The Palatines in Ireland – The Poole Family

Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Community & Family History, Featured Flag | 0 comments

This material was gathered for a presentation to the Celtic SIG of the Alberta Family Histories Society in February 2018 and is based on research into my Palatine family roots. The story of the Palatines includes a mix of international conflict, religious unrest, politics and climatology. The following is a gathering of edited excerpts from articles found on the web that help tell their story. (sources are in the endnotes).   Diane Miller Duncan, editor

Introduction – The Poole Family from Ireland

Back in the 1990s, my Dad and a family friend searched for a link between two family trees. One of my 3X great grandfathers, Thomas Poole, came to Canada, with his brothers George and Jacob Poole, Dublin to Quebec, arriving on 23 Jun 1819 on the brig ‘Atlantic’. All three men settled in Drummond Township, Lanark County, Ontario.  Various members of my family have been documenting family since the 1950s so the family lines since arrival in Canada are generally well defined (and currently being verified). In this case, the Poole line clearly tracks back to Thomas and his wife Sarah Duffield. Sarah is identified as Dame Sarah Duffield on her death certificate. (‘Dame’ is a title granted for exceptional service to the Crown during this period – the female equivalent of Knight. I haven’t been able to identify the significant event yet!).

Herb, our friend, had identified an Elizabeth Poole, married to Peter Hornick with a son John Hornick, as tracking back to a common Poole ancestor.

Herb had already documented that the family had arrived in Ireland c1709 and settled in Wexford. I have used his work as a starting point and confirmed that John and Jacob Poole are listed as heads of households in Gorey, Wexford. By 1720 a third Poole, William Poole, believed to be a son of John or Jacob Pool, is listed as head of Wexford household as well. By 1850 some of the family moved from Gorey Wexford to Old Ross. Both were Palatine settlements. Although many of the families were lessees, by 1750 onward they are involved in land purchases. It is interesting to note that much of my information for this period was found in Quaker minutes.

Poole Family Ireland Palatines

The family members were loyalists and after the Rebellion c1798, a Matthew and a John Poole received major compensation and a Phillip Poole was killed. I also discovered that Thomas Poole 1796, my ancestor, was born in Chester England while his parents were associated with the garrison there.

My research has tracked my family back to John Pool 1850 and Ann Bass, of Old Ross, Wexford and I identified that there were thirteen in the family. Birth dates, but no first names, are known for three and I suspect they died as infants in 1802, 1803 and 1806. I discovered that other members of the family followed the brothers to Canada after their arrival in 1819, and that one brother may have been in Canada with the military prior to this. Further research is needed!

So, could we connect Elizabeth Poole married to Peter Hornick and John Poole Jr. b. cir 1760 in Wexford? When preparing for the presentation I realized that I have not updated my database with all the info found, so, suffice it to say that we have sufficient information to suggest they were brother and sister and descended from one of the two settlers, John or Jacob.

The Palatine Connection

So, without taking time to update my genealogy database, as I am currently focused on another family line, I will share some side research that led me to explore the term Palatine and its implication for the Poole family.

For starters, I found the ethnicity descriptions of my DNA tests interesting. The different testing companies have different groupings of countries, but my FT and Ancestry DNA results have consistently indicated,

In Ancestry: Major ancestry in Ireland, Scotland and Wales (59%), with specific emphasis in Scotland, only a trace in Great Britain (2%), some in Scandinavia 17% (Vikings?) and Europe West 14% (Germany?). As you expand or contract the map you get more detail. In some views, the map also suggests that there was movement between Scotland and Northern Ireland during this period and settlement in Nova Scotia– some things I need to explore more!

Ethnicity Estimates

Ancestry Feb 2018 Ethnicity Estimates

In Family Tree DNA (FTDNA): the British Isles is lumped together, no Scandinavia (!), and about the same amount of West and Central Europe.

Ethnicity Estimates

FTDNA Feb 2018 Ethnicity Estimates

Although both tests show a similar amount of Western and Central Europe ancestry, the Ancestry test gives a more detailed breakdown. So, for Palatine purposes lets look at the Ancestry maps.  Ancestry now has time-lapse maps and I found it interesting how those maps overlapped with documented movement of my documented ancestor families.

