OGS Conference Presentations

Irish Palatines

Denis Jones presented material entitled 'The Palatinate Region of Germany - Conditions In The 1600s'. The material covered:

- maps of the Palatinate region of Germany - in 2009 and 1618

- role of the Elector Palatine in electing the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of German States

- early Protestant reformers Martin Luther (Lutherans of Germany) and John Calvin (Huguenots of France)

- the Palatinate in the 1500s - a center of the German Renaissance and Reformation - Heidelberg

- the 30 Years War 1618-1648 - destruction and collapse of the Palatinate region

- recovery of the Palatinate region post 1648 - a new start, Elector Palatine Karl Ludwig rebuilding

- Louis XIV invasion of the Palatinate - General Melac's burning and destruction of the Palatinate 1688

- factors leading to the 1709 emigration from the Palatinate - - to the British Colonies, to Ireland 


Bob Fizzell

While various sources debate the reason or reasons why the people migrated from the Palatinate and neighboring regions, it is certain that the invading armies, the attraction of the New World offered in the "Golden Books” and the weather were all factors. Religion seems to be more an excuse used to get English sympathy.

By the end of summer 1709, there were perhaps 13,000 of these brave souls being sheltered around London in tents, warehouses and other makeshift accommodations. While many proposals were made for resettlement in such places as the West Indies and South America as well as in the main English American colonies, the government could not provide enough shipping to the New World or settlement costs for so many people.

"In London, the citizens were amazed. In three months more than 11,000 alien people had arrived in their midst. London was not so large a city that many thousands could be poured into it conveniently without notice. The government was hard put to provide shelter and food for them. The squares, the taverns, all the refuges of London were crowded with Palatines. In addition, 1,600 tents were issued by the Board of Ordnance and encampments were formed on Blackheath on the south side of the Thames, at Greenwich, on the Thames, just north of Blackheath, and at Camberwell, a suburb of London, about two miles from St. Paul's. Others found quarters near the Tower, in St. Catherine's, Tower Ditch, Wapping, Nightingale Lane, East Smithfield and their neighborhoods. Barns and cheap houses were rented for them at Kensington, Walworth, Stockwell and Bristol Cansey. The large rope-houses at Deptford were utilized for shelter for many of the Palatines, while others were disposed of by the care of charitable persons in Aldgate and Lambeth. About 1,400 were lodged in the large warehouse of Sir Charles Cox, who had offered it gratis. The crowded condition of these places of shelter made them unhealthy, The Board of Trade was informed of this and strove to remedy the difficulty; certainly the Board and the English Whigs in particular deserve a great deal of credit for their sympathetic treatment and generosity, in the early stages of the immigration. . .

"The Palatine camps were a source of wonder to the London populace. Every Sunday crowds would gather and the Palatines became the focus of curiosity-seekers. They capitalized this by making toys of small value and selling them to the multitudes who came to see them. One account of the Palatines states, "They are contented with very ordinary food, their bread being brown and their meat of the coarsest and cheapest sort, which, with a few herbs, they eat with much cheerfulness and thankfulness. On the whole, they appear to be an innocent, laborious, peaceable, healthy and ingenuous people, and may be rather reckoned a blessing than a burden to any nation where they shall be settled." An interesting incident, which is at the same time illustrative of the hardihood of these people, is the one related by a contemporary diarist, Luttrell, September 13, 1709, "A wager of 100 pounds was laid last week, that a German, of 64 years' old, should walk in Hide Park 300 miles in 6 dayes, which he did within the time, and a mile over."  Knittle, Chapt. 3

At first, the people of London were supportive of the Palatines, but over the months, this welcome began to wear off.

"But the novelty of the presence of the Palatines soon wore off for the London populace and an uglier attitude, due to the tight economic conditions, set in. The poorer classes of the English people said the Palatines came to eat the bread of Englishmen, and reduce the scale of wages. The latter, it was alleged, had already fallen from 18 pence to 15 pence per day, where the Palatines were encamped. Even the native beggars felt that the Queen's bounty should belong to them. The shopkeepers were also opposed to the newcomers for fear that their trade might be harmed by the competition of unenfranchised foreigners.

The Palatine encampments were occasionally attacked by London mobs. Upon one occasion about 2,000 infuriated Englishmen, armed with axes, scythes, and smith hammers, were said to have made an attack upon the Palatine camp and struck down all who did not flee. When settlements of Palatines were attempted, riots occurred in some localities. Juries were prejudiced. Nothing "that was said upon oath by the witnesses [was] sufficient to gain any verdict at Sundrich but in justification of the Rioters." Many times were the Palatines threatened and mobbed, much to the Queen's chagrin." Knittle, Chapt. 3

Desperate to find a way to settle so many immigrants, the government listened to many suggestions. Some small resettlements did take place, including some to other areas of England. Finally, in July, the Council of Ireland proposed to the Queen that some Palatines might be sent to Ireland to increase the Protestant population there. Late in August, 794 families were taken in wagons to Chester, and then shipped to Ireland. Arriving in Dublin between the 4th and the 7th of September, they were soon joined by others. By January, 1710, there were 3,073, Palatines in Ireland, including 1,898 adults.

