The Full Wiki

New Sweden: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nya Sverige
New Sweden
Swedish colony



Flag of Sweden

New Sweden ca. 1650, by Amandus Johnson.
Capital Fort Christina
Language(s) Swedish, Finnish
Political structure Colony
King/Queen of Sweden
 - 1632-1654 Christina
 - 1654-1660 Charles X Gustav
 - 1638 Peter Minuit
 - 1638-1640 Måns Nilsson Kling
 - 1640-1643 Peter Hollander Ridder
 - 1643-1653 Johan Björnsson Printz
 - 1653-1654 Johan Papegoja
 - 1654-1655 Johan Risingh
Historical era Colonial period
 - Established 1638
 - Dutch conquest 1655
 - Peach Tree War 1655

New Sweden (Swedish: Nya Sverige, Finnish: Uusi-Ruotsi) was a Swedish colony along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America from 1638 to 1655. It was centered at Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, and included parts of the present-day American states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Along with Swedes and Finns, a number of the settlers were Dutch. Some Germans also came to the colony as soldiers in the Swedish army.



The relative locations of New Netherland and New Sweden in eastern North America.

By the middle of the 17th century, the Realm of Sweden had reached its greatest territorial extent and was one of the great powers of Europe. Sweden then included Finland and Estonia along with parts of modern Russia, Poland, Germany and Latvia. The Swedes sought to expand their influence by creating an agricultural (tobacco) and fur-trading colony to bypass French and British merchants. The New Sweden Company was chartered and included Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders.[citation needed]

The first Swedish expedition to North America embarked from the port of Gothenburg in late 1637. It was organized and overseen by Clas Fleming, a Swedish Admiral from Finland. A Dutchman, Samuel Blommaert, assisted the fitting-out and appointed Peter Minuit to lead the expedition. The members of the expedition, aboard the ships Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel, sailed into Delaware Bay, which lay within the territory claimed by the Dutch, passing Cape May and Cape Henlopen in late March 1638[1], and anchored at a rocky point on the Minquas Kill that is known today as Swedes' Landing on March 29, 1638. They built a fort on the present site of the city of Wilmington, which they named Fort Christina, after Queen Christina of Sweden[2].

In the following years, 600 Swedes and Finns, the latter group mainly Forest Finns from central Sweden (and also a number of Dutchmen and Germans in Swedish service) settled in the area. The settlement constituted an invasion of New Netherland, since the river and the land in question had previously been explored and claimed for that colony.[citation needed]

Peter Minuit was to become the first governor of the newly established colony of New Sweden. Having been the Director of the Dutch West India Company, and the predecessor of then-Director William Kieft, Minuit knew the status of the lands on either side of the Delaware River at that time. He knew that the Dutch had established deeds for the lands east of the river (New Jersey), but not for the lands to the west (Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania).[citation needed]

Minuit made good on his appointment by landing on the west bank of the river and gathered the sachems of the local Delawares tribe. Sachems of the Susquehannocks were also present. They held a conclave in his cabin on the Kalmar Nyckel, and he persuaded the sachems to sign deeds he had prepared for the purpose to solve any issue with the Dutch. The Swedes claimed the section of land purchased included the land on the west side of the South River from just below the Schuylkill, in other words, today's Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and coastal Maryland. The Delaware sachem Mattahorn, who was one of the participants, later stated that only as much land as was contained within an area marked by "six trees" was purchased and that the rest of the land occupied by the Swedes was stolen.[3]

Director Kieft objected to the landing of the Swedes, but Minuit ignored him, since he knew that the Dutch were militarily impotent at the moment. Minuit finished Fort Christina during 1638, then departed for Stockholm for a second group. He made a side trip to the Caribbean to pick up a shipment of tobacco for resale in Europe to make the voyage profitable. Minuit died on this voyage during a hurricane at St. Christopher in the Caribbean.

