Ships' Palatine Passenger Lists: [1727-1775]

*** Ships' Palatine Passenger Lists: [1727-1775] ***


The following text and dates and ship names are from the book Pennsylvania German Pioneers by Ralph B. Strassburger and William J. Hinke, published in 1934 by the Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, PA.


As all the lists are now published with all the information which the lists contain, it is possible to give more definite information about the number of ships, the number of subscribers to the oaths and the total number of German pioneers that arrived from 1727 to 1775, than was ever possible before. And besides, a large number of conflicting statements can now be definitely dismissed as unhistorical.

The following is the number of ships bringing German pioneers to the port of Philadelphia, between the years 1727 to 1775.

17275I7449 17600
17283I7450 17611
17292I7462 17620
17303I7475 17634
17314I7487 176411
173211I7492 17655
17337I75015 17665
17342I75116 17677
17353I75219 17684
17363I75319 17694
17377I75419 17707
173816I7552 17719
17398I7561 17728
17406I7570 177315
174110I7580 17746
17425I7590 17752

This is a total of 324 ships, five more than in Rupp's Thirty Thousand Names and two more than in Vol. XVII of the second series of the Pennsylvania Archives. There were 43 ships in the first ten years, 68 in the second decade, 125 in the third decade, 26 in the fourth decade, and 62 in the last nine years. |Pxxx|p

The largest number of ships in a single year were the twenty-two ships in the year 1749.

What curious information has been in circulation about these ships is well illustrated by a quotation from the ancient, but well-known historian, Robert Proud. In his History of Pennsylvania, he states:|R19|r

|Q In the summer of 1749 twenty-five sail of large ships arrived with German passengers alone; which brought about twelve thousand souls, some of the ships about six hundred each; and in several other years nearly the same number of these people arrived annually; and in some years as many from Ireland. By an exact account of all the ships and passengers annually which have arrived at Philadelphia, with Germans alone, nearly from the first settlement of the Province till about the year 1776, when their importation ceased, the number of the latter appears to be about thirty-nine thousand; and their internal increase has been very great.|q

Now, the curious thing about this statement, frequently quoted, is, as we are able to prove, that nearly every item mentioned is wrong. First, there were no twenty-five ships in 1749; second, they did not bring twelve thousand souls; third, the ships did not carry about six hundred Germans each, and lastly, the total was not about thirty-nine thousand. Let us present the evidence for these statements. According to the lists, as printed in this volume, the ships arriving with German passengers in 1749 were as follows:

ElliotAug. 24
CrownAug. 30
ChesterfieldSep. 02
AlbanySep. 02
St. AndrewSep. 09
PriscillaSep. 11
ChristianSep. 13
Two BrothersSep. 14
EdinburghSep. 15
PhoenixSep. 15
PatienceSep. 19
SpeedwellSep. 25
RanierSep. 26
DragonSep. 26
IsaacSep. 27
|F|R19|rProud, History of Pennsylvania, Vol. II, pp. 273-274.|f|Pxxxi|p
AnnSep. 28
JacobOct. 02
LeslieOct. 07
LydiaOct. 17
DragonOct. 17
FaneOct. 17
Good IntentNov. 09

This list shows that only twenty-two ships arrived at Philadelphia in 1749, that the largest number carried on any one ship was 550, but that the average number was 308, and that the total number of passengers on all the twenty-two ships was only 6,787, which is a little more than half of what Proud claimed it to have been.

Regarding the total number of passengers down to 1776, we shall submit our figures presently. Unfortunately, the lists themselves do not give definite figures as to the total number, but we can approximate it fairly closely. What is known definitely is as follows:

(1) The number of persons signing the C lists, including also the first eight B lists, which are missing in the C set, is 26,016.