A committee of English-Irish landlords worked out an agreement with the Crown to support them in the resettlement by providing funding over the next three years for housing, food, tools and rent. The amount obtained for each Palatine far exceeded the assets of the native Irish population. Originally 43 landlords offered to take Palatine settlers under these very favorable conditions. The landlords were expected to offer reduced rents and provide supplies, tools and livestock to their new tenants with the subsidies the government provided. Settlements varied from single families up to one of 56 families.

The original plans were to settle 533 families, composed of 2,098 individuals, and the lands assigned to the families were often a third less in rent than similar lands rented to native Irish. Nevertheless, many of the Palatines left their settlements, returned to Dublin, and travelled back to England. "In fact, 232 families had returned from Ireland to England by November 25, 1710, and in the next two months, 52 more families sailed for England in spite of attempts to stop them. On February 15, 1711, only 188 of the 533 families distributed over the countryside were still on the lands allotted them. Over 300 of the families were in Dublin, where a great many of the men had been employed in the building of a government arsenal nearby." (Knittle Chapt. 4)

Many of these who left had expected that they were to be given free land as had been promised by the recruiting flyers circulated in the Palatinate. Others felt that they had been cheated or abused by the landlords or that those who remained in England had received better offers. A commission investigating the failure of so many Palatines to stay in Ireland found that some landlords had, indeed, taken advantage of the Palatines. As the government allowances were given to the landlords to distribute, it is perhaps not surprising that some did not pass on the support to which their tenants were entitled. Other tenants hoped to return to England so as to be able to go on to America. Furthermore, the land of Ireland was not the prosperous land that had been promised in the recruiting.

The Irish Commissioners recommended that the Crown offer 40 shillings a year to each Palatine family for twenty-one years as an encouragement for them to stay in Ireland, as the remaining funds from the original appropriation were needed to complete the supplying of families with materials for settlement. "On the 28th of March, 1712, the English government approved the grant to each family of 40 shillings annually for seven years. It was estimated that 263 Palatine families of 978 persons still remained in Ireland then, but by the time the Irish Commissioners heard of the grant (August 11, 1712), nine more families had departed. With this additional support, the 254 families were all settled in the country." (Knittle Chapt. 4)

The largest landlord, Sir Thomas Southwell added 130 Palatine families to the 10 who remained from his original settlers in 1712. On his estate in the County of Limerick, Southwell rented land to Palatines "at almost half of what it could bring, and supplied them with cash and other necessaries. It was stated in June, 1714, when Southwell petitioned the king for 200 pounds due him, that had he not advanced the money, 'the last ninety Families wou'd have left the Kingdom.' Southwell expressed himself as reluctant to seize the possessions of the Palatines, but he would be compelled to do so unless the Crown reimbursed him. However, on September 1, 1716, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland successfully supported Southwell's claims to the British Treasury for a Palatine debt, which had grown to 557 pounds." (Knittle, Chapt. 4)

In order to better integrate the Palatines into the English Plantation system, they were provided with assistance in learning English and were brought into the Anglican Church. An agent who knew the German language was appointed to act as an ombudsman for the Palatines to insure fair treatment by the landlords. When the Hanoverian George I came to the British throne in 1714, "the 'poor German Protestants' were likely to receive special favors from a king who was so German that he could not speak English. On June 15, 1715, an order was issued to continue the 40-shilling grant to each Palatine family for the remainder of the seven-year term, expiring March 2.8, 1719. In addition, on August 12, 1718, the general annual allowance of 624 pounds was ordered to be continued for 14 more years on the expiration of the former grant." (Knittle, Chapt. 4)

Court Village about 1850

Until 1726 the subsidies paid by the English government to the landlords permitted the Palatines to rent land at a significantly lower rate than the Irish had to pay. Needless to say, when the susidies ran out, the landlords began increasing rents and the Palatines began to look for better deals. Furthermore, the families were growing and new land was needed. Some had begun to accumulate a bit of wealth through hard work and thrift. Others could offer their superior skills as farmers and their willingness to do hard work. For example, around 1740, Silver Oliver offered some Palatines land at reduced rent on his estate in exchange for their clearing the land. Three villages were formed with about 60 families. Ballyorgan, Ballyriggan and Glenosheen sit today at the base of and up onto Seefin Mountain near Kilfinnane in southern County Limerick.

Also moving from the Southwell Estate about this time were sixteen families who moved west into County Kerry to settle on the Blennerhasset Estate. Soon following, families moved north to Pallaskenry and others moved from the Blennerhasset Estate north to around Tarbert. Other settlements developed in Counties Cork and Tipperary. Closer to the Southwell Estate, some families moved a few miles east to Adare. Those with some savings bought land and some even became landlords in the next generations. Others in Adare settled on the lands of the Dunraven Estate.

