European History

RESEARCH OF THE MICH/DAB (Micks/Doupe) families by ALBERTA CALLENDER 1709/2000.

What prompted a people to uproot their families and flee to a distant country in the year l709? WAR and HUNGER and RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION such as continues in the World to-day in this year of 2000. A people living in the PALATINATE – the Pfaltz – of GERMANY, some of whose ancestors had already fled there from other European and Scandinavian countries, to escape from the French armies who were burning and pillaging their homes, plus two severe winters which destroyed the Grape Harvest – many of them being Vinedressers. 1648 saw the end of the 30 years War which had ruined the German provinces when King Louis of France decided to annexe the Palatinate and l685 saw him revoke the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed the religious and political freedoms enjoyed by Protestants. Exhorbitant taxes were levied and weary of War and cold the failure of the Grape Harvest was the final straw.

On a visit to Heidelberg some years ago I was told a somewhat romantic story (and I have since read a somewhat similar account in Caroline Heald’s Book on the Palatines of Ontario) . “The Palatinate – Kurpfalz Region – was one of the most advanced States in Europe. Elector Karl Ludwig married his daughter Liselotte to the brother of Louis XIV (known as the Sun King) of France in the hope of extending the influence of the Palatinate, and when his son died without an heir in l685 Louis claimed the territory of the left bank of the Rhine and the Orleans Wars ensued (l688-l697). This was how a German State came to be ruled over by a French King”. The following years saw great unrest and religious persecution and when the severe Winters of l708-9 destroyed the Grape Harvest their thoughts turned to emigration. In l677 William Penn had visited the Palatinate and told that there would be a welcome for any families who wished to emigrate and colonize the land. NOW it was remembered – word spread and thousands elected to find a new life in the New World of Canada and America. And so, in April l709, gathering together only what possessions they could carry, the journey down the Rhine began, traveling in Scows – flat bottomed boats – just as the Armies of Louis were destroying the towns of the Lower Palatinate, Forbidden to leave, many perished. Fees and tolls had to be paid – there were chains across the river at Toll Castles (which you may still see to-day) and they had to rely on gifts of food along the way (though sometimes THEY were robbed).

In April l709 they started on their journey to Rotterdam and it was reported that one thousand refugees were arriving in Rotterdam every day. by early June. Queen Anne of England sent ships (mostly troop ships of the Duke of Marlborough) Her great-aunt had married the Elector Palatine and their daughter Sophia was married to the Elector of Hanover. Sophia was Queen Ann’s Heiress Presumptive and her son was eventually to become King George I. so Queen Ann had an interest in the Palatinate. Instructions were given for Lists to be made (known as the Rotterdam Lists) Landing at Deptford they were sent to Camps on the Commons of Camberwell and Blackheath and Greenwich where they were housed in Warehouses and Tents and given food and clothing. On Sundays people came to look at “the poor Palatines” and some brought gifts of food and bought the Toys which some of the Palatines made. Even though the Government offered to pay anybody who would take the Palatines into their homes there was little response and an Appeal was made for funds. Three hundred thousand pounds was collected countrywide – which in those days was a great deal of money. But soon they came to be resented – especially by the poorer classes who considered they were taking the bread out of THEIR mouths! Twice a day they gathered for prayers, using barrels as Pulpits and as it is often under the most extreme conditions that the strongest human bonds are formed and couples fall in love, during their sojourn in London many marriages were performed. Sleeping as they were on straw – even though changed periodically – there was also great overcrowding which resulted in disease and hundreds are said to have died, resulting in mass burials. Inevitably, resentment grew when there was no sign of the Palatines leaving.