(2) The number of names on the Captains' lists is 13,760. The names of the signers on the corresponding C lists is 10,018. Hence there are 3,742 names on the captains' lists, which are in excess of the names on the corresponding lists of signatures. This makes a total of 29,758 different names on the lists.|R21|r

(3) The total number of passengers is known of 178 ships. The number on these ships was 36,129. The total number of signers on these 178 ships was 14,423. Hence ttt36,129 = 2.50495

or approximately

2.5 = 2 1/2 = 5/2 14,423

2.6 The ratio of passengers to signers was therefore approximately 5 to 2. On the basis of these figures the total number of passengers was approximately 65,040. This proves conclusively that all previous estimates have been far from the correct figures.

A total of 324 ships is listed in this volume, covering the |F|R20|rThis total is not given on the list. It is an estimate.|f |F|R21|rTo these should be added 129 names which are found on a new list of ship No. 30, which has just come to light and which we print in an appendix. The grand total of all names is, therefore, 29,887.|f|Pxxxii|p

Years 1727 to 1775. Of these there must have been at least 170 different ships. We cannot be sure of the exact number, as there were different ships bearing the same name. There were at least two ships named Dragon, one arriving September 26, 1749, Captain George Spencer, the other on October 17, 1749, Captain Daniel Nicholas; two ships named Edinburgh, arriving but a few days apart, September 14, 1753, and October 2, 1753, respectively. Also two Neptunes, arriving September 30, 1754, and December 13, 1754. There were two Sallys, one arriving October 5, 1767, the other November 10, 1767. When ships with the same name arrive twenty years apart, the presumption is that they are different ships. Thus, the ship Adventure is listed October 2, 1727, and again September 23, 1732. Then there is another Adventure entering the harbor of Philadelphia on September 25, 1754. Can they be the same ship? Many of the ships, 112 in number, made the journey only once, but others made the trip frequently. The ship St. Andrew is listed nine times, the Two Brothers eight times, the Edinburgh seven times, the Minerva, Lydia, Friendship and Crawford six times, the ships Samuel, Patience, Robert & Alice, Mary, Loyal Judith, Chance and Brothers, each five times. Five ships arrived four times, thirteen ships three times and twenty-four ships twice.

A number of different names were applied to these ships or sailing vessels. Most of them are merely called ships. But twenty-five are called snows, fourteen brigantines, four brigs (which according to the dictionaries are to be distinguished from the brigantines) four are called pinks, eleven galleys, and six billenders or billinders. All these names have long passed out of common use, along with the sailing vessels themselves.

The record which the captains made was similar to that of the ships. The 324 ships were commanded by 193 captains. Of these 146 made the trip to Philadelphia only once, but 47 made frequent trips. One of them, Thomas Arnot, with a record of twenty-four years of service, from 1747 to 1771, crossed the Atlantic thirteen times, Charles Smith, 1763-1773, crossed the ocean eleven times, John Mason, 1742-1753, crossed eight times, James Russel, 1748-1754, crossed seven times, so did John Osmond, 1765-1774, and Thomas Coatam, 1741-1754. Four crossed six times, Hugh Percy, 1731-1754, William Muir, 1749-1754, John Steadman, 1731-1738, and James Abercrombie, 1743-1754. Three captains crossed five times, two captains four times, thirteen captains three times and twenty twice. |Pxxxiii|p

Some of these captains were reputed to be cruel and inhuman masters. Governor Gordon refers in one of his letters to the "horrid barbarity, with which the passengers were treated," by one captain, while the passengers themselves called him "a wicked murderer of souls."|R22|r But others were known as kind and considerate. Christopher Schultze, who came on the ship Saint Andrew, landing at Philadelphia, September 12, 1734, wrote of the captain, John Steadman: "We had a very good captain, who kept strictly to his contract, and very able sailors, who had very much patience with us."|R23|r


