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This article, published in 1930 in Maryland Historical Magazine, offers an overview on the short-lived Maryland county of Durham and contains unusual land records from the Cecil County "Debt Book."

Durham County: Lord Baltimore's Attempt
At Settlement Of His Lands On The
Delaware Bay, 1670-1685.
By Percy G. Skirven

The territory occupied by the present (1930) County of Sussex in the State of Delaware was known in the seventeenth century as the Hoorekill, (also spelled Hoerkill, Horekill and Whorekill] [1] and extended from Bombay Hook, on the west shore of the Delaware Bay, on the north, down the shore to Cape Henlopen (Fenwick Island) on the south, says Scharf in his history of the counties of Delaware.

In order to better understand the situation that obtained in Delaware in 1670-1684 I quote, in part, from the Encyclopedia Britannica the story of Delaware's beginning: "Queen Christina of Sweden in 1689 sent out a colony under a Dutchman, Peter Menewe, who first landed at the mouth of the Delaware,[2] near the present town of Lewes, which they named Paradise Point. Here they made a purchase from the Indians of all the land on the west side of the river, from Cape Henlopen, at the mouth of the bay, to Trenton Falls; and as none of the Swedes understood the Indian language, the deeds were written in Dutch, and sent to Sweden for preservation. The first settlement the Swedes made in their newly acquired country, which they called New Sweden, was near the Delaware River, where the Christine [Christiana] and Brandywine Creeks join, and where the city of Wilmington now stands. Here they built a fort, which they called Christiana. The Dutch . . . also claimed the west bank of the [Delaware] river, and wrote a remonstrance to Menewe, though they did not interfere with the colony. . . . The Dutch proved troublesome neighbors, and as a retaliation . . . built Fort Casimir six miles below the Swedish settlement. . ."

In 1654, Sweden sent Governor Rising with a large number of colonists; and his first act was to take Fort Casimir, which he did without bloodshed renaming it the 'Fort of the Holy Trinity', when he captured it.

This brought Governor Stuyvesant from New York, with six or seven vessels, and as many hundred men, who not only retook Fort Casimir but also Fort Christiana. Stuyvesant compelled the Swedes to swear allegiance to the Dutch Government, and those who refused the oath were forced to leave the country. Thus the colony of New Sweden was obliterated, and the Dutch became owners of the west shore of the Delaware River, having at Fort Casimir, which they called New Amstel, a governor of their own, though under the jurisdiction of the governor of Manhattan (New York).

In 1664 Sir Robert Carr after capturing Manhattan, sailed up South River, [the Delaware River] and took New Amstel, changing the name of the river to Delaware, and New Amstel to New Castle on Delaware; though the Swedish chronicler affirms 'there has never been a castle in it'.

"For nine years was the colony held by the English, Carr being Governor under Governor Lovelace of New York. Lord Baltimore had claimed, during the Dutch administration, all the lower part of the territory, within two miles of New Amstel, and whilst Governor Lovelace was in office he still urged his claim. In 1673 the Dutch admiral Eversten stormed New York, took it without capitulation, and again there was a Dutch governor on the Delaware. This rule was short, for in the very next year [1674] all the English Colonies were ceded back to England by the Peace of Westminster.

"Yet the settlement on the Delaware seemed doomed to change its owners; for, becoming the property of the duke of York [later James II] by a special grant, there was a governor sent to New Castle in the name of the duke, who himself never visited, his possessions in America.

