay region to a company of patroons for control of land between Cape Henlopen and Bombay Hook

1631 - Dutch established Zwaanendael (Swanendael - present-day Lewes) with 33 men who hoped to make money from fishing, farming, and trading, but the colony was destroyed by Indians within a year

1632 - Captain David Pietersen de Vries spent winter at the site of Zwaanendael, hoping to establish a whale and fish oil enterprise but left because of problems with the Indians. (Dutchmen trading with the Indians used the site from time to time, but the colony was not reestablished until 1659.)
King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden died

1634 - Lord Baltimore (Cecilius Calvert) founded Maryland. Charter for Maryland was originally granted in 1632 for lands in present day Maryland and Delaware or all the land north of Virginia to 40 degrees latitude that was hactenus inculta or "hitherto uncultivated".

1634-1648 - Failed attempts by Sir Edmund Plowden to establish an English colony along west side of Delaware River

1636 - Roger Williams settled Rhode Island

1637 - New Sweden Company chartered Pequot War in New England

1638 - New Sweden was established at Fort Christina by the New Sweden Company, and the first settlers (mostly Finns) arrived on the Kalmar Nyckel
The New Sweden Company sold cargo of furs in Holland despite the monopoly on fur trading of the Dutch West India Company

1639 - First African brought to New Sweden

1640 - Dutch settlers arrived at New Sweden

1641 - Swedes took control of New Sweden Company

1642-1648 - English Civil War

1643-1653 - First native Swedish governor, Johan Printz, in New Sweden established Captial at Tinicum and a fortified settlement on Upland (now in Pennsylvania)

1646 - Document #4 - 1646 - Land grant from the director general (Willem Kieft) and the councilors of theDutch West India Company to Abraham Planck, Symon Root, Jan Andriesen, and Pieter Harmensen for about 300 acres (100 morgen) of land on the south side of the Delaware river (south river) opposite the birds’ land islet ("vogele lant") on which they were to establish 4 farms or plantations with dwellings and which they were to settle within the first year.

1647 - New Sweden was a colony of 183 men, women, and children in scattered farms and forts along the Delaware River

1647-1651 - Peter Stuyvesant was governor of New Netherland

1649 - Charles I executed

1649-1660 - Commonwealth governed England

1650-1674 - Anglo-Dutch Wars

1651 - Peter Stuyvesant moved main Dutch settlement on the Delaware to the site of present day New Castle on the west side about six miles south of Fort Christina from Fort Nassau (later Gloucester, New Jersey) on east side of Delaware and called the new settlement Fort Casimir Parliament passed first navigation act
1653 22 colonists at New Sweden signed a protest against Governor Johan Printz because of his conduct in dealing with the Indians, accusing him of privately benefiting from this trade. In retaliation he had the leader of the protesters arrested, tried, and executed.
Johan Rising replaced Johan Printz

1654 - Document #5 - Passport dated July 6, 1654, signed by Johan rising, the director of New Sweden, and issued at fort Christina in new Sweden to Jan Nilsson, an honest and skilled tailor, who had lived in New Sweden for 12 years, to enable him to return to Sweden.
Swedes, by show of force, compelled Dutch to surrender Fort Casimir (renamed Fort Trinity)
Rising established village of Christinahamn near Fort Christina
Representatives from Maryland and New Haven (Connecticut) claimed land on the Delaware
Treaty of friendship signed between England and Sweden
Anglo-Dutch War ended

1655 - Peter Stuyvesant recaptured Fort Casimir and laid seige to Fort Christina--the Swedes surrendered to the Dutch Swedish colonists elected to remain in Delaware Dutch government established in Delaware with captiol at Fort Casimir (renamed New Amstel) and Jean Paul Jacquet, Vice Director of the West India Company, was put in charge 1655-1664 New Netherland reunited as a result of the Dutch capture of Fort Christina
Dutch slave traders brought Africans to colony in Delaware
Colonists in Delaware included Swedes, Finns, other Scandinavians, Dutch, Africans, Germans, English, French, and Scots.