For today I am particularly interested in the areas of the blue-green and yellow of the 1725-1750 map. The other colours either represent trace estimates or do not relate to the Palatines.


Map of Ethnicity 1725-1750


The period 1725-1750 – Just after Palatine settlement in Ireland. Europe West, the area from which the Palatines originated.

The Palatines were ruled by Counts who later became Electors in the 14th century. The boundaries of the Palatinate varied with the military successes and political fortunes of the Counts Palatine. Today the Palatinate land west of the Rhine is part of France. The rest of the Palatinate has been absorbed into other German states.

We know that not all Palatine emigrants were Palatinate residents, but they were predominantly from the same part of Europe. The two main Palatinates were:

  • The Lower or Rhenish Palatinate, also called the Pfalz, located in southwest Germany, east of Luxembourg, along both sides of the Middle Rhine River. It included the present German states of Mainz, Treves, Lorraine, Alsace, Baden and Wurtemberg. Heidelberg was its capital. The name Pfalz was derived from the Latin word “palatinus” which means palace or castle.
  • The Upper or Bavarian Palatinate, located in northern Bavaria, on both sides of the Naab River as it flows south towards the Danube, and extended eastward to the Bohemian Forest.

Palatine History

From Germany to England

The German Palatines were early 18th century emigrants from the Middle Rhine region of the Holy Roman Empire, including a minority from the Palatinate which gave its name to the entire group. Towards the end of the 17th century and into the 18th, the wealthy region was repeatedly invaded by French troops, which resulted in continuous military requisitions, widespread devastation and famine.

Throughout the Nine Years War (1688–97) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701–14), recurrent invasions by the French Army devastated the area of what is today Southwest Germany. The depredations of the French Army and the destruction of numerous cities (especially within the Palatinate) created economic hardship for the inhabitants of the region, exacerbated by a rash of harsh winters and poor harvests that created famine in Germany and much of northwest Europe. The emigrants left the area under threat of death for doing so.

The Deep Freeze

In the first months of 1709, Europe froze and stayed that way for months. People ice-skated on the canals of Venice, church bells broke when rung, and travelers could cross the Baltic Sea on horseback. This freakish winter ultimately claimed the lives of a vast number of Europeans and disrupted two major wars—but to this day, there is no conclusive theory for its cause.

It happened literally overnight in the first few days of 1709. On January 5, temperatures plummeted—not, perhaps, a surprise in European winter. But 1709 was no ordinary cold snap. Dawn broke the next morning on a continent that had frozen over from Italy to Scandinavia and from England to Russia and would not warm up again for the next three months. During the worst winter in 500 years, extreme cold followed by food shortages caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in France alone, froze lagoons in the Mediterranean, and changed the course of a war.

Numerous witnesses recorded how the abrupt drop in temperature made seemingly solid items brittle. Tree trunks would shatter with a startling cracking sound, as if an invisible woodcutter were hacking them down. Church bells, when rung, also fractured due to the extreme cold temperatures.

In London, “The Great Frost,” as it came to be known, iced over the Thames River. The canals and port of Amsterdam suffered a similar fate. The Baltic Sea was solid for four whole months, and travelers were reported crossing on foot or by horse from Denmark to Sweden or Norway. Almost all the rivers in the north and center of Europe froze. Even the hot springs of Aachen in modern-day Germany iced up. Heavily laden wagons trundled across the lakes of Switzerland, and wolves ventured into villages looking for anything left to eat—which sometimes turned out to be villagers who had frozen to death.

The glacial conditions, however, were only the first of a series of woes to beset Europe that year. Temperatures remained abnormally low until mid-April, but the snow and ice, when they finally thawed, brought floods.

Disease thrived throughout the year. Rome experienced a flu epidemic in late 1708, and the following winter’s cold and hunger only helped spread the virus that turned into a Europe-wide pandemic in 1709 and 1710. To compound the disaster, plague also arrived that year from the Ottoman Empire via Hungary.

But of all the ills stalking Europe, hunger was, in many ways, the worst. The consequences of the food shortage lingered throughout that year and into the next. Cereals, vines, vegetables, fruit trees, flocks, and herds were all laid to waste, and the next summer’s harvest was not planted. The situation sparked hikes in grain prices, with prices rising six-fold during 1709.


