Delaware Orphan's Court Extracts (1770-1830)
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Orphans' court property valuations. Legal documents of a probate court that had jurisdiction over the affairs of minors and administration of estates. Orphans' court records enumerate the holdings of individuals owning real property who died survived by minor children. The valuations, conducted to determine projected annual income and expenses related to land and buildings, were intended to provide a sense of assets and liabilities for the maintenance of orphans until they reached their majority. The often detailed descriptions of buildings in Delaware is paralleled in parts of Maryland, but they were not compiled in other states including Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the Carolinas. The Delaware descriptions began as early as the 1760s in New Castle County. By 1780 they were a common function of the court throughout the state. In the mid 1800s the quality of the descriptions declined in terms of detail.
The extracts are those cases enumerating actual architectural descriptions and are not the complete records. Probate inventories listing the contents of houses and outbuildings described in the valuations, for example, are not uncommon.