Prior to 1800, property titles document over thirty owners for the lots on which the George Read II house (1801-1803) and the associated gardens (ca. 1847) now stand. Although the house and gardens eventually came under the ownership of George Read II in the late 1790s, the land he purchased underwent significant changes leading up to that time. Comprised of several different lots, the land on which the Read House sits contains early evidence of the land’s use include shell fragments, stone tool making debris, tobacco pipes, and other trash disposed along the riverfront end of the lot.These types of deposits and land uses most likely occurred from early interactions between settlers and the Lenape communities who developed an exchange relationship during the early history of New Castle.

One of the first documented owners of the land, Foppe Jansen Outhout, was a Dutch immigrant and tavern keeper who received the original Dutch grant of the lot on which George Read II later built his house. Soon after, the land passed toseveral successive owners who transformed the property through various construction and agricultural projects. Through this process, they leveled and raised the landscape making it appear more like the property we see today. One 17th-century owner, Isaac Tayne, who owned lot on which George and Gertude Read later lived, made extensive changes to the land by adding boundary fences and renovating existing buildings.

In addition to its association with the Read family, the land itself has also been home to a number of noteworthy residents. Many early owners of the lots were influential in the local law and government. Ephraim Herman, who owned one lot from 1680-1689, was later appointed Clerk of the courts at New Castle and Upland and attorney to the Duke of York. Another owner, Robert French (1701-1713), was a successful and somewhat dubious merchant capitalist in the tobacco trade. He acquired significant land holdings throughout the region upon his death. His son, David French, later became attorney general of the three lower counties in Delaware.

An owner of the adjoining lot from 1702-1719, Richard Halliwell was appointed sheriff of the county and later justice of the peace. He and Robert French joined the exodus of the Delaware legislators from the Pennsylvania assembly in 1701, taking the first steps leading to an independent Delaware colony.

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