New Castle County, Delaware

New Castle County, Delaware
New Castle County, Delaware
Habs new castle county court house.jpg
County courthouse
Seal of New Castle County, Delaware
Map of Delaware highlighting New Castle County
Location in the state of Delaware
Map of the U.S. highlighting Delaware
Delaware's location in the U.S.
Founded 1637
Seat Wilmington
Largest city Wilmington
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

493.51 sq mi (1,278 km²)
426.27 sq mi (1,104 km²)
67.24 sq mi (174 km²), 13.62%
 - (2010)
 - Density

1,264/sq mi (488.1/km²)
Congressional district At-large

New Castle County is the northernmost of the three counties of the U.S. state of Delaware. As of 2010 its population was 538,479, an increase of 7.6% over the previous decade.[1] The county seat is Wilmington. The center of population of Delaware is located in New Castle County, in the town of Townsend.[2] It is the most affluent of the three counties in the state of Delaware. In addition it is the smallest in area but largest in population.

This county is part of the Delaware Valley area.



The first permanent settlement on Delaware soil was Fort Christina, resulting from Peter Minuit's 1638 expedition on the Swedish vessels Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel. The town was laid out where Wilmington presently exists, and the land contracted with the Indians consisted of Old Cape Henlopen north to Sankikans (Trenton Falls), and inland as far as they desired. However, a dispute ensued between the Swedes and the Dutch, who stated they had prior claim to that land.

In 1640, New Sweden was founded a few miles south of Christina. In 1644, Queen Christina appointed Lt. Col. Johan Printz as Governor of New Sweden. She directed boundaries to be set and to reach Cape Henlopen north along the west side of Godyn's Bay (Delaware Bay), up the South River (Delaware River), past Minquas Kill (Christina River), to Sankikans (Trenton Falls). Printz settled on Tinicum Island, making it the seat of government and capital of New Sweden.

Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Netherland, sailed up the South River in 1651. He purchased land from the Indians that covered Minquas Kill to Bompties Hook (Bombay Hook), part of this purchase had already been sold to the Swedes in 1638. Stuyvesant began to build Fort Casimir (contemporary New Castle).

In 1654, Johan Risingh, Commissary and Councilor to the Governor Lt. Col. Printz, officially assumed Printz's duties and began to extricate all Dutch from New Sweden. Fort Casimir surrendered and was renamed Fort Trinity in 1654. The Swedes were now in complete possession of the west side of the Delaware River. On June 21, 1654, the Indians met with the Swedes to reaffirm the purchase.

The Dutch, having learned of the fall of Fort Casimir, sent Stuyvesant to drive the Swedes from both sides of the river. Only the Dutch were allowed to settle in the area and on August 31, 1655, the territory was converted back to Fort Casimir. Consequently, Fort Christina fell on September 15 and New Netherlands ruled once again. John Paul Jacquet was immediately appointed Governor, making New Amstel the capital of the Dutch-controlled colony.

As payment for regaining the territory, Dutch West India Company conveyed land from the south side of Christina Kill to Bombay Hook, and as far west as Minquas land. This land was known as the Colony of The City. On December 22, 1663, the Dutch transferred property rights to the territory along the Delaware River to England. In 1664, the Duke of York, James, was granted this land by King Charles II. One of the first acts by the Duke was to order removal of all Dutch from New Amsterdam; the name was then changed from New Amstel to New Castle. In 1672, the town of New Castle was incorporated and English law ordered. However, in 1673, the Dutch attacked the territory, reclaiming it for their own.

On September 12, 1673, the Dutch established New Amstel in present-day Delaware, fairly coterminous with today's New Castle County. The establishment was not stable, however, and it was transferred to the British under the Treaty of Westminster on February 9, 1674.

On November 6, 1674, New Amstel was made dependent on New York Colony, and was renamed New Castle on November 11, 1674.

On September 22, 1676, New Castle County was formally placed under the Duke of York's laws. It gained land from Upland County on November 12, 1678.