Around 1756 the villages of Ballingrane, Courtmatrix and Killeheen were visited by John Wesley. Wesley recorded that the German immigrants had been a hard drinking, cursing lot until  their own Philip Guier had become a preacher influenced by the Methodist teachings. Guier became the school master and the preacher at Ballingrane and was well respected by the Palatines for many years. When Wesley came to preach, the Palatines quickly took to his brand of religion and were soon his model communities. To this day, a pear tree stands in the yard of the Ruttle home marking the spot where Wesley preached. Down at Court Matrix a preaching house was built in the town square where folks could come to hear Wesley when he was in the area. In Killeheen, the gate that Wesley walked through to their preaching house is still preserved by the home of Austin Bovenizer.

The impact of Methodism on the palatine villages led Wesley to note in 1760, "I suppose three such towns are scarce to be found again in England or Ireland. There is no cursing or swearing, no Sabbath-breaking, no drunkenness, no ale house, in any of them.” Perhaps there was no ale house because each family had its own cider press! The Palatines were long noted for their love of hard cider, but temperance in its application became the norm.

In 1760, as part of the general expansion of Palatines from their original settlements, a group departed on the ship Pery for New York. Seeking to join other Palatines who had gone directly to America, this was probably the second such group to head across the ocean from the settlements. This group turned out to be quite special, however. While about 40 passengers boarded the Pery, we know the names of only 24. Among these were Philip Embury and his wife Margaret (Switzer) with their children, and Paul Heck and his wife Barbara (Ruttle). Eula Lapp has documented the great adventure upon which these Palatines thus embarked. Here we will only note that the two families noted here set up the first Methodist Church in America and later moved on to set up the first Methodist Church in Canada.

In Ballingrane, the Methodist Church built in the 1820s is named for Philip Embury and Barbara Heck. Until his recent death, Walter Ruttle, Was always eager to show the church to visitors. Walter, who grew up in the house where Barbara Ruttle Heck had lived before emigrating, would take down the old cow horn and blow it to demonstrate how the people were called to hear Wesley preach. For Walter the past was still alive in Ballingrane.

Hank Jones has produced excellent descriptions of the Palatine families who settled Ireland. Below are listed the families he describes.

Tracing one's genealogy among these families becomes very interesting. Being in a small and somewhat closed community, intermarriage among the families is quite common. Furthermore, in the history of many cultures, it is common to marry one's cross cousin. This is a cousin who is related through one's mother's brother or father's sister. As such, you will find that one's spouse has the same family name as one of his or her grandparents. Adding to this confusion is the common use of a limited number of given names: John, Peter, Christopher (There must be 50 Christopher Switzers!), Tobias, Amos, Adam among men; and Margaret, Ann, Sarah and Elizbeth among women. To add one more complication, it was not uncommon to use a name again if a child dies. Thus, Amos and Ellen Fizell had a child named Amos born 25 April 1819 and another Amos born 20 May 1825. Another point to remember is that the spellings, if not the pronunciation, of the names also evolved. Röckel became Ruckel and Ruttle. Fissell became Fishel, Fizzell, Phissel and, finally, today in Ireland, it is Fitzel.

By the middle of the 19th century, the Palatine communities of Ireland were changing greatly. Most significantly, the use of the German language was just about gone. Though not particularly impacted by the potato blight, the people were experiencing the widening of horizons as migrants from Europe began to move in larger numbers to America. Many Palatine families joined this movement. As letters are preserved of the communication between the families in Ireland and the families in Canada, we can see that the migrants knew much more about where they were going than their ancestors did 5 or 6 generations earlier.

Many of the families by this time were fairly successful. Through hard work and thrift, they had purchased their own land while others had established businesses. Tobias Fizzell had served 20 years in the army by 1843. The Delmage family had acquired large land holdings by this time. The Switzers had opened a department store in Dublin that was recognized around the world for nearly 150 years. These assets permitted those who wished to do so to migrate with some degree of comfort and surety. While Canada was probably the largest recipient of Irish Palatines, others went to all of the British colonies, including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Perhaps the best way to summarize this narrative is to describe the experiences of one family.

