Crowd-funding in 1764 London

In the years following the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763), tens of thousands of Germans left for the New World to improve their worldly lot. It seems that my ancestor, Michael Greissen (or Eisan as he later was called) was one of these. He was among about 400 Germans who subscribed to join a colony being set up by Johann Heinrich Christian von Stumpel,a Hanoverian officer who had helped to clear Nova Scotia of Acadians. As a reward, King George III of England had granted him 20,000 acres of land in Nova Scotia and he went to the Palatine to recruit settlers.

On July 18, 1764, a group of former German officers notified the Board of Trade in London that von Stumpel had disappeared with their and the settlers’ money, leaving them without the means to support themselves or to undertake the voyage to Nova Scotia. The Board of Trade published a warrant for von Stumpel’s arrest but did nothing to help the victims of his fraud.

england-2011-071  On August 29, 1764, the Reverend Georg Anton Wachsel, minister of the German Lutheran St. George’s Church in London, england-2011-073informed the public in a letter to Lloyd’s Evening Post that some 400 German emigrants were camped near his church on Goodman’s Field. “Some of them have lain during the late heavy rains,” Wachsel wrote, “and are now lying upon the open fields adjacent to this metropolis, without covering, without money, and, in short, without the common necessaries of his life… More than two hundred remain on board the ship which brought them over, on account of their passage not being paid for, where they are perishing for food, and rotting in filth and nastiness.”  Subscriptions were opened in coffee houses and banks all over London.  Over the next few weeks, more than 1200 donors contributed over 4000 pounds, including King George III who gave 300 pounds.

King George went even further and granted the German emigrants land in South Carolina. On October 6, 1764, three ships, the Dragon, the Union and the Planters Adventure, set sail from London. Among the list of passengers on the Dragon was Michael Greissen Frein. Due to illness, twenty of the passengers died on this ship during the crossing and another twenty died shortly after arrival.

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