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Origins of the Brimberry Family in the United States

A Lifelong Work Still in Progress

By Jerry Brimberry & Marion Brimberry
Updated June 30, 2007


EDITOR'S NOTE: The structure for this article has been radically changed. The reasons are two-fold: (1) to resolve significant technical issues due to the sheer length and number of images contained in the article; and (2) to facilitate navigation to topics of individual interest to readers.

If you navigated to this site directly, please click Brimberry Family History for a detailed explanation of the alterations as well as an Introduction to the History of the Brimberry Family in the United States. You can also use the links provided in the table appearing below, in the aforementioned Introduction, and at the bottom of each article to navigate to topics of interest. Matthias Brimberry and Mary Anderson's seven sons and their lineages is still under construction. Construction was halted for over six months. Simply put, images started disappearing and the text was often misaligned due to "overload". The problem is now solved and more materials can be added thanks to the assistance of Bill Willis. Please email comments or questions to the editor at jlb651@bellsouth.net. Likewise, please let me know via email if you are a Brimberry descendant and would like to be added to the BrimberryResearchGroup for additional updates and information. Thanks! Jerry Brimberry


OUR SWEDISH HERITAGE-----In the early 1960's, this writer traced the "origins" of the Brimberry family in the United States to the union of Matthias Branberry (sic) and Mary Anderson, who wed on March 11, 1766 in historic Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church in Wilmington, Delaware. While their marriage in 1766 is used here, for ease of description, as the beginning point of the seven branches of the Brimberry family tree in the United States, Matthias' and Mary's colonial Swedish roots, in turn, have both been traced much farther back in time to the very beginning of New Sweden, the Swedish colony established by the Swedish crown on the Delaware River in 1638.

Matthias' ancestral roots, for example, have been traced to Måns Andersson and his first wife Brita, who were among the first Swedish families to settle in America. Måns and Brita Andersson arrived on the Kalmar Nyckel in 1640. Matthias Brymberry (most frequent spelling), wed at Old Swedes in 1766, was descended from their daughter, Brita Månsdotter, who wed Johan Gustafsson, a King's soldier and lieutenant of artillery at Fort Christina from the Kinnekulle area, the ancient Swedish capital in Skaraborg län. Johann and Brita are the progenitors of the Justis (Justice) family in the United States.

The 41st and 43rd Presidents of the United States, George H. W. and George W. Bush, also traced their ancestry to Måns Andersson, who is estimated to have at least 250,000 living descendants in the United States today. The reason for this digression from Matthias and Mary, wed at Old Swedes Church, a stone's throw from where the Swedish expedition landed and built Fort Christina, is to introduce unfamiliar readers with the richness of our Swedish heritage and the complexities of Swedish naming practices as well as the origins of the Brimberry surname.

Navigating this Website

While a short history of the Swedes on the Delaware and explanation of the transliteration to Brimberry from Brunberg are provided below, readers are encouraged to visit the multitude of external links provided throughout this family history for added discussion and enrichment. Too, many of the photographs or illustrations provided can be enlarged by clicking on the image. Keeping in mind that this site is "under construction", descendants of Matthias Brymberry and Mary Anderson and allied families are likewise urged to complete a family data sheet once available.

Toward this end, you are encouraged to revisit this site often and watch us grow during the coming months. Ultimately though, the success of this site will depend on the willingness of you and other readers to contribute materials, including photographs, as soon as those portals become available. This is a huge undertaking! Marion and I both appreciate your patience, support and own contributions to our unending family history.

A Brief History of New SwedenEdit

The history of the Brimberry family in the United States is intertwined with the establishment of a Swedish colony on the Delaware in 1638. At the time, Sweden was a major military power in Europe and its territory included much of present-day Sweden, Norway, and Finland as well as portions of modern Germany, Poland, and the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Germany.

Influenced by the success of the English and Dutch colonies, the New Sweden Company was formed by a group of Dutch, German, and Swedish investors who persuaded Queen Christina to allow the company to establish a colony under the Swedish crown. Under this arrangement, the investors paid for the ships, supplies and other expenses while the Swedish crown provided royal sanction and a few soldiers to help defend its claim. In late 1637, the New Sweden Company's first expedition sailed from Gothenborg in the Kalmar Nyckel (the tall-ship pictured above) and a smaller sloop, the Fogel Grip. An exact replica of the sea-going tall-ship was built several years ago by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation.

The two ships reached Delaware Bay about March 29, 1638 after a brief stop-over at Jamestown, Virginia where records show that English officials reminded the Swedish company that the English crown claimed the area to the north (territory also claimed by the Dutch).

Undetered, the New Sweden expedition entered unchartered Delaware Bay under the command of Peter Minuit. A German, Peter Minuit, had been the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, from 1626 to 1631. Minuit, who joined the New Sweden Company after a dispute with his previous employers, is best remembered by his purchase of Manhattan Island from Native Americans for trinkets and beads.

The expedition built a fort on a tributary of Delaware Bay at Swedish Landing at the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. They named the fort Christina in honor of Sweden's twelve-year-old queen. New Sweden was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley and the colony continued to grow over the next 17 years until it was seized under the force of arms by the Dutch in 1655, who in turn, later lost New Netherlands to the English.

