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Johan Andersson Stålcop

by Larry S. Stallcup
Forefather Member, Swedish Colonial Society
1436 Lakeview Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23455

originally published in Swedish Colonial News,
Volume 1, Number 4 (Fall 1991)

Johan Andersson of Strängnäs, Södermanland, Sweden, was just a young boy of perhaps 13 or 14 when he was hired by Måns Kling to go to New Sweden as a farm hand. He sailed May 3, 1641, from Stockholm aboard the Charitas for Gothenburg, where his ship joined company with the Kalmar Nyckel. The two ships departed for the Colony in July and arrived at Fort Christina November 7,1641. Johan Andersson was soon at work and, with the arrival of Governor Printz in 1643, he became one of the first tobacco planters at Upland (now Chester).

At about the age of 19, Johan Andersson was hired by Governor Printz to be a soldier. With the arrival of Governor Rising in 1654, he was promoted to the position of gunner, an occupation which may have led to his wearing a piece of armor called a breastplate, which probably explains the nickname of "Stälkofta" (steel coat in Swedish) by which he was usually called in Swedish records. During the Dutch invasion in 1655, Johan Sfälkofta was the gunner at Fort Trefaldighet (Trinity) at present New Castle. His nickname soon appeared phonetically in Dutch records as "Staelcop" and later passed into English records as "Stalcop." This last version became the basis for the surnames adopted by all of his descendants (Stallcop, Stallcup, Staulcup, Stalcup).

Under Dutch rule Johan Andersson StåIcop began acquiring land and eventually owned the greater part of the land now occupied by the City of Wilmington. He married Christina Carlsdotter, the daughter of Carl Jönsson. Carl Jönsson and his family, from Letstigen in southeastern Värmland, Sweden, arrived on the Mercurius, the last expedition to the colony, which reached the Delaware River in 1656 after New Sweden had fallen to the Dutch.

Johan Andersson and Christina Carlsdotter established their home only about 400 paces (approximately one-quarter mile) west from Fort Christina. Their seven known children and their approximate year of birth were:

  1. Anders (Andrew), born 1656, who married Catharine (parents unknown) and had five children before his death c. 1692.
  2. Charles, born 1658 and died, unmarried, in 1692.
  3. Daughter (name unknown), born 1660, who was the first wife of Lulof Stedham, and had three children before her death c. 1691. After her death, Lulof Stedham married Catharine, the widow of Andrew Stalcop.
  4. John, born 1662, married Annika (daughter of Johan Ericksson). John Stalcop played a large role in the building of Holy Trinity (Old Swedes') Church by providing some of the land (inherited from his father) where the church is built. Later he sold some 250 acres of land to the church for a glebe. John died unexpectedly 1700. He and Annika had four children.
  5. Peter, born 1664, married Catharine (daughter of Samuel Petersson). Peter operated a large plantation on Red Clay Creek. He died in 1710, survived by six children.
  6. Mary, born 1666, married John Hance Steelman. They had at least four children.
  7. Jonas, born 1669, was unmarried and apparently died about 1690.

Johan Andersson Stälcop died in 1685 and Christina Carlsdotter died about a decade later. They probably were buried in the Old Swedish Burying Ground near old Fort Christina which later became part of the graveyard of Holy Trinity (Old Swedes') Church. Today their descendants comprise one of the largest single family units in America.