Although the colony of Delaware was founded by the Dutch, the first permanent settlement was established by the New Sweden Company at Fort Christina in 1638. The Swedes were overtaken first by the Dutch in 1655, when New Sweden became part of New Netherland, and later and conclusively in 1664 when the English established hegemony in Delaware. Although Delaware was given to William Penn in 1682, this religiously diverse colony was eventually granted its own assembly in 1703.
The work at hand, a translation of the records of Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes) of Wilmington, Delaware from 1697 to 1773 (accompanied by an abstract of the church’s English records from 1773 to 1810), preserves the historical and genealogical artifacts of a significant portion of the Swedish experience at Christina, where the church originated. Much of the contents of the first third of the book consist of diaries kept by various church wardens on matters related to sermons, church construction, experiences on the minsters’ circuit, news from Sweden, church accounts, and so on. Sprinkled throughout these early pages and dominating the balance of the 770-page volume, however, are lengthy lists–many arranged on a year-by-year basis–of births, marriages, and deaths. So vast are these records, in fact, that the Historical Society of Delaware, the publisher of Mr. Burr’s translation in 1890, issued a separate 166-page volume in 1919 cataloguing all the names that appeared in the original tome and citing various errata. The Catalogue takes the form of separate bride and groom indexes to the 3,600 marriages in the original volume, an index to some 4,000 births/baptisms performed under the auspices of Holy Trinity, a smaller index to burials, and a complete name and subject index to all persons or subjects not found in the vital records. All in all, some 12,500 individuals are listed here.