Delmarva is an acronym of the names of the states that occupy it: Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia (abbreviated VA). The earliest uses of the term appear to have been commercial – for example, the Delmarva Heat, Light, and Refrigerating Corp. of Chincoteague, Virginia, was in existence by 1913. But general use of the term did not occur until the 1920s.


Delaware   Maryland   Virginia

 


American Indian Peoples

The primary Indians of the peninsula prior to the arrival of Europeans were the Assateague, including the Assateague, Transquakin, Choptico, Moteawaughkin, Quequashkecaquick, Hatsawap, Wachetak, Marauqhquaick, and Manaskson. They were all under the guidance of the Chief of the Assateague. They ranged from Cape Charles, Virginia to the Indian River inlet in Delaware. The Assateague made a number of treaties with the colony of Maryland, but the land was gradually taken for the use of the colonists, and the native peoples of the peninsula assimilated into other Algonquian tribes as far north as Ontario.

Colonization

James I of England granted Virginia 400 miles of Atlantic coast centered on Cape Comfort, extending west to the Pacific Ocean to a company of colonists in a series of charters from 1606 to 1611. This included a piece of the peninsula.

The land that is currently Delaware was colonized by the Dutch in 1631 as Zwaanendael. That colony lasted one year before a dispute with local Indians led to its destruction. Some years later, Sweden colonized the northern part of the state, over Holland's objections. Eventually, the Dutch, who had maintained that their claim to Delaware arose from the colony of 1631, recaptured Delaware and incorporated the colony into the Colony of New Netherland. However, shortly thereafter Delaware came under British control in 1664. The land was transferred from the Duke of York to William Penn in 1682 and was governed with Pennsylvania. The exact border was determined by the Chancery Court in 1735. In 1776, the counties of Kent, New Castle, and Sussex declared their independence from Pennsylvania and entered the United States as the State of Delaware.

In the 1632 Charter of Maryland, King Charles I of England granted "all that Part of the Peninsula, or Chersonese, lying in the Parts of America, between the Ocean on the East and the Bay of Chesapeake on the West, divided from the Residue thereof by a Right Line drawn from the Promontory, or Head-Land, called Watkin's Point, situate upon the Bay aforesaid, near the river Wigloo, on the West, unto the main Ocean on the East; and between that Boundary on the South, unto that Part of the Bay of Delaware on the North, which lieth under the Fortieth Degree of North Latitude from the Equinoctial, where New England is terminated" to Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore as the colony of Maryland. This would have included all of present-day Delaware; however, a clause in the charter granted only that part of the peninsula that had not already been colonized by Europeans by 1632. Over a century later, it was decided in the case of Penn v. Lord Baltimore that because the Dutch had colonized Zwaanendael in 1631, that portion of Maryland's charter granting Delaware to Maryland was void.

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