"In 1682 the duke gave, or nominally sold, 'the three lower counties' to William Penn, so that they became a part of Pennsylvania." Since Lord Baltimore's Charter [3] to the Province of Maryland gave him all the lands west of the Delaware Bay, south of 40th parallel and north of a line drawn east from Watkin's Point, he felt that he had a perfect right to grant lands at and near the Hoorekill, and, in order to offer a special inducement, he had an Order issued by his Council, October 22, 1669, [4] that notice be given to the Sheriffs of Somerset, Dorchester, Talbot and Baltimore Counties [5] "that what Persons will seat [settle] on any Lands on the Seaboard Side [of Maryland] and [on] Delaware Bay from the bounds of Virginia to the degree forty Northerly Latitude, shall, for their encouragement pay, only one shilling sterling rent per annum for every fifty acres which he or they shall take up upon Legal warrant ." These warrants were to be issued to those persons "that have or shall have been transported into his said Province since the said 28th day of July 1669, etc." Only persons of British or Irish descent could receive these grants which were to be issued on credit, upon the condition to be void in case the grantee or grantees to whom the same shall be made do not or shall not within four years from the date of their grant bring in or import into the said Province to reside and continue there one person of British or Irish descent for every fifty acres so to be granted on Credit and make sufficient legal proof of such bringing in and importation of every such person.

For reducing the quit rent to one shilling sterling or 50 lbs. of Tobacco for each 50 acres granted, William Penn accused Lord Baltimore of breach of faith and of being a violator of the amicable treaty existing between them. This was in 1683. [6] To this the Proprietary writes: "Now why this should be such a crime as immediately for my Neighbor Penn to tax me with a breach of faith and to call me a disturber of the Peace etc.: Neither I nor my Councill can understand the same [for] that [which] now has been done was likewise done in Governor Richard Nicholls, Col. Francis Lawelas and Sir Edmund Andros their times whilst those same parts on Delaware were in the possession of His Loyall Highness the Duke of York besides the Whorekill was taken by mee from the Dutch some years ago and never since in their possession which will sufficiently be made out; so that I have been ill used by my neighbor (I conceive) having not by any action of mine deserved to be termed a faithless person and one not fit to be treated with.
      Thus much certified by
      C. [Charles] Baltimore." [7]

The strained relationship, between these two men of vision, that arose over the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania, was further aggravated by the granting by Lord Baltimore, of some 19000 acres of land, in that part of Delaware lying along the west shore of the Delaware Bay and extending from the present Maryland boundary line (below Cape Henlopen) north some distance above the upper part of Sussex County. There were forty-five persons who obtained warrants for these lands. The warrants bore date from 1670 to 1682, and there were forty-seven different pieces of land granted. At Annapolis, Maryland, in the Land Office, these warrants are recorded. In the book showing Lord Baltimore's lands that had been granted within the bounds of Cecil County, there is a list of the lands now lying in the State of Delaware that were granted as lying within "Durham County." [8] The record of these lands, together with the names of the grantees, date of grant and location of the property, is bound in the Cecil County "Debt Book." [9]

The List follows:


Name of Property



1 John Reynolds

Foxes Palace


25 Aug. 1670 on Fox branch of Winlock's Creek.

2 Thos. Hethod

Plain Dealing


25 Aug. 1670 Winlock's Creek near Delaware Bay.

3 John Everhard

Edward's Fortune


25 Aug. 1670 in Winlock's Creek near Delaware Bay.

4 John Curtis

Mulberry Point


25 Aug. 1670 north of Winlock's Creek near Plum Point about 6 miles above the Whorekill.

5 Thos. Reynolds

Reynold's Fortune


25 Aug. 1670. At head of Whorekill Creek at mouth of Delaware Bay.

6 Thos. Everard



25 Aug. 1670. Delaware Bay on Whorekill Creek.

7 Zerobabell Wells

Well's Point


25 Aug. 1670. Fox branch, Winlock Creek.

8 Timothy Freeman

Freeman's Joy


25 Aug. 1670. Box branch in Winlock Creek.

9 Ralph Elstone Jr.



3 Oct. 1670. In Winlock Creek In Delaware Bay.

10 Otho Walgatt

Ship Haven


3 Oct. 1670. At Whorekill on Chesterfield Creek.

11 Saunders Millson

Ransom Bell or Ransomble


8 Oct. 1670. Chesterfield Creek.

12 Hellman's Fred'k. Wilbank

The Company's Fort


3 Oct. 1670. Chesterfield Creek.

13 William Clauson



3 Oct. 1670 Chesterfield Creek.

14 DerrIck Tillson

Oyster Point


3 Oct. 1670 in Chesterfield Creek Delaware.

15 Anthony Peters

Outerlight or Outright


3 Oct. 1670 In Chesterfield Creek Delaware.

16 Hugh Brent

"Surveyed for Hugh Brent"


