Most genealogists will never work with Delaware records.  It’s a small state, consisting of three counties:  New Castle in the north, Kent, and Sussex at the southern end.  Delaware counties are divided into administrative districts known as Hundreds.


Civil registration of marriages didn’t begin in Delaware counties until about 1832, and the state didn’t record them until 1847.  This can make tracking female ancestors difficult, and it’s common in compiled genealogies of Delaware families for wives to be represented by only a given name.

A thorough examination of Delaware records reveals that no Chipman families ever resided in New Castle County.  Chipman families residing in Kent County are generally descendants of James and Mary (Minor) Chipman, but in Sussex County they can descend from either James or his brother Paris Chipman.  However, there was traffic back and forth between Kent and Sussex, so don’t assume that every record found in Kent is necessarily that of a resident of the county.

All genealogists know that prior to 1850, family members in Federal censuses of all states are represented by age and gender categories rather than name.  In most instances, single men living in compound households will be unrecognizable.

Tax lists are valuable Delaware research resources, but they are spotty in coverage and absent for some years.  When making a survey of tax records, it’s necessary to review the entire period of interest.  There are many gaps so using them as a year by year accounting of your ancestor for the antebellum period usually isn’t practical.   However, you may find individuals in certain years that will add names to your family profile, and that can help solve problems.


The family of Stephen Chipman, and its connection to John and Hope (Howland) Chipman, is discussed in:

White, Elizabeth Pearson; Coles, Edwin Wagner.  “Who Were The Chipmans Of Delaware And Maryland.”  Mayflower Descendant Winter 2003 Vol. 52 No. 1.  Boston:  Massachusetts Society Of Mayflower Descendants; pp. 37-38.


I Thomas Chipman being in body but of perfect mind and understanding memory do make and ordain this my last will and Testament in manner and form following,

First, I give and Devise to my three brothers Vincent, Andrew and Isaac Moor twenty pounds to each of them when they come of age to be paid by my brother James Chipman out of my estate

2d, I give and Devise to my brother James Chipman all my land and Moveable estate to him and his heirs and assigns for ever

I do also Constitute and appoint Isaac Moor my Father in law Sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament, in Witness where of I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal this eight Day of July in the year one Thousand and Seven hundred and Eighty nine

Thomas Chipman (X)

Signed Seald and Delivered in presence of us

Patrick Crain     Sarah Middleton

proved by the Oath of Patrick Crain and Sarah Middleton this 28th July 1789.  FMR

Delaware State of

Personally appeared before me Francis Many Esq. Register for the probate of Wills and Granting letters of Administration in and for the County of Kent Patrick Crain and Sarah Middleton who being sworn on the Holy Evangel of Almighty God do say that they saw Thomas Chipman the within named Testator Sign (by way of making his mark) seal and heard him publish pronounce and declare the same as and for his last Will and Testament that at the time of his so doing and saying he was to the best of their belief of sound disposing mind memory and understanding that they at his Instance and request and in his presence signed and saw each other sign their names as Witnesses thereto.  In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand at Dover this 28th day of July anno Domini 1789.

Francis Many Regr

[Kent Co., DE Will Book M Folio 201.  The term “Father in law” is used here to denote a “step-father,” not the father of a wife, and the three Moor brothers named were actually his “step-brothers.”]

Know all men by these presents, that we Isaac Moore and Stephen Chipman of the County of Kent, are held and firmly bound unto the Delaware State, in the sum of Five hundred pounds current money of the said State; unto which payment well and truly to be made unto the said state, We bind ourselves, our Heirs, Executors and Administrators, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents.  Sealed with our Seals, and dated at Dover in Kent aforesaid, this 28th day of July in the year of our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred and Eighty nine

The Condition of this Obligation is such, That if the above bounden Isaac Moore Executor in the Testament and last Will of Thomas Chipman late of the County aforesaid deceased, do make, or cause to be made, a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the Goods and Chattels, Righs and Credits  of the said deceased, which shall have come to the hands, possession, or knowledge of the said Isaac Moore or unto the [hands or] possession of any person or persons, for him and the same so made, do exhibit, or cause to be exhibitted, into the Rigister’s office of the County of Kent aforesaid, at or before the 28th day of January next ensuing, and the same Goods and Chattels, of the said deceased, at the time of his death; or which at any time after shall come to the hands or possession of the aforesaid Isaac Moore or into the hands or the possession of any other person or persons, for him do well and truly administer, according to law, and further do make or cause to be made, and true and just account of his Executorship at or before the 28th day of July which shall fall in the year of our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred and Ninety and all the rest and Residue of the said Goods and Chattels, Rights and Credits, which shall be found remaining upon the said Executors account; the same being first inspected and allowed of by the Orphans Court of Kent County aforesaid, shall deliver and pay unto such person or persons respectively, as the said Orphans Court, by their decree or sentence, pursuant to the true intent and meaning of the last Will and Testament of the said deceased shall limit and appoint, then this Obligation to be void and of none effect, or else remain in full force and virtue.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of            Isaac Moore (X)

Francis Many                                                                Stephen Chipman

[Kent Co., DE Will Book M Folio 202; don’t be fooled–Isaac Moore didn’t put up 500 pounds.  All he had to do was exhibit his account by July 28, 1790, and the bond was void.  The Stephen Chipman mentioned was the son of Thomas Chipman’s uncle Benjamin Chipman.]


