The Germans

     Page 11 ~
The New Bern And Livingston Manor Settlements

   In July, 1709 the Lords Proprietors of Carolina submitted their proposal to the English Board of Trade for the settlement of "all the Palatines here from 15 years to 45 years old". At about the same time, two enterprising former citizens of Bern, Switzerland, Franz Louis Michel and Christopher von Graffenried, developed a plan to establish a settlement of Swiss Anabaptist Protestants (i.e. Mennonites) in the New World. They originally thought to set up their settlement in Virginia, but later chose the Carolinas.

   On 04 August, 1709 Graffenried paid £50 to the Proprietors of Carolina for 5,000 acres of land. Then, on the 3rd of September, the Proprietors granted to Graffenried 10,000 acres. The settlement would be named New Bern, in honor of Graffenried and Michel's home town.

   Michel and Graffenied were permitted to choose 600 Palatines to populate their settlement in Carolina. They, of course, chose healthy, industrious and skilled men and their families. The group, consisting of roughly ninety-two families embarked for the New World in January, 1710. The trip was a rough one and the ships carrying the emigrants was blown off course. They arrived in Virginia thirteen weeks after they had started on their voyage. From there they traveled southward into what is today North Carolina and established a settlement on the Neuse and Trent Rivers.

   A group of Swiss families who had arranged with Michel and Graffenried to join the New Bern emigrants left their homes in Bern, Switzerland on 08 March, 1710. Certain of the men in that group were being deported by the Swiss government for their Anabaptist beliefs. When they reached the Netherlands, the Dutch authorities intervened on their behalf and they gained their "freedom" from having to emigrate. The Swiss party arrived on the shore of Virginia on 11 September, 1710. From there they made their way to join the German emigrants in North Carolina.

   The new settlement was in a poor and miserable condition when Graffenried first visited it. The new settlers had not received supplies originally promised by the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. Graffenried used his own resources to obtain supplies from Virginia and Pennsylvania. He then set about laying out a town plat in the form of a cross with wide streets and spacious lots. Within eighteen months the town of New Bern was prospering. Apart from an Indian attack in 1711, in which many houses were ransacked and burned, and seventy of the Palatines/Swiss settlers were killed, the settlement was a success.

   The Livingston Manor Settlement in New York is generally more well known than the New Bern Settlement. It was born out of a trade war between England and Sweden. Sweden had, in the late-1600s, become England's primary source of naval stores (i.e. tar and pitch for use in ship building). The situation was aggravated when the Swedes increased their prices and England went in search of other sources. She found those sources in Russia, Denmark and Norway. The Northern War between Sweden and Russia between 1700 and 1721 strained the English~Russian trade agreement. Then the Swedish Tar Company (variously known as the Stockholm Tar Company) lowered its prices for naval stores to other countries such as France, but refused to lower them for England. The dispute continued to simmer and boil till finally England looked to the American colonies for its naval stores.

   As early as 1691, the possibility of obtaining her much needed naval stores in the wilderness of the New World had been explored by England. Edward Randolph, Surveyor General in America, had written favorably of the resources to be found in America, including pitch, tar, rosin, hemp and especially the tall straight virgin trees that could supply mast timber for England's ships. In 1696 the Navy Board sent three men as a commission to investigate the possibility of establishing a naval stores industry in the colonies and also to instruct the inhabitants on the making of pitch and tar. Their recommendations included the suggestion that "a sufficient number of poor families" be sent over to "attend the service in the woods at a reasonable rate."

   Certain schemes for the settlement of "poor families" had been suggested prior to the arrival of the Palatines in 1708. They included a scheme proposed in February of 1705 to transport a colony of Scotsmen to be settled near the border of Canada on the Hudson River. For whatever reason, the most of these schemes were never brought to fruition. Then the Reverend Kocherthal appeared in London requesting assistance from the English government to transport his party of some-fifty-five Palatines to the New World.

   When the flood of Palatines and Swiss emigrants poured into England in 1709 and 1710, discussion were held by the Board of Trade in regard to where they should be settled in the New World. Of course the subject of the manufacture of the naval stores and the favorable outcome of the settlement of the Kocherthal party the previous year entered into the discussions. The discussions leaned toward establishing the settlement on the Kenebeck River in New England because of the favorable resources found there for the manufacture of the naval stores. Colonel Robert Hunter, who had recently been appointed to the governorship of the Province of New York submitted his own proposal for the settlement of Palatines in the frontiers of his province. His arguments were persuasive. A proposal was submitted by the Board of Trade to the Queen, and she approved it in early January, 1710.

