from his book The Descendants of Timothy Stidham, Vol. 1
Dr. Timothy Stidham (Timen Stiddem), an educated physician and native of Denmark or the Netherlands (or possibly Sweden), was living in Gothenburg, Sweden in the 1630s. He was no doubt anxious to learn about the new world being colonized by the Swedish, known as "New Sweden" (present day Delaware). Dr. Stiddem signed on as a ship's doctor for a voyage to that distant place.
Dr. Stiddem sailed four times for North America (arriving three times). He went to New Sweden the first time in 1638 aboard the ship called the Kalmar Nyckel, the first of Sweden's attempts to establish a colony in New Sweden. They landed at the Kalmar Nyckel "Rocks" or Fort Christina (present day Wilmington, Delaware) on March 29, 1638.
On the ship's second voyage in 1640, Timen remained in the colony as the resident doctor.
Amandus Johnson Ph.D. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in his 1911 book The Swedish Settlement on the Delaware, 1638-1644, refers to Timen Stiddem and Gotfried Harmer sent by the Swedish Governor John Prince to negotiate with a Mr. Lambarton on his ship, the Cock. It seem Mr. Lambarton has bribed the local Native Americans to murder the Swedes and Dutch and destroy their settlements. On June 26, 1643, Governor Prince was returning from his prayers and met Stiddem and Harmer. He told them of his plan for them to board the Cock to see if Lambarton was planning to sell arms and ammunition to the Native Americans. In the meantime, Governor Prince wrote a letter to Lambarton claiming a Native American had stolen a gold chain (necklace) from his wife the day before, and asked Lambarton to get it back.
Since many Native Americans were to trade the following day with Lambarton, the Swedish agents/spies (Stiddem and Harmer) requested permission to board the Cock and look for the person who stole the chain. They claimed the guilty man had a particular mark on his face. Permission was granted to search, but of course they saw no such "marked" person. However, they did discover Lambarton was selling arms and gunpowder to the Native Americans. Stiddem and Harmer were unable to substantiate the report Lambarton had bribed the Native Americans to massacre the Swedes and Dutch. Lambarton was arrested, and Stiddem and Harmer testified at his trial.
Soon after the trial, Dr. Timen Stiddem sailed back to Sweden.
On July 20, 1644, Dr. Stiddem sail from New Sweden aboard the Fama, which had left Gothenburg on December 29, 1643, taking him home to Sweden. For his services, he was paid 468.19 D. (worth about 80 cents per D.). (Ref: Johnson, p. 242.)
The Ninth Swedish expedition left Sweden on Sunday, July 3, 1649 on the ship Kattan, with Dr. Stiddem and his family aboard (Ref: Johnson, p. 268-269). Had he known what was in store for him on this ill-fated voyage, he never would have left for New Sweden.
More than 70 colonists, including many women and children were aboard. Among the more prominent colonists were Rev. Natthias Nertunius, bookkeeper Joachimus Lyche and family, barber-surgeon Timen Stiddem and family, Johan Rudberus, Hans Persson, and the commander Hans Amundsson and family.
The course of the Kattan was close to England, through the Spanish Sea and the "Eastern Passage." On the evening of August 27th, they entered dangerous waters some 80 miles from Puerto Rico. About 2:00 a.m. the ship rammed a cliff. After two more collisions, a large rock penetrated the hull and the ship became grounded. The women and children were taken to a small, uninhabited island about 13 miles away in lifeboats. After a severe storm that night, the men removed the provisions from the ship and joined the women. There was no water on the island, and they had to lick stones for nourishment.
Eight days after the shipwreck, two Spanish ships arrived and asked who the stranded people were, and whence they came. The Spaniards pretended they never heard of Sweden, and challenged the unfortunate colonists to fight or surrender. Of course, they had no choice but surrender. The Swedes were given food and water, and forced to go aboard the foundered Kattan. Once aboard, the pirates took everything in sight, even pulled clothes off the men and women looking for money and other valuables.
Later, the shipwrecked Swedes were taken to Puerto Rico. There a large fire was built, and all the Swedish books were burned. Some of the Swedes were imprisoned and killed, including Dr. Stiddem's wife and children.
The Swedes finally obtained permission to leave Puerto Rico on a vessel to Spain. However, the city council permitted only Commander Amundsson and his family to leave. As time went by, other colonists including Dr. Stiddem found means to leave the island.
In April, 1650, the city sold Johan Rudberus a little bark in which the remainder of the Swedes, 24 souls in all, set sail. They planned to reach St. Christopher and catch a Dutch ship for either Sweden or New Sweden. Near the island of St. Cruz, Rudberus and his fellow Swedes met a French bark. The French officers boarded their small vessel. The Swedes were again captured and taken ashore where their belongings were divided among the French who "fought like dogs" over what little they had left.
