“Drarbach” arrival in 1751 in the Ship Patience

Some Background on the Ship Lists

An English 1727 law required ship’s captains of any ship arriving in England or any of its colonies to provide a complete list of all passengers (the “A” list) and required all foreign males over the age of 16 take the oath of allegiance to the Crown upon arrival (the “B” list). Beginning on 19 August 1729, males over 16 were also required to sign the oath of abjuration (the “C” list). These lists were lost (or perhaps never compiled) for ships arriving in New York, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. At least one of the three lists still exists for a total of 324 ships arriving in Philadelphia during the period 1727-1775.

Only 138 of the 324 “A” lists survived, and only 64 of those give the ages of the passengers. Only 138 of the “B” lists survive (not the same 138 as for the A lists). But a full 314 of the 324 “C” lists survive.

Rupp published an inferior version of these lists, with many omissions and errors, in 1856.1  The only complete collection of these lists was published by Strassburger in 1934.2

Women and children under 16 do not usually appear in the lists. The B and C lists normally do not include men who were sick or who refused to sign. In most cases, however, the records also include the number of “freights” or full-fare passengers. (Children paid a fraction of a full-fare depending on their age, so the number of “freights” was normally less than the actual number of passengers.) From this data, several scholars have derived an estimate of the total number of immigrants. About 70,000 Germans – men, women, and children – arrived at Philadelphia before the Revolution. Only about 800 arrived before 1727 – the great majority of Germans living in Pennsylvania in 1727 had evidently not arrived at the Philadelphia port. [Nearly 20,000 Germans were in Pennsylvania by 1727, but very few of these had arrived at the Philadephia port. Estimates are that about 5,000 Germans had immigrated to other ports and by 1727 their descendants number about 20,000. Some of these had migrated from New York.]  Between 1727 and 1754, when immigration was halted during the Seven Years War, about 58,000 Germans arrived in Philadelphia. 60% of these (about 35,000) arrived in the five-year period 1749-1754.   Roughly another 12,000 arrived between 1763 and 1774.3

What are the A, B, and C Lists?

The “A” lists were basically manifests, usually compiled before the ship left Europe. The English captains or crew normally wrote the lists, so the names are typically Anglicized. The law did not require that the ages of passengers be listed, but a few captains routinely did so. Women and children generally were not listed. Only 24 of the 138 surviving “A” lists show all the passengers and their ages.

The “B” list was made in the Philadelphia court after arrival. The captain was required to deliver to the court all the able-bodied male passengers above the age of 16. The list consists of signatures to the oath of allegiance to the Crown. Persons who could not sign had their names written by the court clerk. The oath, strictly speaking, was not required upon arrival. However, one could not own land in the colonies until taking it. Strassburger’s Volume II contains photocopies of the signatures for each list.

The “C” lists were persons signing the declaration of abjuration against the Pope and the Stuarts and swearing fidelity to the proprietor. Again, only males 16 and over were required to sign. This list was compiled separately, and usually by a different clerk, so some names can be different between the B and C lists. Strassburger reproduces all the actual signatures.

 The 1751 “C” List for the Ship Patience

Unfortunately, only List C survives for the 1751 voyage.   109 males aged 16 or over signed the oath of abjuration at the Philadelphia courthouse on 9 September 1751, including these three listed consecutively:4

Mich. Drarbach

Adam (his mark) Trarbach

Jacob (his mark) Trarbach

We know from church records that Adam and Jacob were over 21.  But  a third son who was 18 at the time, Michael Trarbach, was not among the signatories.  Whether he was omitted by accident or traveled separately is unknown.


  1. A Collection of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French, and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727-1776, Israel Rupp, (1856, reprinted 1875, 1931, 1966). []
  2. Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727-1808, Ralph B. Strassburger, ed. by William J. Hinke, 3 volumes (1934). []
  3. A summary of the calculations of a variety of scholars is summarized in “The Flow and Composition of German Immigration to Philadelphia, 1727-1775”, Marianne Wokeck, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, July 1981, pages 249-278. []
  4. Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Ralph Beaver Strassburger and William John Hinke, (1934), page 456.   Two of the signees remained on board. []