Adam Fissell and his wife and three sons left Essenheim, Hessen, a small village just outside Mainz in the spring of 1709. His family was the only one from Essenheim to join the migration. After waiting in Rotterdam for some period of time, the family was shipped to London in the 5th shipment of Palatines. The family settled on the Southwell Estate at Courtmatrix. As the three sons began raising their own families, some of them spread to Killeheen. The next generation married other Palatines, including two marriages to Delmages. By the 1750s the family had grown in size and was spreading to the new settlements. Two members moved to the Oliver Estate and at least one moved to the Blennerhassett Estate in county Kerry. Margaret Fissell had married Peter Sparling and sailed on the Pery to New York in 1760. The families continued to grow until there were perhaps four or five dozen members scattered through the villages. By the 1840s, they began migrating to Canada. Although several families made this move, only a couple of them seem to have settled near each other and stayed connected. Tobias and his son William both went to Canada, about 7 years apart, but apparently never had coontact after that. Nonetheless, most of them settled near other Palatines. Today, there are family members in Ireland, Canada, the U.S., England, and Australia. There are also relatives who left Essenheim later and went directly to Pennsylvania. And, the line still continues in Germany.

In spite of the great outflow in the 1840s, there remained in Ireland many representatives of the original families. When my son went to Adare, County Limerick in 1985 to try to ask about possible genealogical information, saying that he was a Fizzell immediately brought the response, "Oh, you're a Palatine.” In Rathkeale today the Irish Palatine Museum brings the descendants of the migrants back to reconnect with their distant cousins. Sitting in the pub at Reens, by Killeheen, I meet Switzers, Doubes, Bovenizers and Teskeys.

The Palatines changed the face of Ireland permanently and remain as a prominent part of the nation today.





























































































































Courtmatrix village square and 2 of the original houses

Bringing a farming tradition with them, and being isolated from Irish farmers by both space and language, the new settlers quickly established farms similar to those they had known in the Rhineland. This was an intensive variety of mixed farming with a few animals and several different crops. While this was not good country for growing grapes, they were able to re-establish their orchards. Apples were grown for eating, but especially for cider. Cider presses were a part of the homestead and some remain to this day. Their cattle and hogs were housed rather than roaming free so that the straw and manure could be used on the fields. The English landlords were interested in having the Palatines produce flax for linen, and Lord Southwell set up a linen factory. While the Palatines did continue to produce some flax for linen, this venture was never really very successful. Many of the early visitors to the Palatine villages commented on the neatness, productivity and quality of their farming. From the fruits and vegetables that they produced, they were known for preserving and storing quantities that would assure their survival over the winter until new produce could be raised. Throughout the country side, they were known as hard working, good farmers who were very frugal. The latter trait led to some jealousy from their Irish neighbors, who felt the Palatines were wealthy. Overall, the Palatines got along amazing well with their less fortunate neighbors.

In the 19th century, the mixed farming of the Palatines was a saviour in the Starving. While Irish peasants starved due to their dependence on potatoes and the requirement that much of their land be devoted to flax, the Palatines continued to have productive farms and were able to help their less fortunate neighbors.

The Palatines practiced a distinct form of land usage and ownership from the Irish. Even up to recent times, each village had a shared Common where animals could graze. The tilled land was owned in common and plots were rotated so that each farmer would farm each of the total plots over a period of years.

               Castle Martix                                The Castle Well

Due to the multiple names of the Castle, Courtmatrix is also known as Courtmatress. The village center is called Court Village.

                                                    Palatine Settlements 1720              from O'Connor, p. 33

Lord Southwell (pronounced Suth-el) settled his families in three villages. The largest was Ballingrane, about 1.5 k. north of Rathkeale. The next was Courtmatrix, a couple kilometers to the west of Rathkeale and about a kilometer south of his castle. The third village was Killeheen, approximately 1.5 k west of Courtmatrix. A small settlement by the castle was apparently for people working more directly with or for the landlord and was simply called Castle Matrix.

A word here about names is needed. The home of Lord Southwell was Castle Matrix. But the name also appears as Matress and other variations. Castle Matrix was built during the early 1400s by the 7th Earls of Desmond, and it is said that Sir Walter Raleigh first introduced the potato into Ireland at the Castle. It was built on a sanctuary of the Celtic Goddess of love and poetry, Matres, and was the place were Edmund Spenser and Walter Raleigh first met. It is said to have inspired 'The Faerie Queene'.

By 1720, 185 families remained on the estates of 15 proprietors:

103 with Sir Thomas Southwell at Castle Matrix, Co. Limerick

35 with Abel Ram Esq. at Gorey and Old Ross, Co. Wexford

12 with Mr. Edward Browne at Eveleary and Ballyroshine, Co. Cork

11 at Dublin

6 with Mr. Theodore Vansevenhoven at Ballynacorn, Co. Co. Cork

4 with Lord Viscount Middleton at Elfordstown, Co. Cork

3 with Mr. Edward Lawndy at Muckeridge near Youghal.

2 with Major Rand. Clayton at Mallow, Co. Cork

2 with Rt. Hon. Thomas Brodrick, Esq. at Middleton, Co. Cork

1 with Samuel Waring Esq. at Waringstown, Co. Down

1 with Michael Ward Esq. at Killough near Downpatrick

1 with the Bishop of Dromore

1 with Mrs. Charity Graham at Plattin near Drogheda

1 with John Copley at Springfield, Co. Limerick

1 with Gen. Fredk. Hamilton at Walworth near Londonderry

1 with Mr. Justice Caulfield at Dunamon near Roscommon

From Jones, p vi.

