Commerce and Trade

The Scots in Germany was written by Th A Fischer in 1902. At the time of publication Germany was known as The German Empire, united in 1871. Before that time a system of duchies, kingdoms, principalities, and city-states comprised what the author called Germany. (In genealogy “Germany” is used only after unification in 1871). The author also uses the term “Prussia” which still would have been known to many readers in 1902. (Although Prussia was “fused” into the German Empire in 1871, the name remained until it was removed from the roster of nations after WWII.) After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, the Commonwealth of Poland ceased to exist until it was re-established as a nation after 1918. Nevertheless, the author refers to Poland in his 1902 book.
The book contains a Preface, two parts (chapters) each on Commerce and Trade, the Army, and the Church. Additionally, it contains one part titled Statesman and Scholar and four appendices. From all parts of this book, I found details that support the existence of a Scottish ancestor of a Spurgat in the 17th or 18th century. Reading this book online gave credence to everything K Bothwell had written!

A summary of relevant information follows:

“The Scots Got Around!”

Commerce and Trade: The 14th to 16th Centuries

The following examples show the growth of commerce and trade between Scotland and Prussia, including Danzig and Konigsberg.

Scots were part of the trade system developed by the Hanseatic League after the Crusades ended in the 14th century. So a Spurgat ancestor could have been a merchant, a sailor, a soldier, or a “settler.” Seaports were important all long the Baltic, especially Danzig, (now Gdansk, Poland) and as far east as Konigsberg, the capital of East Prussia, the area of concentration of Spurgats.

In 1402 a cargo of flour was sent from Konigsberg to Scotland, but the ship was lost or taken by the English.

By the reign of Elizabeth I, 1558 to 1603, English and Scottish merchants were settled in all the major cities along the Baltic Coast, all Prussian territory at that time. Trade flourished.

Between 1581 and 1584, 18 ships left Dundee, Scotland, the second largest port. Fifteen ships sailed to Danzig, two to Lubeck, and one to Konigsberg.

The barter system was still intact in 1596 when Patrick Gordon, a Scot, took a multitude of foreign coins to Konigsberg.

As the century ended, the Baltic cities of Prussia and Poland became even more important. This growth means that there were more Scottish merchants, sailors, soldiers, and settlers.

It is in this century [16th] that we find the first indications of a gradually increasing emigration from Scotland to the Baltic cities and to Poland….In 1589 two citizens of Edinburgh become security for six Polish “Cramers” that is Scotsmen who were going to Poland as peddlers. Their names are…. They sail for Konigsberg.

By 1606 Scottish merchants had settled in Danzig even though their treatment in subsequent years was not in accordance with the treaty of 1437.

Various parts of Europe experienced many plagues in the 16th and 17th centuries. For example, in 1653 a ship from Konigsberg was stopped for being a possible carrier of the plague.

In 1686 a skipper from Danzig was attacked by French pirates on his voyage to Scotland. In another incident, a citizen of Danzig carried with him a letter for safe conduct to Glasglow.

Commerce and Trade: The 17th Century

Between 1612 and 1618 six more ships from Dundee sailed to Konigsberg.

In 1622 seven ships left Leith, Scotland, for Konigsberg. A ship from Konigsberg to Leith was recorded in 1625-26. Another ship was sent to Konigsberg in 1688 and 1692.

In this century of plagues, emigration became more common. Political and religious wars, the hardships of the laws of primogeniture, the love of martial adventure, and the “pronounced clannishness of the people” all contributed to the increased emigration rate.

The first things a Scotsman did who had emigrated to Danzig or Konigsberg…was to invite other members of his family who perhaps found it difficult to make their way at home, owing to the disturbed and poverty-stricken condition of their native land.

More than one contemporary source estimates the numbers of Scots in Poland to be about 30,000.

My Note: Population estimates for Prussia do not appear in this book, but with Danzig and Konigsberg as major seaports, it is possible to think in large numbers.

Although Poland was predominantly Roman Catholic, most of the Scots were members of the Reformed church.

The role of commerce and trade which contributed to emigration to Konigsberg, Memel, and Tilsit, East Prussia, where people with the Spurgat name lived, would not appear until the next century.

The third post is The Army: 14th to 17th Centuries


About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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