The 1709 winter is record as the coldest in Europe in half a millennium. Various theories for the event have been put forward. Shortly before volcanoes had erupted, including Teide (on the Canary Islands), Santorini (in the eastern Mediterranean), and Vesuvius (near Naples).  On December 16, 1707, Mount Fuji, Japan, erupted on the SE flank, the most recent eruption to date. It is still an active volcano!

Huge quantities of dust and ash in the atmosphere reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth. The year 1709 also falls within the period known by climatologists as the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715), when the sun’s emission of solar energy was significantly diminished. Whether these events combined to create Europe’s glacial catastrophe that winter remains a matter of heated debate.

Emigration to England

The mass emigration in 1709 to England, of mostly impoverished people, was triggered by the Crown’s promise of free land in the American Colonies. Parliament discovered in 1711 that several “agents” working on behalf of the Colony of Carolina had promised the peasants around Frankfurt free passage to the plantations. Spurred by the success of several dozen families who emigrated the year before, thousands of German families headed down the Rhine to England and the New World.

The first boats packed with refugees began arriving in England in early May 1709. The first 900 people were given housing, food and supplies by wealthy Englishmen. The immigrants were called “Poor Palatines”; “poor” in reference to their pitiful and impoverished state upon arrival in England, and “Palatines” since many of them came from lands controlled by the Elector Palatine. The majority came from regions outside the Palatinate who, against the wishes of their respective rulers, fled by the thousands down the Rhine River to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, whence the majority embarked for London.

Throughout the summer, ships unloaded thousands of refugees, and almost immediately their numbers overwhelmed the initial attempts to provide for them. By summer, most of the Poor Palatines were settled in Army tents in the fields of Blackheath and Camberwell. A Committee dedicated to coordinating their settlement and dispersal sought ideas for their employment. This proved difficult, as the majority of ‘Poor Palatines’ were unlike previous migrant groups — they were not skilled, middle-class, religious exiles such as the Huguenots or the Dutch in the 16th century — but rather  rural laborers, neither sufficiently educated, nor healthy enough, for most types of non-agricultural employment.

Queen Anne of Great Britain

Queen Anne of England

During the reign of Queen Anne (1702–1714), political polarization increased. Immigration and asylum had long been debated, from coffee-houses to the floor of Parliament, and the Poor Palatines were inevitably brought into the political crossfire.

For the Whigs, who controlled Parliament, these immigrants provided an opportunity to increase Britain’s workforce. Only two months before the German influx, Parliament had enacted the Foreign Protestants Naturalization Act 1708, whereby foreign Protestants could pay a small fee to become naturalized. The rationale was the belief that an increased population created more wealth, and that Britain’s prosperity could increase with the accommodation of certain foreigners. Britain had already benefited from French Huguenot refugees, as well as the Dutch (or “Flemish”) exiles, who helped revolutionize the English textile industry.

The “Poor Palatines” were some 13,000 Germans who migrated to England between May and November 1709. Their arrival in England, and the inability of the British Government to integrate them, caused a highly politicized debate over the merits of immigration. The English tried to settle them in England, Ireland and the Colonies.

Religion – A political Football

To increase the sympathy and support for these expatriates, many Whig tracts and pamphlets described the Palatines as “refugees of conscience” and victims of Catholic oppression and intolerance. Louis XIV of France had become infamous for the persecution of Protestants within his realm. The invasion and destruction of the Rhineland region by his forces was considered by many in Britain as a sign that the Palatines were likewise objects of his religious tyranny. With royal support, the Whigs formulated a charity brief to raise money for the “Poor Distressed Palatines”, who had grown too numerous to be supported by the Crown alone.

The Tories and members of the High Church Party (those who sought greater religious uniformity), were dismayed by the numbers of Poor Palatines amassing in the fields of Southeast London. Long-standing opponents of naturalization, the Tories condemned the Whig assertions that the immigrants would be beneficial to the economy, as they were already an acute financial burden. Many, worried for the security of the Church of England, were concerned about the religious affiliations of these German families, especially after it was revealed that many (perhaps more than 2,000) were Catholic. Though the majority of the Catholic Germans were immediately sent back across the English Channel, many English thought their presence disproved the religious refugee status of the Poor Palatines.