1656 - Document #6 - Land grant from Peter Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherlands, to Alexander Boyer for a plantation of about 72 acres (24 morgen) on the Delaware river (south river), north of Fort Casimir, bordering on the land of Frans Smith and dated November 30, 1656.

First public town meeting held in Delaware by Dutch
Swedish and Dutch settlers arrived in Delaware on the Mercury
West India Company sold its rights to the Dutch territory between
Bombay Hook and the Christina River to the City of Amsterdam

1657 - The city of Amsterdam officially took control of Dutch settlement and put Jacob Alrichs in charge. Colonists were encouraged to settle at New Amstel (located at present-day New Castle). Amsterdam wanted timber for making ships’ masts and tobacco.
The Dutch West India Company moved its capital to Fort Altena (formerly Fort Christina).
Swedish settlers had to swear allegiance to Dutch but would not have be involved in any conflicts between Swedish and Dutch governments 1658 100 new Dutch settlers arrived at New Amstel, mostly artisans and traders

1659 - William Beeckman replaced Jacquet as Vice Director of Dutch West India Company
Alexander D’Hinojossa became commander of the City of Amsterdam’s territory
Zwaanendael (Whorekill) resettled by the Dutch
New Amstel floundered as many settlers left the settlement
Augustine Herrman and Resolved Waldron were sent to negotiate problems with Governor of Maryland. Herrman later received land (Bohemia Manor) from Philip Calvert when he became governor because he promised to make a map of the Chesapeake Bay region and promised to construct a road across the northern part of the peninsula connecting the Delaware with the Chesapeake (called Herrman’s Road or Old Man’s Road)

1660 - Stuart Monarchy restored; Charles II became king
Alexander D’Hinoyossa took control in Delaware, but proved to be as ineffective as Alrichs and planned to build new capital at
Appoquinimink (Odessa)
Dutch West India Company established fort and trading station at
Zwaanendael (Whorekill) under Peter Alrichs

1661 - Peter Cornellsson Plockhoy’s pacifist Mennonite settlement established at Whorekill Confirmation of Lord Baltimore’s charter for land in Maryland by Charles II
Farm laborers arrived in Dutch colony

1662 - Emigrants from Massachusetts settled Connecticut

1663 - D’Hinoyossa visited Amsterdam and got all of Dutch colony on west side of Delaware turned over the City of Amsterdam by the Dutch West India Company and William Beeckman left Delaware
More Swedes and Finns settled along the west side of the Delaware
The Dutch settlements along the west side of the Delaware included
2,000 cows and oxen, 20 horses, 80 sheep, and several thousand swines on 110 plantations. The settlers grew grain crops, tobacco, and fruits, had 3 breweries, and purchased tobacco from Maryland and furs from Native Americans
Charles Calvert, Governor of Maryland, visited New Amstel and Fort Altena
Carolinas chartered

1664 - Charles II granted his brother James, the Duke of York, land from the Connecticut River to the east side of the Delaware River
English Colonel Richard Nicolls captured New Netherland
Sir Robert Carr, representing Nicolls, captured New Amstel which was not included in the original grant to the Duke of York
Peter Alrichs swore allegiance to the English and was allowed to stay in Zwaanendael (soon to be called Lewes)
Duke of York established New York
Lord Berkeley and Lord Carteret received charter for New Jersey

1668 - Council of five Dutch and Swedish settlers appointed by Governor Nicolls to advise Captain John Carr, commander of military in colony, and transition to English rule progressed smoothly
Colonel Francis Lovelace placed in charge of the Duke’s lands along the west side of the Delaware

1669 - Revolt by Swedes and Finns under Marcus Jacobson "Long Finn" against the English discovered; Jacobson tried, convicted, and banished from colony
Maryland asserted claim to land in Delaware

1670 - Whorekill government established

1671 - Construction of English road across northern peninsula to meet Augustine Herrman’s road

