During the period of English control of the Delaware, when the region was governed from New York, courts for the local administration of the Delaware area were held at New Castle, Upland, and the Whorekill. The Provincial Secretary of New York, Matthias Nicolls, maintained files of all papers sent to the central government from these three Delaware jurisdictions. Copies of letters, orders, warrants, commissions, and passes for the Delaware region were recorded in his General Entries Book, while papers received from the various jurisdictions were bundled together and marked as Delaware Papers.
The manuscripts contained in this volume do not form a continuous historical record of judicial and administrative proceedings; rather, they consist of correspondence, reports, petitions, accounts, survey-returns, and copies of local court proceedings that were sent by official or private persons to the central government in New York. Among the papers are also copies of letters, orders, warrants, instructions, and patent records concerning the Delaware region that Nicolls retained for his files. The papers sent from the various jurisdictions in Delaware to New York comprise more than two-thirds of the manuscripts contained herein, representing court cases on appeal or suits outside the responsibility of the local courts. This volume, therefore, does not contain the complete record of the Delaware region, but rather the central government’s judicial and administrative contact with this remote area of the colony.
In short, this volume affords historians and genealogists an accurate account of all documents in the New York Provincial Secretary’s file of “Delaware Papers” from the English period. In such records as these the historian finds a wealth of indispensable material concerning the earliest history of the Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey colonies.