18 April 1670 W. S. Delaware Bay S. W. branch of Duke Creek.

17 Edward Wall

"Surveyed for E. Wall"


10 April 1671 W. S. Delaware Bay. Man S. W. branch Duke Creek.

18 Thos. Marshall

"Surveyed for Thos. Marshall"


8 April 1671 W. S. Delaware Bay S. W. S. Duke Creek.

19 Thos. Haynes

"Surveyed for Thos. Haynes"


W. S. Delaware 8 Apr. 1672 near head Duke's Creek

20 Wm. Courtier

Chevie Chase


11 May 1672 Delaware Bay.

Wm. Courtier



21 Wm. Winamore

Pipe Elme


3 May 1672.

22 Matthew Willson



2 May 1672 Near Prime Hook N. W. S. Nottingham Branch.

23 George Sealey

Sealey's Delight


10 May 1672 on Delaware Bay. N. S. Slaughter Creek.

24 James Buttler

Newington Green


On Delaware Bay. On N. S. Prime Hook. Oct. 1672.

25 Andrew Grundy

Andrew's Delight


8 May 1672 near Whorekill Creek E. S. Pagan.

26 Charles Pronce

Pronce's Discovery


10 May 1672. N. S. Prime Hook on Slaughter Creek.

27 Randall Revell

New Art


14 Feby. 1671. Near Whorekill on Indian Creek.

28 Danl. Browne [12]

Chaireing Cross


22 May 1672. Indian Creek.

29 Wm. Prentice

Prentice's Second Choice


14 May 1672. N. S. Slaughter Creek.

30 John White

Meant More


2 May 1672 S. S. Duke Creek.

31 Richd. Pate



11 May 1672. Near Whorekill Indian Neck.

32 Richd. Kimball

Partners Choice


16 May 1672 near Whorekill W. S. Kimballs Creek.

33 Robert Cattlin Jr.

Long Acre


13 Feby. 1671 near the Whorekill near Indian River.

34 Robert Cattlin Sr.

Long Hope


16 Feby. 1671. Near Whorekill near Indian Creek. W. S. Pagan Creek.

35 Henry Smith



18 Mar. 1682. W. S. Delaware Bay. Prime Neck.

36 Frans. Jenkins



16 March 1672. W. S. Whorekill Creek near S. S. Delaware Bay.

37 Thos. Walker



23 Aug. 1672. W. S. Whorekill Creek S. S. Delaware Bay.

38 John Smith



23 Aug. 1672. S. S. Delaware Bay N. S. Whorekill.

39 Miles Gray

Grays Lott


23 Aug. 1672. S. S. Delaware Bay on W. S. Whorekill Creek.

40 John Winder

Isle of Oxley


30 Oct. 1672 W. S. Delaware Bay 5 miles N. of Whorekill Creek in Rumley Marsh.

41 Win. Warrilowe

Carpenters Lot


3 Mar. 1672. Kembell's Neck near Hoerekill Creek.

42 Thos. White

Castle's Green


4 March 1672 Near Whorekill Creek S. S. Kembell's Creek.

43 John Richardson

Willow Brook


Granted to John Richardson 17 Nov. 1682 on Duke Creek. W. S. Delaware Bay first for Duke of York.

43 John Richardson



Granted 17 Nov. 1682. W. S. Delaware Bay between Terms Court and Little Creek.

44 John Stevens

London and Content


W. S. Delaware Bay by marsh side of Little Creek.

45 Ralph Elstone



3rd Oct. 1670 on Winlock Creek in Delaware Bay.

Total acres 19173

"Total Amount of Durham County [13] 18.16. 7 1/2 this far" is the notation of the collector of Lord Baltimore's rents.

