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Delaware Deed History

Delaware was one of the thirteen colonies and on December 17, 1787 it became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States. Because of this, it is known as the First State.

Delaware was first colonized in 1631 by Dutch traders at Zwaanendael, which is located near the present-day town of Lewes. Ownership of the “Lower Counties on the Delaware” was passed to William Penn in 1682 by James, Duke of York. The claim to the “lower counties” was dubious, but ownership was transferred to Penn nonetheless. This land transfer made William Penn the world’s largest private non-royal land owner. In 1704, Delaware became the Colony of Lower Delaware and established its own government, independent from Pennsylvania but still under English rule.

There are only three counties in Delaware: New Caste, Kent, and Sussex. New Castle and Sussex were both created in 1664, though New Castle was formally named in 1673 and Sussex in 1682. Kent County was formed in 1680. New Castle is the most populous county in the state. At first, Delaware was governed from a distance, and because of this, the early colonial documents are located in different areas, such as in Pennsylvania and New York. The first officially recorded land title in the state is from 1646.