Hundreds are more than a number

All that is left of the state historic marker designating the Lewes-Rehoboth Hundred. Perhaps it's another victim of the February snows.

Sussex County, like the rest of the state, is divided into odd sections of land called hundreds. In fact, Delaware is the only state that contains hundreds, which can be compared to townships in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Hundreds date back to colonial times and William Penn who directed that Delaware be divided into townships occupied by 100 families, hence the name. His idea was not a unique one, but one brought from England where the Saxons divided their land into hundreds.

Most people don’t pay any attention to the designation or are not even aware they live in a hundred, yet hundreds play a role in government. Until a Supreme Court ruling changed the practice in the early 1960s, hundreds were used as voting districts. The court disallowed state elections based solely on geography and voting districts were then established based on population, which we have today.

However, tax parcel numbers are still assigned to hundreds. The county uses hundreds in most of its land-use applications.

The state is divided into 33 hundreds with strange names such as Blackbird, Duck Creek, Murderkill, Pencader, Red Lion and Northwest Fork. The last change in a hundred was made in the 1870s.

Local hundreds include Lewes and Rehoboth, established in 1692; Indian River, established in 1706 and includes the Millsboro-Long Neck area; Baltimore, established in 1775 and includes a large area in southeastern Sussex; and Broadkill or Broadkiln, established in 1696 and includes the Milton area.

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