Writing of the persistence of Penn toward obtaining the rights of Lord Baltimore on the Delaware, McMahon states "... it now became necessary to assail that Charter (to Maryland): and hence in these representations we find Penn objecting to it because the Delaware settlements had been purchased and planted by the Dutch before that Charter was granted; and that even if Baltimore had acquired a right to them under the patent, he had forfeited it by suffering others than his colonists to retain possession of them for forty years. This objection, which will be found to have governed the decision of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations in 1685, and to have ultimately deprived Baltimore of that portion of the peninsula which now forms the State of Delaware, did not originate with Penn. It will be found amongst the objections urged against the Charter, and in support of claims of Virginia, whilst the government of Maryland was in the hands of the Protector's Commissioners; and it was strenuously urged by the Dutch Ambassadors [Herman and Waldron] in 1659 in vindication of their title to the territory along the Delaware." [14]

Writing from London, England, under date of the 16th of September 1681 William Penn began to annoy Lord Baltimore by warning planters living in Cecil County, in the Province of Maryland, not to pay taxes to Lord Baltimore as he, Penn, regarded them as living within the bounds of his Province of Pennsylvania. The letters were addressed to James Frisby, Edward Jones, Augustine Herman, George Oldfield, Henry Ward and Henry Johnson "at their plantations in Pennsylvania."

Matters continued to get worse for Lord Baltimore, and the chief disturber was William Penn, who lost no opportunity to try to have the southern boundary of Pennsylvania established far enough south as to give him a harbor or landing on the Chesapeake Bay. This agitation continued until the Lords of the Committee of Plantations in England decided to clarify the situation and on February 12th, 1683/4 the following announcement was made by them: "A certain tract of land [Delaware] in America having been surrendered long since by the King and ever since the possession of His Royal Highness [James, Duke of York]. His Royal Highness having demised [15] it to William Penn, Esq., (lying contiguous to Pennsylvania) at a Rent, the Lord Baltimore now disturbs [sic] Wm. Penn and his agents there and opposes the passing of the Patent of it to His Royal Highness here ."

"And upon a hearing before the Lords of the Committee of Plantations it being alledged in the behalf of His Royal Highness that this tract of land was inhabited by Christians before the Lord Baltimore's Patent, which extended only to land uninhabited by Christians. [16] It was ordered that they should be ready with proofs to that point.

It is now desired in the behalf of His Royal Highness a day may be appointed to be heard to it. [17]"

Accordingly "On Saturday, 17th October 1685, My Lord Baltimore and Mr. Penn were called in to Council Chamber" and, after hearing Lord Baltimore, "their Lordships agree to report their opinions that the tract of land now in dispute [Delaware] does not belong to Lord Baltimore, but in as much as it yet remains doubtful what are the true boundaries of the land called Delaware which their Lordships now adjudge to belong to His Majesty, their Lordships will meet again for the settlement of those boundaries between His Majesty and the Lord Baltimore at which time His Lordship [Baltimore] and Mr. Penn are to give their attendance and to come prepared for a final decision therein."

The next meeting was on Saturday, 7th November 1685, and was as follows: "My Lord Baltimore and Mr. Penn attending concerning the Boundaries of the Country of Delaware are called in and being heard their Lordships resolve to report their opinion to His Majesty that for avoiding further differences the Tract of land lying between the river and bay of Delaware and the Eastern Sea on the one side and the Chesapeake Bay on the other be divided into two equal parts by a line from the latitude of Cape Henlopen to the 40th degree of Northern Latitude and that one half thereof lying towards the Bay of Delaware and the Eastern Sea be adjusted to belong to His Majesty and that the other half remain to the Lord Baltimore as comprised within his Charter." [19]

This terminated claim of the Calverts to the Delaware lands. It also terminated their ambition to establish a county named for the County Palatine of Durham, England. It will be remembered that, when George Calvert's Charter to the Province was written, he was given among other items (mentioned in section IV of the Charter), "all and singular, such, and ample rights, jurisdictions, privileges, prerogatives, royalties, liberties, immunities, and royal rights and temporal franchises whatsoever, as well by Sea as by Land, within the Region, islands, islets and limits aforesaid, to be had, exercised, used and enjoyed, as any Bishop of Durham within the Bishoprick of County Palatine of Durham in our Kingdom of England, ever heretofore hath had, held, used or enjoyed or of Right, mild or ought to have, hold, use or enjoy."


