DUKE OF YORK PATENTS ON PILOTTOWN ROAD
Basically, this is a study of how Lewes happened and uses the findings of Dr. David Marine
a member of the Sussex Society of Archeology and History back in 1955. A map that Dr. Marine
sketched outlines eight patents, located by Shipcarpenter on the SE side, Pagen Creek, now Canary, on the SW side and Lewes Creek on the NE side, and a tract of land reserved for the Town set between Shipcarpenter Street and South Street, now Savannah Road.
This area has been called “Delaware's First Square Mile” and holds the sites of the 1631 Swanendael settlement, the 1695 West India Company fort and trading post, Plockhoy's Colony, the
areas of 1617 census by Wiltbank, the 1673 “Burning of Whorekill” and several raids by Maryland's
The Duke of York's patents brought attention to the “First Square Mile of Delaware” which is thought had not received the due respect it deserved by the Dutch, the Duke of York nor Lord Baltimore and formed a rough neighborhood into a permenent settlement and important port of call
that was deserving greater respect and a court of law and the adjoining lands quickly filled with settlers
wanting legal protected property. This is how Lewes happened to take shape.
The list of Duke of York patents and notes of them is listed below;
#8, no date, 112 acres, to owner Cornelius Verhoofe, #7, January 15, 1675, 69 acres Jan Kipshaven
# 6 , July 7, 1675, 80 acres, owner Alexander Molleston, #5, July 7, 1676, 132 acres, owner
William Tom, #4, July 2, 1672, 150 acres, owner, Helmainas Wiltbank, #3, January 24, 1675,
50 acres, owner William Clark. #2, May 25, 1670, 140 acres , owner Helmainas Wiltbank, # 1,
July 7, 1675, 134 acres , owner Helmainas Wiltbank.
Parcels 1, 5 and 6 were laid out by Edmubd Cantwell, the official surveyor at the time. The
parcel 2, was first granted to Dirck Pieters, by Francis Lovelace, Yorks governor in New York and has a long story behined it. Parcel 3; Original patent holder was Simond Pawlin who assigned parcel to Captain Nathaniel Walker, who assigned it to William Clark, 11 June 1681.
Parcel #4; to Wiltbank , grant by Lord Baltimore. Parce #7 ; Surveyed by Capt. Edmund Cantwell.
Parcel #8, granted while Andros was governor, late in 1676.
The parcel reserved for the Town was probably surveyed in 1675. Wiltbank claimed owner
but the position against him by the Town prevailed. It was laid out by Capt. Cantwell as “Common”
for cattel feed and firewood.
Robert Shankland in 1723 survey noted that the Town tract was claimed by Dyreits Paten, however, this was never proven.
A chronological long road to Lewes follows:
1632: After the Swanendael massacre de Vries and his investors abandon their efforts in this area
and that which was purchased from the local Indians in 1629, from Bombay Hook to Fenwick was
sold to the Dutch West India Company which discouraged settlement and carried on a fur trade with the local Indians.
1638: Swedish interest headed by Peter Minuit, took advantage of Dutch lack of activity , and established a colony at Christina, called it New Sweden what grew with an influx of Swedes and Finns. The Sweds purhased the land south to Cape Henlopen annd caused a disruption to the fur trade.
1655: After years of increasing provocation the Dutch West India Company's director general , Peter
Stuyvesant, led an invasion from his post in Manhatten into Delaware and put an end to Swedish
1656: The West India Company, in dept to the City of Amsterdam transferred ownership to them of
land from Christina River to Bombay Hook. This colony was known as New Amstel with it's center at todays New Castle.
1657, t he first director of this colony was Jacob Alricks'. Late this year, fourteen men from Virginia came ashore at Cape Henlopen, probably runaway servants, and raised concerns that the English were trying to take over lower Delaware.
1658: Stuyvesant learned that the tract from Bombay Hook to Cape Henlopen was to be purchased, the area then called Horekil by the Dutch. The West India Company's William Beckman and
Stuyvesant took steps to purchase land from the Indians to build a fort near the Cape as soon as
1659: In June of this year, Beekman for the Company and d'Hinojossa for the City, pirchased
Horekil and took twenty of the City's soldiers there with them. The soldiers were to stay and build a 'fort' on parcel #4. Maryland moved against the Dutch and demamsed them to leave Delaware. The Dutch remained.
1661 New Amstel took Gerritt van Sweringen as it's Secretary, d'Hinojoosa took City of Amsterdam
over as it's director. Maryland softened it's belligerent stand and showed interest in trade.
1662: d'Hinojossa names Alricks, who had returned to New Amstel, and was granted all rights to trade between Bombay and Cape Henlopen. d'Hinojossa made attempt to have Amsterdam take control of the Delaware River . This year Pieter Cornelis Plockhoy, a Mennonite , received grant to establish a semisocialistic society in Horekil.
1663: The ship St. Jacob brought the Plockhoy group, 41 people with baggage and farm tools , to
Horekil. D'Hinojossa took this ship to Amsterdam where Alrick's was already. Upon his return he brought workmen on a four year service term, and Sander Molleston, aka Maelstten, of Saxony.
All of Delaware River, aka South River, was turned over to City of Amsterdam.