Dispersal of the ‘Poor Palatines’

Not long after the Palatines’ arrival, the Board of Trade was charged with finding a means for their dispersal. Contrary to the wishes of the immigrants, who wanted to be transported to the colonies, most schemes involved settling them within the British Isles, either on uninhabited lands in England or, in Ireland, where they could bolster the numbers of the Protestant minority. Most officials involved were reluctant to send the Germans to the colonies due to the cost, and to the belief that they would be more beneficial if kept in Britain. It was widely felt that since many of the Poor Palatines were husbandmen, vinedressers and laborers, they would be better suited in agricultural areas. There were some attempts to disperse them in neighboring towns and cities.

Ultimately, large-scale settlement plans came to nothing, and the government sent Palatines piecemeal to various regions in England and Ireland. These attempts mostly failed, and many of the Palatines returned from Ireland to London within a few months, in far worse condition than when they had left.

The commissioners finally acquiesced and sent numerous families to New York to produce naval stores. The Germans transported to New York in the summer of 1710 totaled about 2800 people in ten ships, the largest group of immigrants to enter the colony before the American Revolution.  As refugees, in a weakened condition,  exposed to shipboard misfortune and diseases and delayed from landing upon arrival, they experienced a high rate of fatality. Another 300-some Palatines made it to the Carolinas. Despite the failure of the Naval Stores effort and the unfulfilled promises of land to the Palatines, once in the New World, they were determined to stay.

One third of the surviving Palatines emigrated to New York and North Carolina. Their descendants are scattered across the United States and Canada. Another third went to parts of England and to the English Caribbean Islands.

The experience with the Poor Palatines discredited the Whig philosophy of naturalization. It figured in political debates as an example of the pernicious effects of offering asylum to refugees. Once the Tories returned to power, they retracted the Act of Naturalization, which they claimed had lured the Palatines to England (though few had in fact become naturalized). Later attempts to reinstate an Act for Naturalization suffered from the tarnished legacy of Britain’s first attempt to support mass immigration of foreign-born peoples.

The last third went to Ireland.

Re-settlement in Ireland


Palatine Resettlement in Ireland

Upon the Palatines’ arrival, they were temporarily lodged in Dublin and received an initial small subsistence. Then they were distributed by lottery, in lots varying in size from one to fifty-six families, among forty-three other gentlemen-landlords who settled the Palatines on their lands with the agreement they would receive favorable treatment.

The Commissioners mandated that should any Palatines refuse the contracts offered, they would be deprived of receiving “Her Majesty’s bounty.” By January of 1710, About 800 families, 3,073 persons, were settled as agricultural tenants on the estates of Anglo-Irish Protestant landlords. Most were on the Southwell Estate near Rathkeale, County Limerick. Descendants, of those who remained, would later immigrate to what would become Ontario. A second colony went to County Wexford at Old Ross and Gorey.

Many of the settlers failed to permanently establish themselves. Some contemporary opinion blamed the Palatines themselves for the failure of the settlement. William King, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, claimed “I conceive their design ’tis but to eat and drink at Her Majesty’s cost, live idle and complain against those that maintain them.” However, the real reason for the failure appears to be that the settlement lacked political support from the High Church Tories, who generally opposed foreign involvement and saw the settlers as potential Dissenters rather than buttresses to their own established church. Money promised to landlord failed to be issued and those unable or unwilling to support the settlers, generally lost their tenants.

352 families were reported to have left their holdings, with many returning to England. In fact, by late 1711 only around 1,200 of the Palatines remained in Ireland. The settlement was successful in two areas: County Limerick and County Wexford.

In Limerick, 150 families were settled in 1712 on the lands of the Southwell family near Rathkeale. Sir Thomas Southwell of Castle Matrix near Rathkeale, County Limerick championed the settlers’ causes and took care of many of their initial needs at his own expense, being reimbursed only just before his death in 1720. The town was already well established when the refugees arrived there in 1709. In 1711, only 10 families were left there, but by 1714, Southwell had managed to settle about 130 families on his lands, and the region around his estate has retained the largest concentration of Irish Palatine residents to this day in Killeheen, Ballingrane, and Courtmatrix.

