Historical Facts of Delaware Counties

Delaware County records vary vastly from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been very carefully maintained while others have been significantly abused and neglected. Some Delaware records have merely vanished. For genealogists carrying out research in Delaware there is no valuable substitute for an on-site search of county court house records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia

Delaware is divided into 3 counties. The origin of the county boundaries goes back to former court districts. The powers of the counties’ legislative bodies are limited to issues such as zoning and development. Delaware State Government is located in Dover.

Delaware Counties

Delaware only has three counties, which is less than all other states have. That makes genealogical research a bit easier for Delaware, especially since many of its early records through part of the 1900s have been compiled at the Delaware Public Archives. However, the county recorder of deeds holds land conveyance records, while the office of the register of wills holds estate records from 1925 onward. Meanwhile, divorces up until 1975 and some civil and criminal court records are held by the prothonotary. Each county also has several vital records on file, although many can be found at the Delaware Public Archives.

The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Delaware county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Kent June 21, 1680 from Whorekill (Hoarkill) & New Castle Counties. Dover
New Castle August 8, 1673 Original County Wilmington
Sussex August 8, 1673 Original County Georgetown

Hundreds are unincorporated subdivisions of counties, equivalent to townships, and were once used as a basis for representation in the Delaware General Assembly. While their names still appear on all real estate transactions, they presently have no meaningful use or purpose except as a geographical point of reference. The divisions, or "hundreds" as they are called, comes from the times when Delaware and Maryland were colonial holdings of Great Britain. While Delaware alone retains the use of "hundreds", the origin of most "place names" in both states can be traced back to the times of British rule.

Interactive Map of Delaware Counties Formation

(Delaware maps made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company)


Delaware Extinct Counties

Delaware contains counties that no longer exist. They were set up by the state, provincial, or territorial governing administration. Many of these counties were created and disbanded within the Nineteenth century; county borders have modified little since Nineteen hundred in the vast majority of states. These counties really should be investigated when you are conducting family history and genealogy research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or combined with another county.

  • Deale County: Formed in 1670 as Whorekill Co. Renamed in 1680 as Deale Co. Finally renamed as Sussex Co in 1682
  • St. Jones County: Formed in 1680 and renamed to Kent Co in 1682
  • Whorekill County: Formed in 1670. Renamed in 1680 as Deale Co. Finally renamed as Sussex Co in 1682