Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York

Knittle, Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration, Chapter Four

Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York

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  • The passenger lists for the ships carrying these refugees are lost, but we have the names of some from various records and correspondence. Preceeding the Palatine immigration were various letters and petitions in England, where the Palatines were waiting to sail to America. These provide us with some names of the first immigrants.

    Johannes Jakob Rohrer was one of the Palatine emigrants whomet ships of docking Palatines at the harbor. One day, he luckedout, and one of the first passengers whom he met coming off oneof the ships, turned out to be his father. Johnnes, who nowcalled himself John, immediately recognized his parent, but thelatter did not know his son. Johannes Jakob's mother had died andhis father was married again, and had two or three sons by hissecond wife. They were destitute of means and expected to be soldfor their passage money. John paid the demands, brought hisfather and his father's family with him, and aided his halfbrothers to property near what is now Hagerstown, Maryland. I amdescended from Martin Rohrer, one of the sons, who was set up onland in what is now Washington County, Maryland. Thus the eventin history known as the Great Palatine Migration came to an endfor my family.

  • The Swiss settlement in Conestoga proved appealing to both newly arriving Palatines, as well as those who already lived in other parts of the American colonies. Certainly the rich soil was a key point of attraction, as was the fact that the Pennsylvania authorities showed an openness to sell land to non-English “aliens” and a greater tolerance of individual religious beliefs. The Germans, Dutch and Swiss also shared a continental cultural heritage that differed from the English. Thus living within the Palatine community was easier from a social and economic perspective. Being so distant from the provincial capital of Philadelphia, and even from the county capital of Chester, gave the Palatines a sense of independence from English legal and social structures. As a result, from 1715 onward, Palatine immigration into Conestoga grew rapidly, and the Palatine settlement spread both westward toward the Susquehanna River and eastward along the Conestoga and Pequea waterways.

    Tt was evident that the British government did not plan for this large Palatine immigration in 1709. It prayed for immigration as a general blessing, but this avalanche of people was like a flood instead of rain. The government's strenuous efforts to stop the movement and the generous attitude it maintained stood in sharp contrast to the conduct of the proprietors of English colonies, who were largely responsible for the emigration. The proposals to settle the Palatines discussed so far were for the most part discarded in favor of more promising ventures. Proposals to send Palatines to Ireland, Carolina and New York were in the latter category, and the large bands of emigrants transported there justify special attention to their adventures.

    Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York
    Philip Otterness
    Limited preview - 2013

  • Rensselaer County descendants of the
    Great Palatine Migration of 1710

    The eastward Palatine migration from the settlements near the Susquehanna River and the westward English migration from the established parts of Chester and Berks Counties finally met along the border between Leacock and Salisbury townships. It was near this intersection between the Palatine and English settlements that Conrad Rutter and family ended up settling.

History of the Palatine Emigration to America - RootsWeb

We are becoming increasingly aware that the transplantation of peoples from the Old World to the New was a complex business. Any real understanding of migration must include investigations of the conditions and identities in the emigrants’ places of origin, of the factors that facilitated or hindered migration, of the physical migration itself, of the conditions and evolving identities in the immigrants’ new settlement areas, and maybe some follow-up on what happened to those who left their homelands. By these criteria, Becoming German is a successful exploration of one relatively small piece of the settling of Anglo-America, the so-called Palatine migration of 1709. As a case study of the pushes and pulls of immigration, of the intricacies of ethnicity and perception, of the limits the eighteenth-century state faced in the management of large groups of newcomers, and of the impossibility of forcing free people in America to follow any sort of ‘imperial’ script, Becoming German adds to our understanding of these important processes.