Between 1638-1655, twelve additional Swedish expeditions sailed to New Sweden. Altogether, eleven vessels and about 600 Swedes and Finns, including many Brimberry ancestors, reached New Sweden which spread along both banks of the Delaware River into present-day Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

For more information about the history of the Swedes on the Delaware and individual Swedish colonial ancestors of Matthias Brimberry and Mary Anderson identified elsewhere in this document, please visit Swedish Colonial Society and navigate to forefather family profiles. The narrator, who is a life member of the Swedish Colonial Society, joined the society on Måns Andersson, who as stated in the introduction to this family history, arrived with his wife and daughter, both named Brita, in 1640 on the second voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel.

It should also be noted that while the number declined significantly after the Dutch take-over, more Swedes continued to arrive and settle among their Swedish brethren along the Delaware into the early 1700's, including Matthias Brymberry's father, Christiern Brunberg, and Mary Anderson's maternal grandparent's Anders and Elizabeth Loinan. Brunberg and the Loinans appear to have arrived at or about the same time, possibly during a change of ministers at Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church in Wilmington about 1711. Upon their arrival, Brunberg, who was not yet married, and the Loinans (later Lynam), regularly attended services at Old Swedes.

This and other information contained in this brief background history of the Swedes on the Delaware has been gleaned from many sources cited in the bibliography appended to this narrative. This writer is deeply indebted to the authors of these works as well as the Swedish Colonial Society, the Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Foundation, and the Historical Society of Delaware for preserving the history of the Swedes on the Delaware. However, all of us are especially indebted to Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig for researching, publishing and making readily available biographical information about many colonial Swedes, including important material cited in this document---without which the colonial roots of the Brimberry family would be incomplete. A retired attorney, Dr. Craig is the official historian for the Swedish Colonial Society, a post he has gained through year's of careful, painstaking scholarly research of records in Sweden as well as the United States. His seminal work, The 1693 Census of the Swedes on the Delaware, should be a part of every member of the Brimberry family's personal library.

Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) ChurchEdit

Any history of the Swedes on the Delaware, however brief, would be incomplete without a short description of Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church, one of five Swedish churches established by the Swedes along the Delaware in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

Built in 1698, Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church is reputedly the oldest church in continuous use in the United States. The cemetery surrounding the church contains the mortal remains of many of our Swedish forebearers, including Matthias Brimberry's parents, Christiern Brunberg (1684-1752) and Maria Peterson (1699-1750) who were also wed at Old Swedes Church in 1719. In 1998, descendants of Matthias Brimberry (1799-1854) and Elizabeth Minton (1809-about 1860) placed a monument in Old Swedes Churchyard dedicated to the memory of Christiern Brunberg and Maria Peterson. The upright monument is the white vertical shape in the foreground of the photograph to the right near the south entrance to the church.

Most, but not all, of our Swedish ancestors lived near and attended Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Some were members of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church in Philadelphia. A few belonged to the Swedish church built across the Delaware River from Wilmington in Penns Neck, New Jersey. Readers are encouraged to learn more about these and other Swedish churches via The Eight Old Swedes' Churches of New Sweden by Rev. Dr. Kim-Eric Williams New Sweden Center, Wilmington, DE 1999. Republished with the author's permission by the Swedish Colonial Society, the publication can be seen online by clicking and navigating Churches of New Sweden

The Brimberry Family DNA ProjectEdit

See updated version at Family History of the Matthias Brimberry and Mary Anderson Families/The Brimberry Family DNA Project‎.

The BRIMBERRY DNA Project was established to create a databank of DNA profiles of Brimberry males and their lineage from Christiern Brunberg (1684-1752) and Maria Peterson (1699-1750). For additional information about Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, click Family Tree DNA.

Briefly, Y-DNA is passed down through an unbroken male lineage from father to son and changes very slowly over many generations. mtDNA, on the otherhand, is passed down through the generations from mother to daughter and likewise changes very slowly over time. Sons also receive their mother's mtDNA; however, they cannot pass it down. Daughters though do not receive their father's Y-DNA.

Recognizing the immense value of DNA testing as a genealogical research tool, Marion E. Brimberry and this writer, Jerry L. Brimberry, initiated the Brimberry project two years ago. As expected, our Y-DNA matched although genealogical research shows our most common recent ancestor (MCRA) was Matthias Brymberry (1736-about 1810) who wed Mary Anderson at Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church in Wilmington, Delaware in 1766.

Since then, we have confirmed two so-called adoption lines, i.e., Brimberry males who are not genetically descended from Matthias Brymberry but are instead descended from step-sons who were conferred the Brimberry surname more than 150 years ago by their adoptive Brimberry step-fathers.

We have also discovered several distant genetic cousins with whom we probably share a common direct male ancestor of Viking descent who lived between 1400-1600, possibly in the vicinity of Lübeck, Germany near the border of Denmark and only a short ferry ride across the Baltic Sea to the southern tip of Sweden.

Suffice that results for Y-DNA project participants show that the ancestors of our most common direct male ancestor (MCRA) belonged to the Old Norse or Viking Y-DNA haplogroup I1a concentrated in northern Germany and Scandinavia. Likewise, mtDNA results for two female mtDNA participants (one descended from John Brimberry and Agness Beethe who wed in Bourbon Co., Kentucky in 1796; the other descended from Isaac Brimberry and Mary Beethe who wed in Bourbon Co. in 1797) show that the ancestral roots of their most common direct female ancestress, Sarah Beethe (wife of Indian captive James Beethe and the mother of sisters Agness and Mary Beethe)were in modern Germany.