The official duties of the first governor of New Sweden were carried out by Lieutenant (promoted to Captain) Måns Nilsson Kling, until a new governor was chosen and brought from Sweden two years later.[4]

Under Johan Björnsson Printz, governor from 1643 to 1653, the company expanded along the river from Fort Christina, establishing Fort Nya Elfsborg on the east bank of the Delaware near present-day Salem, New Jersey and Fort Nya Gothenborg on Tinicum Island (to the immediate Southwest of today's Philadelphia), where he also built his manor house, the The Printzhof. The Swedish colony initially prospered. In 1644, New Sweden supported the Susquehannocks in their victory in a war against the English Province of Maryland.[5] In May 1654, the Dutch Fort Casimir was captured by soldiers from the New Sweden colony led by governor Johan Risingh. Fot Casimir was taken without a fight because its garrison had no gunpowder; it was renamed Fort Trinity (in Swedish, Trefaldigheten).[citation needed]

In reprisal, the Dutch — led by governor Peter Stuyvesant — moved an army to the Delaware River in the summer of 1655, easily capturing of Fort Trinity and Fort Christina.

The Swedish settlement was incorporated into Dutch New Netherland on September 15, 1655. The Swedish and Finnish settlers continued to enjoy local autonomy, retaining their own militia, religion, court, and lands.[citation needed]

This status lasted officially until the English conquest of the New Netherland colony was launched on June 24, 1664. The Duke of York sold the area that is today New Jersey to John Berkeley and George Carteret for a proprietary colony, separate from the projected New York. The actual invasion started on August 29, 1664, with the capture of New Amsterdam. The invasion concluded with the capture of Fort Casimir (New Castle, Delaware) in October 1664.[6] The invasion was conducted at the start of the Second Anglo-Dutch War.[citation needed]

The status continued unofficially until the area was included in William Penn's charter for Pennsylvania, on August 24, 1682. During this later period some immigration and expansion continued. The first settlement at Wicaco, a Swedish settlers' log blockhouse located below Society Hill, was built in present-day Philadelphia in 1669. It was later used as a church until about 1700, when the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes Church) of Philadelphia was built on the site.[citation needed]


Hoarkill, New Amstel, and Upland

The start of the Third Anglo-Dutch War resulted in the recapture of New Netherland by the Dutch in August 1673. The Dutch restored the status that pre-dated the British invasion, and codified it in the establishment of three Counties in what had been New Sweden. They were Hoarkill County, which today is Sussex County, Delaware;[7] New Amstel County, which is today New Castle County, Delaware;[7] and Upland County, which was later partitioned between New Castle County, Delaware and the new Colony of Pennsylvania.[7] The three counties were created on September 12, 1673, the first two on the west shore of the Delaware River, and the third on both sides of the river.[citation needed]

The signing of the Treaty of Westminster of 1674 ended the Dutch effort, and required them to return all of New Netherland to the British, including the three counties they created. That handover took place on June 29, 1674.[8]

After taking stock, the British declared on November 11, 1674, that settlements on the west side of the Delaware River and Delaware Bay (in present day Delaware and Pennsylvania) were to be dependent on the Colony of New York, including the three Counties[9]. This declaration was followed on November 11 by a new declaration that renamed New Amstel as New Castle. The other counties retained their Dutch names for the duration.[9]

The next step in the assimilation of New Sweden into New York was the extension of the Duke’s laws into the region. This took place on September 22, 1676 [10]. This was followed by the partitioning of the Counties to conform to the borders of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The first move was to partition Upland between Delaware and Pennsylvania, with most of the Delaware portion going to New Castle County. This was accomplished on November 12, 1678.[11] The remainder of Upland continued in place under the same name.

