Eastern and Western Prussia
Part I The Scottish Trader (7)
The next generation of
Scotsmen in Germany had, of course, a much easier life to lead than their
fathers. Being born in the country of "rechter, freier, deutscher Art," as
the German phrasing then was, all the former disabilities disappeared.
They were now no longer classed with the Jew, especially as the type of
the vagrant Scot gradually became extinct, [That the Scots themselves were
smarting under this common classification appears from a short but
valuable note which says: "Dietrich Lobstan, the Scot at Wehlau, as he
is called craves permission for carrying his goods about the country
unrestrained so that he might get out of the great distress, misery and
wretchedness into which the Jews had brought him (1570), Kgl. St.
Archiv, Konigsberg.] and was supplanted by the type of the plodding,
well-to-do citizen. Marrying into rich and influential German families,
they rose in favour and social distinction in the same measure as they
lost much of their nationality. Let us adduce a few examples of this.
Alexander Niesebet (Nisbet)
from Edinburgh appears as a citizen of Elbing towards the close of the
sixteenth. century. He built the two houses in the Schmiedegasse next to
the Schmiedethor in the corner. He married first the daughter of a town
councillor, and when she died, in 1614, another councillors daughter. His
own child Catherine became the wife of Johann Jungschulz, Mayor of Elbing,
and died one year after her father in 1618.
William Patterson, a
colonel, married a daughter of Adrian van der Linde, an old Patrician
family of Danzig (1664).
Thomas Gellatlay from
Dundee, born 1590,emigrated to Danzig, where he changed his name
into Gellentin. He was of good family, and connected with the Wedderburnes
of Dundee. In 1623 he married Christine Czierenberg, daughter of the town
councillor Daniel Czierenberg of Danzig. A daughter of his second marriage
became the wife of Reinhold Bauer (1657), and the mother of C. Ernst
Bauer, burgomaster of Danzig. [Danziger Stadt Bibliothek, MS. xv.
F. 440 f. Carl Ernst Bauer married a daughter of Jacob Wright and Anne
Horn. Thomas Gallatlays great grandfather was one Walter Gellatlay of
Templehall and Borrohall, who had married Isabella Wedderburn, John
Wedderburnes daughter, of Dundee.]
Charlotte Constance Beata
Davisson, a daughter of Daniel Davisson and a great granddaughter of
Daniel Davisson, who came as a struggling Scottish merchant to Poland,
married in 1783 Carl Friedrich von Gralath, twice burgomaster of Danzig
and the historian of his native town; whilst her aunti.e. her fathers
sister became the wife of a town councillor Broen. [Kgl. St. Archiv,
Danzig, MS. Bb. 31.]
The process of Germanising
was a rapid one. It first showed itself in the names which were adapted to
the German pronunciation: Wallace becoming Wallis, Cochrane Cockeren,
Mackenzie Mekkentsien, Taylor Teler, Wood Wud, Allardyce Ardus, Crawford
Craffert, Moir Muhr, Murray Morre or Morra, Morris Moritz, Rutherford
Riderfarth, Bruce Bruss. Sometimes the meaning of the name was rendered by
a German equivalent. Thus Miller was changed into Möller, Smith into
Schmidt, Gardiner into Gertner, Cook into Koch; or Polish endings were
added to the name such as Ross = Rossek or Rosek, Cochranek, Tailarowitz,
and so forth.
The Christian names also
underwent a metamorphosis. Where the original immigrants only changed
their James into Jacob, John into Hans, Andrew into Andreas, we now meet
such names as Dietrich, Gottlieb, Ulrich, Albrecht, Otto, and so forth.
Wherever these names occur we have a sure sign of the bearer belonging to
the second generation, which not unfrequently affords us a welcome clue to
an approximate date.
It is in this and the later
generations of Scotsmen generally that we find, too, a much greater number
of literary men among the Scottish settlers. Their educational passion had
not deserted them. Especially large is the number of Scottish names among
the clergymen of the new Presbyterian Churches.