Origin of the Brimberry Surname and Matthias Brymberry's Swedish AncestorsEdit

Mattias Brymberry's father Christiern Brunberg was born in the province or län of Halland, Sweden, and came to America about 1711. He appears to have been educated and may have been a member of a similiarly named shipping and trading family in Varberg on the west coast of Sweden south of Gothenburg. The Brunsberg family of Varberg is known to have moved there in the 1500s from Lübeck during the height of the Hanseatic League which saw trade and people moving freely across modern borders around the Baltic Sea which during the 1600s became a "Swedish lake". The mercantile league began in 1241 following a mutual protection treaty between Lübeck and Hamburg. Located on the Trave River, near the Baltic Sea, Lübeck played a leading role throughout the course of the medieval Haseatic League which at its pinnacle had over 100 member cities.

The origins in Luebeck of the educated, upper-class Brun family which built an estate high on a hill or berg (called Brunsberg) overlooking Varberg comports with the fact that, although we usually identify the Vikings with modern Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the entire Baltic region was populated a thousand years ago by Norsemen or Vikings. Moreover, an individual surnamed Brown recently matched the Brimberry Y-DNA group. The possibility that his Brown's originated in Germany suggests that he may be descended from the Brun family of Lübeck.

In Swedish, the "g" at the end of Gothenburg and Christiern's surname both have a "y" sound. Hence various changes occurred in spelling over the next 125 years. Interestingly, the "y" and "g" were both used interchangeably in the spelling of his surname in Christiern Brunberg's will in 1752.

Variations in the spelling of the surname include BRUNBERG, BRUNSBERG, BRYNBERG, BRINBERG, BRINBERY, BRINBERREY, BRANBERRY, BRUMBERRY, BROOMBERRY, BRYMBERRY. Given the multitude of spellings by third parties, it is miraculous that the seven branches of the BRIMBERRY family all adopted the latter spelling. Where applicably, the spelling found in a particular document is used to describe the event, e.g., Matthias' surname was recorded at Branberry when he married Mary Andersson in 1766, hence that spelling is used in conjunction with that event. In short, readers should be aware of variant spellings.

Matthias Brymberry's Swedish Ancestors

The parents of Matthias Brymberry (Christiern Brunberg and Maria Peterson) were wed at Old Swedes Church Wilmington, Delaware in 1719.

The roots of Matthias' father, Christiern, in the province or lan of Halland in Sweden are discussed above. While Christiern's connection, if any, with the Brunsberg family of Varberg are unproven at this juncture, it is certain that in his own father's time, Halland län was part of Denmark. The Danes and Swedes fought and exchanged possession of the fortress at Varberg several times during the Kalmar War. The Swedes gained permanent possession of Halland and the entire Swedish peninsula from Denmark in 1658. The back-and-forth battles for the fortification at Varberg certainly would have been witnessed by the Brun family from the safety of Brunsberg---their estate overlooking the port city and 13th century Danish-built fortress pictured above.

What compelled Christiern Brunberg to come to America, long after the Delaware region fell under English control, is unknown. Perhaps it was a sense of adventure on the part of a young man then about 27 years-old. We know from extant Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) records translated by Horace Burr, Courtland B. and Ruth L. Springer, et al that Christiern could read and write and he was instrumental in establishing a school in his home. We also know that he frequently attended religious services and received communion at Old Swedes Church.

Church records and his last will and testament also reveal the names of Christiern's children and their spouses. We also know that he died at the age of 68 following a "haartique" and that his will devised that his youngest son, Matthias, then 16, be "lett out" to a trade. As it turned out, the trade was wagon-making, a craft which Matthias in turn handed down to his oldest son, Peter, and in turn to his grandson and namesake, Matthais, this writer's male ancestors. The above engraving depicts a wagon maker boring a hole for an axle, a task that the first Matthias Brymberry and his son Peter and grandson Matthias would have often performed.

Much more is know about the roots of Maria Peterson, wife of Christiern Brunberg. Maria Peterson, who was 20 when she wed 35 year old Christiern Brunberg, was the daughter of Matthias Peterson and Elizabeth Justis. Maria's paternal grandfather, Samuel Petersson was from Fryksande in Varmland, Sweden. He arrived on the "Oren" in 1654. Around 1665, he married Brita Jonsdottor. Maria's maternal grandfather, Johan Gustaffson (Justis), a King's soldier from the Kinnekulle area of Skaraborg, arrived in New Sweden in 1643 and, as reported elsewhere, in 1654 married Brita Månsdotter, daughter of Måns and Brita Anderson.

Swedish ancestry of Matthias Brymberry (Brunberg or "brown mountain" in Swedish) back to his immigrant ancestors shown in boldface, all of whom came from Sweden. This information is largely excerpted from a report prepared by Dr. Peter Craig with additions and modifications by this writer. At best, this writer's independent research was fragmented and incomplete on some of these same lines; hence Dr. Craig's report is being used with his permission.