The Swedes were submitted to the most inhumane torture by these French pirates. They were taken before the French governor who had their clothes searched even more thoroughly for valuables. He bound some of the Swedes to posts and had his soldiers discharge their rifles near them. Four of the Swedes were bound with their hands behind their backs. They were suspended on hooks about a yard from the ground for two nights and days until their bodies were blue and the blood pressed out of their fingers. One woman had her feet burned with hot plates. The governor had another woman killed after he raped her. Many other atrocities were committed. Out of the original 24, only 5 were alive to leave St. Cruz. The next day after leaving St. Cruz, two women and the oldest child died; the other child died soon afterwards.
Of the 70 original colonists that set sail on the Kattan from Sweden in 1649, only 19 colonists and a few officers ever saw their native land again. John Rudberus, among the last to reach Sweden, arrived at Stockholm in the Autumn of 1651. Amundsson, Lyche, and Rev. Nertunius had already made their way to the Swedish capitol. Timen Stiddem managed to reach Amsterdam, but in the most miserable of circumstances. From Holland, Dr. Stiddem was taken to Sweden by a Captain Boender. Later in Stockholm, Lyche, Amundsson, Stiddem and Nertunius made oral reports, and many others corroborated their doleful tales. (Other references: Swedes in America, p. 14-15; The Swedes on the Delaware, p. 156-164.)
Below is Dr. Stiddem's pitiful letter to Axel Oxenstierna, Chancellor of Sweden, requesting assistance following his return to Sweden. Written in 1651, the original document is preserved in Sweden. A copy of the letter was sent to me by Peter S. Craig Esq. of Washington, D.C. Dr. Richard H. Hulan of Arlington, Virginia found the original letter in Sweden, and translated it from Swedish to English, as follows:
Most Honorable Lord, Gracious Count
Lord Chancellor of the Realm!
Your Courtly Excellency:
I, a poor servant, cannot avoid this humble plea; As I (a poor person) was hired in the year 1649 and [assigned] to New Sweden, there to do my occupation; Out in which place I have been stationed since its first beginnings, but now I plied my trade and services both on the voyage, and conducted it at that place, for two and a half years' time; and because of the discharge, it was in my case stipulated that my pay should be on monthly basis; As I accepted that service, and then immediately started on the voyage, as a consequence the pay for two and a half years stand to some extent in arrears.
Furthermore (after God's providence), inasmuch as the ship named Katt vanished at Puerto Rico, I lost all my means of livelihood there, so that I fell into great mortal danger with my wife and three small children; And afterwards in that same place with both wife and children was subjected to imprisonment, where in great wretchedness I lost both wife and children in death; I am, consequently, through these and more such horrors, reduced and enfeebled, so that I don't know any means by which I can get myself re-established.
Wherefore I fall bowed before Your Courtly Excellency in the greatest humility, submissively beseeching the honor of Your Courtly Excellency's mercy, taking note of these presents in a Christian way and out of innate sympathy for the wayfarer, to assist in restoring me to my salary (as also for my damages, into which I have been ensnared); That I might be able to some extent to extricate myself from this my great distress and poverty, which I have endured for some time, since I have received nothing more than 12 riksdalers from the factor at Amsterdam for the journey home; I would now gladly offer myself [to serve] on a ship that lies at Gothenburg ready to sail for Portugal, whereby I could somewhat earn my way out of this destitution; since there is at present no vessel of the Crown that might be made ready for any destination; Also pleading myself willing to render to my utmost ability all further service due to Her Royal Majesty and the Crown of Sweden, when I have been instructed; Awaiting in all the greatest humility Your Courtly Excellency's gracious favorable reply, likewise I remain in my pledge to duty,
Dr. Stiddem did sail again, on Sweden's Tenth Expedition aboard the Örn (Eagle) which arrived in New Sweden on May 22, 1654. In The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware, Johnson mentions Rev. Nertunius, barber-surgeon Stiddem, and several soldiers receiving 3,722 D. of the proposed budget for this expedition (p. 502). This was Dr. Timen Stiddem's last trip from his homeland, Sweden. He stayed and settled in New Sweden at Fort Christina, or what was to become Wilmington, Delaware.
Dr. Timen Stiddem (Timothy Stidham) was a prominent citizen and doctor in Wilmington, treating the ill and wounded the best he could. Dr. Stiddem is recorded in history as the very first physician in Delaware (Ref: J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware, p. 471). His home stood near the "Rocks" where the Swedish ship Kalmar Nyckel landed in 1638.
