How Was the Delaware Colony Governed?

The Delaware Colony, under England, was first governed by the Duke of York and then considered a Proprietary Colony, which entails a certain governmental structure. The Duke of York era was from 1664 to 1682, and the Proprietary era was from 1681 to 1776.

Under the Duke of York, the people of Delaware were allowed some measure of self-government. The Duke of York applied the same laws to New York. However, Delaware lost its ability to self-govern as a proprietary colony.

Among the 13 colonies, only Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland were proprietary colonies. These types of colonies had proprietors that maintained full governing rights over the colony. In the case of these colonies, the land was technically owned by the proprietor rather than the king, although the monarch had to approve the proprietor. Proprietors could establish churches and towns.

Delaware’s proprietor was William Penn, who was awarded the land by King Charles II. Penn became responsible for all the details of the colony as proprietor, including leveling taxes, managing towns and cities and even monitoring religion.