On June 21, 1680, St. Jones County was carved from New Castle County. It is known today as Kent County, Delaware.

On August 24, 1682, New Castle County, along with the rest of the surrounding land, was transferred from the Colony of New York to the possession of William Penn, who established the Colony of Delaware.

  • 1673 - 1682 Information Source: NEW YORK: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries by Kathryn Ford Thorne and John H. Long.

"In the local government of seventeenth century England, the justice of the peace was the key figure. Collectively, the justices composed the county court which governed the county......." In September 1673, a Dutch council established a court at New Castle with the boundaries defined as north of Steen Kill (present-day Stoney Creek) and south to Bomties Hook (renamed Bombay Hook). In 1681, a 12-mile arc was drawn to specifically delineate the northern border of New Castle County as it currently exists. In 1685, the western border was finally established by King James II; this was set as a line from Old Cape Henlopen (presently Fenwick) west to the middle of the peninsula and north up to the middle of the peninsula to the 40th parallel of Latitude.


The boundaries of New Castle County are described in § 102 of the Delaware Code.[3] According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 493.51 square miles (1,278.2 km2), of which 426.27 square miles (1,104.0 km2) (or 86.38%) is land and 67.24 square miles (174.2 km2) (or 13.62%) is water.[4] The highest natural point in Delaware, Ebright Azimuth at 451 feet (137 m), is located in New Castle County.

The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal was built through New Castle County, and adjoining Cecil County, Maryland, between 1822 and 1829.

Adjacent counties


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 19,688
1800 25,361 28.8%
1810 24,429 −3.7%
1820 27,899 14.2%
1830 29,720 6.5%
1840 33,120 11.4%
1850 42,780 29.2%
1860 54,797 28.1%
1870 63,515 15.9%
1880 77,716 22.4%
1890 97,182 25.0%
1900 109,697 12.9%
1910 123,188 12.3%
1920 148,239 20.3%
1930 161,032 8.6%
1940 179,562 11.5%
1950 218,879 21.9%
1960 307,446 40.5%
1970 385,856 25.5%
1980 398,115 3.2%
1990 441,946 11.0%
2000 500,265 13.2%
2010 538,479 7.6%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there are 500,265 people, 188,935 households, and 127,153 families residing in the county. The population density is 1,174 people per square mile (453/km²). There are 199,521 housing units at an average density of 468 per square mile (181/km²). The racial makeup of the county is 73.12% White, 20.22% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 2.59% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.22% from other races, and 1.62% from two or more races. 5.26% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.6% were of Irish, 11.4% Italian, 10.9% German, 8.8% English and 5.4% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000. 89.5% spoke English and 5.3% Spanish as their first language.

There are 188,935 households out of which 32.50% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.60% are married couples living together, 13.40% have a female householder with no husband present, and 32.70% are non-families. 25.70% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.50% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.56 and the average family size is 3.09.

In the county the population is spread out with 24.90% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 31.50% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 11.60% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 94.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $52,419, and the median income for a family is $62,144. Males have a median income of $42,541 versus $31,829 for females. The per capita income for the county is $25,413. 8.40% of the population and 5.60% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 10.20% of those under the age of 18 and 7.40% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


County government

County executive

The county is headed by a County Executive, who is elected to a maximum of two, four-year terms. The incumbent is Democrat Paul Clark. The Chief Administrative Officer, who is the County's second-in-command, is appointed by the County Executive and serves at his or her pleasure. The current CAO is Gregg E. Wilson (acting).

County legislative

The county's legislative body is a thirteen-member County Council, consisting of twelve members elected by district and one President elected at large.

New Castle County Council doubled in size to thirteen from seven members in 2004.

