New Castle, Delaware
Community History and Archaeology Program 

Left: Quaker school and burying ground shown in northern corner of Latrobe map (1806) Courtesy Delaware Public Archives
Right: Newark Union Church, Brandywine Hundred. Current building 1845, cemtery from 1687
Marker text: Newark Union. Successor to Newark Monthly Meeting of Friends. Established about 1682. Early Meetings were held at Morgan Dewit's and and at Valentine Hollingsworth's. Named from plantation called New Wark or New Workea patented to Hollingsworth, who in 1687 donated one-half acre for a burying place "Being some already buryed in ye spot"

New Castle Quaker Meeting
Historical information

New Castle
Meeting established 1684
First Meeting House built1705
Meeting "raised" [Moved to Wilm.] 1758
Meeting House demolished 1885
Location New Castle, Del.
From history of Friends' Meetings by T.C. Matlack (1938)

"New Castle's Friends' history began early and ended early"

As Herbert Standing (1982) described in Quakers in Delaware in the Time of William Penn (with permission of the author), Quakers had come to the New World prior to the Charter of William Penn in 1681. However the large influx began in 1682 into Pennsylvania and to a much smaller extent the Three Lower Counties (including New Castle). A Monthly Meeting was started between 1682 and 1684 in "Newark" and which held meetings in both Newark and New Castle.

Newark (see google map) was not the site of U. of Delaware, but it is in Carrcroft in Brandywine Hundred near Marsh Road and Branmar Plaza.

Quakers held meetings for worship and administrative Monthly Meetings (MM) where records were kept of births/deaths/marriages. The Monthly Meeting records since 1686 are available at the Friends Historical Library. They show that the MM had shifted to New Castle to the home of Widow Welsh (Welch), and then to George Blake for most of the meetings in 1687 and 1688. Blake was an official of the county, as were Quakers Sherriff George Gibbs, and Cornelius Empson.

The MM for 1686-1687 has a number of records the Blake family: some of the preparative, monthly or quarterly meetings were in his home, he would serve to investigate the 'clearness' of someone announcing their intention of marriage, the birth announcement for Elizabeth their daughter on 2-30-1687, and the death of Sarah 10 days later on 3-10-1687, and her burial in Chester on 3-13-1687, and Blake's own marriage two years after Sarah's death to widow Hannah deCou, and investigation of provisions for her orphaned children. These dates are in the old (Julian) calendar (2-30-1687 would be April 30 in the Gregorian calendar). Death in childbirth (quite possibly due to infection) must have been an everpresent terror for women and their families at this time.

A large portion of the MM records consists of meeting locations and announcements of intentions of marriage, investigation of clearness, and approval by the meeting. For example, the first reading for an intention of Edward Gibbs to marry Rachel Crawford is followed by a second reading and approval by the Meeting. Scharf states that Judith Crawford, widow of soldier James Crawford married Edward Gibbs. Land records indicate sale of lot E-1 from "Gibbs, Edward and Judith Crawford Gibbs, executors of James Crawford". Was Rachel also know as Judith?

The investigation of ' clearness' -- freedom from entanglement, provision for children in remarriages was important at the time and continues to today.

Reconstructed plot plan c1680 by Heite. Shown in red are lots owned by Quakers mentioned in the MM. Shown in blue is the lot purchased possibly for a planned or actual meeting house. X marks the spot of the later Quaker school (and meeting house?). Click to enlarge.
Using the c1680 plat map created by Lousise Heite, and the property histories by Jeannette Eckman it's possible to get some insight into people vs places in early New Castle. The insight is limited since only people mentioned in the MM, not the worship meetings are included and excludes people such as Widow Welsh who is not listed as a property owner.

Crawford/Gibbs sold lot E-1 in 1688, Edward Blake (C-3, sold 1718), Hussey, Hogg & Swett (D-3, bought 1689)(For the meeting house?) Edward Blake Jr (C-6, bought 1733), George Hogg (H-8, sold 1695), Benjamin Swett (H12, grant 1706)

The location of the meeting house is not certain, or even whether there were one or two. Scharf (1888) states "...The Friends constituting it were few in numbers, and for a number of years they assembled at the houses of the various members, the first church being built in 1705. Fifteen years later a board of trustees is mentioned, and in October, 1720, they obtained title to a lot of ground, one hundred and twenty by three hundred feet, on Beaver and Otter Streets, the conveyance being from George Hogg, Sr., cordwainer, to John Richardson, Mahala Meers, George Hogg, Jr., and Edward Gibbs". There seem to be no details available about the first meeting house. The MM notes from 1688 merely state that Stockdale would approach the Governor for a grant. Then a month later the notes record "The meeting desires that four ffriends be appointed to view the place for a meeting house & grave yard". The records from Heite show that three Quakers Hogg, Hussey and Sweet (or Swett) with unrelated occupations purchased the 120' X 300' lot D-3 after 1689 at what is now 10-16 E. Fourth Street (between E. Fourth and E. Fifth streets). Eckman gives the date for their purchase as 1704, and resale as 1734, with no mention of a meeting house or any use of the land. There is no mention in the MM minutes from 1687 - 1703 about the building. Hussey had emigrated from puritan New England for religious freedom. .

The Latrobe survey of 1804 shows the Quaker School and burying ground near the current firehouse at the West end of W. 4th St. Heite does not indicate any subdivision of the large parcel there between 4th & 5th, nor ownership by any Quakers in the 1680 -1720 period. Title chains for properties in this neighborhood have not yet been traced for the early 1700's.

The Kennett Meeting microfilm contains an index, Monthly Meeting notes starting with two unnumbered pages followed by numbered pages starting with 1, then birth and death records. First unnumbered page | Second unnumbered page | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Births | Deaths

Quakers regarded grave markers as 'ostentatious' so when W. Fifth street was developed in the late 1800's, no traces of the burying ground would have been visible. Newark which had an earlier burying ground became Newark Union Methodist church, with burials and gravestones. The founder of the Newark church, Valentine Hollingsworth was memorialized by his descendents.

Misc notes:

A useful if not entirely accurate transcript of the MM from 1686 to 1703 is provided via GenWeb
James Crawford
Judith Crawford
Hinshaw index
Notes from Herbert Standing
Will of meeting wealthy member Cornelius Empson (not a resident of New Castle. Slave owner! Slavery was still allowed in the early 1700's. Susana Morikawa of the Friends Historical Library said "In 1727, the London Yearly Meeting censured Friends engaged in the business of business of buying and selling slaves. I n 1770, slave-holding became a disownable offense within New England Yearly Meeting, and in 1776 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting followed suit. Leading up to those official declarations, change came gradually, depending on the yearly meeting and the local sentiment."

James L. Meek '08

Much of the information on this page, including the monthly meeting records is courtesy
The Swarthmore Friends Historical Library