What was the economic situation in Lower Saxony around 1750?

Today about 3% of all employed persons in Lower Saxony work in agriculture. Around 1750, approximately 90% of the population lived in the country. However, only about 15% owned enough agricultural land to be able to live off it. The other villagers had to secure their livelihood through additional activities as craftsmen, day-labourers or through outwork. Alternative sources of income did not exist. Compared to England, the Principality of Hanover was economically rather backwards. There were no larger commercial enterprises and no industry. A view of the city of Hanover around 1800 may illustrate that.
What was the economic situation in Lower Saxony around 1750?

Today about 3% of all employed persons in Lower Saxony work in agriculture. Around 1750, approximately 90% of the population lived in the country. However, only about 15% owned enough agricultural land to be able to live off it. The other villagers had to secure their livelihood through additional activities as craftsmen, day-labourers or through outwork. Alternative sources of income did not exist. Compared to England, the Principality of Hanover was economically rather backwards. There were no larger commercial enterprises and no industry. A view of the city of Hanover around 1800 may illustrate that.

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19th Century Hanover

Ansicht Hannovers um 1825.

Historical Museum Hanover

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Chart

The villagers and the basis of their livelihood

Canadian Heritage Information Network

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The economically difficult situation of small farmers or those, who owned little or no land, worsened around the middle of the 18th century due to rapid population growth, primarily because of the decline of infant mortality, and an ensuing scarcity of leasable land and employment opportunities.

Traditional social structures in the country were also felt to be repressive. In addition to paying duties and taxes, the peasant family had to render services, and pay tithes and other irregular duties to the landlord.

In the beginning of the 18th century, the region of the Harz Mountains still was an important region, where people would move to find work. By the middle of the century, however, the output of ore had dropped by an average 50% compared to 1725. So the region became an economic trouble spot in the south of the Principality of Hanover.

Migration to other regions of the Principality of Hanover or to neighbouring countries did not provide an alternative, since there one would have met with economic and social conditions similar to those at home.
The economically difficult situation of small farmers or those, who owned little or no land, worsened around the middle of the 18th century due to rapid population growth, primarily because of the decline of infant mortality, and an ensuing scarcity of leasable land and employment opportunities.

Traditional social structures in the country were also felt to be repressive. In addition to paying duties and taxes, the peasant family had to render services, and pay tithes and other irregular duties to the landlord.

In the beginning of the 18th century, the region of the Harz Mountains still was an important region, where people would move to find work. By the middle of the century, however, the output of ore had dropped by an average 50% compared to 1725. So the region became an economic trouble spot in the south of the Principality of Hanover.

Migration to other regions of the Principality of Hanover or to neighbouring countries did not provide an alternative, since there one would have met with economic and social conditions similar to those at home.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

18th Century Saxon Farmhouse

Model of a farmhouse in southern Lower Saxony around 1745

Historical Museum Hannover

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The cottagers or day-labourers lived as tenants on farms or small estates. Their rooms were usually located right under the roof. Since these rooms had no fireplace of their own, temperatures of -5 to -10 degrees Celsius were not uncommon during severe winters.
The cottagers or day-labourers lived as tenants on farms or small estates. Their rooms were usually located right under the roof. Since these rooms had no fireplace of their own, temperatures of -5 to -10 degrees Celsius were not uncommon during severe winters.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Who emigrated to Canada?

The Hanoveranian emigrants were predominantly small farmers and farm workers. Their reason for leaving was fear for their livelihood in the presence of poor living conditions; and what made them leave were all the positive news about an existing alternative in Nova Scotia.

Whenever official documents mention the occupation of emigrants, they are predominantly cottagers who possess very little or no land at all. Many young men emigrated, as well as entire families.
Who emigrated to Canada?

The Hanoveranian emigrants were predominantly small farmers and farm workers. Their reason for leaving was fear for their livelihood in the presence of poor living conditions; and what made them leave were all the positive news about an existing alternative in Nova Scotia.

Whenever official documents mention the occupation of emigrants, they are predominantly cottagers who possess very little or no land at all. Many young men emigrated, as well as entire families.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

A special case among the emigrants from north Germany is that of the approximately 2500 soldiers from the Duchy of Brunswick. They were recruited during the American War of Independence (1775-1783).
A special case among the emigrants from north Germany is that of the approximately 2500 soldiers from the Duchy of Brunswick. They were recruited during the American War of Independence (1775-1783).

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

List

Excerpt from a regiment's list of Brunswick soldiers from the year 1776. It lists the names of the soldiers, their age and their occupation.

State Archives Wolfenbüttel

39 S Slg, 237 N Nr. 108?
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe Hanover in the mid 18th century
  • Identify cultural, economic, and ecological factors that influenced emigration from Lower Saxony to Nova Scotia around 1750
  • Characterize the emigrants who came from Lower Saxony to Nova Scotia around 1750
  • Explain the motives of emigrants who came from Lower Saxony to Nova Scotia around 1750

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