18th Century German Immigration
ProGenealogists Family History Research group The Palatine Project 18th Century German Emigration In the first national US census of 1790 there were about 280,000 (7% of the population) people of German decent in the country. From 1683, when the first large group of Germans came to Philadelphia until the Napoleonic period (1806) 200,000 German speaking emigrants settled in North America. It is this group that we are working towards identifying. Prior to the New York and North Carolina emigrations of 1710 an estimated 2,000 - 3,000 German-speaking emigrants had come to the colonies. These include about a hundred Germans who were part of the Dutch and Swedish colonies of New York and Delaware, as well as diverse other Germans who came to South Carolina and elsewhere in the 17th century. Perhaps with time these smaller groups of German speaking emigrants who came prior to 1683 will be included in this project. The focus of the project is to identify those who came prior to 1820 when most U.S. ports began keeping federally mandated passenger lists. High years of emigration included the years 1709, 1727, 1732, 1738, 1742-1744, 1749-1754, 1764, 1770-1773, 1785-1802 (especially 1792-1796). During the year 1717 there appears to have been at least four ships to Pennsylvania, one to New York, and one to Virginia carrying Germans. The yearly number of emigrants was heavily influenced by European politics. It is possible that the small numbers of emigrants in the years 1717-1726 was due to competition in recruitment by the eastern territories (the Russian and Austrian Empires), which were given attractive incentives and privileges. During times of wars emigration also dwindled considerably including during the years 1744-1748 (War of the Austrian Succession), 1755-1763 (Sea battles during the 7-years War), 1776-1783 (American Revolution War), and 1806-1815 (Napoleonic War). In 1744 some of the emigrant ships were captured by French and Spanish privateers and the emigrants were not able to continue to North America. The highest number of emigrants were in the years 1749-1755 during which time approximately 30,000 German emigrants arrived in Philadelphia; 2700 in Halifax, Nova Scotia; 1300 in Charleston, South Carolina; about 1,600 Germans to Baltimore (6 ships 1752-1755); and about 720 Germans to New England (3 ships 1751-1753); making at least 36,300 German emigrants in these years. During the years 1776-1783 over 30,000 German soldiers were sent as mercenaries to the colonies. They are often called the Hessen Soldiers but were from more areas than just the Hessen provinces. Lists of German troops can be found in a collection called HETRINA. After the war a third of these soldiers remained in the new United States. It would be nice to eventually include these soldiers names as well on this site. Those who returned to Germany brought news of conditions in the new world which encouraged emigration from those areas. During the years 1776-1783 over 30,000 German soldiers were sent as mercenaries to the colonies. They are often called the Hessian Soldiers but were from more areas than just the Hessian provinces. Lists of many such German troops can be found in a collection called HETRINA. After the war, up to one third of these soldiers remained in the new United States. Hopefully this site can eventually include these soldiers’ names as well. Those who returned to Germany brought news of conditions in the new world which encouraged emigration from those areas. In the years following the Revolutionary War, there was at least one ship of emigrants each year arriving in Philadelphia. Only in 1804 were there more than 1000 emigrants. Bremen and Hamburg began to be used in addition to Rotterdam as ports of departure. Also the British ships no longer had a monopoly on emigration. From 1785 - 1808 there were 9236 men listed on the arrival ship lists in Philadelphia, only a little more than came over in the period 1683-1708. With time the ports of Baltimore and New York began to compete more with Philadelphia, so that by the mid-19th century New York had become the most common port for German emigration. Starting with the year of starvation in 1816/1817 and the emigration of 10,000 Germans to North America, a new period of German emigration began. However, during the 18th century 80% of the German emigrants came through the port of Pennsylvania, many of them moving on from there to Maryland and Virginia.
[Some of above comes from “Die Auswanderung aus dem heutigen Baden-Württemberg nach Preußen, in den habsburgischen Südosten, nach Rußland und Nordamerika zwischen 1683 und 1811″ (The emigration from modern Baden-Württemberg to Prussia, in the Hapsburg Southeast, to Russia, and North America between 1683 and 1811) by Arnold Scheuerbrandt in the Historischer Atlas von Baden-Württemberg (Historical Atlas of Baden-Württemberg), XII, 5].