A Nova Scotia Kaiser Family


Une pensée pour les 
victimes des attentats aux States


Well done! You have managed to navigate through the many twists and turns of the Internet to my little backwater of the web. My name is Leslie Kaiser and my main interest at this site is discussing my family history. Please remember, as you read these pages, that they are intended as a record of on-going research rather than as a finished product. Bertrand Russell, although not referring to genealogy, said it better: "I am sorry that I have had to leave so many problems unsolved. I always have to make this apology, but the world really is rather puzzling and I cannot help it."

Most of my ancestors came either to Nova Scotia directly, or indirectly through District Ninety-Six, South Carolina, in the second half of the 18th century from the part of the Holy Roman Empire now known as Germany.

Above is a painting of the ship "Gale", which brought many immigrants to Nova Scotia in the early 1750s. (Thanks to Canso-Cheaspeake Heritage Publishing.) At right is a portrait of John Dick, who was contracted by the Board of Trade and Plantations to transport the "Foreign Protestants".

John Dick

My ancestors from South Carolina were Loyalists who settled at Ship Harbour, N.S. after the American War of Independence in 1783. Why did they remain loyal to the Crown?  They had arrived in South Carolina just over a decade before the war began. Not only had the king granted them land in America, but he had also helped them when they were perishing at Whitechapel Fields and Goodman's Fields, London, abandoned and left penniless by a dishonest agent, Johan Stumpel, who had originally recruited them in Germany.

Actually, it wasn't called the War of Independence or even the Revolutionary War at the time it was happening. Nobody knew what the outcome would be at that time. It was often referred to as a rebellion or a civil war, because citizens were fighting on both sides.

Fully one third of Americans opposed independence, in John Adams’ famous estimate, while an equal third favored it. Only in retrospect did the Revolution become an unambiguously glorious endeavor.

Ironically, those expecting to go to Nova Scotia ended up in South Carolina and John Dean, another ancestor,  who intended to join his brothers in New York, ended up at Halifax. He sailed on an American boat flying British colours, but the boat was captured by the British and escorted to Halifax in 1795.

What follows pertains to a group of about 500 Protestants of Germanic origin who in 1764 originally intended to sail for Nova Scotia but for a number of reasons were diverted to South Carolina. This is taken verbatim from a London newspaper of Friday, September 14, 1764:

-----his Majesty had most graciously granted the full request of their petition and that the Palatines should be sent to and established in South Carolina; and also that 150 stands of arms should be delivered for the said German Protestants; 

A Kyser family crest
 (thanks to Mary Shobe)

The history of our ancestors can be better understood by learning the history of the time and place they lived.

During the 18th century and before, about 95% of German land was owned by the Church and nobility. There was virtually no hope of an ordinary farmer ever owning his own land.

The part of Europe that was German speaking consisted of a crazy-quilt of about 250 separate dukedoms, principalities and kingdoms, each with its own laws, taxes, army, coinage, religion, customs, dress and dialect. (The noun "Kaiser", for example, meant "shepherd" in a few dialects. So far as I know, this interesting dialectal item had no influence on genealogy, or at least, on mine.) The Palatinate (Pfalz) alone once consisted of 44 different countries. Germany was not unified until 1871, long after the period we're discussing.

Several conditions are responsible for the general trend of migration out of the Palatinate and neighbouring areas in the eighteenth century. Among these were the long and devastating wars of that period, the religious intolerance and persecution which resulted from the Great Reformation, and the political fragmentation which existed in that area.

During this period, the approximately 80 square miles of land between Karlsruhe, Saarbrucken, Trier, and Mainz belonged to 44 different sovereign states, the unification of the German states being yet in the distant future. Each of these mini-states had its own laws, administration, monetary system and units of weights and measures. It was not unusual for the borders of several of these states to cut across a single village, and members of one family were often subjects of different sovereigns as every person was legally bound to the place and the class in which he was born.

Germany in 1750

Besides the horror of the continuing political wars and the severe social restrictions, there had been for about 100 years continuous religious quarrels between Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Mennonites, and other sectarians. In addition to these political, social, and religious factors, there existed also the struggle with the unregulated Rhine River, bad harvests, famine, and pestilence, all of which conditions were causes for the readiness to emigrate to be especially widespread in this area in the 18th century.

The ship-owners lost no time in noting the increase in their profits, and they sent out agents to intrigue more and more people to sail the great Atlantic, often making statements about the easy life in North America that were far from the truth.

Resulting from such favourable reports, no expense was spared to obtain permission to emigrate, and news about shipwrecks or Indian wars did not alter such decisions.


Location of Nova Scotia, 

showing how bright it is.




Peggy's Cove

Panting of Peggy's Light
 by Bob MacDougall


A few generations of my ancestors lived at Peggy's Cove before moving on to Bickerton.

Lunenburg celebrated the 250th anniversary of its settlement by "The Foreign Protestants" in 2003.

The logo for the event was designed by Bryan Keddy.



Please email your comments, suggestions, death threats or questions to me, especially if you find any insects on these pages. 

"'Tis true; there's magic in the web of it." -Othello (III iv 69)