Irish immigrants came from from the Lower Rhenish Palatinate, the chief Calvinist centre in seventeenth/eighteenth century Germany. In 1709 the periodic invasions by Louis XIV and a disastrous winter led to the emigration of over 13,000 Palatine people. Queen Anne sent ships to bring them to England and some continued to America. Others settled in Ireland, the largest settlement being at Courtmatrix, Killeheen and Ballingrane in Co. Limerick. In the 1750s Thomas Walsh introduced them to John Wesley and many became Methodists.

By 1760 the eight or twelve acres originally granted to each family were overcrowded and Philip Embury led a party to New York. This included his cousin Barbara Heck (née Ruttle) who in 1766 encouraged Embury to begin Methodist work in New York. This was one of the roots of American Methodism. In 1770 Embury and Heck moved to Camden Valley, NY, where Embury died in 1783. Following American Independence, in 1784 the Hecks moved to Canada and introduced Methodism there. Barbara died in 1804 at Prescott, Ontario. Descendants of those who remained in Ireland preserve their Palatine and Methodist heritage in Co. Limerick.

  • E.C. Lapp, To Their Heirs for Ever (Belleville, Ont., 1977)
  • C.A. Heald, The Irish Palatinates in Ontario (Gananoque, Ont., 1994)
  • P.J. O'Connor, People Make Places (Newcastle West, 1989)

Entry written by: DALC
Category: Subject
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