The history of the people from the Palatinate region of Europe (including parts of present-day Germany, France and Switzerland) hold a strong fascination for me. I am no expert on this subject and will include a list of links so that you can find out more from those who are more knowledgeable. There is more than just a story here that makes history come alive – this appears to be the foreordained moving of the hand of God. The story that is beneath the story that happened in history has peaked my curiosity in a manner that has me in search of what was happening in the heart of our Lord. (Note: my personal view is that the spelling of the word history ought to more correctly to be "His story" as I have found His hand in and behind the scenes of the most of drama that has unfolded on our past world stage). It appears to me that this exodus was one of the "Great moves of God" similar to the exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt to the Promised Land. Enough of my presumptions and let us get on with the facts as they have come down to us in this matter.

There is much written on this subject as these were a Protestant people who due to physical hardship, religious persecution and war chose to flee their homeland and eventually make their way to North America with some stopping off in Ireland for a season. The following quotes will be mostly taken from the book " The Romance of the Palatine Millers" A Tale of Palatine Irish, Americans and United Empire Loyalists by Rev. W. Bowman Tucker M.A., Ph.D. published in 1929 by the author. The book was found in the library of the University of Alberta in Edmonton after my cousin Betty Anne Andre shared its importance with me. Rev. Tucker has done a thorough work in tracing the genealogy of many of our ancestors as well as bringing the social context into play at the same time – I am indebted to the fine work Rev. Tucker has done and I know it has enriched me greatly – Thanks and I look forward to chatting with you in the future about our common past.


Palatine Links:

Pennsylvania Dutch Are Of German Heritage, Not Dutch

Palatines to America

Page 10 of the Preface of the book The Romance of the Palatine Millers

"May it not be that heroes are to be found in the ordinary ranks of life? And perhaps it may require a century or more to show how real and magnificent was their heroism. Is it wrong to worship heroes? It was to the chagrin of a party, but was it a sin or a crime that the world was gone after Christ? He attempted the thing that He knew ought to be done. He did it though it cost His life; indeed He did it only by the cost of His life. And He is today the world’s greatest hero; and the world most honours itself and lifts itself by recognizing in His divine purposes the highest expression of human nobleness and by worshipping Him. Should not a nation honor itself by embalming the names if its worthies who humbly imitated the Christ virtues? To pass their bright examples is a kindness which each age may demand of its people, as the supreme purpose of ages, as of individuals, must ever be to attain to the best of which human nature is capable; and the display of human virtues constitutes a step in the upward process."

Page 1

" When Louis XIV, was seeking to dominate Europe he little thought how much he was doing for North America, and for Canada in particular. It was no more possible for him to foresee how his vain purposes would serve the substantial good of millions than for Pilate and his associates to anticipate through the crucifixion of Christ the rise and splendid triumph of Christianity. "

"Of Louis, whose reign extended from 1643 to 1715 - a period of seventy-two years, it has been said that he was the illumining sun of all the courts of Europe in his day. Such a testimony gives some small indication of his social position. Of his character it is said that without exception he was the most egoistic and unscrupulous, the most ambitious and vain, of his day. The smallness of the man was shown in the pompousness of his manners and dress. To appear higher than the others, and to be able to look upon them with disdain gave him much satisfaction, and for this purpose he wore shoes with extraordinary high heels."

Page 5 & 6

" To the banks of the Rhine one must come for the story of the German Palatinate, which for a time embraced the country on both banks of the river, but was finally restricted to the eastern side. To the Lower Rhine province, bounded on the south by Switzerland, on the west and north by France, and on the east and north-east by the Upper Rhine and Germany, belonged the home of the unpretentious modest, but illustrious people whom Louis, unable to appreciate, exiled, to be in the providence of God established as bone and sinew in the upbuilding of American life.

The cities of the locality are enumerated as including Strasburg, Mannheim, Oppenheim, Ladenburgh, Weinheim, Heppenheim, Durlach, Bruchsal, Rastadt, Germsheim, Baden, Bretten and Heidelberg; the latter famous for its university, was its capital. Worms and Spires, of famous celebrity, were at the eastern boundary; at the junction of the Neckar and the Rhine and Phillipsburg."

Page 9 & 10

"Thus it was that a hundred and twenty-five years before Louis was born, German Protestantism, arising in the neighborhood of the Palatinate, found among the peasant folk a hearty and prolonged response. … Here it was that the seed of the Reformation found a favorable and fertile soil. If not a literary people, these Palatines were a reflective and, in a sense, a solitary people, who were capable of keeping things in their hearts, and were more likely to prove loyal to their convictions than the more cultivated and society loving princes, who too often were politic and time serving. Among the farmers of Galilee rather than the Pharisees of Jerusalem Jesus most effectively planted the seeds of His Kingdom!"