The journey to Pennsylvania fell naturally into three parts. The first part, and by no means the easiest, was the journey down the Rhine to Rotterdam or some other port. Gottlieb Mittelberger in his Journey to Pennsylvania in the year 1750, writes:|R24|r

|QThis journey lasts from the beginning of May to the end of October, fully half a year, amid such hardships as no one is able to describe adequately with their misery. The cause is because the Rhine boats from Heilbronn to Holland have to pass by 26 custom houses, at all of which the ships are examined, which is done when it suits the convenience of the customhouse officials. In the meantime the ships with the people are detained long, so that the passengers have to spend much money. The trip down the Rhine lasts therefore four, five and even six weeks. When the ships come to Holland, they are detained there likewise five to six weeks. Because things are very dear there, the poor people have to spend nearly all they have during that time.|q

|F|R22|rDiffenderffer, German Immigration, p. 64.|f

|F|R23|rBrecht, Genealogical Record of 8chwenkfelder Families, p. 49.|f

|F|R24|rGottlieb Mittelberger's Journey to Pennsylvania in the year 1750 and return to Germany in the year 1754. Translated from the German by Carl Theo. Eben, Philadelphia, John Jos. McVey, 1888, p. 18. Gottlieb Mittelberger arrived in Philadelphia on September 29, 1750, with the ship Osgood, Capt. William Wilkie. See below list No. 175C, p. 445.|f|Pxxxiv|p

The second stage of the journey was from Rotterdam to one of the English ports. Most of the ships called at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. This was the favorite stopping place, as 142 ships are recorded as having sailed from Rotterdam to Cowes. Other ships touched at one of seven other channel ports. Taking them from east to west they were: Deal, where twenty-two ships stopped, Dover, with eleven ships, Portsmouth thirty-two ships, Gosport, near Portsmouth, two ships, Porte in Dorsetshire, one ship (No. 109), Plymouth two ships, Falmouth, in Cornwall, four ships. One ship (No. 297) went from Rotterdam to London, one ship (No. 263) from Rotterdam to Berwick upon Tweed, on the east coast of England, near the Scotch border, five ships from Rotterdam to Leith in Scotland, two ships from Rotterdam to the Orkney islands (Nos. 110, 163) and one ship from Rotterdam to St. Christopher, one of the West India islands.

Another harbor in Holland, which was frequently used as a starting point for the ocean journey was Amsterdam. From there two ships went to Dover, two to Portsmouth, two to Gosport, three to Cowes, one to Tingmouth (now Teignmouth) in Devonshire, one to Shields, on the east coast of England and one to Aberdeen.

Beginning with the year 1752, nine ships started in various years from Hamburg, Germany, and from there went either to Cowes or to Plymouth. No less than thirty-one ships came directly from London to Philadelphia. From 1766 to 1775, ten ships started from Lisbon, Portugal, while two ships are listed as coming from Boston and one from South Carolina to Philadelphia.

In England there was another delay of one to two weeks, when the ships were waiting either to be passed through the custom house or waiting for favorable winds. When the ships had for the last time weighed their anchors at Cowes or some other port in England, then, writes Mittelberger, "the real misery begins with the long voyage. For from there the ships, unless they have good wind, must often sail eight, nine, ten to twelve weeks before they reach Philadelphia. But even with the best wind the voyage lasts seven weeks."

The third stage of the journey, or the ocean voyage proper, was marked by much suffering and hardship. The passengers being packed densely, like herrings, as Mittelberger describes it, without proper food and water, were soon subject to all sorts of diseases, such as dysentery, scurvy, typhoid and smallpox. Children were the first to be attacked and died in large numbers. Mittelberger reports the deaths of thirty-two children on his ship. Of the heartless cruelty practised he gives the following example: "One day, just as we had a heavy gale, a woman in our ship, who was to give birth and could not under the circumstances of the storm, was pushed through the porthole and dropped into the sea, because she was far in the rear of the ship and could not be brought forward." |Pxxxv|p