The largest by far was Lord Southwell with over 100 families. Second was Able Ram with 20 families on his Gorey estate and another fifteen on his estate in Old Ross, Wexford. Among the others, only Edward Browne in Cork had more than a dozen families. While several of the settlements were in the north, the greatest concentration was in Munster, especially County Limerick and County Cork.

Irish Palatine Settlements in Ontario

by Carolyn Heald

Based on the book by Carolyn Heald, The Irish Palatines in Ontario:  Religion, Ethnicity and Rural Migration, Second Edition (Milton:  Global Heritage Press, 2009).  Available at www.globalgenealogy.com.


I want to talk about how and why the Palatines left Ireland and came to the New World, and in this talk, I want to situate the Palatines within the larger context of Irish immigration because, unlike their emigration from Germany to Ireland, there was nothing particularly unique about their coming to America.  By the time they came to Ontario, they were, for all intents and purposes, Irish, and they followed the same patterns as other Irish immigrants.  Consequently, they became an invisible ethnic group because they blended in so well.

A.  Irish immigration patterns

The bulk of Irish immigration to Canada occurred over a narrow span of about forty years from 1815 through to 1855.  Both before and after that period, the United States was the primary destination, receiving many more immigrants than Canada.  But in those intervening years, about 500,000 Irish people came to British North America due to colonial preference, established shipping links, and much cheaper fares.

The highest emigration year was 1847 when about 100,000 Irish sailed for Canada due to the Irish Potato Famine.  In an effort to reduce the numbers of destitute immigrants, the government put in place taxes to restrict the flow, and from 1848 onwards, the numbers dwindled.  After 1855, Irish immigration to Canada was negligible, though it continued to flow steadily to the United States.

B.  Loyalist Palatines

The first Palatine immigrants to the New World sailed to America, and their story is inextricably linked with the spread of Methodism to the United States and Canada.  The Englishman John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, visited the Palatines in Ireland and converted many of them to Methodism.  One of those converts was Barbara Heck from the townland of Ballingrane in County Limerick.  Barbara Heck was born Barbara Ruttle in 1734, and was converted to Methodism in 1756 when John Wesley preached under the pear tree in her family's yard.  She married Paul Heck, another Palatine from Ballingrane, and in 1760 they emigrated to New York City along with Paul's sister Sophia Heck, John Lawrence, Philip Embury and his wife, Margaret Switzer, Jacob Dulmage and his wife, Anna Barbara Switzer, and Peter Sparling, all of them from Ballingrane.  The reason this group of Palatines left Ireland was that their new Southwell landlord had raised the rent six-fold.

Heck and her compatriots travelled originally to New York City, intending to obtain land and set up a linen factory.  They eventually they did obtain land north of the city, but they were in the city for several years first.  According to Methodist historians, the group had lost their religion and taken to drinking and gambling.  One day when Barbara Heck came across a group of them playing cards, she was so incensed that she seized the cards from the table and threw them into the fire.  Then she went to see Philip Embury, her cousin, who had been a local preacher back in Ireland; she implored Embury to do something, saying:  "Philip, you must preach to us or we will all go to hell and God will require our blood at your hands."  Over Embury's protests that he had neither church nor congregation, Barbara told him to preach in his own home and she would provide the congregation.  Soon, Paul and Barbara, their African slave Bett, John Lawrence, and Margaret Embury were collected and Philip Embury preached the first Methodist sermon in New York.  Thus was born, in 1766, the first Methodist Society in America.

The congregation grew and so the group bought property on John Street and in 1768 built the first Methodist church in America.  The congregation continues in the same location on John Street, though the current church dates from 1841.  A museum dedicated to Barbara Heck and the founding of Methodism in America can be seen in the basement of the church. 

In 1770, the Palatine group moved out of New York City and took up land in the Camden Valley in upper New York State.  But then came the American Revolution.  Many of the men joined up with the British, some fighting with General Burgoyne at the Battle of Bennington.  Like so many who remained loyal to Britain, the Palatines fled their homes and ended up north of the St. Lawrence river in Quebec.  And so the Irish Palatines were part of this first wave of immigration to Canada.  Indeed, this is how Ontario began—with the settlement of the United Empire Loyalists, so-called because they remained loyal to the British Empire.

The province was established in the wake of the American Revolution—what we now know as Ontario, but was originally called Upper Canada—and townships laid out along the St. Lawrence River (known as the Royal townships) and in the Bay of Quinte area (known as the Cataraqui townships).  The Hecks and the Lawrences moved to Augusta township along the St. Lawrence River near Prescott, Ontario, while the Dulmages, Detlors and Switzers settled in Marysburg, Edwardsburg and Ernestown townships in the Bay of Quinte. 