  • 1. Matthias Brynberg (baptism spelling; husband of Mary Anderson; 1736->1810)

(A graphic summary of Mathias' ancestry is available at Matthias Brymberry's Swedish Ancestors

His parents were:

  • 2. Christiern Brunberg (1684-1752)
  • 3. Maria Peterson (1698-1750)

His grandparents were:

  • 4-5. Unknown
  • 6. Matthias Peterson (c.1670-1719)
  • 7. Elisabeth Justis (c.1675-1730)

His great grandparents were:

  • 8-11. Unknown
  • 12. Samuel Peterson (d. 1689)
  • 13. Brita Jönsdotter (d. 1702)
  • 14. Johan Gustafsson (d. 1682)
  • 15. Brita Månsdotter (d. 1724)

His great great grandparents were:

  • 16-25. Unknown
  • 26. Jöns Andersson, the blacksmith (d. c.1678)
  • 27. Unknown--(wife of Jöns Andersson)
  • 28-29. Unknown
  • 30. Måns Andersson (d. >1677)
  • 31. Brita--(wife of Måns Andersson; d. <1646)

Discussion of Matthias Brymberry's Lineage

To reiterate, in the above list, the names of persons shown in boldface were immigrants. In all cases, Matthias Brymberry's immigrant ancestors came to America from Sweden. We begin with Matthias' parents followed by his grandparents, great grandparents and great great grandparents.

His Parents: Christiern Brunberg and Maria PetersonEdit

#2-3.Matthias Brimberry's parents, Christiern Brunberg and Maria Peterson were married at Holy Trinity Church on 2 July 1719.

Faithful communicants at Holy Trinity the remainder of their lives, Holy Trinity Church records tell us much that we know about their 31 years together. Christiern's and Maria's roots are described at length elsewhere, and that information will not be repeated here. Instead, this writer's intent is to share bits and pieces he has gleaned from the past over a period of four decades about their married life together.

Briefly, Horace Burr's translation of the Records of Holy Trinity (Old Swedes) Church contains numerous references to Christiern Brinberg and his wife Maria. This includes baptismal, marriage, and other church records, including several petitions to the King of Sweden. Church records also show that Christiern was instrumental in establishing a school in his home. No doubt his interest in education was handed down through his eldest son Sven to his son Peter Brynberg (1750-1819), Revolutionary War patriot, publisher, statesman, and founder of one of the first free libraries in America. Some years ago, this researcher was fortunate to receive three books published by Peter Brynberg from now deceased Professor C.A. Weslager, noted Delaware historian and author of "A Man and His Ship: Peter Minuit and the Kalmar Nyckel". I was also blessed with a letter from the late Ruth L. Springer stating to me that all that she and her husband Charles Springer, authors of many Delaware Historical Society articles, had ever learned about Christiern Brunberg indicated that he was well educated and a person "one truly would like to have known."

I am of the view that history is story-telling and those of us who are fortunate enough to have an interest in history have an obligation to preserve and share what we know. Hence, this endeavor. In this same vein, I donated one of the books acquired from Professor Weslager to the Old Swedes Foundation Museum where it is on permanent display. The other two books are primers or textbooks of the day (circa 1800) published by Peter Brynberg.

It is also noteworthy that 19th century Swedish churchman and historian Israel Acrelius in writing about the Swedes on the Delaware in 1693 mentioned several arrivals who came in later times, including Brunberg. Suffice that Christiern Brunberg was active and prominent in the affairs of Holy Trinity Church following his marriage in 1719 to Maria Petersson, who subsequently became the progenitors of the Brimberry family in the United States. However, only one of their three sons, Matthias, the youngest, had male lines to carry on the name.

Befittingly, Christiern and Maria are both buried at Holy Trinity Church, where they worshipped regularly. The burial record of Christiern Brunberg reports that he "died of a pitchfork" (heart attack) at the age of 68, that he was born in Halland, a province in southern Sweden, and that he was buried 28 March 1752. Christiern's will, however, was signed six days later on 3 April, 1752. This anomaly is explained by the fact that the Swedes were still using the Old Calendar, while the English were using the New Calendar. Christiern's wife Maria Petersson, daughter of Matthias Petersson and Elisabeth Justis, was buried 31 July 1750 at Holy Trinity Church where she was baptised in 1698 soon after the now oldest church in continuous use in the United States was built. Too, Holy Trinity is the same church where she and her husband of 31 years were married in 1719. Her obituary, located near the bottom of the document and recorded in Swedish, reads: "Mary Petersson, wife of Christiern Brunberg, 51 years and 9 months." Matthias was 14 when his mother died, and 16 when his father passed away. His father's last will and testament, on the preceding page, devised that Mathias, his youngest son, "be lett out" to a trade. It is interesting to note that whoever actually prepared the document for Christiern intermittently spelled his last name as Brinberg and as Brinbery. Christiern scrawled his signature, no doubt due to his enfeebled condition.

As previously reported, Christiern arrived in New Castle County prior to 19 September 1714 when he made his first of many appearances at the Holy Trinity communion table. He served as church warden 1721-24 and was elected to the church council in 1729. In March 1723, he gave the preistland (glebe) 30 apple trees which he planted himself in the orchard. Holy Trinity Church records also show that Christiern Brunberg and his wife Maria Peterson had ten children:

