Broken Promises or Poor Planning? Foreign Protestants in Nova Scotia 1750-1753
Terrence M. Punch, D.Litt.
There was nothing ambiguous about the words Lorenz Rahn heard read at the bridge over the
river Main to Sachsenhausen:
Daß an jeden Fremden fünfzig Morgen Landes. . . Daß über gedachte fünfzig Acker, ferner
an jeden Fremden, welcher ein Haußgesinde hat, und zwar für jede Person desselbigen, die
Frau und Kinder mitgerechnet, noch zehen [sic] Acker mehr auf demselben Fuß .....
Lorenz looked at his younger brother Philipp. Between them they could have 130 acres in Nova
Scotia: 50 for each of them and 30 more for Lorenz’s wife and two little boys! Moreover, . .
. the British promised tools, guns, utensils and rations for one year after they reached this
Nova Scotia, provided that the settlers became British subjects and paid their own passages
. . . the eight-year War of Austrian Succession had ended just three years earlier; and the
peacetime period from 1748 through 1754 . . . witnessed the heaviest wave of emigration to America
of the eighteenth century.
In September 1751, after three months at sea, the ‘Murdoch’ anchored at Halifax, . . . the.
immigrants quickly learned that milk and honey were in decidedly scarce supply in this new land.
. . . What went wrong? . . .
Only in June of 1753 were the foreign Protestants resettled from Halifax to Lunenburg. By
then their numbers had been diminished by death, desertion. . . . None of the settlers would
have been able to do more than build a hut, lay in fuel for the coming winter, and prepare the
garden plot for planting the next spring. It was not so much the tardiness in granting the promised
50-acre farms as the lengthy wait in primitive conditions at Halifax that begot the restiveness
among these Lunenburg settlers that culminated in the so-called “insurrection” of December 1753.
At this point for the new settlement, most of the allocation of larger farm lots lay ahead,
as did the backbreaking work of clearing heavily-wooded forest and breaking soil. Self-sufficiency
and security for the new community were still in the future. . . .