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History and Facts of Delaware Counties

Henry Hudson, sailing under the Dutch flag, is credited with Delaware’s discovery in 1609.  The following year, Capt. Samuel Argall of Virginia named Delaware for his colony’s governor, Thomas West, Baron De La Warr.

An attempted Dutch settlement failed in 1631. The first European colony in the Delaware Valley was established by Swedish settlers in 1638  but New Sweden fell to Dutch forces led by New Netherlands’ governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1655.

England took over the area in 1664, and it was transferred to William Penn as the lower Three Counties in 1682. Semi-autonomous after 1704, Delaware fought as a separate state in the American Revolution and became the first state to ratify the Constitution in 1787.

Following the English conquest of 1664, all of the land on the western side of the Delaware River and Delaware Bay was governed as part of the New York Colony and administered from the town of New Castle.

The start of the Third Anglo-Dutch War resulted in the brief recapture of the colony by the Dutch in 1673, additional court districts were created around Upland and Whorekill.

The Dutch restored the status that pre-dated the English invasion, and codified it in the establishment of three counties in what had been New Sweden.
They were

  • Hoarkill County, which today is Sussex County, Delaware
  • New Amstel County, which is today New Castle County, Delaware and
  • Upland County, which was later partitioned between New Castle County, Delaware and the new Colony of Pennsylvania.

The latter was also known as Hoornkill, and is now the town of Lewes. The court at New Castle was left with the central portion of the colony. The jurisdiction left to the court at became New Castle County, and the county seat remained at New Castle until 1881 when it was moved to Wilmington.

In 1680, Whorekill District was divided into Deale County and St. Jones County. After this division, Lewes became the county seat of Deale, which was later renamed Sussex County. The former Upland District was named after the New Sweden settlement of Upland, and was renamed Chester County in 1682. Chester County is now located within the present boundaries of Pennsylvania.

Lord Baltimore, the Proprietor of Maryland, claimed all present-day Delaware, and organized its northern and eastern portions as Durham County, Maryland. However, this county existed only on paper. The southern and western portions of present-day Sussex County were organized as portions of several adjacent Maryland counties and were not recognized as part of Delaware until the Mason-Dixon Survey was run in 1767.

In 1791, with the expansion of Sussex County to the south and west, the county seat was moved to Georgetown. The county seat of St. Jones (renamed Kent County in 1681) is at Dover.

The three counties were created on September 12, 1673, the first two on the west shore of the Delaware River, and the third on both sides of the river.

The signing of the Treaty of Westminster of 1674 ended the Dutch effort, and required them to return all of New Netherland to the English, including the three counties they created. That handover took place on June 29, 1674

After taking stock, the English declared on November 11, 1674, that settlements on the west side of the Delaware River and Delaware Bay (in present-day Delaware and Pennsylvania) were to be dependent on the Colony of New York, including the three Counties.
This declaration was followed on November 11 by a new declaration that renamed New Amstel as New Castle. The other counties retained their Dutch names for the duration.
The next step in the assimilation of New Sweden into New York was the extension of the Duke’s laws into the region on September 22, 1676.
This was followed by the partition of some Upland Counties to conform to what would become the borders of Pennsylvania and Delaware, with most of the Delaware portion going to New Castle County, on November 12, 1678.

The remainder of Upland continued in place under the same name. On June 21, 1680, New Castle and Hoarkill Counties were partitioned to produce St. Jones County.

On March 4, 1681, what had been the colony of New Sweden was formally partitioned into the colonies of Delaware and Pennsylvania. The border was established 12 miles north of New Castle, and the northern limit of Pennsylvania was set at 42 degrees north latitude.

The eastern limit was the current border with New Jersey at the Delaware River, while the western limit was undefined.

Pennsylvania immediately started to reorganize the lands of the former New Sweden within the limits of Pennsylvania. In June 1681, Upland ceased to exist as the result of the reorganization of the Colony of Pennsylvania, with the Upland government becoming the government of Chester County, Pennsylvania.

On August 24, 1682, the Duke of York transferred the western Delaware River region, including modern-day Delaware, to William Penn, thus transferring Deale County and St. Jones County from New York to Delaware. St. Jones County was renamed as Kent County; Deale County was renamed Sussex County; New Castle County retained its name.

Hundreds are unincorporated subdivisions of counties, equivalent to townships, and were once used as a basis for representation in the Delaware General Assembly. While their names still appear on all real estate transactions, they presently have no meaningful use or purpose except as a geographical point of reference. The divisions, or “hundreds” as they are called, comes from the times when Delaware and Maryland were colonial holdings of Great Britain. While Delaware alone retains the use of “hundreds”, the origin of most “place names” in both states can be traced back to the times of British rule.

List of Delaware Counties

Iowa is divided into 3 counties.

List of Old Former / Extinct Delaware Counties

Delaware has counties that no longer are in existence. A lot of these counties were established and disbanded within the 19th century; county borders have modified very little since 1900 in the vast most of states.

The below Delaware counties no longer exist:

?? County, Delaware

Created ? from ?. It was abolished ? and re-established as ? County on ?.

  • Deale County: Formed in 1670 as Whorekill Co. Renamed in 1680 as Deale Co. Finally renamed as Sussex Co in 1682
  • St. Jones County: Formed in 1680 and renamed to Kent Co in 1682
  • Whorekill County: Formed in 1670. Renamed in 1680 as Deale Co. Finally renamed as Sussex Co in 1682

Map of Iowa County Boundary Changes from 1673 to 1841

This Interactive Map of Iowa Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from the creation of Iowa in 1673-1841.

Fun Facts about Delaware Counties

County Name Facts

The County names:

  • 0 of them named for Native American words or people,

Counties by Year

  • ? County was the first county created on ?.
  •  The last county to be formed was ? County on ?.

Facts for County Size

  • ? County (000 sq mi) is the largest county in Delaware.
  • ? County (000 sq mi) is the smallest county in Delaware.

Facts for County Population (2017 Est.)

  • ? County (000) is the most populated county in Iowa.
  • ? County (000) is the least populated county in Iowa.

Facts for Delaware Counties and Cities

Iowa’s 10 largest cities (2010) are:

  1. Birmingham (000) is in ? County and ? Counties
  2. Wilmington, Dover, Newark, Middletown, Smyrna, Milford, Seaford, Georgetown, Elsmere and New Castle