  • 1. Elisabeth Brunberg, born 14 Dec. 1719, buried 29 Jan. 1720.
  • 2. Sven Brunberg, born 17 Nov. 1720, who married Anna Pierce 4 Aug. 1751, Margaret Lynam 1760. His name appeared on a militia roll during the American Revolution as Swithen Brinberrey, which prompted this researcher to investigate the Holy Trinity Church records during the early 1960s. His sons John Brynberg and Peter Brynberg, both of whom were Revolutionary War patriots, are also buried at Holy Trinity.
  • 3. Peter Brunberg, born 26 Sept. 1722, who married Ann Owens July 1746, Margaret Vickory (widow of John Vaneman) c. 1750. He moved at Penns Neck, NJ and had a daughter, Margaret, and a son, Christian, who disappeared from available records during the Revolutionary War.
  • 4. Susanna Brunberg, born 15 Aug. 1724, who married Philip Stalcop, son of Andrew and Anna Barbara Stalcop, in 1744. They had seven children, five of whom died in infancy or young. Her first husband, Philip Stalcop, died of pleurisy in 1758, leaving Susanna a widow with two small children. In 1759, she married Eric Anderson. She and her brother, Matthias, moved with their Anderson spouses and in-laws to Orange Co., NC in 1768; thence to southwest Virginia.
  • 5. Matthias Brunberg, born 15 Sept. 1726, buried 24 August 1730. The Swedish practice of renaming children after deceased siblings was common, as evidenced below.
  • 6. John Brunberg, born 19 Jan. 1730, buried 29 Aug. 1730.
  • 7. Maria Brunberg, born c. 1734, married Samuel Seeds 12 April 1753.
  • 8. Matthias Brunberg,born 22 March 1736, married Mary Anderson 11 March 1766. Orphaned when he was 16, he was living in 1753 with his eldest brother Sven in Hans Peterson's ward in Brandywine Hundred. In the 1764 church census, he was shown as a bachelor farmer living in Christiana Hundred adjacent to widow Margareta (Stalcop) Lynam, widow of George Lynam. He probably worked her farm. If so, it is reasonable to assume that he visited the log house Lynam built pictured elsewhere (see Lynam 6.3)

In 1766, Matthias wed Mary Anderson at Holy Trinity Church. Two years later, they moved with his sister Susanna and her husband Eric Anderson to Orange County, NC where Matthias Brumberry appeared on the 1771 tax list with his Anderson kin. The Orange County tax list for 1779 also listed Peter Anderson Sr., Peter Anderson Jr. (Eric's younger brother) and Arruk (Eric) Anderson, as well as "Mathias Brumberry" (Brunberg).

  • 9. Christina Brunberg, born 20 Jan. 1738, buried 28 April 1752 at age of 14, smallpox. She died within a month of her father and her death is recorded beneath that of her father (see above)
  • 10. Elisabeth Brunberg, born 9 April 1741, married William Derickson 6 May 1763.

His Maternal Grandparents: Matthias Peterson and Elisabeth JustisEdit

#6-7.Matthias Brimberry's maternal grandparents, Matthias Peterson and Elisabeth Justis, were married about 1695. Shortly after their marriage, Matthias acquired what purported to be 300 acres north of Christina Creek near Bread & Cheese Island. On resurvey this land was found to contain 618 acres. The "overage" was granted to Andrew (Anders) Justis, Matthias' brother-in-law. (Andrew had married Matthias' sister, Brita Petersson; and Matthias likewise had married Andrew's sister, Elisabeth Justis.

Matthias Peterson pledged £1.1.0 for the building of Holy Trinity Church, contributed 7-1/2 days of labor and also provided two horses for 5-1/2 days of carting and furnished lathe for plastering. On 24 June 1699 he and his wife were assinged pews in the new church. From 1707 until his death in 1719, he was a warden for the church. He was buried at Holy Trinity Church on 27 Sept. 1719, two months following the marriage of his only daughter, Maria, to Christiern Brunberg.

His widow, Elisabeth Justis, remarried 18 October 1720, the widower Edward Robinson, who was also prominent in the affairs of Holy Trinity Church. She was buried 23 Sept. 1730 at Holy Trinity Church, Wilmington.

Matthias Petersson and Elisabeth Justis had three known children:

  • 1. Samuel Peterson, born c.1696, who married Christina Morton 26 May 1720; buried 1 Jan. 1751
  • 2. Maria Peterson(#3), born Nov. 1798, who married Christiern Brunberg(#2) at Holy Trinity Church on 2 July 1719; buried 31 July 1750
  • 3. Matthias Peterson, born c. 1701, who died unmarried in early 1732

His Great Grandparents: Samuel Petersson and Brita JönsdotterEdit

#12-13.Matthias Brymberry's great grandparents, Samuel Petersson and Brita Jönsdotter were married around 1665 in New Sweden. Samuel Petersson was a Finn from Fryksände parish (present-day Torsby), Värmland. Many years before, the Swedish crown had invited Finns, who were a foresting people, to move into the interior of Sweden, as a part of its design to populate and expand its borders to incorporate the entire peninsula, which was still partially occupied by the Danes as discussed elsewhere.

Fryksände literally means "end of lake Fryken". Hence, it is relatively easy to trace Matthias Petersson's roots to the vicinity of Torsby, which houses a Finnish cultural center and museum. Unfortunately, the Finns were compelled by the Swedish crown to abandon their Finnish names and to adopt Swedish naming practices. Born in Sweden, the Swedish colonists of Finnish origin, as foresting people, were particularly well suited for living off the new found land along the Delaware. They introduced log houses as well as split rail fences to the colonies. Their slash and burn farming techniques also paralleled those of agrarian Native Americans.