Page 15

" Herein also lies the guarantee of an attachment for one hundred and eighty years to Lutheran principles and doctrines proceeding the age of Louis. In all this no human mind was planning; but God was there. Often, undoubtedly, the seed fell by the wayside; but some fell on good ground, and brought forth righteousness. The Bible in English, in the vernacular of France, of Bohemia and of Germany was the good seed, received gladly by multitudes of the common people; and it brought to them the light that did not easily disappear."

Page 17

"With little or no documentary evidence coming to us directly from the Palatines themselves, it is fortunate that for two hundred years past, tradition has persisted in its assertions; and this tradition being in the hands of descendants of the Palatines, separated by wide stretches of the ocean, unknown to each other, and without lines of communication, it must be agreed should be credible. This tradition found on both sides of the Atlantic refuses to us any other explanation for the exile and wanderings of the Palatines than that they were persecuted because of their Protestant principles. " Our fathers," say the traditions, " were Palatines of the Rhine driven out by persecution from the Catholic rulers."


                         Western New England College article about the Thirty Years War

The real losers in the war were the German people. Over 300,000 had been killed in battle. Millions of civilians had died of malnutrition and disease, and wandering, undisciplined troops had robbed, burned, and looted almost at will. Most authorities believe that the population of the Empire dropped from about 21,000,000 to 13,500,000 between 1618 and 1648. Even if they exaggerate, the Thirty Years War remains one of the most terrible in history.


Page 21 & 22 (note these events happened in the 1600's leading up to the exodus)

"What a spectacle does history thus afford! Religion seeking its ends by means of the sword! In that fell struggle Germany is estimated to have lost one-half to two-thirds of her entire population. In Saxony 900,000 men fell in two years. At the close of the Augsburg, instead of eighty thousand, had eighteen thousand inhabitants. The country was impoverished. …. Defeat in the arena of warfare did not, however, destroy the germs of sturdy Protestantism; and the banks of the Rhine and the hills of the Palatinate reverberated with the German hymn-singing, the expression of grateful hearts rich in the consciousness of possessing religious liberty. Thereafter, for forty, years, the Lutheran pastors went among their flocks establishing them in the faith; while by the glow of the winter firelight the fathers told to their children the recollections of religious persecution."

Page 22 & 23

" Politics, identified with religion, and drawing the States of Europe into two hostile camps, gave suggestion as to the grouping of the forces for the War of the Spanish Succession which devastated Europe from 1702 to 1713. And whereas in the opening of the Thirty Years' War the leaders were Catholic Ferdinand of Bohemaia and Protestant Frederic, Elector Palatine, the War of the Spanish Succession saw the two leaders in the persons of Catholic Louis XIV of France and Protestant William III of England. The death of William and the accession of Queen Anne found the allied Protestant forces under the command of the Duke of Marlborough, who prosecuted the war on the continent. Under these circumstances Louis, having become possessed of Strasburg, the key to Germany, and of the country on the west bank of the Rhine, conceived it to be essential for the success of his military operations that Germany should, if possible, be prevented from co-operating with the British forces and invading French territory. A barrier should be created on the east bank of the Rhine. Fire, pillage and murder showed be allowed to work their fearful carnage. The Palatines should receive no quarter. Thus his soldiers were turned upon innocent people. Thirty of their towns were destroyed. One hundred thousand of their inhabitants were rendered homeless. Then it was that many of them fled to the lines of Marlborough and to Holland for protection.

Page 23&24

" And to his (Louis XIV) record of heartlessness must be added his treatment of the Palatinate in 1688. He had espoused the cause of the Roman Catholic King James II of England. He saw how the powers of Europe including Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Savoy, Spain and England were leaguing themselves, and he prepared himself for war. Under his general, Louvois, the Palatinate was overrun by French soldiers, and " the fertile state was turned into a silent, black, blood-stained desert." One writer states that "four hundred villages were reduced to heaps of ruins." De Luxemburg " pillaged the country so systematically that not a single head of cattle remained in the territory within his reach." ….. Brigand bands displayed a list of twelve hundred villages that were doomed to be burned. In Prague secret agents of France prompted the burning of four hundred houses.

Thus by a variety of pretexts and on several occasions did Louis add to the miseries of the humble Germans who could not do other than love their Bibles and the traditions of their fathers, and who would not be other than Protestants.

Is it remarkable then that when driven to Marlborough's lines these people carried with them a tradition that has lived until the present time, treasured alike in an Irish city home and in a distant Canadian farm house --" Our fathers were Palatines who suffered persecution from their Catholic rulers"?