The current President is Penrose Hollins, Pro Tempore(D). The current County Council members are:

  • District 1: Joe Reda (D)
  • District 2: Robert S. Weiner (R)
  • District 3: Janet Kilpatrick (R)
  • District 4: Penrose Hollins (D)
  • District 5: Lisa Diller (D)
  • District 6: Bill Powers (D)
  • District 7: George Smiley (D)
  • District 8: John J. Cartier (D)
  • District 9: Timothy P. Sheldon (D)
  • District 10: Jea P. Street (D)
  • District 11: David L. Tackett (D)
  • District 12: Bill Bell (D)

Further information can be found at:

County judiciary

As with Delaware's other two counties, New Castle County has no judiciary of its own. All judicial functions, with the exception of Alderman's Courts, are managed and funded by the state of Delaware.

In New Castle County, only the cities of Newport and Newark have Alderman's Courts. These Courts have jurisdiction over driving offenses, misdemeanor criminal charges, and minor civil claims.

County row offices

The county retains the concept of "row offices" from Pennsylvania, so-called because all of these county offices could be found in a row in smaller courthouses. In Delaware, these offices are Clerk of the Peace, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills and Sheriff.

The office of Clerk of the Peace is unique among the 50 states; the office-holder's function is almost exclusively to perform marriages. The current incumbent is Kenneth W. Boulden, Jr. (D)

The Recorder of Deeds is Michael Kozikowski (D). His office is responsible for receiving and recording deeds, mortgages and satisfactions thereof, assignments, commissions of judges, notaries, and military officers. The Recorder of Deeds' office is heavily computerized; electronic images of all recent documents and many others are available the office is in the process of imaging further back with the eventual goal of all documents in the office's possession being available electronically. Computerized indexing and searching is also available.[6]

The Register of Wills is Nina Bawa, who is an Interim Appointment, after the appointment of Diane C. Streett, Esquire to a judgeship. Her office receives and records wills and small-estate affidavits upon an individual's death, and issues letters of administration to estate executors.

The Sheriff of New Castle County has two divisions, criminal and civil. The criminal division is based in the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. The deputies assigned to this division organize and manage capias returns. They also transport prisoners for Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas, and Family Court. The civil division serves legal process, performs levies & impounds and sells property in satisfaction of judgments. The civil division also locates and apprehends individuals wanted for civil capias. The current Sheriff is Trinidad Navarro.

County zoning and public works

New Castle County has a strong zoning code, known as the Unified Development Code, or UDC. The UDC was shepherded (some would say forced through) by the Gordon Administration in response to public perception of over- and misdevelopment in the county. New building projects must go through an arduous process of application and approval before construction is permitted to begin.

By operation of state law, New Castle County has no responsibility whatsoever for maintenance of roadways. Public roadways are maintained exclusively by the Delaware Department of Transportation, while roadways within neighborhoods and developments are, pursuant to County code, maintained by homeowners' or neighborhood associations.

The Department of Special Services maintains essential infrastructure elements such as sanitary sewers and drainage ways. It also maintains County-owned parks and buildings such as County libraries. It does not maintain the water distribution system, which is owned and operated by several private companies. In general, it also does not maintain stormwater management facilities within subdivisions.

County public safety

Access to 911 emergency services is provided by New Castle County through their emergency communications center for all fire/rescue/EMS services throughout the county and the majority of police services (Newark, DE and Wilmington, DE maintain their own police emergency call centers). New Castle County has its own nationally accredited police department. The New Castle County Police Department is the second largest police organization in the state of Delaware. New Castle County maintains a county wide police force with authorization to enforce laws throughout the county, including within incorporated municipalities. The county police force is supported by local municipality police agencies in Middletown, Newark, Delaware City, Wilmington, Newport, Elsmere, the city of New Castle, the University of Delaware, as well as the Delaware State Police. New Castle County also operates a nationally accredited, county-run paramedic service through its Emergency Medical Services Division. NCC*EMS is the ALS (Advanced Life Support) component of a two-tiered, paramedic intercept system. County paramedics are located in eight (8) full-time stations and one (1) part-time station that operates during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with a capability of calling in additional personnel during major emergencies or planned events. Ambulance service is provided primarily by volunteer fire companies. Fire/Rescue protection is provided by twenty-one (21) volunteer fire departments throughout the county, as well as the state's only paid municipal fire department in the city of Wilmington.

