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Foreign Protestants

From Academic Kids

The "Foreign Protestants" were a group of immigrants to Nova Scotia in the mid-18th century.

In 1749, the British colony of Nova Scotia was almost completely populated by 10,000 French-speaking and Catholic Acadians. This was felt to be a great problem by the British administrators of the area, especially Charles Cornwallis, the 1st Marquess Cornwallis. Attracting British immigrants was difficult as most preferred to go to the warmer southern colonies. Thus, a plan was developed to aggressively recruit "foreign" Protestants. These came mostly from German duchies and principalities on the Upper Rhine in the present-day Rhineland-Palatinate bundesländer. The duchy of Wurttemberg was the major source, but there were also "Foreign Protestants" from Montbéliard in France, and parts of Switzerland and the Netherlands.

This recruiting drive was led by John Dick, who was quite successful. The British government agreed to provide free passage to the colony, as well as free land and one year's rations upon arrival. Over 2,000 of the "Foreign Protestants" arrived between 1750 and 1752, on 11 ships:

  • Aldernay/Nancy (1750)
  • Ann (1750)
  • Gale (1751)
  • Speedwell (1751)
  • Pearl (1751)
  • Murdoch (1751)
  • Speedwell (1752)
  • Betty (1752)
  • Sally (1752)
  • Pearl (1752)
  • Gale (1752)

The immigrants almost all disembarked at Halifax, where they were put in temporary quarters before being shipped to other areas of the colony.

Most of the foreign Protestants settled along the South Shore between Liverpool and Halifax. The area is still inhabited by their descendants, and last names like Hirtle and Ernst are common. Many towns such as Lunenburg and Kingsburg bear distinctly German names. Many of the names of islands, beaches, and points are also German.

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