1. Kill in the Dutch language mean "creek."

2. Encyclopedia Brittanica Vol. VII, p. 44, 9th Edition.

3. ". . .all that Part of the Peninsula, or Chersonese lying in the Parts of America, between the Ocean on the East, and the bay of Chesapeake on the West, divided from the Residue thereof by a Right Line drawn from ... Watkins' Point, situate upon the Bay aforesaid, near the river of Wighco, on the West, until the Main Ocean on the East; and between that Boundary on the Bouth unto that Part of the Bay of Delaware on the North, which lieth under the Fortieth Degree of North Latitude, etc., etc."

4. Arch. Md., Vol 5, p. 56.

5. These were the only counties affected by the order. Baltimore County extended to both sides of the Chesapeake. Kent did not then reach the present Delaware line.

6. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, p. 391.

7. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, p. 391.

8. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, P. 56.
At a Council held at St. Mary'. 22nd day of October 1669.

"Ordered that from the Horekill to the degree forty northerly latitude be erected into a county called by the name of Durham, and from the Horekill to Mt. Scarbarough be likewise erected into a county called as the Lord Proprietary ihall hereafter direct." This latter was eventually named Worcester County which was first erected on June 20, 1672 as evidenced by the following record dated June 20, 1872. [10]

". . . and we having erected that part of our said province beginning at the southernmost branch of a bay now called Rehobeth Bay and from thence running northerly up the Seaboard Side to the South Cape of Delaware Bay and thence to the Whore Kill Creeks and up the bay to the fortieth degree northerly latitude into a county and do hereby erect the same into a county and it is our will and pleasure that it shall be a county and called by the name of Worcester county in our said Province of Maryland."

He, Baltimore, impowered Francis Jenkins an inhabitant and resident in the said county to pass upon the rights of settlers and to take out warrants for land for them in order that they would not have to travel to St. Mary's to the secretary's office. [11]

He also appointed Thomas Jones one of the justices of the county captain of all the forces, horses and foot that are or shall be in the county of Worcester the whole of this territory lying within the present limits of Delaware was lost to Maryland when the boundary of Delaware was determined in 1685. This county became a realty in 1742 by act of the assembly with the following bounds, - on the north by Delaware, East by the Atlantic Ocean, South by Virginia and West by Somerset County, Maryland.

9. Page 80 et seq.

10. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, p. 108.

11. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, p. 109.

12. Made High Constable of Worcester

13. There has been a careful search made for the map used by Lord Baltimore when these warrants were issued, that would show the rivers and streams called for as boundaries of the properties. Neither the Congressional Library at Washington. the Pennsylvania Historical Society's Library in Philadelphia nor the library of the American Geographical Society of New York have copies of it. I feel reasonably sure that there existed such a map and am strengthened in this by the fact that Augustine Herman states in his report of his visit to Maryland in 1659, in which he describes "Mr. Secretary Calvert's dinner," "after the cloth was removed we talked about his charts or maps of the country of which he [Calvert] laid on the table two that were engraved and one in manuscript."

14. McMahon, Vol. 1, p. 30.

15. McSherry says of this, "an act equally dishonest and disgraceful to both" History of Maryland, p. 97.

16. Charter
"Charles, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, defender of the faith, etc. To All to whom these presents shall come.
Whereas our well beloved and right trusty subject Cecilius Calvert, Baron of Baltimore In our Kingdom of Ireland, son and heir of George Calvert Knight, Late baron of Baltimore-treading in the steps of his father being animated with a laudable and pious seal for extending the Christian Religion, and also the territories of our Empire, bath humbly besought leave of us, that he may transport by his own industry and expense a numerous colony of the English nation, to a certain region, hereinafter described in a country hitherto uncultivated in the parts of America and partly occupied by savages having no knowledge of the Divine Being, etc., etc."

17. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, p. 404.

18. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, p. 454.

19. Arch. Md., Vol. 5, p.455.

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