The 1709-1710 Palatine Immigration

Why does one leave his/her native country for another? Our Palatine (SW Germany, today) ancestors left for a number of reasons.

1. Destructive Wars
     A history of this region would explain the effects of a century of wars - The Thirty Years War (1618-1648), The Dutch War (1672-1678, and later), theWar of the League of Augsberg (1689-1697), and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1704). These wars and the destruction of crops, buildings, and families made this area of Europe a trying one.

2. Catastrophic Weather
     The winter of 1708-1709 was the coldest in memory. An early fall snowfall damaged crops, and then a cold spell in January froze not only fruit trees and crops, but also rivers that people had not seen frozen in their lifetime. Famine was the result.

3. Religious Differences
     Religious persecution seems not to have played a major role in the 1709-1710 exodus of Palatines. Of course, the Palatines tended to fit into a few religions, and war and changes of leadership might present other religions. Overall, the role of religious persecution tends to be discussed among historians.

4. Outside Influences
     The British needed laborers and had produced a manuscript that extolled the virtues of America. Tired of taxation and desirous of land, many saw this as an invitation to a better life.

5. Internal Influences
     There is a certain daring or adventurousness or hope of improvement that would lead one to leave one's homeland. This same feeling can be seen by others as a certain vagabond nature, an unhappiness with one's lot in life.

So, in the late winter of 1709, large groups started leaving their homelands to Rotterdam, a trip that might take a couple of months. Wretched, overcrowded conditions awaited these people before they left to England in mid-spring. More waiting time awaited nearly 13,000 immigrants in London, the conditions of which are available in print in several sources. By December 1709 through spring 1710, the British shipped about 3,000 people to colonial New York, another stop of awful conditions. By October 1710, many of the Palatines were on their way up the Hudson River to West Camp and East Camp (Germantown).