Samuel Petersson (Peter's son) arrived in New Sweden on the "Örnen" (Eagle) in 1654. Samuel Petersson was then a bachelor and, according to Dr. Craig, Petersson "signed the loyalty oath to Governor Rising with his distinctive mark. Fifteen months later, using the same mark, he signed the oath of allegiance to the Dutch." His "... mark is signifcant as there was another newly arrived freeman named Samuel Petersson, from Bogen, Gunnarskog parish, Värmland, who signed the 1654 loyalty oath with a different mark" and afterwards disappeared from available records.

Around 1665, Samuel Petersson married Brita Jönsdotter, daughter of Jöns Andersson the blacksmith of Christina, who had also arrived on the "Örnen". The couple first settled at Crane Hook. In 1669, Samuel Petersson was fined for participating in the Long Finn Rebellion. In 1674, he purchased land at Christiana, where they also inherited his father-in-law Jöns Andersson's plantation in 1678. In his will dated 25 Nov. 1689, Samuel Petersson bequeathed his dwelling plantation at Christina to "he of my sons whom is longest with my loving wife." Records show that Peter Petersson "as longest liver" with his widowed mother, who died in 1702. Six of Samuel Peterson and Brita Jönsdotter's children have been identified:
  • 1. Margareta Peterson, married Erasmus Stedham
  • 2. Catharine Peterson, married Peter Stalcop
  • 3. Matthias Peterson who married Elisabeth Justis(Matthias Brymberry's maternal grandparents, #6-7)
  • 4. Peter Peterson, who married Helena ?, was called Peter Petersson Caupony (short cloak) to distinguish him from Peter Petersson the blacksmith
  • 5. Brita Peterson, married Anders Justis (Elisabeth Justis' brother)
  • 6. Elisabeth Peterson, married Christiern Jöransson

His Great Grandparents: Johan Gustafsson & Brita MånsdotterEdit

#14-15.Matthias Brymberry's great grandparents, Johan Gustafsson and Brita Månsdotter were married in 1654 in New Sweden. Johann Gustafsson, from the area of the ancient Swedish capital of Kinnekulle in Skaraborg län, Sweden, came to New Sweden in 1643 as a soldier for Governor Johan Printz. Printz' successor, Governor Johan Rising promoted him to the position of lieutenant of artillery (gunner), stationed at Fort Trinity (present New Castle), where, in 1654, he married Brita Månsdotter, the daughter of Måns Andersson, a freeman who arrived in New Sweden on the "Kalmar Nyckel" in 1640.

After the Dutch takeover of New Sweden in 1655, Måns Andersson

As writers everywhere will tell you, the final product, whether it be poem, article, short story or history, often bears little resemblance to the first draft. My work is no exception.

One of my earliest ideas for Australia’s Few and the Battle of Britain was to have a chapter entitled ‘Last Christmas of the War’. For seven of the pilots, 1939’s Christmas would indeed be their last and so I wanted to highlight the poignancy of Christmas celebrations and expressed hopes for the future knowing full well their fates. Structurally, it would serve a useful purpose: bringing multiple stories and timelines to the fixed point of a shared experience on the same day.

As with the best laid plans, circumstances got in the way of what I thought was a good idea. Too many words so I had to cut down the narrative (the final version is almost 3500 shorter). A full chapter dedicated to one day was a bit too much. Stuart Walch’s activities could not be totally pinned down although I thought I had a fair idea of what they were.

All in all, a different focus was needed. So, a drastic cut, a some rearrangement, and a new chapter heading. The poignancy is still there but it is not as emotional and there is probably a better blend of social and military history. But I still like that original version and the reasoning behind it so thought, as a tribute to the boys during the 75th anniversary of their last Christmas, I would share it. Readers of Australia’s Few will recognise much of it but I think they might also be interested in what was left out.  And if you have not read Australia’s Few, perhaps you might like to discover more about these young men.

Chapter Six: Last Christmas of the war.

Just another Working Day

When Dick Glyde returned to France after escaping from Borsbeek, he was greeted by Squadron Leader John Dewar, 87 Squadron’s new commanding officer who replaced Squadron Leader Coope on his posting to 52 Wing. It didn’t take Dick long to settle into squadron life after his internment, escape and enjoyable leave in London. He may have missed out on the royal visit of 6 December but he had a taste of the same sort of ceremony when the prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, visited on 16 December. It was a formal occasion. The Hurricanes were lined up on the tarmac, the prime minister inspected the facilities, and Squadron Leader Dewar, Sergeant Francis Howell and Dick were presented to Chamberlain.

Before Dick knew it, it was the first Christmas of the war. It was foggy so both flights were on 30 minutes availability. The day was celebrated in the traditional RAF manner, with the officers invited to the sergeants’ mess to drink the Loyal Toast. The officers and NCOs then served the yuletide meal to the ground crews who had kept the Hurricanes serviceable despite the best efforts of mud, rain and, more recently, snow and bitter winds. A show put on by the officers rounded off the evening. There is no record of Dick’s contribution to the festivities but fellow Australian Johnny Cock upset his audience in some way and left the stage ducking from a host of oranges pelted at him by the ground crew. Hopefully Johnny caught the oranges as the vitamin C-laden fruit would have come in handy over the next few weeks as one by one 87 Squadron’s pilots were brought low by colds, bronchitis and influenza. The French winter was almost unendurable and the warmth of Christmas cheer soon dissipated as temperatures decreased. It was so cold, recalled Pilot Officer Roland Beamont who had only arrived the month before, that the ‘huts became coated with sheets of glistening ice and the doors and windows were blocked with snow’.

