( 1732 - March 29, 1789 )

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Delaware Governor ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

         " Thomas Collins " was born in 1732 near the town of Smyrna, Kent County, Delaware.   His dad's name was William however his mom's name is currently unknown.   His parents' were of English descent.

         He was educated primarily by tutors during his early life, and he also received some law training.   Due to these facts, it is obvious that he was born into wealth and social standing.

         In 1760, at 28 years of age, " Thomas " purchased 220 acres of land called " Sheerness " between Dawson's and Sheerness' branches of Duck Creek.   Also during this period, " Thomas " was married to Sarah Johnson.   Together they had four children--William, Elizabeth, Mary and Sarah.

         A year later in 1761, he was noted as a member of the building commission for construction of a new church for the St. Peter's congregation.

         In 1764 " Thomas " was appointed as the Sheriff of Kent County ....

         On April 1, 1767 he purchased a tract of 470 acres called " Gloster " from the George Morton Family that was located on the south side of Dawson's Branch.   He also purchased "Elk Home" and "Coventry" tracts adjoining, the latter having been originally granted to John Hillyard, March 15, 1680.

         Also in 1767 he became a member of the Assembly of the lower three counties upon the Delaware where he served until the Revolutionary War.

         On May 24, 1771 he purchased " Belmont Hall " just south of Smyrna from John Moore.   ( Belmont Hall is now a Rental / Conference Center )

         In 1775, " Thomas Collins " was made a Lieutenant Colonel in " Caesar Rodney's" Upper Kent Militia, which started his military career.

         A year later, he was named as a Brigadier General and was made a member of the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia.   " Collins' " military duties during the Revolutionary War were basically to keep the home guard active and ready should the British attack lower Delaware.

         In 1778, he became a member of the State Senate where he served until 1782 with two of those years as the Speaker of the Senate.

         In 1782, he became a Judge of the Common Pleas Court.

         Then, on October 26, 1786, he was nominated for Governor of Delaware, a position to which he was unanimously elected.   He was sworn into office two days later on October 26, 1786.

         When " George Washington " was elected to be the first president, it was Governor Collins fervent desire to see him sworn into office.   Unfortunately, his health began to fail in early 1789.   He had become bedridden and even had to arrange to have passed bills brought to him in Smyrna for his signature.

         On Sunday, March 29, 1789, " Governor Collins " became the first Governor of Delaware to die while in office.

         He was interred in the " Collin's Cemetery " behind his old home at " Gloster " along Dawson's Branch.   In 1970, his remains were moved to St. Peter's Churchyard in Smyrna.

      A State Office building, The Thomas Collins Building, was named in his honor and is located on U.S. 13 in Dover, the Capital of Delaware. There is no know portrait of Governor Collins.



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Russ Pickett
Last update: 7/15/2007