Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

Anchored off New Castle

It was near to sunset before we were come to anchor off New Castle, at which place our William had first stopped when he came over in the ship Welcome, and there took possession, with no little of odd ceremony, of the land he had bought from the Duke of York.

There was not much of interest to be seen, except the fort, for the settlement was as yet hardly more than a halting place in the wilderness, even though it had been called a town for many years.

While we lay at anchor, waiting for the boats to be made ready that the governor might go on shore, Thomas Masters, one of William Penn's advisors in the Council, told me that as early as the year 1631, fifty years before we had come to America, the Swedes built a fort here, calling the place Stockholm.


The Dutch from New Amsterdam, which is now New York, came over and captured the place, when they named it Sandthock. Two years later other Dutchmen came, and for some reason, Thomas Masters did not know what, the settlement was then called Nieu Amstel, and this, later, was changed to Fort Kasimir.

Many years before we came to Philadelphia, the English took possession of the place, and re-named it Delawaretown; but the Duke of York, who owned all the land hereabout before he sold it to our William Penn, made the name New Castle; and so it was known in 1677, when no less a party than two hundred and thirty, nearly all Friends, came from England with the plan of making a town where they would be safe from persecution by those who claimed to believe that Quakers did not worship God in a seemly manner.

But because of there being already here in New Castle so many people of a different faith,—and Thomas Masters declared there were not less than thirty persons in the settlement,—the Friends, fearing trouble might arise, went to Chygoe's island, which is further up the river.

I wondered much because of our people of Philadelphia not having sought out this colony, that they might be persuaded to join us; but it seems that William Penn is not eager to have in his country those who cannot buy the land on which they settle; first, because of his needing the money which would thus be paid, and, secondly, because of its being for the benefit of all Pennsylvania that the people who come here have as much of this world's goods as will prevent their being a charge upon others, in case of sickness or accident.

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