But with all this process
of Germanising going on till hardly the name remained to testify to an
extraction foreign to the fatherland, still even to this day one finds and
gladly notices among the descendants of the Scottish settlers the old
origin remembered and cherished, like the far off echo of an old tune or
the dim halo around a sacred head. Sometimes it takes the form of certain
pronounced mental or moral qualities, sometimes that of a predilection for
the English tongue, or of a longing for the country where their cradle
stood, most frequently that eminently characteristic one of long pedigree;
intricate, and hard to unravel.
The heart-throb is still
there; but now it is the heartthrob without the pain of separation.
It now remains to cast a
glance at the foreign relations between Scotland and those parts of
Germany we are concerned with during the sixteenth century and later. We
have already mentioned the various plenipotentiaries and factors sent by
Scotland to protect the interests of the Scot abroad. The Scottish kings
never lost an opportunity of interceding for their subjects, and the
German Powers were eager to rely on the support of Scotland. One of the
acts of the last Hochmeister of the Teutonic Order of Knights, Albrecht,
better known as the first Duke of Prussia, was the mission of Dietrich von
Schönborn to England and Scotland, professedly to ask for help in military
expeditions against Poland, secretly, if secondarily, to devise a common
plan for checking the growth of Protestantism. He went in the year 1522,
and so well pleased was Albrecht with his reception at the Court of King
James, that he sent this sovereign a valuable cuirass as a present in
1523. In return James in 1522 issues a proclamation emphasising his
friendly feelings towards the Order, and enjoining his subjects to grant
and afford the skippers and merchants, subjects of Albrecht, every
possible safety and liberty of trading in all his lands, cum omnibus
inercenariis et rebus quibuscunque, with all their goods of whatever
description, in terra vel marique, both on land and sea. [Dated
Edinburgh, Nov. 3, 1522. Kgl. St. Archiv, Konisgberg.]
Many letters were again
exchanged on the subject of piracy, in 1535and notably so in 1592
and in 1593, with regard to the "Grite Jonas" and "Noahs Ark," [Kgl.
St. Archiv, Danzig. See also Scots in Germany.] and in 1597when a ship had been plundered at Burntisland.
In 1508 the King of
Scotland desires Danzig to promote in every way the exportation of ships
masts, [Scots in Germany.]whilst twenty years later
Edinburgh writes a letter to the magistrates of the same city apologising
that no compensation had as yet been given for goods which had been
unlawfully taken from the Danzigers in the harbour of Leith. But the
commission appointed had not been able to arrive at a decision on account
of the rising that had taken place in other parts of the country.
Other diplomatic exchange
of letters takes place between the two countries in cases of succession;
they have been dealt with in another place.
Very curious is a more
recent attempt to establish a Scottish colony on a small scale in Prussia,
and it also led to a good deal of official correspondence. In the year
1823 the Hon. David Erskine wrote as follows to Privy Councillor Kelch at
Konigsberg from Dryburgh Abbey:
"Sir,Having been requested by Mr
Thomas Kyle, late of Fenns, in this part of the country, to inform you
that he is known to be a first-rate agriculturist and gentle man farmer,
and that few indeed understand husbandry in all its branches better than
he does, he is very anxious that you would inform His Majesty of Prussia
of the grant of 2000 morgens of land awarded to him by His Highness,
Prince Hardenberg. Should this be confirmed to him, I know several young
gentlemen of good families and connections who wish to turn their mind and
time to agriculture in Prussia, among the number my present wifes
brother, who is an officer in His British Majestys service, and another
officer also who is connected to me by marriage, with several others, as
they are aware of the superior abilities of Mr Kyle in that department his
establishment is of the first moment to them, and they only wait to learn
from him of his being fixed in Prussia to follow him immediately, and as
the year is advancing they are anxious not to lose time in commencing
"You, sir, may wish to know
who it is that is addressing you, exclusive of my near relationship to the
Earl of Buchan, with whom I now always reside from his Lordships advanced
age (82), I was married to his brothers daughter (Lord Erskine, late High
Chancellor of England). I am an officer in His Royal Highness the Duke of
Yorks Rangers (Yagars). [The writer means "Jagers" = chasseurs.] I also
belong to the Household of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence. I past
three of my early years in Deutchland (sic), in Lauenburgh and
Hamburgh, but having been thirty years out of Germany I have very much
forgotten the language, and dare not venture to write it to a native. My
heart still warms to Germany where I was most kindly treated, and I shall
ever remember it with gratitude.I have the honour to remain, etc., DAVID
Kelch then asked Kyle at
Konigsberg to come and see him, when he was told that the latter had
resolved to settle on a Prussian domain of about 2000 morgen, if the
conditions were favourable, and to farm it according to the Scottish
methods of cultivation. "I told him," Kelch writes to the Government,
"that first of all ready means were required, and that there would be
plenty of opportunities of buying estates advantageously at the present
juncture. I also drew his attention to the farm of Kobbelbude, [Close to
Konigsberg.] which was shortly to be sold by auction. He is going to
realise a capital of about eighteen hundred pounds, but he has not given
me any vouchers for it. This Thomas Kyle is the same with whom I
negotiated last year by order of the Government with regard to the
acquisition of another estate, when the affair was broken off."