The Different Spellings of Dr. Timothy Stidham's Name
There are many variations of the spelling of Dr. Timothy Stidham's name in written records. His first name is spelled variously as Timen, Tymen and Tymon. In the early Christine Church records in Gothenburg, Sweden (1624-1725), his family's surname is recorded as Stitten or Stidden. In his own hand, Dr. Stidham signed his 1651 letter to the Swedish Chancellor, "Timen Stiddem, Barber." On his original land grant or patent from the Duke of York, signed by Governor Frances Lovelace, his name is spelled "Tymen Stiddem." The land grant was dated May 3, 1671. However, on a 1661 survey, his name was spelled "Tymen Stidham."
In later years, after the colonists pledged allegiance to the English Crown, the family name was anglicized from Stiddem to Stedham or Stidham (with "ham"). However, the stubborn, old doctor apparently refused to change, for he signed his last will and testament in 1686 with his Swedish name, "Timon Stiddem."
We find that nearly all the descendants of Dr. Timothy Stidham (but not all) have surnames with various spellings, but which "sound" similar to the old, Swedish spelling "Stiddem." The descendants recorded in this genealogy spell their names variously as Stidham, Stedham, Steadham, Steddom, Stiddum, Stidam, Stidom, etc. (SOUNDEX Code S335).
"Dr. Tymen Stidham was doubtless the pioneer physician within the territory now embraced in the state of Delaware. He was born in Sweden, and seems to have come with Gov. Rising, from Gothenberg Feb. 2, 1654. Dr. Stidham settled at Fort Christina, now known as "The Rocks" within the present limits of Wilmington, Delaware" (Ref: State of Delaware, Biographical Encyclopedia).
"The very first physician of whom Delaware's history tells was Tymen Stidham, a Swede, who settled at Fort Christina, now known as "The Rocks," a part of whose site includes a large tract of land which he acquired under Dutch patents, afterwards confirmied by the English under Gov. Lovelace. In 1678 he received a warrent for 100 acres near Newport, called "Cole Harbor," increased later by conveyances to 268 acres. Dr. Stidham was appointed city surgeon of Christina (Wilmington) in 1662. He died early Feb. 1686, was married twice, and had children, whose descendants are now in Delaware and other states" (Ref: Conrads History of Delaware, page 462 and the chapter on Medicine and its Practioners).
"The Swedish barber-surgeons were apparently well trained. As early as 1600, the requirements for the study of medicine was high. Thus the period of preparation covered from four to six years, including "journeyism," which may be compared to the present system of internship. Perhaps the most prominent of these barber-surgeons was Timon Stidden (also spelled Stedham or Stidham) who sailed from Gothenberg in 1649. Dr. Thomas C. Stellwagon, at one time professor of physiology at the Philadelphia Dental College, in a paper read before the Historical Society of Delaware in 1896, states that the colony of Delaware was very early the home of distinguised disciples of AEsculapius (the legendary Greek god of medicine, the son of Apollo and the Nymph Coronis. Homer mentions him as a skillful physician. Ref: Encyclopedia Britannica) He mentioned, in particular, "Dr. Tymen Stidham." In 1656 he was ordered to give an affidavit of the cure of some soldiers on the South River. "Once an old man was killed by the Indians and Dr. Timon Stidden was called to examine the body." (Ref: Swedes in America 1638-1639, by Benson Hedin. Chapter on Doctors)
"Tymen Stidden, the surgeon, came for the first time with an early expedition and returned to Sweden in 1645, but came back to New Sweden in 1654, on the same ship with Johan Risingh (John Rishing, Gov.). He was one of the most influential settlers, enjoyed the confidence of the authorities, and in the trouble with the English Traders, he acted as an agent for the Governor. (Ref: Wilmington, Delaware Under Four Flags, by Anna T. Lincoln)
In May 1671, Gov. Lovelace, one of the Gentlemen of his Majesties Honr Privy Chamber and Governor-General under his Royal Highness James, Duke of York and Albany, deeded a large tract of land to Dr. Tymen Stiddem. Today, this land would encompass a large portion of downtown Wilmington, Delaware. The deed, the original of which I held in my hands when I was in Wilmington in October, 1976, is one of the most valuable documents in the archives of the Historical Society of Delaware.
"The case of Tymen Stiddem declaring his right to 600 acres of land lying on the North side of ye fish creeke at Brandewyns Creeke just below the falls of Sd creeke...." (Ref: State Library, Albany, New York, Liber XXI, folios 21 and 41.)
