Preserving the Legacy of the New Sweden Colony in America

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The Swedish Colonial Society

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Qualifications & Procedures

Forefather and Supplemental Applications

Forefather Family Profiles

New Sweden Settlers Qualifying as Forefathers for Members of the Swedish Colonial Society

by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig (deceased)

Fellow, American Society of Genealogists
Fellow, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania
Historian, Swedish Colonial Society
originally published in Swedish Colonial News,

Volume 1, Number 18 (Fall 1998)

Under the By-laws of the Swedish Colonial Society, Forefather Members are “active members who can prove descent from Swedish colonists in the United States prior to the Treaty of Paris, marking the close of the Revolutionary War, in 1783.”

Larry S. Stallcup of Virginia Beach, VA, a Forefather Member of SCS, has suggested that the Swedish Colonial News publish a complete list of those settlers of New Sweden who qualify as Forefathers for prospective Forefather Members.

Currently, the author is publishing a series of articles, “New Sweden Settlers, 1638-1664,” in the Swedish American Genealogist. That series identifies all known settlers of New Sweden, 1638-1655, as well as those arriving from Sweden when the Delaware was under Dutch rule, 1655-1664. Excluding persons named in these articles who died without issue and those who returned to Europe, I have listed [List of Qualifying Forefathers] each known Swedish immigrant, 1638-1664, who remained in America and left surviving children.

The list is divided into two parts. The first part lists immigrants known to have had at least one son. The first column shows the family surname adopted by the sons or, in some cases, the grandsons, followed by the name of the immigrant and the year and place of the immigrant’s death.

The second list shows immigrants who had no surviving sons, but who left one or more daughters who married and had children. In most cases these daughters married other Swedes.

Further information on these forefather settlers is contained in Dr. Craig’s two books, “The 1693 Census of the Delaware” and “1671 Census of the Swedes on the Delaware.” Both books are available from the Swedish Colonial Society. The 1671 census book is $25 and the 1693 census book is $45, plus $5 per book shipping and handling. On the memo line of your check, please indicate 1671, 1693 or “both census books.” Make checks payable to Gloria Dei and mail to:

Swedish Colonial Society
c/o Gloria Dei Church
916 South Swanson St., Philadelphia, PA 19147

Tracing descent from the original Swedish immigrants is difficult since most of the immigrants had no surname. They used the patronymic naming system, by which the sons and daughters took the first name of their father, adding “son” or “dotter” as appropriate. In some cases a family surname was not selected for two generations.

Thus, the immigrant Eskil Larsson arrived in New Sweden with his son Bärtil Eskilsson in 1643. Bärtil Eskilsson’s sons were known by the patronymic Bärtilsson, which ultimately became the family surname with an English spelling, i.e., Bartleson.

Similarly, the immigrant Matthias Eskilsson, who settled in Swanwick, New Castle County, had a son named Peter Matthiasson, who had a son named Jöran Petersson, who became known as George Peterson, which became his family’s surname.

Another such oddity is Pål Persson’s descendants. He had four sons, Olof, Bengt, Gustaf and Peter Pålsson, founders of the Paulson families of New Castle County. However, one of Gustaf’s sons named Paul chose to be called Paul Gustafsson, thereby launching the Justison or Justice family of Brandywine Hundred.

In a few cases the patronymic naming system led to third-generation males using surnames which were the same as the patronymic of their grandfather. Thus, Knut Mårtensson’s son Mårten Knutsson of Marcus Hook had sons known by the name of Morton. Johan Hendricksson had sons named Hendrick Johansson, progenitor of the Hendrickson family of Ridley Township, and Johan Johansson, whose sons were named Johnson.

The [List of Qualifying Forefathers] is not a complete list of potential Forefathers for SCS members. It does not include Swedes arriving in the Delaware after 1664, such as Charles Christophersson Springer, Anders Rudman, Jonas Aurén, Gustavus Hesselius. Neither does it include Swedes who came to America in colonial times who settled in other places, such as New York. The tables are limited to those who settled in New Sweden, 1638-1664.

For further assistance or to receive an application for recognition as a Forefather Member, please write to the Swedish Colonial Society, 916 S. Swanson St., Philadelphia, PA 19147-4332, or email our curator: curator email link

The Swedish Colonial Society is now accepting multiple forefather applications. Click here for more information.