Finally, Kyle received the
following official reply: "The farm of Kobbelbude is already disposed of.
We beg to draw your attention to the fact that your knowledge as an
experienced agriculturist has been testified to sufficiently in the
private letter of Mr Erskine and other private persons, but that this is
not sufficient for the County Council in whose hands the administration of
the province is put, and which can only be persuaded to favour the
settlement of foreign agriculturists by an improvement held out to inland
farming. Neither have you given us sufficient proof of funds large enough
for the acquirement and management of such an estate. As long as you
cannot lay before us certificates of your knowledge in practical husbandry
from qualified and official bodies in your own home, we are afraid that we
cannot hold out to you any hopes of realising your plans of settlement in
Thus somewhat ignominiously
did this rash plan of improving the Prussian methods of agriculture end.
In conclusion we wish to
warn against an erroneous impression which the foregoing sketch of the
Scottish settlers life in Eastern and Western Prussia might not
unnaturally produce upon the minds of our readers.
Looking at the thousand and
one obstacles put in the way of the stranger Scot, looking at the almost
cruel mockery which forbade the umbfarende pedlar to traverse the
country and earn his bread by the toilsome sale of his pack on the one
hand, and then closed the gates of the towns against him, when he wanted
to exchange the vagabondage, for which he was reproved, for a settled life
to which he had been invited; one feels at first sight inclined to assume
some particularly aggravated feeling against the Scot on the part of the
Germans; some specially prepared hatred and malevolence to be used with or
without discretion at certain frequent intervals against him.
But this assumption would
be wrong. The Scot was not the only recipient of these strange gifts of
hospitality. He shared them with the Jew, the Spaniard, and above all with
the Dutch, who vied with the Scot in their enterprise and the number of
their settlements throughout the north-east of Germany. He would have
shared them with an angel from heaven if such a one could have been
induced to live in Prussia. The gifts were doled out quite irrespective of
the person, they were the outcome of a principle under which all Europe,
as under a barometrical minimum, then suffered.
There is not the slightest
doubt that a German or any numbers of them, that had landed in those days
on the coast of England or emigrated to Scotland trying to pursue their
trade to better advantage, would have been treated in the same fashion.
They could not have been treated otherwise, except by a few enlightened
minds born before their time.
This, if it does lessen the
severity of our judgment on the Germans of those days, does not lessen the
pity and the sympathy felt for the persecuted.
Many of them have succumbed
"uncoffined and unknelled"; of others we are told on many a stately stone
and in the turgid eloquence of many an epitaph; many again have survived
and bear witness in their names of the old flood of Scottish emigration.
All have left, very literally and very legibly, their footprints in the
sands of time.
It is with the memory of
those among them that have neither obtained fame nor wealth that we were
specially concerned here, and to them we would fain have erected a humble
cairn in the long row of sand-swept Scottish graves on the shores of the
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