   A Commission For Collecting For And Settling Of The Palatines had been established and set about accumulating the funds necessary to pay for ships to carry the Palatines to America. Henry Bendysh, the secretary to the Commissioners, arranged with the owners of ten ships to pay £5 ƒ10 per head for 3,300 Palatines. (The passage of the Palatines to North Carolina had been arranged at £10 a head.) The total would amount to between 18,000 and 19,000 pounds sterling.

   The Germans were scheduled to be boarded upon the ships between the 25th and 29th of December, 1709. The boarding took place as scheduled, but the convoy got no farther than Nore, fifty miles from London, when seven of the ten ships refused sailing orders. The actual date on which the ships set sail across the Atlantic is confused because of the differing accounts that have come down to us. Johann Conrad Weiser, one of the emigrants, noted in his diary that the convoy of ships left England "about Christmas Day". Other accounts gave the end of January and March as the dates for embarkation. The London Gazette reported on 07 April, 1710, that the ten ships carrying the Palatines were "ready" to sail from Portsmouth. James DuPre, commissary for Colonel Hunter, stated in his report that the Palatines were embarked in December, 1709, but did not actually set sail until 10 April, 1710.

   Whether lying in port on the Thames, or on the Atlantic Ocean, the Palatines were on board the ships, in conditions suited to the low rate which had been paid the ships owners, for nearly six months. The conditions were harsh and uncomfortable. Following the voyage a surgeon requested reimbursement for medicines he had dispensed enroute, noting that on the ship he sailed, there were 330 persons sick.

   Landfall was made at New York on 13 June, 1710. The first ship to arrive was the Lyon. The rest arrived between that date and 02 August. One ship, the Herbert, was wrecked off the coast of Long Island on 07 July. The death toll on the journey amounted to 446 by the end of July, and during the first month in the New World, that number rose to 470. To augment the numbers, women gave birth to thirty babies during the journey. The ships docked at, and the Palatines and Swiss emigrants disembarked on Nutten Island. Due to the reports of disease among the emigrants, the people of New York City showed no hospitality toward them.

   Four tracts of land had been suggested as the eventual site for the Palatine settlement. They were all part of what was known as the "Extravagant Grants". The Extravagant Grants were lands which had been claimed by the late governor, Colonel Benjamin Fletcher, but whose ownership to which the New York Assembly disputed. On 02 March, 1699 the Assembly had passed a bill titled "An Act for vacating, breaking and annulling several Extravagant Grants of land made by Colonel Benjamin Fletcher, late Governor of the Province". Action was finally taken to settle the matter by the authorities in England until 29 July, 1707, at which time they upheld the colonial Assembly's act. The lands originally claimed by Fletcher were, therefore available for Hunter to consider for the Palatine settlement three years later. They included a tract on the Mohawk River above Little Falls, A tract on the Schoharie River, a tract on the east side of the Hudson River and one on that river's west side.

   The tracts encompassed by the "Extravagant Grants" were still claimed by the Mohawk Indians. Governor Hunter began negotiations with the various Sachems who laid claim to the lands. On 22 August, 1710 the Sachem who went by the name of Hendrick made a gift of the tract on the Schoharie River to Governor Hunter to be used for the settlement of the Palatines. At a conference held at Fort Albany, Hendrick stated:

"We are told that the great queen of Great Brittain had sent a considerable number of People with your Excy to setle upon the land called Skohere, which was a great surprise to us and we were mush Disatisfyd at the news, in Regard the Land belongs to us.

Nevertheless since Your Excellcy has been pleased to desire the said land for christian settlements, we are willing and do now surrender…to the Queen…for Ever all that tract of Land Called Skohere."

   The Schoharie tract was not really suited to the manufacture of naval stores or pitch and tar because no pitch pine trees grew in its vicinity. The Schoharie land was suitable, though, to the raising of hemp used for manufacturing rope. Governor Hunter was not immediately impressed by the Schoharie tract because its location above a sixty-foot waterfall and its distance from New York City would make it difficult to defend against the French and Indians. Instead, a tract of land nearer to New York City, about ninety-two miles from it along the west side of the Hudson River (known as the Evans Tract because it had been granted to Captain Evans by Governor Fletcher), was chosen by Governor Hunter for the Palatine settlement. The Evans tract consisted of 6,300 acres. Near to it, on the east side of the east side of the river lay a tract of 6,000 acres owned by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Robert Livingston. Governor Hunter entered into an agreement for the purchase of the second tract with the option to remove the pitch pine trees growing on Livingston's neighboring lands. A third tract of 800 acres was purchased from Thomas Fullerton. The name given to the three tracts on which the Palatines were to be settled was Livingston Manor.