Category: Palatine Ancestors

Categories: Palatine Migration

Palatine Ancestors - This category scope is being revised. A "Palatine Ancestor" is defined as a parent or other close ancestor of a Palatine Migrant. See Category: Palatine Migrants for more information.

Who were the Palatines?

The German Palatines were natives of the Electoral Palatinate region of Germany, although a few had come to Germany from Switzerland, the Alsace, and probably other parts of Europe. Towards the end of the 17th century and into the 18th, the wealthy region was repeatedly invaded by French troops, which resulted in continuous military requisitions, widespread devastation and famine. The "Poor Palatines" were some 13,000 Germans who came to England between May and November 1709. Their arrival in England, and the inability of the British Government to integrate them, caused a highly politicized debate over the merits of immigration. The English tried to settle them in England, Ireland, and the Colonies. The English transported nearly 3,000 in ten ships to New York in 1710. Many of them first were assigned to work camps along the Hudson River to work off their passage. Close to 850 families settled in the Hudson River Valley, primarily in what are now Germantown and Saugerties, New York. In 1723 100 heads of families from the work camps were the first Europeans to acquire land west of Little Falls, New York, in present-day Herkimer County on both the north and south sides along the Mohawk River. Later additional Palatine Germans settled along the Mohawk River for several miles, founding towns such as Palatine Bridge, and in the Schoharie Valley.


Throughout the Nine Years War (1688–1697) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714), recurrent invasions by the French Army devastated the area of what is today Southwest Germany. The depredations of the French Army and the destruction of numerous cities (especially within the Palatinate) created economic hardship for the inhabitants of the region, exacerbated by a rash of harsh winters and poor harvests that created famine in Germany and much of northwest Europe.

What triggered the mass emigration in 1709 of mostly impoverished people to England was the Crown's promise of free land in the American Colonies. Parliament discovered in 1711 that several “agents” working on behalf of the Colony of Carolina had promised the peasants around Frankfurt free passage to the plantations. Spurred by the success of several dozen families the year before, thousands of German families headed down the Rhine to England and the New World.


Because of the concentration of Palatine refugees in New York, the term "Palatine" became associated with German. "Until the American War of Independence 'Palatine' henceforth was used indiscriminately for all 'emigrants of German tongue.'" (From German Palatines in Wikipedia)


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