Once again, Barbara Heck and the Palatines were involved in establishing Methodism in their communities.  Indeed Methodist itinerant preachers in the new province actively sought out the Palatine communities because they were known to be Methodists.  Along the Switzerville Road (south of Highway 401), you can find Switzerville Methodist chapel which was established on Peter Switzer's property in 1792.  Better known is the Blue Church near Prescott and its cemetery where Barbara and Paul Heck are buried.  In 1909, more than 100 years after the death of Barbara Heck, a monument was erected to commemorate her seminal role in the founding of Methodism in the United States and Canada. 

By an order-in-council dated 1789, Loyalists were entitled to obtain free grants of land, as were their sons and daughters when they came of age.  Like the United Empire Loyalists in general, the Loyalist Palatines obtained land all over the province, but did not necessarily settle on those lands:  people would often transfer their location tickets to someone else, or they were bought up by speculators.

C.  Early 19th century immigrants

The number of people immigrating during the War of 1812 and Napoleonic Wars in Europe was very small due to the closure of the Atlantic shipping lanes.  But immigration resumed in 1815, and for those leaving the British Isles, it was largely directed towards British North America rather than the United States.

Henry Ruttle, Perth military settlement

Britain had a lot of half-pay officers on its hands at the end of the war, and rather than send them back to the United Kingdom, it offered them free land to encourage them to settle in Canada and increase the population.  Britain also was experiencing economic depression, and so it encouraged the surplus population to emigrate to Canada.  The government established the Perth military settlement in 1815-16, inland from the St. Lawrence townships, and it was populated largely by Scots from Perthshire and Irish from County Wexford.  However, one of the other non-military settlers was Henry Ruttle and his wife, Catherine Brethour, likely from Ballingrane who settled in Drummond township in 1816.  Another settler at that time was Andrew Caswell, not a Palatine name, but the Caswells were in County Limerick and intermarried with the Palatines.  This area would see new assisted immigration a few years later with the first group of Peter Robinson settlers.

Philip St. John, Brock township

Another early settler was Philip St. John who emigrated from the parish of Nantinan in County Limerick to New York City in 1816 with his wife and two children.  Whether he intended to settle in New York is unclear, but he took advantage of free passage to Canada and was forwarded to Brock township, south of Lake Simcoe, in 1817.  His presence there served as a magnet for other Irish Palatines, including a large number of Shiers, in Brock and the surrounding townships of Scott, Reach, and Georgina.

Philip's brother, George, joined him from Ireland in 1823, and over the years, other Ballingrane emigrants settled there, too, including the Bakers, Brethours and Ruttles (who came in the 1830s), and the Millers (who came in the 1840s and 1850s).  In 1835, a group of Shiers moved further north within the township and created a separate enclave, complete with its own cemetery called the "North Brock Shiers".

Martin Switzer, Streetsville

Yet another early immigrant was Martin Switzer, originally from Kilcooley, County Tipperary; he was an interesting fellow, although not typical of the Irish Palatines.  Martin emigrated to Boston in 1804, but moved to Toronto township in Upper Canada in 1819 where the village of Streetsville grew up.  He was one of William Lyon Mackenzie's Reformers and was suspected of stirring up support for Duncombe's army in the 1837 Rebellion.  He was arrested for treason and spent time in prison but was pardoned in 1838, at which point he migrated back to the United States, to Illinois.  The community of Streetsville became a magnet for other Irish Palatines from Kilcooley, and we find that a number of Switzers, Sparlings and Smeltzers settled there.  A secondary settlement of this group was formed around Goderich in the 1830s.

D.  Assisted immigration schemes

The Perth military settlement was a kind of assisted immigration scheme in that the government actively fostered settlement there.  However, normally assisted immigration schemes were carried out by individuals who were willing and able to finance the travel and settlement of a group of immigrants in return for large land grants from the government.  Sometimes these entrepreneurs would be given a whole township or two to settle.  Two well-known examples are Colonel Thomas Talbot, who was initially granted 5000 acres in 1803 in southwestern Ontario and settled quite a number of immigrants in Elgin county and surrounding areas, and Archibald McNab, known as the "Laird of McNab" who in 1825 brought over 84 settlers from the Scottish highlands and settled them in McNab township in Renfrew county.

Talbot scheme from Tipperary

One early assisted immigration scheme was led by Richard Talbot (no relation to the more famous Thomas) who brought out 38 families of Protestants from North Tipperary in 1818.  These people settled around Ottawa and London, and they are the subject of Bruce Elliott's study, Irish Migrants in the Canadas.  Amongst this group were two Irish Palatines—James and Nicholas Shouldice, from Dunkerrin and Glankeen respectively.  Note that these were not the Kilcooley Palatines who were settled further southeast within Tipperary; some Palatine families had moved eastward into County Tipperary, and the initial migration of some of their kinfolk to Ontario served to attract other Irish Palatine families from North Tipperary, including Switzers and Sparlings, to the Ottawa and London settlements.