Eventually a Committee was appointed to find settlement for families and the Earl of Wharton, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and whose wife was a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, petitioned the Queen to send as many families as she should think fit to settle on the large Estates in Ireland. More than 800 families elected to go – over three thousand souls. On the 8th of August l709 a London Newspaper reported that on that day several wagons with Palatine men, women and children, had passed through the city on their way to Chester to embark for Ireland. Travelling expenses were provided with a small sum of money to help them on their way and they left for Chester on the West Coast of England – the women and children on wagons with their few possessions and the men walking. But even then some 245 persons were reported as dying on the way as it was a long and exhausting journey of over l00 miles and they were glad to sleep in the stables provided by sympathetic people. At Chester they embarked for Dublin. Once more they found themselves encamped near a city under dreadful conditions amongst a hostile people. Every advantage was taken of the poor foreigners who spoke no English or Irish and did not understand the values of money they had been given,. and the Lord Mayor of Dublin had to issue a proclamation ordering fair treatment of the Palatines. Once again they suffered hunger as the money which the Government advanced was not sufficient to sustain them.

Amongst the Landlords (42 in all) who had offered to settle the Palatines on their Estates was one Sir Thomas Southwell. Lady Southwell had been a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and her husband had been favoured with a very large grant of land at Castlematrix near Rathkeale. Interested in the Linen Industry he asked that mostly Weavers would be sent to him and his wife elected to set up an Industry for their wives, – the 65 weavers among the refugees were sent to Ireland. . The remains of the Weaving Sheds and Millrace may still be seen to-day outside the Castle wall by the River Deel. The Government undertook to pay Lord Southwell the rent and each family was granted 8 acres – leased for 50 years or three lives – at five shillings per acre. He agreed to supply them with build their houses, – . This arrangement was initially for 20 years to encourage the Palatines to stay. They were also given a Musket – known as a Queen Anne – for defence, but there is no record that they were ever used (not even in l829 when there was some ill feeling towards them). They were also enrolled in the free Yeomanry of the country and were known as the True Blues or German Fusiliers. The Government, however, were slow to reimburse Lord Southwell and in l7l6 he had to threaten to evict the Palatines and seize their stock unless the King “was graciously pleased”: to advance payment.

Many of the Palatines who had remained behind in Dublin returned to England and many more had returned to their homeland from Rotterdam.

From l7ll they grew restless – lifestyle was not as good as they expected and The Great Scattering as it was known, continued for many years. The Palatines were not necessarily all of German descent as previous generations had themselves come from Scandinavia and adjoining European countries as refugees, mostly of Calvinist and Lutheran persuasions and they were joined by Roman Catholics, Mennonites from Switzerland and Moravians, .and the Pennsylvanian Dutch. (The Mennonites introduced mixed farming to Germany). Moravians settled in the North of Ireland and to-day they still have a Church on the outskirts of Ballymena, its spire the same as those to be seen on old Churches in Germany. It is plain and well cared for – the Pulpit being raised very high from the floor. Their houses are built in a square, more modern and pretty, and they still have their own Clergyman..

On arrival at Castlematrix on the Southwell Estate cottages were built – in a square – and then kitchen gardens were laid out and fruit trees planted . They had Beehives to fertilize the plants and trees. Villages were also built at Ballingrane, Courtmatrix and Killaheen and it was in Ballingrane that our MICKS family settled. The Palatines introduced the wheeled plough and planted Potatoes in drills instead of the “lazybeds” used by their Irish neighbours. and vegetables, almost unknown in Ireland, were grown. Flax for spinning was grown, as was also wheat, oats and hemp. Geese were kept in the orchards to fertilize the ground and they in turn fed on the apples which fell to the ground. The Palatines were said to “sleep between two beds” down-feather quilts from the geese which they kept and which were the forerunner of the Duvets as we know them to-day. They also appointed a Burgomaster to whom they took their problems and as time went by people shewed great respect for the “gentle Irish who spoke German” a language which eventually died out. The women worked beside their husbands and kept their homes well. Beekeeping was much favoured – my Uncle (William Leonard Micks) was an expert and often called to see to the Hives which their owners daren’t do in case of being attacked by the Bees! Badly crippled with Arthritis he would sit between his Hives keeping an eye on them through a spyglass!

Missing their Vineyards, the Palatines turned to making Cider and my own grandfather was an expert. The Ciderstone which he used to crush the apples was still in the garden – unbroken – in my childhood and I used it to “play house”. The Cider was known as “Cack-a-Ge” (Gay – ge – being the Irish word for Geese) and Cacka – well – a name chosen in jest! Some Palatines also settled in Kilcooley on the Tipperary/Kilkenny border and are still there. There is a road perhaps a mile long – known as Palatine Street. The houses are fine two-storey, slated, and in large farmyards surrounded by sheds and still standing if not occupied. A settlement at Carlow also has its Palatine Street as had Pallasgreen in County Limerick.

