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Colonial and Early State Land Records
The earliest land grants in Delaware were given by the Swedes and Dutch. When the English acquired the area in 1664, land grants were issued by the proprietary of James, Duke of York, in New York. When jurisdiction fell to William Penn in 1682, land was granted by this proprietary until the Revolutionary War. Records of the Penn proprietary have been microfilmed:
Pennsylvania. Surveyor General's Office. Proprietary Papers, 1682-1850. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1976. (Family History Library film 1006521 has table of contents; on 25 films.) Microfilm copies of many of the Penn proprietary documents are also at the Delaware Public Archives.
The following publications may be helpful in studying the early records:
Myers, Albert Cook, ed. Walter Wharton's Land Survey Register, 1675-1679. Wilmington, Delaware: The Historical Society of Delaware, 1955. (Family History Library book 973 R2wa; film 1000156 item 3.) This is a transcript of the original register with an index.
Original Land Titles in Delaware, Commonly Known as the Duke of York Records . . . 1646 to 1679. 1899. Reprint, Westminster, Maryland: Family Line Publications, 1988. (Family History Library book 975.1 R2o.) Transcript with index. The 1903 edition is on Family History Library film 006616 item 2.
Gehring, Charles T. Delaware Papers, Two Volumes. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1977-1981. (Family History Library book 974.7 N2d.) Volume one has transcriptions of records concerning the English period, 1664-1682. Volume two contains records relating to the Dutch period, 1648-1664. Transcript with index.
Pennsylvania. Land Office. Applications for Warrants, 1734-1865. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (On 173 Family History Library films starting with 984123.) Filed by the first letter of the applicant's surname within each year. These applications for warrants are for Pennsylvania but include some for what is now Delaware. The applications were usually filed one or two weeks before the land warrants were issued.
Pennsylvania. Surveyor General's Office. Applications for Warrants, 1755-1886. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1976. (Family History Library films 988263-66.)
Weinberg, Allen, and Thomas E. Slattery. Warrants and Surveys of the Province of Pennsylvania Including the Three Lower Counties, 1759. 1965. Reprint. Knightstown, Indiana: Bookmark, 1975. (Family History Library book 974.8 R2w; film 1036747 item 2.) This includes records for 1682-1759 of Pennsylvania and the three lower counties, which are now Delaware.
These following publications include land record inventories:
Delaware Public Archives. Delaware Public Archives. Dover, Delaware: DPA, 1994. This is a helpful sixteen-page pamphlet which you can request from the Archives, and lists many of the records at the Archives.
Delaware's Fugitive Records: An Inventory of the Official Land Grant Records Relating to the Present State of Delaware. Dover, Delaware: Department of State, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, 1980. (Family History Library book 975.1 A1, no. 7; film 1033995 item 4.) This guide refers to Delaware land records found in New York and Pennsylvania, and mentions microfilm copies of the records at the Delaware Public Archives.
County land records were filed in the county courts. The county recorders have deeds, mortgages, and leases from the late 1600s to the present. The Family History Library has microfilms of deeds and deed indexes, warrants, surveys, patents, and bonds for all three counties. These deeds are available on microfilm at the Family History Library:
- Kent County deeds 1680-1850; index 1680-1873
- New Castle County
- Sussex County deeds 1693-1850; index 1682-1844
You will find these listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under DELAWARE, [COUNTY] - LAND AND PROPERTY.
The Delaware Public Archives has microfilms of road records for the three counties. These may mention persons who resided by the roads, and may list the names of persons helping to maintain the roads.
Delaware Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.Family History Department, 1998, 2001.