Codicil to the Within Will

Item I give and bequeath to James Chipman (the son of Steven Chipman Deceased) He being an impotent boy in one of his knees, the sum of fifty 50 pounds cash when he shall arrive a a lawful age viz to twenty one years, or part sooner if my Trustees think best or necessary —

Also I do further direct and impower my Trustees within mentioned to make what Restitution they may judge justly due from my Estate a negro woman called Thenar once held by my father, and a negro man named Mingo manumitted by me after legal age, which payment agreeable to their judgement certified under their or two of their hands, shall be deemed legal & not called in Question by any of my Heirs –Given under my hand this 3 day of the 4th month within written 1784 — Also to administer a certain negro man formerly held by me called Absalom, what may be Reasonable for his support he being non compos mentis, yearly or otherwise as my Trustees may think best

Acknowledged as the true intent & meaning of the Testator & additional annexed to the within Will in the presence of us

John Dickinson

John Bowers

Joesph Jenkins    Proved by all the Witnesses July 31, 1784.  T.R.

[Kent County, Delaware Probate Jonathan Emerson 1784-1808.]

I was intrigued by this codicil, and ordered the entire probate packet.  I discovered that Jonathan Emerson was one of the wealthiest men in Delaware in his day, and the packet consisted of about 50 pages of notes of accounts pertaining to the settlement of his estate.

I found an item which will be of great interest, as follows:


The image is pretty clear, but in case it’s difficult to read, James Chipman’s entry is toward the bottom, and reads as follows:

By Cash paid James Chipman a Legacy of the Deceas’d Will 133 33

Interest from 6 Mo 30th 1792 to 1 Mo 1st 1800 —                60 21

This means:

James Chipman was paid his legacy of $133.33, plus interest of $60.21 owed when the legacy first became due on June 30, 1792, to when it was paid on January 1, 1800, for a total of $193.54.

This makes it absolutely clear that that James Chipman was born in 1771, and that he took his payout on January 1, 1800.  Some kind person had apparently persuaded him that it would be best if he left his money under their care, instead of immediately taking what was due him.


Let’s review the background of Stephen Chipman, father of Thomas and James:

On August 8, 1769 Christopher Sipple sold Stephen Chipman 70 3/4 acres of land in Kent Co. for 70 pounds 13 shillings; said land lying between Benjamin Chipman and Vinson Emmerson.  [Kent Co., DE Deed Book S, p. 205.]

On February 28, 1770, Stephen Chipman sold Benjamin Chipman 21 3/4 acres for 100 pounds; land was in Murderkill Hundred, Kent Co.  [Kent Co. Deed Book S, p. 279.]

Stephen Chipman died before June 23, 1772, when his widow Agnes Chipman was appointed administratrix of his estate.

As is evident, when Stephen Chipman died, he owned 49 acres of land.

On March 1, 1775, Isaac Moore was appointed guardian of Stephen Chipman’s sons Thomas and James, both minors; Isaac Moore had married Stephen Chipman’s widow Agnes.  [Kent Co. Orphan’s Court Book C, p. 35.]

Stephen Chipman’s 49 acres of land was combined when Thomas Chipman died; he and James had each been heir to 24.5 acres.  A reading of Thomas Chipman’s will shows that for some inexplicable reason he’d left his three Moor[e] step-brothers 20 pounds each, and obligated his brother James to pay it to them.  Thomas Chipman shouldn’t have left them a cent.  How was James Chipman to pay a bounty of 60 pounds from an estate of 24.5 acres?  An intelligent person will grasp the fact that Thomas Chipman had given the Moores everything, and his brother James was to oversee its departure.  The duplicity of Isaac Moore and the stupidity of Agnes Chipman are a wonder.

In connection with the land of Stephen Chipman, there are two tax list entries of note:

In the 1791 Murderkill Hundred, Kent Co., DE tax list (LDS Microfilm 0006496) there is an entry:  “Jas. Chipman’s l–d.”  There is a similar entry in 1790 for Thomas Chipman.  To understand these records, I phoned the Delaware Public Archives, and was told entries of this type could refer either to property of a deceased person or property held by a minor.

Thomas Chipman died in 1789, so his entry refers to a deceased individual–the reason it’s on the rolls is because Isaac Moore was Executor until July 28, 1790.

James Chipman was born in 1771, and was only 20 in 1791, so his entry refers to land held by a minor.

There is no deed in which James Chipman conveyed his property to anyone.  It evaporated into the hands of the Moore family.

But not all mankind is in a sewer, and Jonathan Emerson, who evidently cared much for those who seemingly couldn’t care for themselves, saw to it that James Chipman had something, when he likely would have had nothing.

The subsequent history of this family is rather simple:  we know that George Chipman was born in Delaware in 1803; both of George’s sons, James Washington Chipman and Thomas Jefferson Chipman, gave it as his birthplace.  So perhaps ca. 1801, in Kent or Sussex, James Chipman married Betsy, whom I have thought might have been a Walker.

The family (like many others) spent a few years in Virginia.  By 1810 James Chipman is presumed to be in Bledsoe Co., TN, as a check of the Virginia 1810 census and comphrehensive tax substitutes don’t list him there.  The 1810 Bledsoe Co., TN census is lost.  James Chitman [sic] appears on two legistlative petitions in Bledsoe Co. in 1815.  It was common for settlers to squat on land for some time; there were few people to complain, and the area was being cleared of Cherokees.

~ by Jeffrey Thomas Chipman on May 30, 2012.

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