Captain Sven Svensson Skute
Skrivet av Peter Stebbins Craig   
2006-04-17 10:55

Captain Sven Skute

by Dr.Peter Stebbins Craig

Fellow, American Society of Genealogists Fellow, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Historian, Swedish Colonial Society originally published in Swedish Colonial News, Volume 1, Number 8 (Fall 1993)


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 America.

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 workers.

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 never gave.

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 "Swedish nation."

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.
[See Correction below]

NOTE: The original grant is in the Royal Archives at Stockholm, according to The Swedish Colonial Society's History, Charter, By-Laws, Officers, Members, Publications, Etc, (Philadelphia, 1954). However, an original deed has been found in the Archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania as well.

Correction: Skute & Stille families

The Forefathers article on Captain Sven Skute in the Fall 1993 issue of the Swedish Colonial News [See above] was in error in listing, as his daughter, Gertrude (born 1664), who married John Stille. The will of John Stille named Sven Skute's son Johan Skute his "brother-in-law," suggesting that Stille had married Johan Skute's sister. However the names given to John Stille's children prove that his wife Gertrude was the daughter of Mårten Gertsson and Christina Lom and sister of Johan Skute's wife Armegot. John and Gertrude Stille named their eldest daughter Christina and named a son Morton. They did not name any son Sven.

[From Swedish Colonial News, Volume 1, Number 12 (Fall, 1995)]
Senast uppdaterad 2006-04-17 10:59
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