The fields had been reaped by cruel hands. The harvest was not yet to be gathered in. It was thoroughly threshed in the fields and the seed was scattered by the strong winds of persecution. It at once began to grow.


The winter of 1708-1709 was very long and cold in the Rhineland. It was a very bleak period. People huddled around their fires as they considered quitting their homes and farms forever. By early April, the land was still frozen and most of the Palatines' vines had been killed by the bitter weather. Since 1702 their country had been enduring war and there was little hope for the future. The Thirty Years War lay heavy on their minds, a period in which one out of every three Germans had perished.

The Palatines were heavily taxed and endured religious persecution. As the people considered their future, the older ones remembered that, in 1677, William Penn had visited the area, encouraging the people to go to Pennsylvania in America, a place where a man and his family could be free of the problems they were now encountering.

To go to America meant a long, dreadful ocean voyage and a future in an unknown land, away from their past and family. Everyone knew that the German Elector would stop any migration as soon as it was noticed. Only a mass exodus from the Palatinate could be successful. Many wondered how they could ever finance such a journey even if they wanted to attempt it. Small boats, known as scows, would have to be acquired for the long ride down the Rhine River and then there was the price for the ocean voyage. While some of the people had relatives that could assist them financially, many were very poor. Soon enough, their minds were made up for them as France's King Louis XIV invaded their land, ravaging especially the towns in the Lower Palatinate.

In masses, the Palatines boarded their small boats and headed down the Rhine for Rotterdam. It was April 1709 and the first parties were afloat on the Rhine, many with only their most basic goods and their faith in God as their only possessions. The river voyage took an average of 4-6 weeks through extremely cold, bitter weather. By June 1709, the people streamed into Rotterdam at a rate of one thousand per week. The Elector, as expected, issued an edict forbidding the migration, but almost everyone ignored it. By October 1709, more than 10,000 Palatines had completed the Rhine River journey.

The Duke of Marlborough was assigned by Queen Anne to transport the immigrants to England. British troop ships were also used. The Queen assumed these Protestants would help fuel the anti-Roman feelings developing in England. The ships from Rotterdam landed, in part, at Deptford and the refugees were sent to one of three camps at Deptford, Camberwell, and Blackheath outside the city wall of London. Many Londoner's welcomed the Palatines, but the poor were not, as they felt their English food was being taken from them to feed the Germans. British newspapers published mixed accounts of the Palatines, some praising them while others cursed them.

Even those who were not forced to emigrate, were affected. In 1709 the winter was so severe, that the Rhine froze over and people were starving in the Palatinate. This was when Queen Anne advertised in the Palatinate that England would accept all German Protestants for immigration. Catholics who tried to enter England were given 5 guilders and sent back to Hannover. This was also when the tent city refugee camp outside of London was set up.

Note: The expression Pennsylvania Dutch is an incorrect term. The more proper term would be Pennsylvania Deutsch - meaning Germans who settled in Pennsylvania and were the Palatines. Please see " " for more information on this topic.


Page 25

It is somewhat to the glory of England that while her soldiers under Marlborough fought in defense of Protestant rights and the welfare of Europe, the statesmen at home considered the responsibility thus thrust upon them to humanely assist those Palatines who through war were rendered homeless. In 1709, while war was still raging, the ships of Queen Anne ("good Queen Anne" she was called) were sent to Rotterdam and from thence they brought away a numerous company of people.

There is a story that a party of Mohawk Indians being on a visit to England at the time, and hearing of the misfortunes of the refugees, offered a tract of land for their settlement in America. … and is now called Duchess County in the State of New York.

The Palatines in Ireland
Many of the Palatines went straight to America, but this document will follow those that went to Ireland.

Page 28,29

" Ireland, as well as England, received a portion of the thrifty and long-tried German population. There were estates in Ireland, largely unoccupied. There were land owners who were only too glad to find the productivity of their property increased.

In that section of Ireland, Limerick on the banks of the Shannon, the stronghold of James II, and where he made his last stand against William of Orange, the Parliament of Queen Anne decided to try the experiment of planting a colony of unyielding German Protestants, toughened by persecution and tenacious in their convictions.

Out of the parliamentary vote a grant of eight acres of ground was made to each man, woman and child.

Of those who were thus placed in Limerick a list has been preserved which must be of interest to an increasing number of Canadians. (names on the list that are of interest to my family are - Lowes, Miller, Switzer, & St. John.)