On June 21, 1680, New Castle and Hoarkill Counties were partitioned to produce St. Jones County.[12]

On March 4, 1681, what had been the colony of New Sweden was formally partitioned into the colonies of Delaware and Pennsylvania. The border was established 12 miles north of New Castle, and the northern limit of Pennsylvania was set at 42 degrees north latitude. The eastern limit was the current border with New Jersey at the Delaware River, while the western limit was undefined.[13]. Pennsylvania immediately started to reorganize the lands of the former New Sweden within the limits of Pennsylvania. In June of 1681, Upland ceased to exist as the result of the reorganization of the Colony of Pennsylvania, with the Upland government becoming the government of Chester County, Pennsylvania.[citation needed]

On August 24, 1682, the Duke of York transferred the western Delaware River region, including modern-day Delaware, to William Penn, thus transferring Deale and St. Jones from New York to Delaware. St. Jones County was renamed as Kent County; Deale County was renamed Sussex County; New Castle County retained its name.[14].

Significance and legacy

Founding of Wilmington.

The historian H. Arnold Barton has suggested that the greatest significance of New Sweden was the strong and long-lasting interest in North America that the colony generated in Sweden.[15]

America was seen as the standard-bearer of enlightenment and freedom, and became the ideal of liberal Swedes. Admiration for America was combined with the notion of a past Swedish Golden Age, whose ancient Nordic ideals had supposedly been corrupted by foreign influences. Recovering the purity of these timeless values in the New World was a fundamental theme of Swedish, and later Swedish-American, discussion of America.[citation needed]

Since the imaginary Golden Age answered to shifting needs and ideals, the "timeless values" varied over time, and so did the Swedish idea of the new land. In the 17th and 18th centuries, North America stood for the rights of conscience and religious freedom.[citation needed]

In the political turmoil of 19th-century Europe, the focus of interest shifted to American respect for honest toil and to the virtues of republican government. In the early 20th century, the Swedish-American dream even embraced the welfare state ideal of a society responsible for the well-being of all its citizens. By contrast, America became later in the 20th century the symbol and dream of ultimate individualism.[citation needed]

Major Swedish immigration to the United States did not occur until the late 19th century. From 1870-1910, over one million Swedes arrived, settling particularly in Minnesota and other states of the Upper Midwest.[citation needed] With the exceptions of Germany, Ireland and Norway, no other European country has had a higher percentage of its population move to North America.[citation needed]

Traces of New Sweden persist in the Delaware Valley to this day, including Holy Trinity Church in Wilmington, Gloria Dei Church in Philadelphia, and Trinity Episcopal Church in Swedesboro, New Jersey, all commonly known as "Old Swedes' Church".[16] Christiana, Delaware, is one of the few settlements in the area with a Swedish name.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of New Sweden to the development of the New World is one that is not even thought of as Swedish. The colonists brought with them the log cabin, which became such an icon of the American frontier that it is thought of as an American structure.[17]

Finnish influence

The colonists came from all over the Swedish realm. The percentage of the Finns in New Sweden grew especially towards the end of the colonization. The year 1664 saw the arrival of a contingent of 140 Finns. In 1655, when the ship Mercurius sailed to the colony 92 of the 106 passengers were listed as Finns. Memory of the early Finnish settlement lived on in place names near the Delaware River such as Finland (Marcus Hook), Torne, Lapland, Finns Point and Mullica.[18]

A portion of them were known as Forest Finns, people of Finnish descent living in the forest areas of Central Sweden. The Forest Finns had principally immigrated from Savonia in Eastern Finland to Dalarna, Bergslagen and other province in central Sweden during the late 16th and early to mid 17th centuries. Their relocation had started as part of an effort by Swedish king Gustav Vasa, to expand agriculture to these uninhabited parts of the country. The Finns in Savolax traditionally farmed with a slash-and-burn method which suited better for pioneering agriculture in vast forest areas. It is notable that this was the method used in farming by the native Indians of Delaware as well.[19]


