The Palatines in Ireland

I subscribe to the free, weekly Irish Family History Centre newsletter and always find items of interest. One of the stories in this week’s newsletter is about a New Zealand couple who married in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1884.

To my surprise that story revealed a bit about the background of my 6X great-grandfather, Hendrix Stahl, who was born in 1681 in Berne, Switzerland (we think). My research points to Hendrix Stahl and his young son Henry arriving in Philadelphia in 1712.

How could the two families have anything in common? Here’s the surprising intersection between my Stahl ancestors and those of the New Zealand couple: all had Palatine origins.

Below is a portion of Laura Carroll’s column, “Behind the Scenes in the Genealogy Advisory Service,” about stories she encountered at the National Library of Ireland:

New Zealand records are wonderfully detailed, and the marriage gave the names of both of Roseanna’s parents, Mary Ann Fitzell and William Glazier, farmer of Kerry. I almost jumped out of my skin — a Glazier married to a Fitzell in mid-1800s Kerry!?!

In Ireland these names are very rare, and are almost exclusively associated with the Palatines — religious refugees from the Rhine area of present-day Germany that settled here between 1709 and 1720.

The Palatines were forced out of their homeland, when the French invaded the rich farmland along the Rhine. The French took what they needed to feed and transport their armies, creating famine conditions among the farmers. Between 1709 and 1720, thousands of Palatine refugees arrived in Ireland. They were a rural people, and they settled in rural committees in Limerick and Wexford.

In Limerick the Palatines settled on marginal land, which they to ‘recover’ or ‘improve’ in order to farm. They kept a strong sense of their own cultural identity. Many successive generations in Ireland continued to speak German, and to inter-marry within their own tight-knit communities.

By the mid 1700s when the Palatine population began to expand, and the rents on their reclaimed land were raised, the Palatines began to expand into Kerry…

I have read little about the Palatines and certainly didn’t know a group had settled in Ireland. My ancestors were also a rural people, and they ultimately settled in Donegal (!) Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Read more about the New Zealand couple as well as Laura Carroll’s other engaging stories here:

And while you’re there, consider signing up to receive your own weekly Irish Family History Centre newsletter. (Did you know Bruce Springsteen had Irish roots?)


Comments are closed.