Page 31 & 32

"Writing in 1786 Farrar described the situation as follows: - " The Palatines preserve their language, but it is declining; they sleep between two beds; they appoint a burgomaster, to whom they appeal in all disputes . . . They are better fed and clothed than the generality of the Irish peasants. Besides, their mode of husbandry and crops are better than those of their neighbors. They keep their cows housed in the winter and feed them with hay and oaten straw; their houses are remarkably clean, to which they have stable, cowhouse and lodge for their plough, and neat kitchen gardens. The women are very industrious and perform many things which the Irish woman could never be prevailed upon to do. Besides their domestic employments and the care of their children they reap the corn, plough the ground and assist the men in everything. In short, the Palatines have benefitted the country by increasing tillage, and a laborious, independent people who are mostly employed on their own small farms.""

Other contemporary writers are Mr. and Mrs. Hall, who say of the Palatines: ---"Even now they are very different in character and distinct in habits from the people of the country …. Huge flitches of bacon hung from the rafters; the chairs were in several instances composed of walnut-tree and oak; massive and heavy, although rudely carved chests, contained as we were told, the house linen and woolen, and the wardrobes of the inhabitants. The elders preserve , in a great degree, the language, customs and religion of their old country, but the younger mingle and marry with their neighbors. The men are tall, fine stout fellows; but there is a calm and stern severity and reserve in their aspect that is anything but cheering to a traveler to meet …. In their dealings they are considered upright and honorable…"

John Wesley's involvement with the Irish Palatines

Page 34 & 35

On Wednesday, April 20th, 1748, he (John Wesley) wrote, " I spent and agreeable hour with Mr. Miller, the Lutheran Minister. From him I learned that the earnest religion which I found in many parts of Germany is but of late date, having taken its rise from one man, August Herman Franke! So can God, if it pleaseth Him, enable one man to revive His work throughout a whole nation."

Again on July 18th, 1749, he wrote: -- "Mr. Miller, the Lutheran Minister, informed me that in a collection of tracts, published at Buding, Count Z's (Zinzendorf's) brethren had printed several passages of my journal and whatever else they could glean up, which tended to prejudice the Lutherans against the Methodists." From these words it would appear that Mr. Miller was even largely in sympathy with Wesley in his work.

In support of the position we have taken there are some corroborative testimonies. From the Rev. George Miller, Methodist minister in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, 1817-1869, himself born in Ireland in 1788 of Palatine descent, there is given us this testimony: -- "They came to the country possessed of some of the best theological works written by their reformed divines. Often have I heard and aged grandfather read, in the spirit of ardent devotion, some of these books. To the juvenile hearer, it appeared, he felt what he read, though not understood by the child as the reading was in German. They also seemed divested of the perplexities of thought occasioned by the theological controversies which prevailed among Calvinists, Anabaptists, Socinians and others in the country. Aware of the unprovoked sufferings of the past, in the theatre of Papal tyranny, violence and bloodshed, they ever seemed fixed in their views respecting Protestantism and Popery as unalterably antagonistic."

Page 36-39

The year 1750 seems to mark the time when the labors of Mr. Miller as the Lutheran Minister ended and Mr. Wesley's properly began among this interesting people. And the transition appears to have been accomplished without any of the controversial bitternesses so often attending proselytism. It would appear on the surface that as Mr. Miller must have been in sympathy with Mr. Wesley's entrance among the Germans; indeed it looks as though he encouraged it and even prepared the way. Certainly the minister and the evangelist were on intimate terms, and when Wesley came to the people he found no opposition to overcome. If we ask, where did Wesley preach when he came to these villages, there are two answers ready. Garrett Miller, to whom we shall more particularly refer later, used to delight in telling of Mr. Wesley's frequent visits to his father's neighborhood and home. He often heard Mr. Wesley preach. William Miller, an aged citizen of Cork, Ireland, who reached his ninety-fourth year, says " Mr. Wesley used to preach in my grandfather's home." It was on one those occasions that the house was particularly crowded, and the little son Adam found a place for himself under the table. The text for the evening was "Adam, were are thou?" Promptly the boy answered "Here I am, under the table!" … And thus there springs into view a picture of close intimacy, friendly hospitality, and encouraging co-operation between Mr. Wesley and the Millers. In the remembrance already quoted of the Rev. George Miller regarding the aged grandfather who devotionally read the old German theological works, we think we get the last glimpse of Mr. Miller, the Lutheran Minister - the man who cared faithfully for his German flock, and was unselfish enough to encourage Mr. Wesley's work among the younger people who were learning English and were capable of understanding him. We wish to embalm the memory of this righteous German.

The effect of the gospel was shown in greatly improved living. "An oath was rarely heard among them, nor a drunkard seen in their streets." (From Mr. Wesley's journal) Such towns with an utter absence of swearing, cursing, Sabbath breaking, drunkenness and the ale- house, he says were scarcely to be found in all England and Ireland. In appearance he describes them as having " quite a different look from the natives of the country, as well as a different temper. They are a serious thinking people. And their diligence turns all their land into a garden.