Sunday, June 22, 2014
Contributed by Harrison
Description: Get To Know The 1702 Port of Lewes Tariff Collector, Henry Brooke, Aristocrat.
Date: December 19 1929
Newspaper published in: Pennsylvania
Source: Michael Morgan Collection
Page/Column: Delaware Diary
Henry Brooke was born to an aristocratic English family in the late 1600's, was an Oxford student in the early 1700's but included parties and carousing with his studies. His parents and teachers decided that he needed a dose of reality, so in 1702 he was removed from Oxford, handed a position as the tax collector for Port of Lewes on the Delaware, and so found himself on a sailing ship bound for America. While in Lewes Henry found the hot spot of town was a tavern at the corner of Second and Mulberry by name of Phillip Russells, where illegal card playing and other activities sometimes had the owner hauled into court. However, these activities did not satisfy Brooke and he often hitched a ride aboard a ship bound for Philadelphia where he caroused with other drinking buddies. In Lewes at his station one day in 1709 a French privateer came into Cape Henlopen and upset the towns people for fear of another pirate attack like they suffered in 1698. Unable to secure any assistance locally, Brooks set sail in a small sloop up the bay to Philadelphia for help from the governor but was refused. He then hired two ships and returned to Lewes with intentions to drive the Frenchmen away, however, they had already left for larger spoils. After this incident Henry Brooks seemed to mellow, perhaps growing older, declined his carousing and spent more time in his library, reading and writing and developed a respected reputation of knowledge and became the Speaker of The House of Representatives in the Lower Counties on the Delaware in 1717. In 1721 he was appointed to the Governors Council and five years later was appointed a judge of the colonial Supreme Court.