» Show All     «Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next»

Susannah Kuhn of the foreign Protestants

Susannah Kuhn[1] of the Foreign Protestants


Susannah’s arrival in Nova Scotia necessitates a brief description of the emigration of the “Foreign Protestants”.  Great Britain wanted to cement colonial presence in Nova Scotia by increasing the number of Protestant settlers, due to fear of the Roman Catholic French and their Mi’kmaq allies, who outnumbered English settlers.  Contrary to the French, who encouraged settlement, the British had brought military but not settlers. Initially, attempts were made to give land grants to British military no longer required as active – this did not work well due to lack of agricultural skills or to build up a colony.  Apparently impressed by a few German settlers, who while not English-speaking, were Protestant and also industrious workers, the colonial administration sought out this group.  Johann Dick[2] (p.ix) was engaged as an agent for the scheme, to recruit and organise sailing from Rotterdam.  Considerable benefits and/or promises were offered.  Between 1750 and 1752, recruitment was successful in southern and central German states, Protestant regions of Switzerland, and francophone Montbéliard.


Susannah Kuhn’s family sailed on the first ship, the Ann, departing from Rotterdam 21 June 1750 and arriving in Halifax in September. This group of Kuhns were from Switzerland and documents have confirmed that Rikon, in the parish of Illnau, in canton of Zurich was their place of residence. Susannah was about eight years old – can you imagine this long journey as a child. Halifax had only been founded a year earlier and its approximately 2,000 residents lacked infrastructure to receive multiple shiploads of new settlers. Unfortunately, an epidemic broke out, causing deaths to the new settlers including members of Susannah’s family.  The majority of Foreign Protestants ended up in Lunenburg by 1753, which was developed for them.  Small numbers of the settlers remained in Halifax.  


It is due to Bell’s register that we have much of the Foreign Protestant information.  K.S. Paulsen (p.20) in a forward, describes the primary sources of Bell’s work: passenger lists and church registers.[3]  Unlike many ships of that era, the passenger lists of these new immigrants are almost complete.  Another benefit is that the lists contain the place of origin.  Bell stated his analysis from the ships list and then followed for a generation or two to put people and families together.  The Kuhns were a bit of a challenge, as Kuhn is a German surname found both in Switzerland and Germany.   As heads of families, Bell lists Jacob, Rudolph and Heinrich.(p. 321) The 1750 “Ann” contingent were Jacob, with a party of five including one child. Rudolph, a party of two, also sailed on the Ann.  Bell struggled with differentiating Kuhn families who sailed on later ships from these first Kuhns. Indeed, it may be likely that there is a family connection although it is clear some are from Germany (Wurttemburg), not Switzerland.  Kuhn was a fairly common surname in German languages. 


Bernard Kuhn[4], a descendant of the original Kuhn settlers, attempted to take up research where Bell left off. With information provided by the Archives in the Zurich canton[5], he was able to confirm baptismal and marriage records for many of the family.  Based on his work and other research, sources confirm that the composition of the family on the Ann was as follows: Jacob (Jakob) and his wife Verena Winkler, their son Henry (Heinrich) about 16 years of age, and daughter Susannah, eight years of age.  The passenger manifest[6] shows that in Jakob’s party, fares were paid for five persons (adults) and one child. An adult son Rudolff and his wife, Magdalena were also on the Ann and noted as being two fare-paying passengers. 


Within a couple of years, the only members of this Kuhn family remaining were Heinrich (Henry), Susannah, and Rudolff.  Please see individual records in the database.  Bernard Kuhn notes that parish records from Illnau parish in Switzerland identify a total of ten baptisms of children of Jacob and Verena, and that six of these survived childhood. We do not know if others in addition to Susannah, Heinrich and Rudolff travelled with them on the Ann.  From the collection of possible records by Bell, he proposes that members of the Kuhn family received a lot allocation in what was referred to as the “Dutch lots in the north suburbs” of Halifax. Bell’s Register undertakes the puzzling analysis of who was who in the Swiss Kuhn family[7] and it is clear that some factors will remain unproven.  


Thus, we can see that Susannah, who became the wife of Peter McNab I, experienced considerable upheaval and tragedy in her young life.  Both Henry and Rudolff took up land grants at Lunenburg, where most Foreign Protestants located, but at some point Henry returned to Halifax, bringing Susannah with him.  While Peter McNab did not purchase McNabs Island until 1782, he did own a small part prior to that and must encountered Susanna McNab through this connection with the island but it is not certain how Peter McNab met Susannah Kuhn  By 1763 they were married, a unique mix of Swiss immigrant farming family and the very Scottish Peter McNab of Perthshire. Henry Kuhn, Susanna’s brother, became a permanent tenant on the island, with his son Henry also a tenant.  


[1] While descendants of this family today spell their surname as Kuhn, many variants were found in the early days, such as, Kuin, Koon, Khun, Kune.  Bell notes that while transcriptions of the passenger manifests often showed Kuin, the actual signatures definitely show Kuhn. The surname in both Switzerland and Germany is Kuhn.

[2] Bell, Winthrop Pickard. Register of Foreign Protestants. Sackville, N.B.: Mount Allison University. 2003. 

[3] Bell died before he could put his work together for publication. Several genealogists and historians were able to collaborate to take his original documentation and present as a book, with introductions and further details provided by the researchers. 

[4] Kuhn, Bernard G. Origin of our Kuhn Family ( private document). Undated. Provided to this writer by Mary Osborne, another Kuhn descendant via email attachment in 2021. 

[5] Bernard Kuhn quotes from letter he received in 1996, which stated that “…there is no doubt that your ancestors came from Rikon in the parish of Illnau.”

[6] Bell, Winthrop P., p. 42.  Assume that Heinrich was considered an adult.  Two individuals considered adults are not named at this point and no records after arrival show any other Kuhns in 1750.  

[7] Bell, Winthrop. P.42 and 42a. Note the detailed analysis that Bell undertakes on the contradictions and puzzles regarding the Swiss Kuhn family. 

File nameSusannah Kuhn of the Foreign Protestants.docx
File Size18.2k
Linked toSusannah KUHN

» Show All     «Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next»