Permanent settlements

Rivers and creeks


  1. ^ McCormick, p. 12; Munroe, Colonial Delaware, p. 16.
  2. ^ Thorne, Kathryn Ford, Compiler & Long, John H., Editor: New York Atlas of Historical County Boundaries;P. 005; The Newbury Library; 1993.
  3. ^ Jennings, p.117
  4. ^ Shorto, Russell, The Island at the Center of the World, Part II; Chapter 6; Pages 115-117.
  5. ^ Jennings, p. 120
  6. ^ Munroe, History of Delaware, pps. 30-31
  7. ^ a b c Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York; Vol. 12; pps. 507—508.
  8. ^ Parry, Clive, ed. ;Consolidated Treaty Series.; Vol. 13, P. 136; Dobbs Ferry, New York; Oceana Publications, 1969—1981.
  9. ^ a b Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York; Vol. 12; Page 515.
  10. ^ Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York; Volume 12; Pps. 561—563.
  11. ^ Armstrong, Edward (1860). Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Volume 119;Record of the Court at Upland, in Pennsylvania, 1676 to 1681.. Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania. pp. 198. 
  12. ^ Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York.; Vol. 12, Pps. 654, 664, 666—667.
  13. ^ Armstrong, Edward (1860). Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Volume 119;Record of the Court at Upland, in Pennsylvania, 1676 to 1681.. Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania. pp. 196. 
  14. ^ Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd series, Vol. 5: Pps. 739 — 744.
  15. ^ Barton, A Folk Divided, 5—7.
  16. ^ Project Canterbury. Swedish Folk within Our Church (by Thomas Burgess. New York: Foreign-Born Americans Division, Episcopal Diocese of New York. National Council, 1929)
  17. ^ Mary Trotter Kion, "New Sweden: The First Colony in Delaware". Jul 23, 2006; accessed 2010.03.10.
  18. ^ The Finns in America (Taru Spiegel, The Library of Congress)
  19. ^ Finland monument at Concord Avenue in Chester, PA
  20. ^ "The Swedish Colonial Society website". 
  21. ^ "Trinity Episcopal "Old Swedes" Church: History". 

See also


  • Barton, H. Arnold (1994). A Folk Divided: Homeland Swedes and Swedish Americans, 1840—1940. (Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis).
  • Jennings, Francis, (1984) The Ambiguous Iroquois, (New York: Norton) ISBN 0393017192
  • Johnson, Amandus (1927) The Swedes on the Delaware (International Printing Company, Philadelphia)
  • Munroe, John A. (1977) Colonial Delaware (Delaware Heritage Press, Wilmington)
  • Shorto, Russell (2004) The Island at the Center of the World (Doubleday, New York ) ISBN 0-385-50349-0
  • Weslager, C.A. (1990) A Man and his Ship, Peter Minuet and the Kalmar Nyckel (Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, Wilmington ) ISBN 0-9625563-1-9
  • Weslager, C. A. (1988) New Sweden on the Delaware 1638-1655 (The Middle Atlantic Press, Wilmington ) ISBN 0-912608-65-X
  • Weslager, C. A.(1987) The Swedes and Dutch at New Castle (The Middle Atlantic Press, Wilmington) ISBN 0-912608-50-1

Additional reading

  • Mickley, Joseph J. Some Account of William Usselinx and Peter Minuit: Two individuals who were instrumental in establishing the first permanent colony in Delaware (The Historical Society of Delaware. 1881)
  • Jameson, J. Franklin Willem Usselinx: Founder of the Dutch and Swedish West India Companies (G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1887)
  • Myers, Albert Cook, ed. Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey, and Delaware, 1630-1707. (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1912)
  • Ward, Christopher Dutch and Swedes on the Delaware, 1609- 1664 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1930)

External links


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

Wikipedia has a page called:


This article was designed to provide background on the New Sweden Colony of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania from its founding in 1638 to after its elimination by the Dutch in 1654. The article was originally written to support articles about descendants of the inter-related Brimberry, Gustaffson, and Anderson families, but should have general value for anyone interested in the genealogy of New Sweden's colonial settlers. Much of the orignal content of the article was taken from an article on the Brimberry family history by Jerry Brimberry Additional information has been taken from the wikipedia article wikipedia:New Sweden.