Abel Ram in Wexford took 35 Palatine families on his Estate but in l798 they were mostly the victims of a holocaust when in the Rebellion they were rounded up and herded into a Barn which was then set alight and men, women and children perished.. Their. homes , livestock and all their possessions were also burned and those who had escaped had only what they stood up in when they fled. The “Whiteboys” had decided that the Palatines were supporting the English Government. A few years ago when staying with a friend in Wexford I went looking for Old Ross, but there was nothing to be seen and anybody I asked had never heard of a Palatine Settlement. There are, however, several families of Palatine origin still living in Co. Wexford.

Over the years the German pronunciation was replaced by a more Anglicised version – as in the case of my grandparents Mich and Duab (Doupe) though still pronounced “Dobe”. Some of the American and Canadian families still pronounce their names MICK while Irish families have added an S. My mother always called her mother by the German sounding “Mutti” though it never occurred to me to ask why – maybe the rest of the family did also but I never noticed !

By far the largest Settlement was at the Southwell Estate and the Southwells lived in Castlematrix Castle. The founder of the Micks family settled at Nantenan Ballingrane and eventually their descendants moved over an area of approximately l0 miles – to the parish of Ardcanny, Nantenan, Ballingrane, Rathkeale, Adare and Ballingarry from the Ardgoul townland. So it can be taken that all of that name are in some way related, as are the Doupes..

The Mich-Mick-Micks family were fortunate in the draw for Landlords in that they were assigned to the Southwell Estate – only “emigrating” to the Bury estate at Ardcanny and adjoining areas. In l729 there were still l03 families settled on the Southwell estate. Some families subsequently moved to the Quin estate at Adare – several more settled in Kerry and the Oliver Estate at Kilfinane. The Bury estate was at Newmarket – now known as Pallaskenry. But in the main, families seem to have stuck together.

Having survived the 39 years War of l6l8-45 only to be plunged into another War in l674 at the hands of the French they were influenced by the promise of what came to be known as the Golden Book which was circulated in the Palatinate., a volume with a picture of Queen Anne and the title pages in letters of gold, promising transport from England to the Colonies. And William Penn’s visit to the Palatinate inviting emigrants to Pennsylvania was also remembered but the deciding factors were the terrible Winters of l708 & 9 which ravished Europe destroying the vines on which they depended for their livelihood and their families facing starvation. Villages were emptying and the Elector issued an Edict forbidding people to leave. And so it was that the heads of families got together and taking only what they could carry they stole away in the night. Some riverside towns attempted to extract a Travel Tax and the Toll Castles had chains across the river preventing any passage until the Tolls were paid. – you can still see them. On arrival at Rotterdam they had expected to be transferred immediately to ships and to set sail for the New World, but when they arrived there was a long delay and many of them had to exist on charity and they were housed in shacks. Orders were given to make Lists of all families sailing to England (The Rotterdam Lists) . .Many were turned back from Rotterdam but eventually over l3,000 arrived in England. (3000 were sent back) Here again an attempt was made to List all families (The London Lists).

They were glad to accept menial jobs – if they could get them – and only one quarter of those who had hoped to arrive in America were eventually able to do so

