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January 16, 2014

Religious Freedom Day: Ancestors Who Fled Religious Persecution

Religious Freedom Day: Ancestors Who Fled Religious Persecution
The Migration of the Palatines. Woodcarving from the British Museum
Today is Religious Freedom Day. It's a good day to talk about our ancestors who suffered under religious persecution. 

The Palatines were a group of German individuals who were persecuted and suffered in their native country in the early 1700s. As well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708-09, the harshest in 100 years.

At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7 000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4 000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest.

In 1710, three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for New York and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival. 

In New York, the "poor Palatines" were expected to work for the British authorities, producing naval stores [tar and pitch] for the navy in return for their passage to New York. They were also expected to act as a buffer between the French and Natives on the northern frontier and the English colonies to the south and east. They were treated more like indentured servants or slaves than new immigrants. [Source: Palatine Germans to America]

The following are my Palatine ancestors: 

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