Replica of the Kalmar Nyckel at sea

A brief history of New Sweden

Influenced by the success of the English and Dutch colonies, the New Sweden Company was formed by a group of Dutch, German, and Swedish investors who persuaded Queen Christina to allow the company to establish a colony under the Swedish crown. Under this arrangement, the investors paid for the ships, supplies and other expenses while the Swedish crown provided royal sanction and a few soldiers to help defend its claim. In late 1637, the New Sweden Company's first expedition sailed from Gothenborg in the Kalmar Nyckel and a smaller sloop, the Fogel Grip. An exact sea going replica (see photo inset) was built several years ago by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation.

Fort Christina & Swedes Landing (adjacent to Old Swedes Church)

The two ships reached Delaware Bay about March 29, 1638 after a brief stop-over at Jamestown, Virginia where records show that English officials reminded the Swedish company that the English crown claimed the area to the north (territory also claimed by the Dutch).

Undeterred, the New Sweden expedition entered uncharted Delaware Bay under the command of Peter Minuit. A German, Peter Minuit, had been the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, from 1626 to 1631. Minuit, who joined the New Sweden Company after a dispute with his previous employers, is best remembered by his purchase of Manhattan Island from Native Americans for trinkets and beads.

The expedition built a fort on a tributary of Delaware Bay at Swedish Landing at the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. They named the fort Christina in honor of Sweden's twelve-year-old queen. New Sweden was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. The colony continued to grow over the next 17 years until it was seized under the force of arms by the Dutch in 1655, who in turn, later lost New Netherlands to the English.

Between 1638-1655, twelve additional Swedish expeditions sailed to New Sweden. Altogether, eleven vessels, and about 600 Swedes and Finns, reached New Sweden, which spread along both banks of the Delaware River into present-day Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Landing of the Swedes in 1638
Christina Vasa, Queen of Sweden (1626-1689)
Click on Image to enlarge Map of New Sweden Settlements

Colonial settlers and information sources

For more information about the history of the Swedes on the Delaware and individual Swedish colonial settlers, please visit Swedish Colonial Society and navigate to forefather family profiles. The narrator, who is a life member of the Swedish Colonial Society, joined the society on Måns Andersson, who as stated in the introduction to this family history, arrived with his wife and daughter, both named Brita, in 1640 on the second voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel.

Those interested in pursuing further information about the settlers of the New Sweden Colony may wish to review the brief bibliography provided to support various articles on this site concerning the colony and its settlers. This narrator is deeply indebted to the authors of these works, as well as the Swedish Colonial Society, the Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Foundation, and the Historical Society of Delaware for preserving the history of the Swedes on the Delaware. However, all of us are especially indebted to Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig for researching, publishing, and making readily available biographical information about many colonial Swedes. A retired attorney, Dr. Craig is the official historian for the Swedish Colonial Society, a post he has gained through year's of careful, painstaking scholarly research of records in Sweden as well as the United States. His seminal work, The 1693 Census of the Swedes on the Delaware, is of particular value for genealogists descended from New Sweden colonial settlers.

Genealogy New Sweden
Editors' Notes A Brief History of New Sweden
The Brimberry Surname Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church
The Brimberry DNA Project Swedish Naming Practices
Ancestry of Mathias Brimberry 17th Century Sweden
Ancestry of Mary Anderson Geography of New Sweden
Lineages of Mathias & Mary Brimberry's 7 Sons
This box: view  talk  edit
Facts about New SwedenRDF feed

This article uses material from the "New Sweden" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

New Sweden (Swedish: Nya Sverige) was a Swedish colony in North America that existed from 1638 through 1655. It was in the modern day states of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Its capital was Fort Christina, modern-day Wilmington.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address