Sir Walter Raleigh was a friend of the Southwells and often visited. It was he who had introduced the POTATO – which originated in the South American country of CHILE – to Ireland when he brought the first Tubers to Youghal in the south of Ireland and obviously saved some for his friend, – from Youghal and Castlematrix they spread throughout the country and became the staple food of the rural population. In the mid-l700s the population of Ireland was only 2.5 million. By the mid-l800s when the Great Famine came the population was 9 million. Credit for the big rise in population is given to the Potato – better nutrition, greater fertility meaning bigger families. Ten times before Famine had struck Ireland but it was not a wide-spread Famine and the country survived. It was the complete failure of the crop in l845-47 together with the severest winter in living memory, that decimated the population and the population to-day is but 3.5 million. The Potato Murrin crossed the Atlantic to Europe – France, Holland, and Belgium were badly affected as was England, before it arrived in Ireland and spread quickly throughout the country. Potatoes were mostly grown on conacre – a portion of land which was rented to grow a crop on which the rural population then existed for the whole year.
NOTE: When the Potato Murrin first appeared nobody knew what it was – Blight – and it was said to have crossed the Atlantic in the STEAMSHIPS. It took six days for a SAILINGSHIP to cross the Atlantic and pass through the doldrums where the colossal heat quickly killed the bacteria and fungus but the Steamships could pass through the doldrums in one day whatever the weather so the Potatoes would be full of disease. The spraying of Bluestone which killed it was at that time – the l800s – unknown.

Between l8l6 and l842 there had been l4 failures of the Potato crop. But in l845 it took over the whole country. – black spots on the leaves overnight and a sickening smell pervaded. as the tuber rotted.

The Government instituted a Relief Scheme – mostly work on the new Railways and road-making, to provide the most needy people with money to buy food. But it was short-term and insufficient, and people – particularly in the West of Ireland, starved. (Land in the West of Ireland is barren and stoney).

Note: It is hard to believe that the same system of road-making was in operation in the l930s when I can remember – as a child – driving past a group of unemployed men – some young Palatines – sitting at a road junction breaking stones with a heavy hammer and piling them high in a square which was then measured at the end of their day and paid for “by the yard”. Roads in Ireland were mostly limestone and dust rose in a cloud as you travelled. – men on bicycles on Sunday mornings going to Church and who usually wore navy-blue suits would arrive home covered in the white limestone dust.!

When Indian meal was brought in to feed the starving in the West of Ireland the problem was transport. It was flint meal and required many hours of boiling to make it palatable but up to the time when Dealers put up the price it was available at a penny and twopence a pound. It also should have been ground twice and this was not always done., – also it was rationed, there was never enough and whole families starved.

In the l840s more than 40% of rural cabins consisted of just one room. Wooden rafters were covered with sods of earth and then thatched with straw. Some had no windows or chimneys – the smoke just went out through the door! I can remember seeing the last of these cabins in the late l920s , unoccupied and falling down, on our way to the seaside of Ballybunion. On the Beara Peninsula in Co. Cork/Kerry you can still see the remains of small houses and you would wonder how people had survived in such isolated places.

Women and children were barefoot – I can recall seeing children run barefoot from the lanes in Limerick during the l920s/early l930s. Women wore black shawls (we referred to them as Shawly women!) But throughout all the famine years it is said that Beer, Whiskey and the illegally-made Poitin were very cheap!

In l849 there was an outbreak of Cholera (there was also one in l8l3 according to the Church Record Book) The cities were overcrowded where rural people had gone to find work.

Some Historians blame the Famine on Landlords. The lands of Ireland were mostly owned by Landlords who rented out parcels of land to their tenants. Some were good Landlords – but some were absentees who did not live in the country and felt neither responsible nor generous, – it was left to their Agents to collect the rents. And some of the Landlords were deeply in debt themselves and depended on rents to reduce it. Cattle-grazing was becoming the most profitable method of farming and it suited Landlords to be rid of their tenants to clear the land. Some – mainly the absentees of course – resorted to eviction. The local Constabulary were given the job of evicting the people and their few possessions from their cabins, which were then thrown down and burned, leaving them destitute and homeless, Their only shelter would be the workhouses and these, already overflowing, were not always able to take them in.

Some Landlords put their hands in their pockets and paid for food – Lord Monteagle, whose estate ran from Shanagolden to Mount Trenchard near Tarbert on the banks of the Shannon, was one of these. (He was one time Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British Government). Soup Kitchens were established, mainly at the instigation of the Society of Friends – Quakers and “Protestants” (i.e., any religious persuasion which was not Roman Catholic) They were referred to as Soupers, (even in my young day children, seeing me coming out of a “Protestant School”, would call after me “Proddy woddy ring the bell; call the Soupers down to hell” – and I would reply “You drank the Soup!” and run quickly away) Children can be so cruel to one another! A local Limerick newspaper reported weekly on donations for Famine Relief and always, every week, would be a donation from the Quaker Society of Friends, money, clothes or food.