While Dick Glyde had been tuning his new Hurricane to perfection in early November before his Belgian internment, Pat Hughes was again packing his bags. But it was not for France. He had been posted from 64 Squadron and Church Fenton, but he did not have far to travel. In fact, he was not even leaving Yorkshire. Like Des Sheen, he was going to Leconfield. RAF expansion had gathered pace during 1939 and fifteen new fighter squadrons were operational by the end of the year. Pat had been posted to 234 Squadron which had reformed on 30 October 1939.

Squadron Leader William Satchell took command on the 30th and the next day, his new flight commanders, flying officers John Theilmann and Howard Blatchford, arrived from 41 Squadron. Pilots, administrative staff and airmen came from all directions. But it wasn’t all one way traffic. Squadron Leader Satchell was injured in a motor car accident on 2 November and hospitalised and Flying Officer Blatchford returned to 41 Squadron two days later. ‘Thus’, as the squadron historian put it, ‘terminating what must have been two of the shortest command appointments ever’. Within days, Squadron Leader Richard ‘Dicky’ Barnett arrived, followed by Pat on 8 November to replace Blatchford.

Although most on his new station were Englishmen, Pat found that, like Church Fenton, Leconfield was home to many members of the Commonwealth. For example, Pilot Officer William Hugh ‘Scotty’ Gordon was born in Scotland. Pilot officers Cecil Hight, Keith Lawrence and Patrick Horton hailed from New Zealand (Horton, who was born on 20 May 1920, was a student at The Hutchins School, Tasmania from March 1932 until December 1933, and was about three years behind Stuart Walch.) And of course, Pat, who, like Jack Kennedy, had by this stage lost his accent, was Australian. There was no sense in this new squadron of the Antipodeans being treated like colonials. Keith Lawrence recalled that his British friends might laugh at someone’s origins, but it was all in fun and never to anyone’s detriment. They had many different backgrounds but they all got on well. 

The majority of 234 Squadron’s pilots had only just completed their flying training. As a flight commander, Pat was responsible for mentoring his new boys as they adjusted to life in a soon-to-be operational squadron. He had obviously proved himself capable of such responsibility on the occasions when he had stepped into the shoes of his flight commander at 64 Squadron. But now his new pilots were solely dependent on him to prepare them for operations. On the face of it, it might have proved a difficult task. Pat was almost the same age as Cecil Hight, who was born on 6 September 1917 and he was younger than some of his pilots—Pilot Officer Kenneth ‘Ken’ Dewhurst, for instance, was 25 years old and Pilot Officer Geoffrey Gout was 23. But the ages of the majority of his pilots, ranged from 18 to 20.

Pat took his role as flight commander seriously. By now he had notched up over two years experience in the RAF. He had matured considerably; he did not exhibit any of the boisterousness that had marked his Point Cook and Digby days.He may have mellowed but his leadership style was uncompromising. Even so, he soon commanded respect as the squadron’s ‘Australian mentor’. He was also, according to Bob Doe, ‘one of the lads’, and ‘was not a remote figure’. They could look up to him and share a drink at the pub. More importantly, he was a ‘cracking good pilot’, recalled Keith Lawrence. ‘What he could do with a plane!’

But what sort of aircraft? And, for that matter, what sort of squadron? Bomber or fighter? It was a mystery. Squadron Leader Barnett was in the dark and the only aircraft on the new squadron’s charge were two Magisters and no training aircraft, so no clues there. By 11 November, the complement had increased to three and the pilots took it in turns to clock up 2 hours 30 minutes local flying in them and 40 minutes in the link trainer. It wasn’t a good start to becoming an operational-ready squadron.

Confusion continued to reign when, on 16 November, one Fairey Battle—a single-engined light bomber—arrived, as well as three obsolete Gauntlets on loan from 616 Squadron which was also located at Leconfield. What would Pat have felt at the thought of ending up as a bomber pilot after disputing his initial categorisation at Digby? But still nothing was certain. Rumours started flying—and were reinforced by the arrival of wireless operator/air gunners—that perhaps they might be destined for Bristol Blenheims. Then an Avro Tutor biplane trainer turned up. The pilots put in hours of flying training and attended lectures on aircraft recognition, battle orders, radio telephone (R/T) procedure and, almost incredibly given the lack of fighter aircraft, air fighting tactics.

By the end of the month, the rumours were confirmed, and the air fighting lectures finally made sense. Eight Blenheim F1 fighter aircraft, as well as a dual-control Blenheim, arrived on 28 November, and another three were collected from a maintenance unit on the 30th. They were a fighter squadron.

Pat was now in his element. He had mastered the Blenheim at 64 Squadron and, like his former squadron leader, was an advocate of tight flying discipline. His B-Flight pilots took to the air to familiarise themselves with Leconfield and environs and became adept at flying their new Blenheims. By 22 December, 15 pilots had soloed on the Blenheim. And then the more complicated training began.

Keith Lawrence recalled that, when the miserable winter weather allowed, Pat insisted on drilling in the rigid RAF fighter attack patterns. Bob Doe recalled that they ‘were good at formation’ flying. They carried out many wingtip-to-wingtip formation exercises, constantly perfecting their technique. On one occasion, however, the Australian flight commander was accused of taking it too far.