In Wexford, a large Palatine population was settled on the lands of Abel Ram, near Gorey at about the same time. The distinctive Palatine way of life survived in these areas until well into the nineteenth century. Today, names of Palatine origin, such as Switzer, Hick, Ruttle, Sparling, Tesky, Fitzell, are dispersed throughout Ireland. More research is needed here. Much of my information came from Quaker minutes of meetings in this area.

The lands set apart for the Palatines were assigned to them at easy rates, often at a third less rent than other tenants were paying. This caused hard feelings among the local community.

The Palatine settlers had prosperous farms, quickly making a success of growing hemp, flax and raising cattle. Palatine farmers clung to the concept of a common cattle grazing ground for the settlements (dorfs) and had a burgomeister for decades. They also appear to be the first to build silos in Ireland.

Protestants and Catholics Clash

Some of the Protestant German-speaking settlers claimed to be victimized by hostile neighboring Irish Catholics. To protect the British throne against Catholic uprisings in Limerick, where the Palatines were established, an act was passed by the Parliament of Ireland, expelling all Roman Catholic residents of Galway and Limerick who would not give absolute allegiance to the “Queen and her successors”. Those Protestants able to bear arms were supplied with muskets and enrolled in the Free Yeomanry where they were known as “The German Fusillers” or “True Blues.”

Methodism and the Irish Palatines

About 1749 several Methodist preachers visited Ireland and Thomas Walsh, one of them, was heard by Palatines who had come from the Rathkeale area to attend the Assizes. Their immediate reaction was ‘This is like the preaching we used to hear in Germany!’

John Wesley paid his first visit to the Palatines during his sixth Irish tour in 1756, when he visited Ballingrane and a nearby village. He described those he met as ‘a plain, artless, serious’ people.  In other words, they were straightforward and free of deceit. In their communities there was ‘no cursing or swearing, no Sabbath-breaking, no drunkenness, no alehouse’, and that ‘their diligence turns all their land into a garden’.  In 1765 he deplored the attitude of their landlord.  ‘As they could not get food or raiment here, with all their diligence or frugality, part are scattered up and down the kingdom [of Ireland] and part gone to America.’

Methodist Meetings were often held on week nights in private homes. A chapel and cemetery, one of the very few in Ireland, were established at Ballingrane. In 1797 a chapel was built at Adare on the Limerick side and later moved in 1871, to the far end of the village. A chapel at Pallaskenry closed in 1921. In 1830 two cottages were adapted to serve few families in the Newborough area. They were rebuilt after a fire during the Irish Civil War of 1921-23. Many were closed about 1968.

Barbara Heck, credited with founding Methodism in North America, was among the Palatines who settled in New York. When the American War of Independence broke out most of the Palatines took the British side.  It was the British who had taken pity on their forbears seventy years earlier and given them refuge from starvation, and they retained a sense of gratitude.  Between 1778 and 1780 most of them moved into Upper Canada, now known as Ontario.

In 1819 an annual Field Meeting began beside a tree where John Wesley had preached near the Franciscan ruin in Adare. A golf course, later developed on the site, closes one day each year to allow the Methodists to meet there for worship. In 1884 the attendance at this Field Meeting was estimated to be 1,000 people.

Some Surnames of Palatine Settlers

In the following chart I have identified names currently of interest to either my husband or myself.

Some Local Surnames Derived from the Palatine Settlers


The original documents can be found here:

The Palatines

OGS, Irish Palatine Special Interest Group; The Irish Palatines.


The Irish Palatines

Palatine Germans in Ireland

Methodism and the Irish Palatines by D.A. Levistone Cooney.



Methodism and the Irish Paltines

Winter Is Coming: Europe’s Deep Freeze of 1709, story appears in January/February 2017 issue of National Geographic History magazine.

The Irish Palatines in Ontario: Religion, Ethnicity, and Rural Migration – Second Edition, by Carolyn A. Heald. ISBN 978-1-897446-37-9 (Hardcover). Published by Global Heritage Press, June 2009 (CD 2010). Available at

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