The terrors of disease, brought about to a large extent by poor food and lack of good drinking water, were much aggravated by frequent storms through which ships and passengers had to pass. |QThe misery reaches the climax when a gale rages for two or three nights and days, so that every one believes that the ship will go to the bottom with all human beings on board. In such a visitation the people cry and pray most piteously. When in such a gale the sea rages and surges, so that the waves rise often like mountains one above the other, and often tumble over the ship, so that one fears to go down with the ship; when the ship is constantly tossed from side to side by the storm and waves, so that no one can either walk, or sit, or lie, and the closely packed people in the berths are thereby tumbled over each other, both the sick and the well--it will be readily understood that many of these people, none of whom had been prepared for hardships, suffer so terribly from them that they do not survive.|R25|r |q

When at last the Delaware River was reached and the City of Brotherly Love hove in sight, where all their miseries were to end, another delay occurred. A health officer visited the ship and, if any persons with infectious diseases were discovered on the ship, it was ordered to remove one mile from the city.

As early as 1718, Dr. Thomas Graeme was appointed to visit and report on all incoming vessels. But no reports from him are on record until the year 1738. On September 14, 1738, Governor George Thomas laid before the Board the reports of Dr. Graeme, |Qsetting forth the condition of four ships lately arrived here from Rotterdam and Amsterdam; And it being observed from one of the said reports that were the Passengers on Board the ships Nancy and Friendship allowed to be immediately landed, it might prove dangerous to thehealth of the Inhabitants of this Province and City. It is Ordered that the Masters of the said Ships be taken into Custody for their Contempt of the Governour's Order, signified to them by Thos. Glenworth, pursuant to a Law of this Province, to remove to the Distance of one Mile from this City, and that they shall remain in Custody till they shall give security in the sum of Five Hundred Pounds each, to obey the said Order, and not to land any of their passengers Baggage, or Goods, till the Passengers shall have been viewed and Examined, and untill they shall receive a Licence from the Governor for so doing."|R26|r |q

|F|R25|rL. c. p. 21.|f|Pxxxvi|p

The Governor urged at this time that a hospital be erected for sick passengers, but the Assembly refused to act until an epidemic broke out in the city of Philadelphia. Then the Assembly voted to buy Fisher Island, at the junction of the Schuylkill with the Delaware. The island was bought in 1743. On February 3, 1743, Governor Thomas approved a bill,|R27|r passed by the Assembly, for the purchase of this island of three hundred and forty-two acres, with the buildings on it, to be used for a hospital. The name of the island was changed to Province Island, and as such it appears on the map of Philadelphia, which we present. The erection of an adequate hospital was, however, delayed until the year 1750.

How serious conditions were and how many of the sick passengers died, after being brought to Province Island, appears from a statement of Jacob Shoemaker, an undertaker, which he handed in to the Council on November 14, 1754:

An Accompt of the Palatines buried this Year.

For Alexander Stedman 62
For Henry Cepley 39
For Benjamin Shoemaker 57
For Daniel Benesett 87
For Michael Hilligass 8
Total 253

Jacob Shoemaker upon his affirmation saith the above acct of Burials since 14 Sept. last is exact & read from his Book & the Acct of Coffins except those from Michael Hilligass which he thinks may be 6 or 8 more.

Jacob Shoemaker.

Affirmed before me, Chas. Willing. Nov. 14, 1754.|R28|r

|F|R26|rColonial Records, vol. IV, p. 306f.|f |F|R27|r L. c., Vol. IV, p. 638.|f

|F|R28|rPreserved with the ship-lists of the year 1754. The persons for whom the passengers were buried were the Philadelphia merchants, to whom they were consigned.|f |P xxxvii|p

