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Delaware Governors

Delaware is known as the First State because it was the first colony to ratify the United States Constitution. As of 2014, it has been governed by 71 men and one woman. The first five were actually called Presidents. One of them, John Dickinson, was also President of Pennsylvania before he took office in Delaware. Thomas McKean, Delaware’s 2nd President, later served as Pennsylvania’s 2nd Governor.

John and William are the most common names for Delaware’s governors. Uncommon names include Gove, Jehu (a form of John), Gunning and Ebe. One might think that last one could be short for Ebenezer, but folks have searched to no avail and it appears that he was just named Ebe at birth.

John is the most common name for
governors of Delaware, shared by 9:

John McKinly (1721-1796) Term: 1777 (pres)
John Dickinson (1732-1808) Term: 1781-82 (pres)
John Cook (1730-1789) Term: 1782-83 (pres)
John Clark (1761-1821) Term: 1817-20
John Collins (1776-1822) Term: 1821-22*
John Polk Cochran (1809-1898) Term: 1875-79
John Wood Hall (1817-1892) Term: 1879-83
John Hunn (1849-1926) Term: 1901-05
John Gillis Townsend, Jr. (1871-1964) Term: 1917-21

8 governors were named William:
William Barkley Cooper (1771-1849) Term: 1841-45
William Burton (1789–1866) Term: 1859-63
William Temple (1814-1863) Term: 1846-47
William Tharp Term: (1803-1865) 1847-51
William Henry Harrison Ross (1814-1887) Term: 1851-55
William Cannon (1809-1865) Term: 1863-65*
William Tharp Watson (1849-1917) Term: 1895-97
William duHamel Denney (1873-1953) Term: 1921-25

5 governors were named Charles:
Charles Thomas (1790-1848) Term: 1823-24
Charles Polk, Jr. (1788-1857) Terms: 1826-30, 1836-37
Charles Clark Stockley (1819-1901) Term: 1883-87
Charles Robert Miller (1857-1927) Term: 1913-17
Charles Layman Terry, Jr. (1900-1970) Term: 1965-69

4 governors were named Thomas
Thomas McKean (1734-1817) Term: 1777
Thomas Collins (1732-89) Term: 1786-89*
Thomas Stockton (1781-1846) Term: 1845-46*
Thomas Richard Carper (b. 1947) Term: 1993-2001

3 governors were named David
David Hall (1752-1817) Term: 1802-05
David Hazzard (1781-1864) Term: 1830-33
David Penrose Buckson (b. 1920) Term: 1960-61

3 governors were named James:
James Caleb Boggs (1909-93) Term: 1953-60
James Ponder (1819-1897) Term: 1871-75
James Sykes, Jr. (1761-1822) Term: 1801-02

2 governors were named Caleb:
Caleb Prew Bennett (1758-1836) Term: 1833-36*
Caleb Rodney (1767-1840) Term: 1822-23

2 governors were named Daniel
Daniel Rogers (1754-1806) Term: 1797-99
Daniel Rodney (1764-1846) Term: 1814-17

2 governors were named George:
George Read (1733-98) Term: 1777-78
George Truitt (1756–1818) Term: 1808-11

2 governors were named Joseph
Joseph Haslet (1769-1823) Terms: 1811-14, 1823*
Joseph Maull (1781-1846) Term: 1846*

2 governors were named Joshua
Joshua Clayton (1744-1798) Term: 1793-96
Joshua Hopkins Marvil (1825-1895) Term: 1895*

2 governors were named Richard
Richard Bassett (1745—1815) Term: 1799-1801
Richard Cann McMullen (1868-1944) Term: 1937-41

2 governors were named Robert
Robert John Reynolds (1838-1909) Term: 1891-95
Robert Pyle Robinson (1869-1939) Term: 1925-1929

There was only one Delaware governor with the following names.
(first by century, then alphabetically)

18th Century:
Caesar Rodney (1728-84) Term: 1778-81 (Pres.)
Gunning Bedford, Sr. (1742-1797) Term: 1796-97*
Jehu Davis (1738-1802) Term: 1789 (pres)
Nicholas Van Dyke (1770-1826) Term: 1783-1786 (pres)
Peter Foster Causey (1801-71) Term: 1855-59

19th Century:
Benjamin Thomas Biggs (1821–1893) Term: 1887-91
Cornelius P. Comegys (1780-1851) Term: 1837-41
Ebe Walter Tunnell (1844-1917) Term: 1897-1901
Gove Saulsbury (1815-1881) Term: 1865-71
Jacob Stout (1764-1855) Term: 1820-21
Nathaniel Mitchell (1753-1814) Term: 1805-08
Samuel Paynter (1768-1845) Term: 1824-27

20th Century:
Clayton Douglass Buck (1890-1965) Term: 1929-37
Dale Edward Wolf (b. 1924) Term: 1992-93
Elbert Nostrand Carvel (1910-2005) Term: 1961-65
Michael Newbold Castle (b. 1939) Term: 1985-92
Pierre Samuel du Pont, IV (b. 1935) Term: 1977-85
Preston Lea (1841-1916) Term: 1905-09
Russell Wilbur Peterson (1916-2011) Term: 1969-73
Sherman Willard Tribbitt (1922-2010) Term: 1973-77
Simeon Selby Pennewill (1867-1935) Term: 1909-13
Walter W. Bacon (1880-1962) Term: 1941-49

21st Century:
Jack A. Markell (b. 1960) Term: 2009-present
Ruth Ann Minner (b. 1935) Term: 2001-09

The asterisk (*) next to a governor’s term means he died in office.

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