FAMINE; Napoleon had “cornered” the Timber supplies from Russia and Scandinavia and supplies had to be brought from Canada – at that time a sparsely populated country. The ships returned there in ballast. Many people who could raise the few pounds necessary for the fare – or helped by Landlords who were anxious to unload their responsibility for their tenants – were anxious to emigrate to the New World and the Government was anxious to colonize the country. Some of these ships, overloaded and unseaworthy, foundered and hundreds perished – they became known as Coffin Ships.

There was never enough food or water to last the long voyage of six to nine weeks and fever would break out on board. Any ship which arrived at Quebec with fever on board was ordered to stand off, which prolonged the agony of the emigrants. But the goal of . the people was the United States of America , and it was easy enough to cross the border – life was too hard and cold in Canada! On 24th of April l846 the ship LORD SYDENHAM arrived in Quebec with 700 passengers from Limerick, who were reported as being “All Respectable”. Were any of our Palatine relations aboard? In the mid-l800s
the rate of emigration was said to be 200,000 each year. l85l saw the highest figure ever of 250,000. The poorest emigrants had been promised a pound plus food and clothing on their arrival in Canada, but this in most cases did not materialize and many died on arrival.

Employment in Ireland had been almost nil – rural workers would have been paid only eight or nine pence per day – city employees received eight or nine shillings per week.

NOTE; A Limerick Timber Merchant, Francis Spaight, who had an estate – Derry Castle – near Killaloe (some l5 miles from Limerick on the Shannon) was a large Importer of Canadian Timber. The Limerick firm which bears his name was still in existence up to the end of the 20th Century. Well run, his ships took many emigrants to Canada..

Emigrant Ships had to stop at Grosse I’le on the St. Lawrence River for the emigrants to be medically examined. In l998 I was taken to visit there when with a party from Limerick Diocese we paid an exchange visit to our twinned Diocese of New Hampshire. We travelled out by boat and it was bitterly cold – imagine what it must have been like for the poor half-starved emigrants inadequately clothed and ill,. and who had lost some of their family on the long voyage. We saw the remains of the Hospital where they would have lain and where many died and the graves where they are buried. As many names as possible are recorded and I was able to tell that a family named BIBLE, (Palatines), of whom it was said “nothing was known nor where they came from”, had resided at Kilfinane in Limerick county. There is an Irish Memorial cross on which it said the Irish emigrants had left home to escape religious persecution, but this of course is wrong – they left to escape starvation and in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children. The island was covered in Azumac Trees and there were Guides to take us around and tell us the sad tale of the emigrants whose journey ended there. It was a sad place to contemplate. (The grandmother of Henry Ford who invented the motor car is buried there).

Note; Castlematrix Castle at Rathkeale, the home of the Southwells, was for many years in a state of disrepair. An American Colonel O’Driscoll had asked a friend, a member of the Government to let him know if they had a Castle for sale and he was offered Castlematrix after World War 2, for just two thousand pounds. With the aid of Grants he spent 30 years restoring it. Itinerants had removed everything, with the exception of the small stained glass window in the Chapel (probably due to superstition!). In l993 when I visited, his young wife and children still lived there and her Portugese-English father enjoyed shewing people over it during the Summer months. A herd of Jacob Sheep grazed the fields. (In the l600s Lord Southwell bred HOBBYE HORSES – said to be the ancestors of the American Morgan horse -and the Quarter-Horse) and he sent a stallion and four mares to Virginia).

NOTE: One of the first breeders of pedigree Cattle to sell Pedigree Bulls to Argentina – William Talbot-Crosbie – held auctions at Ardfert in Co.Kerry, attended by Argentinian Cattle Barons, in the late l800s..

In the early l800s three Mills were in operation at Castlematrix – Flax, Flour and Sawmills powered by a 40 ft diameter millwheel) In the l930s the roof, doors and windows were removed to escape taxation and for 30 years it was a veritable ruin until the early l960s when Colonel Sean O’Driscoll of the U.S. Airforce bought it and commenced the restoration.