Dutch from the Palatinate of the Rhine
Many Pennsylvania Dutch are descendants of refugees from the
Palatinate of the German Rhine. For example,
some Amish and Mennonite came to the Palatinate and surrounding
areas from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, where, as
Anabaptists, they were persecuted, and so their stay in the
Palatinate was of limited duration.
However, for the majority of the Pennsylvania Dutch, their
roots go much further back in the Palatinate. During the War of
the Grand Alliance (1689–97), French troops, under King Louis
XIV, pillaged the Palatinate, forcing many Germans to flee. The
War of the Palatinate (as it was called in Germany), also called
the War of Augsburg, began in 1688 as Louis took claim of the
Palatinate, and all major cities of Cologne were devastated.
By 1697 the war came to a close with the Treaty of Ryswick,
now Rijswijk in the Netherlands, and the Palatinate remained
free of French control. However, by 1702, the War of Spanish
Succession began, lasting until 1713. French expansionism forced
many Palatines to flee as refugees.
The first major emigration of Germans to America resulted in
the founding of the Borough of Germantown in northwest
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania in 1683-1685. Mass emigration
of Palatines began out of Germany in the early 18th century. In
the spring of 1709, Queen Anne had granted refuge to about 7,000
Palatines who had sailed the Rhine to Rotterdam. From here about
3,000 were sent to America either directly, or through England,
bound for William Penn's colony. The remaining refugees were
sent to Ireland to strengthen the Protestant presence in the
By 1710, large groups of Palatines had sailed from London,
the last group of which was bound for New York. There were 3,200
Palatines on 12 ships that sailed for New York and approximately
470 died en route to America. In New York, under the new
Governor, Robert Hunter, Palatines lived in camps and worked for
British authorities to produce tar and pitch for the Royal Navy
in return for their safe passage.
They also served as a buffer on the frontier separating the
French and Native Americans from the English colonies. In 1723,
some 33 Palatine families, dissatisfied under Governor Hunter's
rule, migrated from Schoharie, New York, along the Susquehanna
River to Tulpehocken, Berks County, Pennsylvania, where other
Palatines had settled.