« AnteriorContinuar »
*Hon. Friends and Countrymen,
The occasion that leads me to write to you is, that when last year I was at Stockholm, I met with one Andrew Printz, who, I found, had been in an English vessel to the West Indies. Upon my questioning him whether he had a prosperous voyage, he told
old Swedes in good prosperity, who had greatly rejoiced to see one from their native country, and had inquired who was now the reigning king of Sweden: and that you, good friends, had confidence in his majesty, that if he were made acquainted with your want of ministers and godly books, he would provide for your necessities. When he had related such things to me, I took greatly, as did others, your condition to heart; and having good friends at his majesty's court, I related these things to an honorable lord, who again mentioned them to his majesty. Whereupon his majesty took therein a special and particular interest, and resolved that he would send unto you not only ministers, but also all sorts of godly books; and would willingly have used for an agent in accomplishing these purposes the same man who had related these things. But the Lord knoweth what became of that man; for he could not be seen or heard of afterwards. Therefore, I now do take that boldness upon me, being acquainted with an elderly woman here, who says she has a brother living among you, Peter Gunnarson Rambo, through whom this letter may be received, that I may know from you the truth of what has been related, and in what way such ministers may be sent to you; desiring that you would let it be distinctly known of what it is you are in need.
The aforesaid person has told me, that you live comfortably, and in a loving manner one with another, and that you use the old Swedish way in everything, which it has much pleased his majesty to hear. And, surely, the great and special care which his majesty taketh for you should rejoice our hearts; who being in close friendship and alliance with his most excellent majesty of England, your desires may be the more readily carried into effect. Indeed, this work doth certainly come and spring from the Almighty God, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, so that you may speedily send your answer, that it may be for your soul's health and happiness. And we desire to know the number of ministers and books which you desire to have; and also how many you are in number, and how many churches you have. About eight or ten years ago, the governor, William Penn, petitioned the Swedish ambassador at London for ministers and books for you; but for some cause or other, the request was not carried into effect. Be not negligent in the things which belong to your everlasting happiness; for you may certainly see that the great God doth as soon help through friends that are humble, as through those that are great and powerful. I commend you to the holy protection of Almighty God, both in soul and body. I shall expect to hear from you by the first opportunity that may offer, and remain your most loving friend and servant.
JEAN THELIN. “Gottenburg, 16th Nov. 1692.”
The above letter was received with great joy by the Swedes, who determined upon a speedy answer. But as good subjects, they deemed it advisable to lay the whole matter before the English governor, William Markham. “The governor expressed himself much gratified, and wished them not to delay answering the letter.” Under such favorable auspices, Charles Springer wrote for them an answer to Mr. Thelin's communication, dated May 31, 1693, as follows:“Honored, loving, and much respected friend, John Thelin, his ma
jesty's loyal subject, and postmaster at Gotlenburg.
“Your unexpected and welcome letter, dated Gottenburg, 16th Nov. 1692, came to hand the 23d of May, 1693, and made us heartily rejoice that it hath pleased Almighty God, through that young man Andrew Printz, to make known our condition to our friends in Sweden. We rejoice that his majesty doth still bear unto us a tender and a christian care. Therefore do we heartily desire, since it hath pleased his majesty graciously to regard our wants, that there may be sent unto us two Swedish ministers, who are well learned in the Holy Scriptures, and who may be able to defend them and us against all false opposers; so that we may preserve our true Lutheran faith, which, if called to suffer for our faith, we are ready to seal with our blood. We also request that those ministers may be men of good moral lives and characters; so that they may instruct our youth by their example, and lead them into a pious and virtuous way of life.
Further, it is our humble desire that you would be pleased to send us three books of sermons, twelve bibles, forty-two psalmbooks, one hundred tracts, with two hundred catechisms, and as many primers; for which, when received, we promise punctual payment at such place as you may think fit to order. We do promise also a proper maintenance to the ministers that may be sent us; and when this our letter is gone, it is our intention to buy a piece of land, that shall belong to the church, and upon which the ministers may live.
As to what concerns our situation in this country, we are for the most part husbandmen. We plough and sow, and till the ground; and as to our meat and drink, we live according to the old Swedish custom. This country is very rich and fruitful, and here grow all sorts of grain in great plenty, so that we are richly supplied with meat and drink; and we send out yearly to our neighbors on this continent and the neighboring islands, bread, grain, flour and oil. We have here also, all sorts of beasts, fowls, anci fishes. Our wives and daughters employ themselves in spinning wool and fax, and many of them in weaving; so that we have great reason to thank the Almighty for bis manifold mercies and benefits. God grant that we may also have good shepherds, to feed us with his holy word and sacraments. We live also in peace and friendship with one another; and the indians have not molested us for many years.
Further, since this country has ceased to be under the government of Sweden, we are bound to acknowledge and declare, for the sake of truth, that we have been well and kindly treated, as well by the Dutch, as by his majesty the king of England, our gracious sovereign: on the other hand, we, the Swedes, have been and still are true and faithful to him in words and in deeds. We have always had over us good and gracious magistrates; and we live with one another in peace and quietness. So that we desire, as soon as this our letter comes to hand, that a speedy attention may be paid to our request; for we believe that God has certainly his hand in this christian work, and pray that he may bring it to a happy termination.”
Owing to the little intercourse, at the time, between this country and Europe, and scarcely any directly between here and Sweden, it took a long time for the interchange of letters, between the Swedes of the mother country, and their descendants here. This may explain the long interval which elapsed between the writing of the above letter, and the measures taken in Sweden towards furnishing the relief it prayed for. Campanius says, there was no delay in taking those measures; but that, as soon as the letter arrived at Stockholm, his majesty Charles XI, wrote to the late Dr. Olaus Suebilius, archbishop of Upsal, the following letter, on this interesting subject.