1672 - Governor Lovelace visited Delaware; John Carr was commander of military forces and Edmund Cantwell was high sheriff
New Castle incorporated as a "bailiwick" under a bailiff and six assistants appointed by the governor
Armed bands of Marylanders raided Lewes
War between Dutch and English resumed

1673-1685 - French expanded into Mississippi River region

1673 - Dutch temporarily retook New Netherland region and reestablished colony; Peter Alrichs was appointed Vice-Director for the Delaware territory
Armed bands of Marylanders again raided Lewes Courts established at Upland (north of Christina), New Amstel (Christina River to Bombay Hook), and Whorekill (Lewes area)

1674 - Peace between English and Dutch with mutual restoration of property New patent issued to Duke of York with still no reference to land west of Delaware River
Major Edmund Andros appointed governor of Delaware region and continued policy of anglicization of colonists in Delaware

1675 - Andros visited Delaware and attended court session in New Amstel

1676 - Duke’s Laws established for Delaware also Efforts made to attract settlers to the region through grants of fifty acres for each member of a family who would emigrate
Maryland again asserted claims to Whorekill area
Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia

1677 - 1678 - Document #8 - survey made by Walter Wharton of 450 acres of land and 40 acres of marsh called Kingston upon hull located in St. Jones, border>

1678 - Andros reported that the chief products from the Duke’s colonies in Delaware were wheat, corn, peas, beef, pork, fish, tobacco, and furs

Ca. 1680 - Document #9 - undated (ca. 1680) survey by Walter Wharton for 100 acres of land called Whitwell's located north of the southernmost branch of duck creek, border>

1680 - Pope’s rebellion in New Mexico
Document #1 - deed of sale dated November 1, 1680, conveying land called Quinquingo Cipus, located between duck creek and Appoquinimink creek in new castle county, from meghaeksitt, Chief Sachem of Cohansy, to Ephraim Herman of new castle, for two half "ancers" of drink, one blanket, one musket, two axes, two knives, two double handfuls of powder, two bars of lead, and one kettle.
Document #10 - census of families (99 people) living between the upper part of cedar creek and the upper part of duck creek, including cedar creek, mutherkill (murderkill), St. Jones, and duck creek, by John Briggs for Sir Edmund Andros endorsed April 23, 1680.
Document #11 - 1680 petition of the inhabitants of St. Jones (estimated to be 100 tithables)to sir Edmund Andros asking for a court in st. Jones because of the dangerous land and water travel to the court in Whorekill and stating that such a court would help attract new settlers from Maryland to the region.
St. Jones court for territory between duck creek and cedar creek established by andros whorekill renamed deal
Document #12 - Sussex County court docket dated 1680 showing fines of 50 lbs. Of tobacco for smoking in court; 50 lbs. Of tobacco for writing Whorekill instead of deal; 150 lbs. Of tobacco for failing to fulfill duties on the jury; 100 lbs. Of tobacco for teaching a base, disgraceful song reflecting negatively on several persons; and 500 lbs. Of tobacco for neglecting to come to the court house, neglecting to keep books and records, and keeping the court waiting ½ day.

1680- 1681 - Document #13 - description of proposed Sussex County courthouse, dated January 1, 1680/1, describing the proposed construction of the courthouse, stocks, whipping post, and prison for which the county planned to spend 7000 lbs. Of "good, sound, marchantable tobacco in caske."
Luke Watson was appointed to supervise the construction of the log courthouse.

1681 - Document #2 - 1681 wolf’s head bounty giving 50 lbs. Of tobacco to any Christian who brought in a wolf’s head, but only ½ lb. Of powder to an Indian.