Again, in March 1677/8 the court ordered land bought by Tymen Stiddem from Walraven Jansen and Moens Andriessen to be surveyed and obtain a patent for the same. On May 8, 1678 a warrant or deed was issued to Tymen Stiddem for 100 acres, for which a warrant for a resurvey was granted on April 19, 1774 when the divers conveyance had been increased to 260 acres. (Ref: Scharf's History of Delaware, p. 882.)
A list of taxables of New Castle County, returned by Captain Cantwell, High Sheriff, March 25, 1678, included "Tymen Stiddem and 4 sons" (Ref: Seller's Allied Families of Delaware). All persons between ages 16 and 60 were liable to taxation. (Apparently, one of Dr. Stiddem's 5 sons was under 16 and not liable to taxation.)
"At a court held at New Castle on February 21st and 22nd, 1683, at which William Penn was present, Jean Paul Jaquett, Dr. Tymen Stiddem, and other Swedes and Dutch took Oath of Allegiance to the King of England, promising lawful obedience to William Penn, Proprietary and Governor of the Province of Pensilvania [Pennsylvania] and its Territories." (Ref: Scharf.)
According to Dr. Stidham's will, his third wife was Christina Ollesdotter, widow of Wallraven Janssen de Vos and daughter of Oel (Olof) and Elice Thorsson. His will, recorded at Wilmington, Delaware in Liber A, Folio 73, reads as follows:
To all whom these Presents shall come Greeting: Know ye yt Lucas Stiddem and Erasumus Stiddem have duly and legally proved in this office a certain will called ye last Will and Testament of Timon Stiddem, their late father deceased, the tenor wherof followeth:
Praised be God forever. In ye name of God, Amen. In ye year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 1686 appeared before ye underwritten witnesses Mr. Timon Stiddem born at Hammell inhabitant in Christina Creek who being sick in body but full and perfect sound and understanding as outwardly appeared to us, and he consedering ye fraylty of this mortal life ye certainty of death and ye uncertain hour thereof and being unwilling to depart this world untill he should first have desposed of what temporal estate and goods [God] has been pleased to bestow on him. Therefore ye sd Testator doth first of all committ his soul into ye hands of God yt gave it him and his body after his decease a decent buriall and as for ye disposal of his temporall estate First I wil yt my wife Christina Oels daughter shall have and receive one part or share equall with my children of all loose and mouvable goods mouvable and immouvable present and to come. And as to ye land and its appurtenances ye same shall be by my children equally shared or injoyed except my daughter Ingober Stiddem who shall have for her part or share thereof one young steer and one cow. This Will and Testament being word by word read to ye testator he approved thereof and desired yt this might be held and reputed as his last will and testament might be held good and allowed of and in testimony of ye truth hereof I have hereunto sett my had in usuall form on ye 1st year of ye Reign of our Souaraign Lord King James ye 2nd in ye presence of Hendrick Commens. (Was signed) Timon Stiddem. Witnesses present Hendreck Commens (Lemmens) Carroll X Jansen. A true translation Eph. Herman (his mark).
The following document appeared later:
Whereas Lucas Stiddem and Erasmus Stiddem the sons of Timon Stiddem deceased have exhibited into ye office of Probate of Wills and Granting Letters of Adminstration for ye County of New Castle an Inventory of ye Estate of ye sd. Timon Stiddem deceased and given security to administer according to law These are therefore by ye Kings authority and in ye name of ye Proprietary and Gouvernor to authorize and impower ye sd Lucas Stiddem and Erasmus Stiddem to administer upon ye estate goods and chattels debts and other effects whatsoever belonging to the sd Timon Stiddem their late father deceased or to him in any ways appertaining hereby giving and granting to ye sd Lucas Stiddem and Erasmus Stiddem full power to enter upon and take possession of all ye estate real and personal whatsoever late belonging to their sd deceased father and to sue for recover and obtain ye same out of ye lands of any person or persons whatsoever that is owing unto or hath ougth in custody of or belonging to ye sd Timon Stiddem deceased and therewith to satisfy all his just debts and according to law to pay all legacyes and to allot to his late wife Christina and ye children their several shares and parts by ye law is directed and further to do execute and perform such other lawful act or acts thing or things in and about ye premises as fully and amply to all intents and purposes as any other administrator by ye Laws of this Province of Pensilvania and Territorys may can or ought to be. Given under my hand and ye seale of ye office this 24th of April, 1686. Signed by John White, Dept Register by order of James Bradshaw, Register Gen. (Ref: Allied Families of Delaware, by Edwin Jaquett Sellers)
© by Jack Stidham, Morristown, Tennessee