Delaware Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that Delaware court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
Delaware Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.
Delaware Court Records
The Records of the Court of New Castle on Delaware, 1676- 1681, volume two for the years 1681-99, and the Land and Probate Abstract Only (Lancaster and Meadville, Pa.: Colonial Society of Pennsylvania, 1904, 1935) are a few of the collections of early Delaware court records which have been published. The Inventory of the County Archives of Delaware: No. 1, New Castle County, by the Delaware Historical Records Survey is another collection. The Court Records of Kent County, Delaware, 1680-1705 and Sussex County Court Records 1677-1710 also contain compilations of early court records. Many other early court records for indentures, naturalizations, criminal cases and civil cases can be found at the Delaware Public Archives, but New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania also hold many records for what is now present-day Delaware.
The superior court and court of common please handled criminal and civil court cases. The chancery court handled trust, estate and equity cases. Divorces were handled by the county prothonotary, along with naturalizations, criminal court records and civil court records, until 1975. Many of those records are now held at the Delaware Public Archives. The recorder of deeds holds the land records, while the Orphans’ Court and register of wills handle estate matters. The court of chancery and the Orphans’ Court were merged in 1975 and those records are held with each county’s register of chancery. See Also Research In Court Records.
Delaware Land Records
The Delaware Public Archives holds microfilmed or original mortgage and deed volumes from 1680 onward, as well as indexes for them. The archives holds records up until 1962 for New Castle County, 1968 for Sussex County and 1970 for Kent County. There is also a card index of surveys, warrants and original land patents located at the archives. Some of the grants pertaining to Maryland that involve parts of what is now Delaware can also be found at the Delaware Public Archives. However, it’s a good idea to research the land records at the Archives of Maryland as well.
The Delaware Public Archives also holds surveys and warrants from 1682 to 1776, when the area was under the Penn family’s proprietorship. Warrants and Surveys of the Province of Pennsylvania contains records for 1759 to 1761. The Delaware Public Archives is also home to official land grants from Pennsylvania and New York sources for what is now Delaware.
In colonial times, residents of Delaware were required to pay the proprietor quitrents on an annual basis. They were also required to pay taxes to the county. Some of the quitrent records can be found in the Logan papers collection, which is housed in Philadelphia, at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Others can be found in private records.
Mortgages and deeds are kept separately in each of Delaware’s counties and the recorder of deeds holds all major land records. Any documents pertaining to mortgages, appointments or land are the responsibility of the County Register of Deeds Office. However, the Delaware Public Archives now has control of many of those older records. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research
Delaware Probate Records
The Delaware Public Archives is home to probate records from 1676 into the 1900s. Some of them are on microfilm, while others are in their original forms. Information from the early 1700s through 1850 on orphans and partitions of land from wills are organized in indexes according to county. New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania may hold earlier records for what is now Delaware. The county register of wills holds most later wills and related documents, but many earlier wills never underwent an official recording process. See Also Guide to U.S. Probate Records Research