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December 7, 1787
Delaware Day

Delaware Ratifiers of The U.S. Constitution, Sussex County


John Ingram (d. 1798), a farmer and mill owner of Broadkill Hundred, was a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal constitution in 1787. A well-to-do farmer, his property was assessed at L16 in 1788, and the inventory of his possessions totaled £855 in 1798. He served as a trustee of the poor in 1791. (Scharf, History of Delaware, 2: 1209, 1258; SC Probate Records; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1788, DSA.)

John Jones (d. 1798) of Baltimore Hundred was a member of the House of Assembly in 1776, of the Legislative Council in 1777, and of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal constitution in 1787. He was one of ten persons from Sussex County who were rejected for membership in the constitutional convention of 1776. He served as a Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel in the local militia and was President of the Sussex County Council of Safety. He later became a member of the Supreme Court and of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. He owned Unity Grove, a plantation of 1,000 acres, as well as several large tracts of land. His assessment rate in 1785 amounted to £22. An inventor of a mowing machine and a manure spreader, he corresponded with officials of the American Philosophical society about these agricultural improvements and became a member of that society. In 1776 he persuaded the General Assembly to advance him the sum of £1,000 for the construction of a saltworks along the coast, but the project was never completed, and he returned the money. (Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., “Patriot-Improvers: Some Early Delaware Members of the American Philosophical Society,” Delaware History, 9 (1964), 200-203; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1785; SC Probate Records, DSA; Delaware Military Archives, 3: 1235, 1248, 2452; Governor’s Register, 27, 33.)

William Moore, the Elder (d. 1821) of Little Creek Hundred was a member of the House of Assembly in 1785, 1786, and 1790. In 1787 he was a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal constitution, and four years later, he was a member of the convention that framed a new constitution for the state. Comparison of the signature on his will with that on the ratification document of 1787 and that approving the constitution of 1792 confirms that this is the correct William Moore of several active in politics in Sussex County in this period. In his will, he bequeathed one plantation to his son, John Wesley Moore, and another to a second son. His property was assessed at £15 in 1785. (SC Probate Records; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1785, DSA; Scharf, History of Delaware, 1: 270; 2: 1207, 1217; Henry C. Conrad, History of the State of Delaware [Wilmington, Del.: privately printed, 1908], 1: 154, 285; 2: 685.)

William Hall (d. 1793) of Little Creek Hundred was a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal constitution of 1787. He was a farmer and owned several slaves. His property was assessed at £15 in 1785. (Scharf, History of Delaware, 2: 1217; SC Probate Records; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1785.) Through comparison of the signature of William Hall on the document of ratification with his will, it was determined which of several “William Halls” had participated in the convention.

Thomas Laws (1753-1807), a large landowner of North West Fork Hundred, was a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal Constitution in 1787. He filled a variety of offices such as being the tax collector of his hundred, a justice in the court of Common Pleas, and a member of both houses of the legislature. In 1785 his property was assessed at £7. (Scharf, History of Delaware, 1: 271, 562; 2: 819, 1210, 1279; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1785; Hart, The Laws Family (MS), 9.)

Isaac Cooper (d. 1821) of Little Creek Hundred was a member of the House of Assembly in January, 1788, 1788 and 1789 and of the Legislative Council in 1790. He was a member of the state convention that ratified the federal constitution in 1787 and of the state constitutional convention in 1791. He became a justice of the peace in 1791 and also served as one of the lottery managers for construction of the new Sussex County courthouse. In 1792 he became an associate justice of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1796 he was a presidential elector on the Federalist ticket. In 1798 he was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court. His son, William B. Cooper, became Governor of Delaware. An extensive landowner, he acquired “Nutters Anglum”, a tract of 400 acres on Broad Creek in 1776. (Scharf, History of Delaware, 1: 523, 363; 2: 1212, 1317; DAR Magazine (June, 1961), 490; Governor’s Register, 90.)

Woodman Stockley (d. 1799) of Indian River Hundred was a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal constitution in 1787, of the Delaware House of Representatives in 1792 and of the state Senate in 1798. He also served as a trustee of the poor, a justice of the peace and as one of the commissioners appointed to select a site for the new county seat. An extensive landowner, he bequeathed his property valued at $5,376 to his brother. He owned a grist mill on Indian River. In 1789 his assessment rate was £12. (SC Probate Records; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1789, DSA; Scharf, History of Delaware, 1:270; 2: 1207, 1209, 1272, 1273.)

John Laws, Jr. (d.1788), a farmer and miller of Nanticoke Hundred, was a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal constitution in 1787. In 1785 his property was assessed at £18. At the time of his death he owned more than 1,000 acres of land and several slaves. (Scharf, History of Delaware, 1: 224; 2: 1296; SC Probate Records; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1785, DSA; Matilda Spicer Hart, compiler, The Laws Family, (MS) (1941), DSA, 31.)

Thomas Evans, an innkeeper and landowner of Cedar Creek Hundred, was a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal constitution in 1787. A well-to-do farmer, he owned property assessed at £37 in 1785. In 1788 he served as sheriff of Sussex County. He belonged to St. Matthews Anglican Church. (Scharf, History of Delaware, 2: 1210, 1251, 1258; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1785, DSA; Delaware Military Archives, 3: 1299.)

Israel Holland (d. 1798) of Baltimore Hundred was a member of the House of Assembly in 1785 and 1788, and of the Delaware convention that ratified the federal Constitution in 1787. In 1782, he served as the tax collector in his hundred. He was a farmer whose property was assessed at £9 in 1789. The inventory of his personal possessions at his death totaled £218. (SAC Probate Records; SC Levy Court Assessment List, 1789, DSA.)


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