The City of Wilmington, like most eastern cities, has been evolving for over 350 years. After periods of Swedish (1638), then Dutch (1655), then British (1664) colonization, the area stabilized under British rule (with Quaker influence) and was granted a borough charter in 1739 by the King of England which changed the name from Willington (after Thomas Willing, the first 'developer" of the land who organized the area in a grid pattern like Philadelphia) to Wilmington, presumably after Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington, a favorite of the King. z
From the granting of the charter until the Revolution, the town developed steadily into a prosperous business and residential community. During the Revolution, its milling industries, geographic location, key leaders and resources made Wilmington particularly strategic.