Repository logo

Working for the crown: German migrants and Britain's commercial success in the early eighteenth-century American colonies

Accepted version



Change log



jats:p Working for the Crown: German Migrants and Britain's Commercial Success in the Early Eighteenth-century American Colonies </jats:p>jats:p Relaxation in the movement of foreigners into Britain and the origins of the Foreign Protestants Naturalization Act of 1708 (7 Ann c 5) have been seen to lie in the arrival of religious refugees in England and the unsuitability of existing legislation to accommodate large numbers of foreigners. This paper proposes that trade and commercial interests in the American colonies promoted the cause of naturalisation by inciting German migration, causing Parliament to relax access to the domestic labour market and crucially allow German labour to be trafficked to the colonies. Reform was dictated by the needs of commerce and colonial enterprise, not just by politicians, courtiers and bureaucrats in London. The passing of the Naturalization Act (1708) and the subsequent General Naturalization Act (1709) both took advantage of European warfare and economic destruction, and were a direct response to the colonial needs to source continental labour. The Acts owed much to colonial Americans like Carolina Governor John Archdale who, like his co-religionist neighbour William Penn, acted in the interest of commerce and the colonial classes, broadening the base of non-Anglican access to the colonies. Opportunities afforded to German migrants in the American colonies, in particular, grew from this signal legislative change. </jats:p>



4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology, 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

Journal Title

Journal of Modern European History

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


SAGE Publications