Bexhill Parish Registers and the King’s German Legion

It is known that the King’s German Legion attended services, sung and spoken in German, at St.Peter’s Church, the Parish Church of Bexhill.

The parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are a valuable source of information for those researching King’s German Legion ancestors. Many German names appear alongside the locally familiar, and less familiar, English names.

In 1804, Martin and Elizabeth Schmidt’s son, Luke, was born on 9th October, christened on 29th October and buried on 30th October.

Many of the marriages are between brides and grooms with German names, but the names of English brides with German grooms reflect the social interaction of the King’s German Legion within the local community.

Two of the earliest brides, in 1804, were Ann Steel and Sarah Jones who married August Bussche and John Hennes, respectively.

In 1809, Bridget (Biddy) Canagan married Andreas Diederich on 25th June. Their daughter, Eliza, was born on 16th November 1810, and christened on 2nd December. Their second daughter, Mary Ann, was christened on 20th June 1813.

Of the local girls, Mary Ann Pumphrey married Philip Holtzerman on 6th January 1812. Philadelphia Dann married William Tummsel on 11th February 1811, and Rachel Cramp, Benjamin Wernerholme on 3rd June of the same year. Harriet Deeprose and Louis Kleinenz married on 28th April 1812.

The majority of the German names recorded in the burial register are of men in their 20s and 30s.  There are also infants such as Luke Schmidt, mentioned earlier, and Christopher Schutz, the son of Christopher and Mary, christened on 2nd August 1812, and buried 6 days later, on 8th August.

The ages of the Germans buried in 1814, recall the length of the Napoleonic conflict. The King’s German Legion Veterans, engaged on non-active duties in Bexhill, were mostly older men. The youngest registered was aged 28; the oldest two were 57 and 60 years old.

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