Collecting Delaware Books

Sussex County Records

Some Records of Sussex County Delaware compiled by C. H. B. Turner, Lewes, Delaware, and printed by Allen, Lane & Scott of Philadelphia in 1909 is full of quaint facts as well as excellent photographs of light houses and other Sussex County landmarks.

Almost half the book consists of court records from the 17th century. An entry for February 1687, for example, states, "The Inditement agst Phillip Russell for suffering persons to play at Cards in his house, was read to which he pleaded guilty Confessing the same saying it was the first time and much agst his will but the persons was soe Resolute he could not perswade them against it and he the said Phillip promised never to suffer the like againe the Court fined him 5/8." The next court was not until March 1688, when the same Phillip Russell was indicted "for selling beer for More than the laws of this Government allow." Most of the court records deal with wills and probate rather than such heinous crimes.

Another large section abstracts church records from the 18th and early 19th centuries. These include everything from state-of-the-parish speeches to letters accusing pastors of undoctrinaire preaching. One long discourse describes Parson Weems, Washington's biographer and originator of the cherry tree myth. In it Arthur P. Gray says, "1808 Parson (?) Weems was here. I do not think he was a clergyman, notwithstanding his story about the Bishop of London having ordained him. If he had been ordained, he would have shown his credentials . . . . He certainly was very clever." What follows is a fairly complimentary description. The greatest number of church records are from St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lewes from 1790 to 1847.

A chapter of miscellaneous records includes a lengthy account by Dr. George G. Groff of Plockhoy's Colony near Lewes. Peter Cornelius Plockhoy was a Mennonite from Holland who brought settlers to the Hoorn Kill about 1662. Forces of the British governor of New York "destroyed the quaking colony of Plockhoy to a nail." There is no record of the fate of the colonists, except that Plockhoy shows up in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1694, blind and destitute.

The book finishes with records found in family bibles.

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