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Scots in 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 councillor’s 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 Gallatlay’s great grandfather was one Walter Gellatlay of Templehall and Borrohall, who had married Isabella Wedderburn, John Wedderburne’s 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 aunt—i.e. her father’s 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 1535 and notably so in 1592 and in 1593, with regard to the "Grite Jonas" and "Noah’s Ark," [Kgl. St. Archiv, Danzig. See also Scots in Germany.] and in 1597 when 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 wife’s brother, who is an officer in His British Majesty’s 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 ‘opporations ‘ (sic)

"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 Lordship’s advanced age (82), I was married to his brother’s daughter (Lord Erskine, late High Chancellor of England). I am an officer in His Royal Highness the Duke of York’s 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 ERSKINE."

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 Prussia."

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 settler’s 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 Baltic.


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