The "Foreign Protestants" were a group of immigrants to Nova Scotia in the mid-18th century and the ethnonymic basis behind the name "New Brunswick", as well as support behind naming "Prince Edward Island" for a representative of the Braunschweiger dynasty.
In 1749, the British colony of Nova Scotia was almost completely populated by native Mi'kmaq and 10,000 French-speaking and Roman Catholic Acadians. The British, the specifically the Board of Trade, wanted to settle Protestants in the region. Attracting British immigrants was difficult as most preferred to go to the warmer southern colonies. Thus, a plan was developed to aggressively recruit foreign Protestants. These came mostly from German duchies and principalities on the Upper Rhine in the present-day Rhineland-Palatinate bundesländer. The duchy of Württemberg was the major source, but there were also "Foreign Protestants" from the present day Tripoint of France, Germany and Switzerland. They came from Montbéliard in France, and parts of Switzerland and the Netherlands.
This recruiting drive was led by John Dick, who was quite successful. The British government agreed to provide free passage to the colony, as well as free land and one year's rations upon arrival. Over 2,000 of the "Foreign Protestants" arrived between 1750 and 1752, in 11 ships:
- Aldernay/Nancy (1750)
- Ann (1750)
- Gale (1751)
- Speedwell (1751)
- Pearl (1751)
- Murdoch (1751)
- Speedwell (1752)
- Betty (1752)
- Sally (1752)
- Pearl (1752)
- Gale (1752)
The immigrants disembarked at Halifax, where they were put in temporary quarters. The Foreign Protestants stayed at Halifax to assist the British in building this new outpost. They had to wait for their promised lands. There were no other colonies at that time except for the French ones.
Most of the foreign Protestants settled along the South Shore between Liverpool and Halifax. The area is still inhabited by their descendants, and last names like Ritcey, Joudrey, Bruhm, Fralick, Hirtle, Ernst, Vogler, Creaser, Schmidt (anglicised to Smith), Rehfus (anglicised to Rafuse), or the various ways to spell Rhodeniser are common. Many towns such as Lunenburg, where the German settlers at first faced Native attack and conducted an abortive rebellion in 1753 (see "Lunenberg Rebellion" section in Wikipedia article "Father Le Loutre's War"), bear distinctly German names. While places adapted to the cultural and business requirements including Bridgewater and Riverport. Many of the names of islands, beaches, and points like Kingsburg are also German.
- Bell, Winthrop Pickard. The "Foreign Protestants" and the Settlement of Nova Scotia:The History of a piece of arrested British Colonial Policy in the Eighteenth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961
- History of Bridgewater, NS
- History of Riverport District, NS
- The Foreign Protestants
- The Foreign Protestants