Peter Robinson settlements (1823 and 1825)

More well-known are the Peter Robinson settlement schemes.  Peter Robinson was an Upper Canadian politician, the brother of Attorney General Sir John Beverly Robinson.  His scheme was intended primarily to relieve the poor Roman Catholic population, particularly from the southern counties of Ireland, but some Protestants were taken, including 8 Palatine families in total (nearly 60 people out of a total of 2500). 

Two groups were recruited, the first in 1823 when the families of Garret Dulmage, John Teskey, and John Young were settled near Almonte in Ramsay Township, Lanark County.  The Dulmages became prominent in the towns of Almonte and Renfrew; the Teskeys owned the mills at Teskeyville (now Appleton).  This settlement served to attract other settlers to Ramsay township and to Pakenham township just north of it, including the Lowe, Miller, and Switzer families.  Unfortunately, most of the soil in Pakenham is very poor for farming, and thus a secondary settlement was formed in Stafford township further up the Ottawa Valley where a community named Micksburg was established by the Mick family.  Other Palatine families in Stafford included the Millers, Poffs, Sparlings, Switzers, and Youngs, as well as other County Limerick families who were intermarried with the Palatines—the Childerhoses and Combas

The second group of Peter Robinson settlers were sent to Ontario in 1825 and included the families of George and Michael Lowes, George Miller, Adam Shouldice, and Tobias Switzer who were all settled in Emily Township near Peterborough.  Other families to join the settlement—not only in Emily, but in Ops and Mariposa townships as well—included the Corneils, Doupes and Latchfords.  Four times as many immigrants came in 1825 compared with the earlier sailing, and most of them were Catholic which made for a more volatile mix of settlers in the Peterborough area; accordingly, the area was subject to more Catholic-Protestant tensions than many other parts of the province.

E.  Immigrants throughout the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s

Adam Shouldice, who came as a Peter Robinson settler in 1825, is one of my favourite people—mainly because he loved to write letters to the government, and so he has left us a valuable record.  In June 1823, he wrote a letter to the Colonial Office: 

The Humble adress of The Pallentines and Trew Protestants of The County of Limerick Ireland is as follows / your Royel Highness / Their Humble Request Is That your Royel Highness would Dain to order a Ship or Two to Limerick for them in Pertickler as government Did grant and send Two Ships to Cork Superintended By one Mr. Robinson who Made up His Number in a few Days and Tuck of Every Kind / your Royel Highness there is none to equel The Pallentines For Their Loyalty Cleanliness and good Cultivater's of Land which all must allow In Ireland / now your Royel Highness we Have Devided and Sub Devided with our Children for want of Land / Therefore we Do Most Humbly Request That your Royel Highness will order a Provence To our Selves as Their is Sufisent of us To fill it and would not wish to Mix with the other Sort of people who is not True to Their King / nor Do They Stable with us as we are always found Helpfull in Correcting them

This is an interesting document:  note that he asked the government to "order a province to ourselves," mentioning the Peter Robinson scheme in particular.  He may have been aware of other assisted emigration schemes, and so the idea of asking for a separate place was not as far-fetched as it might at first seem.  He mentioned that the Palatines were Protestants and loyal to the King.  This was likely true, but he knew how to use this loyalty to advantage.  He mentioned "the other sort of people"—presumably meaning the Catholics, and he mentioned that subdivision of land has caused economic hardship.

Around this time, County Limerick was in a state of economic depression.  The end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 was hard for the agricultural community, and a series of local famines and crop failures in the late 1810s and into the 1820s made things even more difficult.  In 1821, Adam Corneal of Adare wrote to the Colonial Office mentioning these economic difficulties:

The Memorial of about thirty families of German discent containing about two hundred persons Sheweth That the establishment of land obtained for their ancestors by her late majesty Queen Anne in the county of Limerick in Ireland is now from the depressed state of the times and the increased rent required by their Landlords totally inadequate to the support of their large and [?]ing families

The poor economic conditions led to agrarian violence where some of those most poorly off turned on their more favoured neighbours.  The Palatines had been settled on favourable land at lower rents; they practised mixed farming and were generally better off economically than the Catholics.  At this time in County Limerick, secret societies known as the Whiteboys and the Rockites waged local terrorist campaigns against the Palatines and other Protestant symbols of economic advantage and power.  Numerous outrages occurred, usually involving raids on houses for arms.  Frequently these incidents ended in burning the houses, beating up the inhabitants, and sometimes even murder.