A vivid account of the arrival of these passenger ships in the harbor of Philadelphia, is given by the Rev. Henry M. Muehlenberg, in a report, which he sent to Halle in the year 1769. He writes:|R29|r

|Q After much delay one ship after another arrives in the harbor of Philadelphia, when the rough and severe winter is before the door. One or more merchants receive the lists of the freights and the agreement which the emigrants have signed with their own hand in Holland, together with the bills for their travel down the Rhine and the advances of the 'new-landers' for provisions, which they received on the ships on account. Formerly the freight for a single person was six to ten louis d'ors, but now it amounts to fourteen to seventeen louis d'ors.|R30|r Before the ship is allowed to cast anchor at the harbor front, the passengers are all examined, according to the law in force, by a physician, as to whether any contagious disease exists among them. Then the new arrivals are led in procession to the City Hall and there they must render the oath of allegiance to the king of Great Britain. After that they are brought back to the ship. Then announcements are printed in the newspapers, stating how many of the new arrivals are to be sold. Those who have money are released. Whoever has well-to-do friends seeks a loan from them to pay the passage, but there are only a few who succeed. The ship becomes the market-place. The buyers make their choice among the arrivals and bargain with them for a certain number of years and days. They then take them to the merchant, pay their passage and their other debts and receive from the government authorities a written document, which makes the newcomers their property for a definite period.|q

When we examine the dates of arrival of the ships, we note that the large majority of them arrived in the fall. In August twenty-nine, in September one hundred and thirty-eight, in October eighty-six, in November thirty-three and in December fourteen. In none of the other months did the totals exceed five ships for each month. Muehlenberg was, therefore, entirely correct when he stated that most of the ships reached Philadelphia when the hardships of winter were staring the newcomers in the face. |Pxxxviii|p

|F|R29|rHallesche Nachrichten, new ed., Vol. II, pp. 460-461.|f

|F|R30|rThe equivalent of the louis d'or is about $4.50, though its purchasing power at that time was much greater.|f

But, in spite of all difficulties and hardships, new settlers continued to come. The wonder is not that so many succumbed, but that so many faced all hardships uncomplainingly and after a few years of service emerged from all difficulties as successful farmers, who made the country blossom as a rose. It only shows of what sturdy stuff these pioneers were made. Modern historians describing their hardships do, no doubt, more complaining than they themselves ever did.

Among the interesting documents, brought to Pennsylvania by the German pioneers, two deserve special mention.

The first was a passport, with which all the emigrants coming from Germany and Switzerland were supposed to be provided. One of these passports, of which we present a facsimile, reads as follows:

|Q We, the Burgomaster and Council of the city of Chur [Choire] in the Canton of the Grisons, confess herewith that, through the grace of God, we enjoy at present in our city and neighboring places, a good, healthy and pure air and that no dangerous plague or infectious disease prevails.|q

|Q In testimony whereof the bearer of this, Mr. Andrew Loretz, a citizen here, and single, who intends to travel to Amsterdam, for purposes of business, has been given this certificate, provided with the seal of our chancery, so that he may pass and repass at all places, freely and unimpeded.|q

|Q Given the 8th of September 1784.|q

Certified Seal Chancery of Chur.

The second document, which was taken along on the journey to America, was a letter of recommendation, issued by the pastor of the church to the members of his flock, when they left their homes. One of these letters of recommendation, which has survived, and of which we present also a facsimile, reads as follows:

|Q Thebearer of this letter, John Michael Paulus,|R31|r hitherto a member of our congregation at Essenhelm and Catharine, his lawful wife, both members of our Church, Reformed according to the Word of God, are willing and have the intention, in the name of God, to undertake the journey to the American Colonies, belonging to England, that they may find there a more abundant livelihood. They are herewith commended, upon their difficult and dangerous journey, to the protection of the Almighty, the love of our faithful Savior Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirit, to keep them in body and soul. I recommend them faithfully to all ecclesiastical and secular authorities, as well as to the Christian and charitable consideration of every person.|q

|F|R31|rThe present descendants of the Paulus family are still members of the Reformed Church, in the Creutz Creek congregation in York County.|f|Pxxxix|p

|Q Given at Essenheim in the Electoral Palatinate, near the city of Mayence, May 2, 1742.|q

|Q J. Radernher, pastor of the Reformed Church here.|q What makes this certificate of special interest is the fact that Mr. Paulus was one of the fellow-passengers of John Andrew Strassburger, when he came to Pennsylvania on the ship Loyal Judith, which landed at Philadelphia September 3, 1742.

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