1664: On March 12, this year, Englands King Charles II gave to Duke of York, aka James, Charles' brother, the coastal lands of America from Maine to New Jersey on the Delaware Bay.
A plan to end the Dutch hold on New Netherlands was prepared. A naval force under the
Colonel Richard Nichols caused Stuyvesant to surrender Manhatten on September 8.
Sir Robert Carr was sent to Delaware with a small force and by that October had put down
d'Hinojossa's feeble resistance and 'confiscate' Plockhoy's settlement.
In this change of masters, Alrichs lost his properties, but soon was accepted by the new
government, received most of it back, plus a liscense to trade with the Whorekil Indian
1665 – 1669 : For the next five years the Duke of York's officials in New York took no interest
in Whorekil, to them it was an unimportant place somewhere under the order of officials at New Castle.
At the same time Lord Baltimore's people, busy at St Mary's, did not push Maryland's claim
to Delaware. They were slow in getting the Eastern Shore settled. Some people from Virginia's Eastern Shore did spill over into Marylands somerset, at that time covering Maryland from the Chesapeake Bay up to Delawares Indian River, and had a settlement called “Manokin” on the Potomoke River. After the lands of Somerset were claimed, then, Maryland looked north, toward the good lands in southern Delaware.
But still the Duke of York did nothing to bring his settlers to Whorekil where land patents were
available to all comers. However, the process was confusing and slow, it strained patience of those
interesed. Who was there? The Dutch that were always there, some West India Company fur traders, The Duke of York's people did not make it easy for these old settlers to remain.
1670: Lord Baltimore had his Maryland Council lay ground work to take over what they called
S The southward 'run' into Somerset, was established later for inhabiting
“Seaboard Side” and Whorekil. Land was available through William Stevens and James Weedon , on easy terms for people of English and Irish descent, hope was they would transport themselves to Durham.
James Weedon was made surveyor and Daniel Brown was made constable of Durham. Apparently
these men and their party were well received by the Pilottown Dutch settlers when they appeared at the Whorekil . At last someone to hand out land grants.
In October, six Dutchmen were granted land at “Whorekil on the Chesterfield Creek”, the short lived name for Lewes Creek. Weedon had a problem, these were not English nor Irish names, so, he changed the Dutch spelling of names to an anglicized spelling. Otto Wolgast became Otho Walgatt,
Willem Claesen was now William Clauson, Antony Pieters became Anthony Peter, and so on.
Whorekil at this time still had a Dutch Court run by Wiltbank, but the Dutch settlers all accepted Weedon's patents. The Duke of York also issued a Pilottown road patent. So who had the control?
1671: It appears that the Whorekil Dutch Court still was accepted in the area as 'in control'.
Wiltbank was commissioned to provide a list of persons at the Whorekil which he did. It accounted for 47 “total souls” , 29 Dutch families, wives, children and servents , and 18 English families from Somerset Maryland.
JamesWeedon. The surveyor, died mid year and his family and servants went back to Maryland. The other Marylanders who came with him remained.
1672: Appears that the dutch are still in controland ignor lord Baltimores demands. Maryland
launched another plan to control Delaware, Whorekil being the chief target, Dutham was changed to
Worcester, officials were appointed but never acted in any capacities.
Pilottown Road land grants were reissued to three persons, Thomas Walker, 300 acres, John Smith, 300 acres, Frances Jenkins 600 acrea. To this tract the name of “Pershore” was given.
These Jenkins grants had no bearing on the Duke of York grants.
1673: In to Sussex county moved John Avery, John Rhodes and John King, without the Duke of York's authorizstion. This year 1600 Dutch troops overwhelemed the English at New York, New Netherlands revived, New york becane New Orange. The Delaware River was South River again
and Whorekil becane Horekil. The Swedes, Finns, Marylanders on south River were able to keep their homes. Howeverm this is the year Lord Baltimore decided to take charge and in December his aid,
Captain Thomas Howell and 40 hoesemen road in and took control for about four weeks, but cold weather and meger food supplies forced Howell to withdraw. On Christmas eve, Howell retirned and ordered the resident to muster with their guns and ammunition for drill and there he confiscated the arms, told the people to gather up their belongings as he was going to burn all dwellings and that he did. This action for sure put the resident in precarious circumstances, there was the cold, no food, several woment with child, The Dutch and some of the English who had made Whorekil home did not leave. Not long after this raid the Dutch & English war ended, New York and Delaware returned to the English and a policy of procedure to grant lands was provided.
1675 – 1676: These years brought hope as property rights and law were restored. Whorekil received and English system Court and the laws of the Duke of York were to be followed. Helm Wiltbank,
Edward Southrin, Sander Molleston, John King and Paul Marsh were ordered to be Justices of this court, and Daniel Brown was made constable. With this court in control the town of Lewes earned it's place among places, so to speak. It was said Lewes had a Dutch mother and a Maryland English father.
The early settlers of Lewes deserve full admiration for forceing a town to come about by
their persistent occupation of the Pilottown Roads patents.
The source of this abstract, repeat abstract, is Warren Macdonald's, assisted by Helens Carter
Potter, article in the 2002 Volume V, Journal of the Lewes Historical Society, which has much more detailed information of the 'people' involved and would be necessary reading to those interested.
November 19, 2017 by Harrison H.