The Sparling family was particularly set upon because of having displaced some Catholic tenants from one estate a few years before.  In 1827, Christopher Sparling petitioned the government for land in Upper Canada.  He was living in Limerick City, having taken refuge there a few years earlier after several members of his family were murdered.  He explained first that his uncle, also named Christopher Sparling, "was waylayed and murdered on the 20th of October 1821 in midday on his way to Newcastle, from his farm on the Courtney Estate by a party of ruffians who lay in ambush and fired several shots thro' his body."  His father, too, was murdered: 

George Sparling was visited at his house near Adare on the 9th of December 1821 at night by a party of ruffians who robbed the House of arms and beat him to such a degree that he shortly afterwards died—Frederick Petit an Englishman and son in law to the above George Sparling was shortly afterwards murdered in midday on the high way between Adare and Rathkeal by a party who lay in wait and fired several shots thro' his body, merely for his alliance with the Sparlings.

It was said by several historians that the Palatines lived in peace and harmony with their Catholic neighbours, but clearly that was not always the case.  Other immigrants expressed their concerns in their letters and petitions as well.  Nicholas Shire (wife Anne Cronsberry) of Court Matrix wrote to his son Samuel in Quebec in 1822:

Last summer was very scarce in provisions in Ireland and in particular the counties of Clare, Galway, Kerry, Cork and Limerick. The poor got very great relief from abroad in those counties. The disturbances of this country is not yet over after all that was hung and transported. The Insurrection Act is still in force and the army is very exact in their duty.

Andrew Young of Ballingrane, petitioned the Colonial Office in April 1823 on behalf of himself and four other families:

The Memorial of Andrew Young Farmer of Ballingrane Parish of Nantinan near Adair Sheweth that for certain reasons arising from the failure of farming interest, and extreme danger to members of the Established religion in this County of Limerick He with your other Memorialists find it necessary to Emigrate to British America / our Cash property on an average will not amount to more than sixty pounds sterling to each family of five who intend to emigrate and the object of our Memorial to your Lordship is to know what encouragement we can expect from Goverment as settlers in Upper Canada.

Most of the Irish emigration to Ontario happened before the Irish Potato Famine which started in 1845 and lasted until 1849.  Nevertheless, the Famine did result in a spike in immigration in Ontario, with about 100,000 Irish sailing to British North America that year.  It was said of the Irish Palatines that they were not affected by the Famine since they practised mixed farming and so were generally better off than their Roman Catholic neighbours who relied solely on the potato for their sustenance.  However, the Palatines were not immune to economic hardship:  some of them ended up in the local workhouse and we have written evidence of their circumstances.  Samuel Doupe of Court Matrix wrote to one of his sons in Canada in 1848 describing the conditions back home:

…The early potatoes in kitchen gardens are getting black like last year.  If the late potatoes will be bad, this year will be as bad as last year...I could name some farmers and labourers that could not feed one pig last year.  The fever is very much in our place yet the poorhouse has the fever always.  About 20 per week dies though they are tended as well as the doctors can do it…A good many of the merchants and the townsmen and many more of our neighbours all dead with fever.  In the midst of life we are in death.

The next year, three more of Samuel's children—Adam Doupe, Henry Doupe and Rachel (Doupe) Shier—emigrated to Usborne and Blanshard townships near the village of St. Marys, Ontario.  Their two brothers, Jacob and Joseph had emigrated to Camden East in the 1820s, but by the 1840s, available land could be found further west or north, and so the newcomers settled in the Huron Tract.  Of all the townships in Ontario, Blanshard probably had the largest number of different Palatine surnames:  Benner, Brethour, Delmage, Doupe, Legear, Miller Raynard, St. John, Shier, Sparling, Switzer, Teskey. 

As time wore on, the Irish Palatines could be found in almost all townships within the province.  The Irish Palatines, like the majority of Irish settlers in this period, came in family groups, and often came together with other families.  Like most Irish immigrants in the early to mid-nineteenth century, the Irish Palatines tended to settle where friends and family had settled before; however, they were constricted by the availability of land, and so they moved to newly surveyed townships, such as those in Grey or Bruce counties or the Huron Tract, if lands in the initial settlement groups could not be found.  And like other immigrants, they pushed on further west to settle on the prairies when lands in Ontario filled up.


If we were to ask what impact the Irish Palatines had on Ontario as a group, beyond their Methodist influence, I would say that they were simply part of the large wave of Irish immigration that swept through Ontario from about 1815 to 1855, and they proved to be successful immigrants.  They found in Canada a hospitable environment.  Unlike their migration from Germany to Ireland where they found themselves in a country where they were different in all sorts of ways—in language, religion, farming practices, dress, and so on—in Ontario they were part of the majority:  they spoke English, albeit with an Irish accent; they were mostly Methodist or Established Church, and since about two-thirds of the Irish immigrants were Protestant, and most of the English and Scottish immigrants were, too, they fit in very well; they were a rural people, and farmed successfully or ran small business enterprises; and they were familiar with the political system.  All in all, the Irish Palatines fit in very well in Ontario.  In a time when Protestants and Catholics rarely intermarried, settling in Protestant Ontario allowed them to greatly extend their network of kinship relations much more broadly than was possible in County Limerick.