Pat was leading and called his pilots to formate on him. Tight flying in a Blenheim is dicey as the engines obscure the wingtips. Even so, Pat’s men flew closer and closer to him. But it was not good enough. Pat kept signalling Keith to move in and then the inevitable happened. Keith’s Blenheim’s wing touched Pat’s. Pat promptly ordered his wireless operator to bale out while he fought for full control. He landed safely but it taught him there was such a thing as flying too close.

Pat and 234 Squadron were so busy there was little time off for his second Yorkshire Christmas. Officially, 23 December to 31 December was designated as the Christmas break but flying practice was carried out on three days during the festive season. At North Weald in the south, however, it was a different matter.

Stuart Walch and 151 Squadron had been grounded for three days. The fog seemed even thicker on Christmas day and, yet again, no flying was possible. But for once, Stuart and his friends did not seem to mind their continuing exile from the air. The squadron diarist, who seemed a bit of a wag, recorded that ‘today was one of the rare occasions when everyone was glad to see fog, and Christmas was celebrated by the squadron in the traditional manner.’ Festivities over, Stuart wanted to get back into the air. He carried out a standing convoy patrol on the 29th and that was it. The ‘nil report’ sortie just seemed to crown off a month with little meaningful activity where the enemy continued to elude him.

With so little operational action, had Stuart managed to escape from North Weald during Christmastide? The temptation, if he could squeeze a few hours off the station, would have been great. Colonel John Crosby Walch—Percival’s younger brother and Stuart’s uncle—was hosting a family reunion at his country home at Devizes, Wiltshire. John had joined the Tasmanian artillery at the outbreak of the Boer War and, in 1900, accepted a regular commission in the British Royal Horse and Field Artillery. After the Boer War, he was posted to India. He returned to England in 1909 with short postings to South Africa. Promoted to major, he served in France during the Great War. He had a good career. In 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Mentioned in Despatches and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1918. His sister Catherine Minna, who had settled in England when she married, would be there, as would Stuart’s sister Brenda. Stuart’s mother, Florence, had returned to Australia in August, but Brenda had decided to stay and take up voluntary work. The Walch house party was shaping up to be a grand affair and Stuart would not have wanted to miss either it or the chance to catch up with his sister and the extended Walch family.

Meanwhile, Stuart’s old Point Cook classmate Jack Kennedy had big plans for Christmas and they didn’t involve hanging around Northolt. And why would he want to be tied to the station when 65 Squadron had had little to do since the so-called Battle of Barking Creek?

There had been no operational flying during October, after the move from Hornchurch, and none in November. Apart from the death of 26-year-old Pilot Officer Bryan Graham who hailed from Auckland, New Zealand in a flying accident on 25 November, all was just the ‘usual squadron routine’. Things appeared to be looking up on 2 December, when Flight Lieutenant Gerald Saunders led a section to investigate an unidentified aircraft. Then there was nothing to report, and no more aerial forays until 21 December, when Jack led a section to investigate an X raid—an unidentified aircraft reported by radar or Observer Corps which needed to be checked out—but it was only a friendly, as was the one he was called out to investigate on 22 December.

With so little happening at Northolt, it was an easy matter for Jack to be released over Christmas and he did not delay in hopping into his Lagonda and driving to Whitstable and Christine Jourd. When he arrived at Christine’s family home, he presented her with a huge box of chocolates. Not terribly romantic, but luxury items were already disappearing from shop shelves. Since ration books had been issued after National Registration Day on 29 September, and rationing of some essential items had been scheduled to start on 8 January 1940, rumours of hoarding were already rife. Chocolate wouldn’t be included in the first lot of rationed items but sugar, of which 70% of Britain’s supplies were imported, had been rationed in the last months of the Great War and so it did not take too much imagination to realise it would soon be on the restricted list. And indeed it was. As the war progressed, chocolate became darker, rougher, more powdery and less palatable than the pre-war variety. Jack’s luxurious gift was a boon for a sweet-toothed girlfriend. But more than the chocolate, Christmas 1939 was another fleeting chance to forget the war as the two young lovers rejoiced in their precious hours together.

‘A fine old English house’

Bill Millington was going from strength to strength at Tern Hill. He had his first flight in a Harvard, under dual instruction, on 10 October. Two days later, after only three hour’s dual, he soloed. Then, during a height test on the 21st, he broke his training squadron’s record, taking his Harvard to 18,000 feet. Bill’s initial aerial success was not surprising given the lessons he had taken at Parafield earlier that year. His dual hours clocked up in the South Australian skies might not have been many, but they had given him confidence and put him ahead of many of his training companions.

When not in the air, Bill visited local families, introduced via Lady Frances Ryder’s hospitality scheme, and kept fit on the squash court, which he thought ‘jolly good exercise’. He also played ‘scrum half for the squadron rugby team. We usually manage to scrape up at least one and sometime two matches a week’. In her most recent letter, his sister Eileen asked if went out at night. He cheekily replied ‘quite a bit—out into the blue’. He found night flying ‘rather tricky at first but becoming more enjoyable every flight, depending mainly on the weather’.

As October drew to a close, Bill had some time off and so visited his friend Glen Grindlay, who he had met at Lady Frances and Miss Macdonald’s flat in Sloane Square. When Bill received his posting to Reading, Glen had stayed in London until he was sworn into the RAF Volunteer Reserve on 8 August as an air gunner. Glen was enjoying the hospitality of Captain Codrington Gwynne

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