Friday, May 27, 2011

The German Palatines and Kocherthal's Golden Book

As I was writing my post of February 17, 2011, I thought for my next post I would write something about the German Palatine settlements in New York and Pennsylvania. But this "Golden Book" that was mentioned in the Who Do You Think You Are? episode has troubled me. So instead I took some time to learn more about the Golden Book.

I came across a book published in 2004 entitled "Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York' by Philip Otterness, published in 2004. As I read the book, I was troubled by some of the passages concerning Rev. Joshua Kocherthal and the assertion that he was the author of the Golden Book and its various editions. So many things simply do not make sense to me.

To get to the bottom of things, I read everything that I could find on the Palatine region during the time of this exodus. I also looked for information regarding the Carolina and Pennsylvania Colonies and about Queen Anne and the political and economic climate during her reign. As I began to put the pieces of the puzzle together, I realized that Rev. Kocherthal's original booklet was a pawn in a much bigger game.

In several instances I read that Rev. Kocherthal had never been to British America. However, in 1706, he authored a brochure entitled, "Ausführlich-und umständlicher Bericht von der berühmten landschafft Carolina in dem engelländischen America gelegen." This roughly translate to "a detailed and complete report concerning land in Carolina in English America." In it he described the Province of Carolina in glowing terms. Since he'd never been to the Carolinas, I assumed that he must have encountered someone who had been there or read a description of the place.

In 1681, William Penn was granted a royal charter of his Pennsylvania Colony. Prior to 1681, Penn had visited the Rhine region several times. In that same year, Penn wrote and published in England "Some account of the Province of Pennsylvania in America" in which he offered to sell 100 acres for two English pounds and a low yearly rental. Before the close of 1681, the book was translated in Amsterdam and distributed in the upper Rhine region. William Penn advertised his colony repeatedly. He published books that were distributed in Germany in 1700, 1702 and 1704.

The Library of Congress has a collection called the John Archdale Papers 1690-1706. John Archdale was one of the Lord Proprietors of Carolina. The collection includes several letters to and from Mr. Archdale. One such letter informed John Archdale that map maker, Richard Blome's book "English America" by 1697 had been translated into German.

In 1705, John  Archdale was arranging for the Carolina settlement by the High German Company of Thuringia. The company proposed that the Lord Proprietors bring a first group of settlers to Carolina and after this group was safely settled, publish a description of the conveniences and advantageous conditions that these settlers enjoyed. The company also suggested that the Lord Proprietors provide transportation to Carolina from England. The settler would have to repay the company.

At this same time Queen Anne of England championed Protestantism. She married Prince Georg of Denmark, a Lutheran with German ancestry. She was open to receiving persecuted Protestants. The more that I read, the more convinced am I that Rev. Kocherthal's brochure was written based on stories or things that he read from the advertisements printed in German by William Penn, the Lord Proprietors of Carolina and their representatives. Combined with Queen Anne's reputation for helping persecuted Protestants, I saw Rev. Kocherthal's brochure as a proposal to his flock as to how they might remove themselves from hardship.

Queen Anne as well as rulers in Europe believed that enlarging one's population meant wealth and security. So when Kocherthal and his followers applied to Mr. Davenant, a British representative in Frankfort, for passes to England, Mr. Davenant denied the request. He then asked for guidance in the matter from England. As this would be a delicate diplomatic issue, he was told that the queen's desire to help the poor people and settling them in the plantations would be for the public good, but she could not endorse any encouragement given to the people to leave nor give passes without the Elector's (of the Palatinate) consent.

Rev. Kocherthal and his followers did end up in London by 1708. He was able to convince Queen Anne to send him and his followers to America, grant them land and provide a stipend to help them settle. Only she planned to send them to the West Indies. She changed her mind at Kockerthal's objection that the West Indies was too hot. They were sent to New York and not to the Carolina colony. By the time that they sailed, it was approaching winter. In 1709, Kocherthal returned to London to appeal to the queen for more money.

It was at this point that I grew suspicious that Kocherthal had published in Germany a book with Queen Anne's picture and with gold letters on the title page. He did not end up in the Carolina Colony. His people were running out of money because they arrived in winter and had no opportunity to plant crops for the next season. So it made no sense to me that he would publish such a book.

Kocherthal came to London in 1709 to find thousands of immigrants. The first of the immigrants appear to have come from the area near which Kocherthal and his followers left. I am not surprised as I am certain that the story of Kocherthal and his followers sent to America and given land by Queen Anne was told. Also on March 3, 1709, the English passed a bill to naturalize foreign Protestants. The English had established charities to help persecuted Protestants.

A large number of Germans arrived in England between May and November in 1709 causing a strain on the England and it's economy. The English poor were angry that these poor Germans were being supported. On January 15, 1710, a inquiry committee was appointed to investigate who was encouraging Germans to come to England. On April 14, 1711, the committee submitted a report that said that the Golden Book enticed many of the Palatines interviewed because of the ravages of the land caused by the French and the harsh winter of 1708-1709.

Some day, we may learn who published that Golden Book that enticed so many German Palatines to England. But I do not believe that Rev. Kocherthal had anything to do with the Golden Book with an image of Queen Anne and gold leaf on the cover.


  1. Have you ever come across a copy of Kocherthal's book? I would like to read the original text. My family Esslinger/Eslinger came from Southwest Germany in 1749 to Philadelphia and eventually settled in North Carolina. I think this book must have had something to do with that.

  2. Very interesting! I have ancestors who came from the Palatines to America through Virginia (from Germany and Switzerland) and on my grandfather's side, English ones who did settle in the Carolinas. I'll have to read up on all of this!