1682 - Document #14 - last will and testament of Joseph Jones, dated June 11, 1674 and recorded June 15, 1682 at St. Jones’s county court, who was planning to sail for England, specifying that his two slaves Sheery and Freegift Wansey would be freed at his death and that Sheery Wansey would receive his home plantation addition, consisting of 100 acres. Jones also appointed Sheery Wansey executor of his estate under the supervision of his associates William berry, William Winsome, john Copeland, and William Courtar.
William Penn granted two deeds and two leases from James, the Duke of York for land west of Delaware River between 40 and 43 degrees north latitude ("The Lower Counties of Pennsylvania"), resulting in the loss of a large part of Lord Baltimore’s land.
Document #15 - there are four documents. The first two are leases from James, the Duke of York, to William Penn, dated august 24, 1682, conveying the town of new castle, the land within a twelve-mile radius of the town, and the land south of the southernmost part of the radius to cape "lopen" for 5 shillings for new castle and the radius and 1 rose for the southern part, to be paid yearly at the feast of st. Michael the archangel. The third document is the deed of feoffment from York to Penn for new castle and the land within the twelve-mile radius. (the original deed of feoffment for the southern land has not been found.) The final document is the deed from Charles ii to James, the Duke of York, for the entire territory, dated march 22, 1683. This deed was written to clarify York’s title to the territory.
William Penn arrived at New Castle and formally took possession of area within 12 mile circle of New Castle from the Duke’s attorneys; later his representatives took possession of lower Delaware at a meeting at Captain Cantwell’s near Appoquinimink
Document #27 - 1683 declaration by William Penn to his people that lands taken up in 1681 and 1682 were to be "seated" in 12 months or forfeited; that unsurveyed lands and warrants granted in 1679 and after were to be surveyed and seated by the end of the next summer; that those who owed quitrents should pay half that year and half the next of no more than 1 bushel of wheat per 100 acres; and that the attached pledge for naturalization be allowed for his people.
William Penn met with an equal number of delegates from the three counties along the lower Delaware and the three counties of Pennsylvania at Chester for the presentation of the Act of Union which was accepted by the delegates
Document #16 - 1682 new castle court docket stipulating that since James, the Duke of York, had granted William Penn the town of new castle and surrounding area and the counties of St. Jones (Kent) and Whorekill (Sussex) downwards, Pennrequested that all inhabitants of the region confirm their titles to their land; that the justices and councilors examine their town plots to determine what land was available for newcomers--especially traders and "handicrafts men"; that he wanted all requests and petitions brought to him at the next court session; that he proclaimed the duke’s laws, already in place in New York, valid for this region; and finally that he promised the inhabitants of the region the same rights and privileges as those in Pennsylvania and that they should be governed by their own deputies and representatives to be conveniently convened.
William Penn and Lord Baltimore met to discuss boundary controversy Weekly market established in New Castle Tobacco was most profitable crop of Delaware colony; corn and wheat were beginning to be profitable

1683 - Document #17 - letter dated July 19, 1683 from William Penn to the justices at new castle instructing them to meet with anyone who came from Maryland about the boundary of Penn's grant with "quietness & circumspection" and not with violence and urging them to ask such a person for a description of the boundary of Maryland which Penn was sure they would and could not give.
Clarification of formal grant issued to William Penn by Charles II for "The Three Lower Counties of Pennsylvania" when James, the Duke of York officially received territory from Charles II which York had previously granted to Penn. (See Document #15)
Document #28 - matrimonial contract dated august 14, 1678, between Gisbert Dirksen and Cattalyntie Gerritz protecting Dirksen from any debts from Gerritz’s first marriage.
Lord Baltimore asserted his claim to lower counties and met with Penn, but boundary issue was unresolved
Marylanders occupied fort near Christina until around 1687
William Penn visited Lewes (Whorekill)
William Penn issued a warrant for surveying the town of Dover but town was not actually laid out until 1717

1684 - William Penn returned to England; Thomas Lloyd placed in charge
Document #18 - list of 81 Kent County landowners and their acreage dated April 20, 1684 by William Berry according to a request of William Markham, the secretary, stating that those whose rents were already due had been notified and that these rents were to be paid at the appointed public place and time.
Document #19 - survey made by William Welch of new castle, dated June 6, 1684, of 1473 acres called Ommelanden, owned by Peter Aldricks (Alrichs) and located on the DelawareRriver border>