State government

The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families (DSCYF) has its headquarters in the Delaware Youth and Family Center (DYFC), located in unincorporated New Castle County, near Wilmington.[7][8] Several DSCYF juvenile facilities, including the New Castle County Detention Center (NCCDC),[9] the Ferris School for Boys,[10] and the Grace and Snowden Cottages are in unincorporated New Castle County.[11]

Several Delaware Department of Correction facilities are located in the county. The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC), formerly the Delaware Correctional Center, is a men's prison in unincorporated New Castle County, housing sentenced prisoners; Vaughn opened in 1971.[12] The Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, renamed from Multi-Purpose Criminal Justice Facility in 2004 and housing both pretrial and posttrial male prisoners, is located in Wilmington; it opened in 1982.[13] The Delores J. Baylor Correctional Institution, a women's prison housing pretrial and posttrial prisoners, is located in unincorporated New Castle County.[14][15] Baylor opened on December 29, 1991.[14] The Delaware male death row is in the JTVCC, while the female death row is in Baylor.[16] Executions occur at JTVCC.[17]


Like the rest of the state of Delaware, New Castle County has relatively few incorporated areas. This stands in stark contrast to neighboring Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where unincorporated areas do not exist: townships, boroughs, towns, and cities cover the entire area of any given county.

Most incorporated areas have home rule and are free to enact their own city and building codes, and set their own election dates.

Developments and neighborhoods

Delaware, and particularly New Castle County, may be unique in that residents, when asked where they live, will more often respond with the name of their development (or neighborhood in the cities of New Castle and Wilmington) than the name of their town or city. This is likely due in large part to the relative dearth of incorporated areas in the county, going back to the historical division of Delaware into unincorporated hundreds.

Many developments and some neighborhoods are prominently marked on state maps, and most have state-erected markers signifying their entrances. Some developments are large enough to be considered unincorporated villages, while others may have only one street. Significantly, Delaware driver's licenses list the licensee's development or neighborhood as well as the actual street address.

Incorporated cities and towns

Unincorporated communities and census-designated places

See also


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Population and Population Centers by State: 2000". Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  3. ^ "Chapter 1. Boundaries of Counties and Hundreds". Title 9 of the Delaware Code. State of Delaware. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008 
  4. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "New Castle County Recorder of Deeds Public Web Access". 2007-05-01. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  7. ^ "Contact Information." Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families. Retrieved on August 30, 2010. "1825 Faulkland Rd Wilmington, DE 19805-1195"
  8. ^ "Office locations." Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families. Retrieved on August 30, 2010. "From the city of Wilmington: Take Pennsylvania North to Rt. 141 South. As one crosses Rt. 48-Lancaster Ave., at the second traffic light, turn right onto the campus. Parking is in the back of the building. The Division of Family Services is in Building #2."
  9. ^ "New Castle County Detention Center." Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  10. ^ "Ferris School for Boys." Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  11. ^ "Grace/Snowden Cottages." Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  12. ^ "James T. Vaughn Correctional Center." Delaware Department of Correction. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  13. ^ "Howard R. Young Correctional Institution." Delaware Department of Correction. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  14. ^ a b "Delores J. Baylor Correctional Institution." Delaware Department of Correction. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  15. ^ "Directions to the new entrance for the DELORES J. BAYLOR WOMEN'S CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION." Delaware Department of Correction. Retrieved on August 30, 2010.
  16. ^ "Death Row Fact Sheet." Delaware Department of Correction. Retrieved on August 16, 2010.
  17. ^ "JAMES T VAUGHN CORRECTIONAL CENTER (formerly DELAWARE CORRECTIONAL CENTER)." Delaware Department of Correction. Retrieved on August 16, 2010.

External links

Coordinates: 39°35′N 75°38′W / 39.58°N 75.64°W / 39.58; -75.64

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