New Netherland and Beyond
Delaware before 1699
by William Montgomery Clemens
Editor of Genealogy Magazine, ©1926
Delaware was first settled at Cape Henlopen by a colony of Swedes and Finns in 1627. They laid out a small town near Wilmington in 1631, but it was destroyed by the Dutch. They were at
first subject to a governor under a commission from the King of Sweden. In 1655 they were subdued by the Dutch from New York and they continued under this government until the Dutch were subdued by
the English in 1664, when they passed under the authority of the English governor of New York.
In 1682 this colony was united to Pennsylvania under William Penn, and the inhabitants enjoyed all the benefit of the laws of the province. They were from this time to be considered as the same
people. The freemen were summoned to attend the assembly in person, but they chose to elect representatives. In the settlement of this country under the government of Penn the lands were purchased
and not forcibly taken from the natives. The Dutch had previously adopted a similar practice. In 1692 the government of Pennsylvania and Delaware was assumed by the Crown and was entrusted to Colonel
Fletcher, Governor of New York. But in the latter end of 1693 the government was restored to Mr. Penn, who appointed William Markham Lieutenant Governor. During his administration, in 1696, another
frame of government was adopted, which continued to be the constitution of Pennsylvania and Delaware during the whole time of their union in legislation. When the next charter was accepted by the
province of Pennsylvania in October, 1701, it was totally rejected by the members of the three lower counties of Delaware and separation followed. By the new charter the principles of the first
constitution were essentially altered.