1685 - Duke of York became James II
Document #3 - indenture of sale dated December 1685 for 500 acres of land in Sussex county called Indian Game, south of Indian River, to Mathew Claypool and for 500 acres of land north of Indian River to Mathew Taylor, a New York merchant, from Iwottama Saccum "indian sackomaker of assawawmott" .
Document #20 - 1685 Kent County court docket indicting Robert Johnson and Elizabeth Harrington for committing fornication; he pled not guilty and she confessed that Johnson forced her but both were found guilty and fined 5 pounds.
William Penn issued a declaration against Lord Baltimore regarding the history of the boundary troubles and arguments for land rights between the two men.
Board of Trade ordered Maryland and Pennsylvania to divide the peninsula into two equal parts from Cape Henlopen north to 40 degrees of latitude--not until 1750 was the southern boundary designated as Fenwick Island when Mason and Dixon finally determined the boundaries in a survey presented to the Penn family commissioners on January 29, 1768 and confirmed by the King in 1769

1686-1687 - Document #22 - list and description of livestock (mainly cattle and hogs) earmarks registered with the Kent County court in 1686 and 1687.

1687 - Commission of five men put in charge of Penn’s colony

C. 1688 - Document #23 - partial list of Kent County freeholders, their families, and their servants made around 1688, listing their names, ages, and amount of land they owned.

1688 - Glorious Revolution - James II deposed and succeeded by William and Mary Penn arrested several times because of his support for James II
Document #24 - petition of representatives from new castle dated march 10, 17, 1688, requesting the governor and provincial council of Pennsylvania to allow New Castle and Lewes to hold yearly fairs at a convenient time in each town.

1689 - Position of Deputy Governor for Pennsylvania created; John Blackwell was first to hold position Leisler’s Rebellion in New York

1689-1697 - King William’s War, concluded by the Treaty of Ryswick

1689 - More settlers in Kent and Sussex counties than in New Castle; these settlers grew tobacco with the help of African slaves

1690 - Deputy Governor Blackwell resigned; Thomas Lloyd became Deputy Governor Three Lower Counties more and more dissatisfied with government

1691 - Document #25 - Kent County court of quarter sessions docket, dated February 28, 1691, showing results of 1681 vote by 42 freemen of the county (names included) agreeing to the purchase of 50 acres of land from William Morton for the construction of a new courthouse and prison using money to be raised through a public levy and using nails from the old courthouse which was to be burned for that purpose.
Problems between Pennsylvania and three lower counties continued
Witchcraft hysteria and trials in Salem, Massachusetts

1693 - Assembly for Three Lower Counties; William Clark of Sussex County selected to be Speaker Benjamin Fletcher made Royal Governor of Pennsylvania and Lower Counties by Lords of Trade

1694 - William Penn regained control of Pennsylvania and Lower Counties; had to accept statues passed while William Markham was royal governor
William Markham in charge until Penn could come to colony
Thomas Lloyd died; nephew David Lloyd became the leader of the Quaker faction in Pennsylvania

1696 - Governor Markham allowed a new frame of government for the colony with a provincial council with two representatives from each county and an assembly with four representatives from each county with a 2/3 quorum vote; voters had to own 50 acres of "seated and cleared" land, and other property worth 50 (Amendments needed a 6/7ths vote)

1698 - Pirates raided Lewes; Quaker Pacifists in Pennsylvania did little to protect the lower counties from pirates

1699 - William Penn returned to Pennsylvania
Document #26 - Kent County grand jury decisions, dated June 14, 1699, that Marcus Linshey (13), Patrick Gordon (13), and Thomas Smothers (ca. 6) were to be indentured until the age of 21 at which time the two former youths were to be given corn, clothes, and tools and the latter (smothers), who was indentured by his father, was to receive "two good merchantable cows" when he became 21 or when the people he was indentured to died.