“Charles, by the grace of God, king of Sweden, &c. &c.
“Our faithful and well-beloved archbishop. We send you herewith a letter from the Swedish colony on the river Delaware, to John Thelin, the postmaster at Gottenburg, and by him delivered to our department of state. From which we have seen, with great pleasure, that this people have a very pious zeal for the preservation to themselves and their children, of the pure evangelical religion. We are by this moved to grant them aid, and to favor their petition for obtaining two clergymen. It is, therefore, our pleasure
tors as they desire to have; and it is our will that, as soon as they shall be ready for their voyage, they be provided with a passage, and the necessary funds to defray expenses. You will also procure the bibles, homilies, common-prayer and hymn-books, catechisms, primers, and spiritual treatises which are desired: so that the ministers may take these books along with them, which we will present free of expense. We are persuaded that you will be solicitous to procure faithful laborers in this vineyard of the Lord. In so doing you will promote the glory of God, and also give us great satisfaction. We commend you kindly to Almighty God. Given at Stockholm, the 18th of February, 1696.
CHARLES. “By the king. C. Piper.”
The king, at the solicitation of the archbishop of Upsal, gave his consent that ministers should be sent to America. Three were accordingly selected by the archbishop, namely Andrew Rudman, Erick Biork, and Jonas Aurin, two of whom, Rudman and Biork, after many difficulties arrived at the Swedish settlements in America, and entered upon the discharge of their ministerial duties. By order of the king, the following books were sent free of charge to the Swedes here.
“30 Bibles-10 printed by Vankis, and 20 by Keiser. 6 Books of Homilies; 2 Cabinets of Treasure; 2 of Moellers; 2
of Lutheman's. 150 Manuals. 100 Religious treatises of different kinds, viz: 12 by Kellingius;
Garden of Paradise; Atlice, &c. 100 Books of Common Prayer and Hymns.
2 Ecclesiastical Acts.
2 Church Regulations. 100 Catechisms of Archbishop Seubilius. 300 Compends of do. do. 400 Primers. 500 Catechisms in the Indian language.”
Mr. Rudman left a list of the Swedish families residing on the Delaware in the year 1693; at which time there were 139 families, containing 939 individuals. Among the names, we recognize the
Rambo, Benson, Boon, Nielson, Cook, Keen, Johnson, Fisk, Peterson, Vanderver, Anderson, Hendrickson, Jacobs, Erickson, Robertson, Thomas, &c.
The following extract from Proud's History of Pennsylvania, we insert as a note to the first chapter of Delaware Annals. We are of opinion that there is error in the account as it regards dates, particularly in respect to the settlement of the Swedes at Christiana, which is stated to have been made as early as 1631; but consider it proper to publish it as we find it in a book of good authority.
"In the year 1609, the Dutch East India Company, according to their own writers, employed Henry Hudson, an Englishman, to
voyage he discovered Delaware bay; and also sailed to the place, where New York now stands, and up North river, called by him Hudson's river, so far north, as latitude 43 degrees. In consequence of which, the Dutch, having purchased of him, as they say, his chart of discoveries, on the coast, obtained a patent from the states, in the year 1614, for an exclusive trade, on the said river; and made a settlement, in the province, now called New York: to which they gave the name of New Netherland; claiming within the same the country on Delaware. On the island, called Manhattans, at : the mouth of the said river they erected a fort; where they afterwards, in the year 1656, laid out and began their town of New Amsterdam, now New York.
In the year 1623, they erected several forts in different parts of the new territory, to which they had thus made claim; among which they built one on Delaware, (by them called South river) near Gloucester, in New Jersey. But the commodious situation of New York, for the sea and trade, induced most of them, who were settled on the Delaware, soon afterwards to quit it, and fix their settlements on both sides of North river, before any of the Swedes came into America.
In the year 1626, under the reign of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, a scheme was set on foot in that kingdom, for settling a colony in America: this was chiefly promoted by the great commendation which William Useling, an eminent merchant, gave of this country; and the undertaking was, in the following year, 1627, principally through his means and persuasion, put in execution.
The first landing of the Swedes and Fins, this year, was at cape Inlopen, the interior cape of Delaware; which, from its pleasant appearance to them, they named Paradise-point. They are said to have purchased of some indians, the land from cape Inlopen, to the falls of Delaware, on both sides of the river; which they called New Swedeland stream; and made presents to the indian chiefs, to obtain peaceable possession of the land so purchased:—with whom they appear to have lived in much amity; but they were frequently disturbed by the Dutch: who, in the year 1630, built a fort within the capes of Delaware, at the place now called Lewes-town, but then, and sometime since, Hoarkill;—but both they and the Dutch appear to have agreed so far together, as to unite in expelling such English, as about this time, began to settle near, or on the east side of Delaware, and to prevent them from coming among them.
In 1631, the Swedes erected a fort on the west side of Delaware, at a place near Wilmington, upon the river, or creek, which still, from the name of the fort, is called Christina, or Christeen, where they had laid out a town, and made their first settlement."
(Note to the sixth chapter of Delaware Annals.) FROM NEW CASTLE COUNTY RECORD BOOK A.
October 28, 1682. “On the 27th day of October 1682, arrived before the town of New Castle in Delaware from England, William Penn, Esq., proprietary of Pennsylvania, who produced two certain deeds of feoffment from the illustrious prince James, duke of York and Albany, etc., for this town of New Castle and twelve miles about it, and also