Sven Svensson Skute, a veteran of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), was the
highest-ranking official to remain in New Sweden after its surrender to the
Dutch in 1655.
Prior to his coming to New Sweden with Governor Printz in 1643, Sven Skute
had served as a lieutenant with the Åbo and Björneborg County cavalry. Of
Swedish parentage, he came from Kronoby in Finland and was married to Anna
Johansdotter in Sweden.
On his first trip to New Sweden, Skute left his bride behind. She took
residence at Näsby in Dingtuna parish, Västmanland, and, with his brother Jacob
Svensson, is reported to have collected money from his wages while he was in
Lt. Sven Skute's salary was substantial by contemporary standards. He earned
40 guilders per month, four times the wage of common soldiers and company
After arriving in New Sweden, Lt. Sven Skute was assigned the task of
supervising construction of Fort Elfsborg in present Salem County, NJ. He was
still there in 1644 when he fired on, and boarded, Governor Winthrop's ship from
New England. In 1648, his name was prominent in leading the Swedish soldiers who
barred Dutch settlement near Fort Beversreede on the Schuylkill River. In the
summer of 1650, Governor Printz ordered Sven Skute to return to Sweden with
letters to plea for more assistance for the colony. He arrived in Stockholm in
early November 1650. In March 1651 he secured an audience with Queen Christina
and reported that there were only 70 men remaining in New Sweden and that more
settlers and supplies were desperately needed.
Queen Christina was slow in responding to this plea. Finally, in August 1653,
instructions were issued to Sven Skute to find 250 new settlers for the colony.
Skute was also well rewarded for his past services. She promoted him to be a
captain and on 20 August 1653, she issued him a patent for extensive lands in
present South and West Philadelphia.
Skute immediately left on an extensive recruiting trip through Våsterås,
Värmland and Dalsland and recruited more settlers than the next ship, the
Eagle, could carry. The ship, under the command of the new Governor,
Johan Rising, left Gothenberg 2 Feb. 1654 and arrived at St. Christopher in the
West Indies on 16 April 1654 when Skute went ashore to obtain fresh fruit and
water. On 20 May 1654 the ship reached Fort Elfsborg, which was found ruined and
deserted. On the next day, the ship reached Fort Casimir (present New Castle).
Skute led three squads of musketeers ashore and they easily captured the fort,
without resistance from the Dutch who were out of gunpowder.
In June 1654 Skute presented Queen Christina's land patent to Governor Rising
for confirmation. Rising, however, was unwilling to allow Skute to occupy land
which had been previously settled and developed by freemen for the previous
decade and ultimately ruled that it was dependent on his confirmation, which he
|Many historians, beginning with John F. Watson, have
erroneously assumed that the patent issued by William Penn to the three Swanson
brothers at Wicaco was a confirmation of land owned by their father, Sven Skute,
under Queen Christina's 1653 patent. These Swanson brothers were the sons of
Sven Gunnarsson, not Sven Skute.|
Sven Skute and his wife, Anna Johansdotter, made their home at the former
Dutch Fort Casimir which had been renamed Fort Trinity after its capture. Here
Skute assumed the difficult task of rebuilding the fort. He also served on
Governor Rising's Council which governed the colony and heard court cases.
On 30 August 1655, Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Netherland appeared in
the Delaware with seven armed ships and 317 soldiers. The outnumbered Swedish
forces recognized that fighting was useless. Their 50 soldiers were divided
between two forts. Captain Sven Skute surrendered Fort Trinity on 1 Sept. 1655
and Governor Rising surrendered Fort Christina two weeks later.
After the surrender of New Sweden, Governor Stuyvesant agreed to allow the
Swedes to retain their lands north of the Christina Riverand to establish their
own government. This new "Swedish Nation," later known as the Upland Court, was
established in 1656.
Remaining at Fort Casimir (New Castle) under Dutch rule became intolerable
for the Skute family. They sold their lots and grain in the spring of 1656 and
moved to the west bank of the Schuylkill River, on the northeast side of Kvarn
Kill (Mill Creek), adjacent to Hans Månsson's Aronameck plantation, in the
vicinity of present Woodlands Cemetery. There is a 1658 Dutch reference to "Sven
the miller," which is probably a reference to Sven Skute's occupation in his
forced retirement. He also, however, was captain of the militia for the new
Captain Sven Skute died at his Schuylkill plantation c. 1665. He was survived
by four known children:
1. Johan Skute, born 4 Sept. 1654 at Fort Trinity (New Castle), moved
further up the Schuylkill to lands bought from the Indians by William Warner,
Sr., at Nitapkung (present Fairmount Park). He married Armegot, daughter of
Mårten Garretson and Christina Lom. A warden and trustee of Gloria Dei, he died
in 1722, and had three known children, Christina, Sven and Jacob. The surname
continued with Jacob under the name of Schooten.
2. Christina married William Warner, Jr., who moved to Woodbury Creek,
Gloucester County, NJ, by 1681. He died there in 1714, survived by his wife and
five children, William, Sven, Isaac, Hannah and Jacob.
3. Magdalena, born 25 March 1660, married Peter Rambo, Jr., 12 Nov.
1676. They made their home on Pennypack Creek in Lower Dublin Township, where
her husband died in 1729. They had 7 children: Swan, Brigitta, Peter, Andrew,
Elias, Jacob and John.
4. Gertrude, born c. 1664, was married in 1683 to John Stille
(1646-1722), youngest son of Olof Stille. They lived at Moyamensing (south
Philadelphia) and had 12 children: Christina, Anna, William, Sarah, John,
Brigitta, Barbara, Peter, Gertrude, Morton, Helene and Allemky.