Administrative History

When the English took over New Netherland in 1664, New Amstel in Delaware was dealt with separately. The colony was renamed New Castle, but transition from Dutch to English institutions took several years. In the meantime, Dutch officials maintained their civil power but were subordinate to the English commander. In 1672, the government in New York ordered that New Castle be converted into a bailiwick and English laws be established in settlements on the Delaware. New Castle became the principal court in Delaware and courts were also established at Upland and Whorekill. Two additional courts, also subordinate to New Castle were added in 1677 and another in 1680. The Delaware region was controlled by the central government in New York for nine years. Although the Dutch recaptured their former colony in 1673, they lost it again in 1674 under the Treaty of Westminster. When the Duke of York regained control, he ordered that the "Duke's Laws" be extended to all settlements in New York including those in Delaware. A copy of the laws did not reach the Delaware region until 1678.

Three governors administered affairs from Fort James in New York City between 1664 and 1682: Richard Nicholls (1664-1667), Francis Lovelace (1667-1673), and Edmund Andros (1674-1680). Matthias Nicholls held the position of provincial secretary under all three governors, maintaining correspondence and papers for future reference.