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A Case of Crowd-Funding, 1764

As I mentioned in my blog last week, my ancestor Michael left his home in the Palatine in 1764 on his way to the New World. Along with hundreds of others of his countrymen, he gave his life’s savings to the unscrupulous Count Johann Heinrich von Stumpel to emigrate to Nova Scotia. They got no further than London, where the settlers were abandoned and left on common land in London with nothing. Their predicament was discovered by the Reverend Georg Anton Wachsel, minister of the German Lutheran Church in London. On August 29, 1764, he wrote a letter to the Lloyd’s Evening Post.

On August 29, 1764, he wrote a letter to the Lloyd’s Evening Post, in which he wrote, “Some of them have lain, during the late heavy rains, and are now lying upon the open fields adjacent to this metropolis, without covering, without money, and, in short, without the common necessaries of this life.”

This story prompted coffee houses and banks to collect funds for the refugees. More than 1200 Londoners donated over 4000 pounds to assist them, including King III who donated 300 pounds. Still, between August 8 and October 10, ten emigrants died and were buried in the cemetery of St. George’s. In October, the king provided three ships to take them to South Carolina, where they were to be given land. The passenger list of the ship the Dragon lists Michael Greissen Frein as one of the passengers.

In 2011, my husband David and I happened to be in England on Heritage Day, the one day that designated heritage sites are open to the public. So we went to London and visited St. George’s Lutheran Church, where the story of the refugees has not been forgotten.

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