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Brandywine Hundred

Beginnings [1]

Brandywine Hundred is the most northerly of the eleven hundreds comprising New Castle County, and derives its name from the river which forms its western boundary. The origin of the river's name is uncertain. Brandywine, or Brentwine, is the old English word for brandy, burnt wine, and is the term still used in the Dutch, German and Scandinavian tongues. There does not seem to have been, however, any distillery in the Hundred in the early days, but tradition says that long ago an old Dutch ship laden with brandy and wine was wrecked by the ice on the banks of this stream, and that its name was thence derived. The Pennsylvania Indians called it Suspecough; those in Delaware, Wawaset; the Swedes, Fishkill; while the Dutch bestowed the present name, which for some reason or other has survived.

The Hundred forms the most elevated and rocky portion of the State, and is justly famous for its picturesque and beautiful scenery. The census of 1900 returns a population of three thousand nine hundred and ninety-four, a decrease of ninety-five from that of 1890. Valuable deposits of granite and limestone are found, and have been extensively quarried, though the tonnage has been much decreased within the last three years. The term "hundred" is of early English origin, dating from the time of King Alfred the Great, and was first used as the subdivision of a county, in Pennsylvania, of which Delaware was then a part. In 1682 William Penn uses the word "hundred" in a letter to the justices of the peace of Sussex county. Its use was discontinued among the various States after the Revolution, Delaware being the only one to retain the term in its ancient meaning.

Brandywine Hundred was first organized within its present boundaries in 1687, when a list of the taxable residents living north of the Brandywine was made, but it did not until long afterwards receive its present name, its various sections being known by local Dutch and other names, such as "Vertrecht Hook," "Grubb's Manor Lands," "Rockland Manor," etc. The first settlers were Swedes who occupied "Vertrecht Hook," the nearest good farming land on the Delaware above Fort Christina, which they had built for protection in 1638, the year they came upon the river. The settlers were unwilling to abide by the terms of the surrender of Fort Christina to the Dutch in 1654, viz., that they should leave their lands and locate in villages, and so in 1654 petitioned the council for permission to remain. But the sheriff, Gregorious Van Dyke, was ordered to gather them in villages at Upland, Passayonch, Kingsessing, or on the "Verdritige Hook," "Troublesome Hook," as it was styled after the combative Swedes who had settled there, though without receiving titles to their lands from Queen Christina. The latter, indeed, never gave a patent to any land in the State.

  1. Conrad, Henry C., History of the Sate of Delaware, volume II, Wilmington, 1908.
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