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In England, the early German immigrants found conditions almost the same as in their homeland. Prior to the beginning of the seventeenth century, England showed only minor interest in America. The English economy was based on agriculture but industrialization and commerce were growing in importance. The newly accepted theory of mercantilism led to an interest in colonization but did not solve the immediate problems of economic hard times and overpopulation.

Profit motives of the merchant class began to surface quite rapidly as news of tea, spices, coffee, gold and silver, and even tobacco reached the homeland. In 1606, the first trading company was organized for the purpose of colonization. The result was the founding of Jamestown a year later by about a hundred settlers sponsored by the London Company.

Contrary to what is generally taught, the English colonies were not founded solely because of religious persecution. Rather, they were founded for economic reasons and the desire of trading companies to exploit the newfound wealth plus, the desire of many lower and middle class common people to escape the political and economic turmoil in England.(11)

Between 1625 and 1630, a severe depression took place in England as wool markets collapsed, the Thirty Years War began in Europe, thousands of immigrants fled from Germany, France and the Low Countries, and political unrest continued as the government dealt with crises after crises.

With all these problems, especially the overflow of people, colonization seemed most attractive. By 1620 the feasibility of sustaining colonies had been demonstrated and in the next twenty years some seventy thousand people came to America. According to official estimates, some 12,000 persons came to Virginia, Maryland, and Bermuda; 18,000 came to the New England colonies; and 37,000 came to Barbados which included the Carolinas as well as the Caribbean Islands.(12) This earliest colonization includes the first HERREN immigrants.

In 1635, the first members of the HERREN family are believed to have come to the new world, even though the spelling of the name is one of the derivations rather than the classic spelling.

English maritime records show two passengers named “Heron” who sailed for the new world in 1635. One manifest lists the following entry:

On the ship ‘Paule’ of London, Leonard Betts, Master, bound for Virginia, a passenger certificate from the minister of Gravesend Church showing conformity to the Church of England, issued to John Heron, 18. Sailed on July 6th, 1635.

and a second entry states:

“Ship record and ‘license to sail’ granted to John Heron, age 20, as ‘being found by the clergy to be a devout Anglican and faithful to the King and the Church of England fit to sail for the Barbados.’ Manifest of Her Majesty’s ship, Expedition, Peter Blacker, Master, which sailed from England, November 20th, 1635.”

These records match the requirements of colonists who were required to swear allegiance to the King of England and be confirmed as members in good faith of the Church of England in order to obtain a “license to sail”.

There are no valid records to document the exact relationship of these two young men to our family, nor do we have any record of their lineage. The only connection is the name. The spelling is one of the common variations used by many members of the family. It is also known that some of the early family arrivals lived in the Virginia Colony; and that Barbados was a colony name used by the London Company to include North Carolina and the southern parts of the mainland as well as the islands in the Caribbean.

If a direct connection is found to document the lineages of these two men, they will be the forefathers of a long line of HERREN’s in America. Because of their ages, they were probably babies during the first migration or among the first sons born outside the homeland, perhaps, to members of the group who settled in Ulster, Ireland. There is no record to show exactly how long the family lived in England and Ireland before coming to America, but it is known that some went to Ireland and remained there while others continued to the colonies.

Even today there is a HERREN lineage in England which includes the four primary spellings of the name and some of the variations. This indicates that not all of the family went to Ireland or America. The exact connection of these branches has not been established.

An Irish branch of a German family migrating to America may sound complicated, but it really is not. The Irish connection of our family actually refers to Northern Ireland rather than Ireland, per se. The fact that our family is found in Northern Ireland is even more evidence the origins of the HERREN’S was in some other location. The reason is that few, if any, of the people who settled Ulster, Northern Ireland were natives, or even Irish. They were Protestant rather than Catholic, which is the religion of Ireland. And they were relocated rather than being native to the area.

When the first HERREN family members migrated to England, probably in the early 1600’s, they most likely joined a “trading company” in order to obtain passage to the colonies. In exchange for their transportation they became “redemptioners” and were obligated to the company for a specific number of years, usually seven, or until the fees were repaid. It is obvious that our family joined the Virginia Company because that trading company was also responsible for the settlement of Ulster, Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Settlement began about the same time as the colonization of Virginia. Under King James I and King Charles II, the border between Catholic Ireland and Protestant Scotland was the source of constant problems. In an attempt to reduce tensions and avert hostilities, Northern Ireland, Ulster in particular, was established as a buffer zone between the two factions. Settlers in the area became known as Scotch-Irish, even though they were not Irish. Primarily, they were descendants of Scottish clans who lived in the Lowland areas plus German and French Huguenot Protestants who had joined the Virginia Company to become colonists.

The involvement of the Virginia Company within Ulster occurred because some of the financial backers of the company were Scottish. This group of backers became known as the “Fifty-nine Scottish Undertakers” and they were rewarded with land grants in Ulster. The condition for granting the land was that the area be settled by Protestants, preferably Scots. To comply with terms of the agreement they settled persons of various nationalities who had become redemptioners with their trading company. Members of the HERREN family were apparently among this group and became the Irish Branch of the family.

One of the stories that has been handed down in our family “lore” concerns the migration from Ireland and seems to substantiate this historical record. Family “lore” or verbal history is usually fairly accurate, even though, it sometimes embellishes to some degree. Our family story tells of the group sailing for the colonies aboard two separate ships. One of the vessels encountered a heavy storm and was forced to return to England for repairs. Upon returning to England, the family was resettled in Ireland, and it took seven years for them to accumulate enough money to make another crossing.(14) As you can see, our story closely approximates the historical account of the settlement of Ulster, especially the use of redemptioners as settlers. Our account was reportedly told by one of the grandmothers in the family and handed down from generation to generation, and it varies only by the personalization.

Irish family records are scarce, particularly about direct lineage, but it is well recognized that the Irish branch used the Herr(o)n spelling of the name for the most part. Information that is available from Ireland is generally found in Presbyterian Church records and among the lists of Scotch-Irish who migrated to America.

Church records show many familiar family names that also appear in colonial records. For example, Hugh Herron of Nagherally Down was a ruling elder of the church in 1700; James of Newry Down, a ruling elder in 1711 and James of Venecash an elder in 1710; Sammuel of Lisburn and Antrim was a witness in 1704 and a ruling elder in 1706, while Sammuel of Ballee Down was an elder in 1706, and yet another Sammuel Herron of Sea Patrick Down was a petitioner in 1716 and a commissioner in 1718; and William of Menterburn and Tyrons was an elder in 1710. Note that there are duplicate listings of both James and Sammuel. These are probably the same persons since terms of office do not overlap and they are listed separately. Most of these same names appear later in North Carolina records.

These so called Scotch Irish settlers began migrating to the colonies in large numbers just after 1700, about the time the second group of German immigrants began to take advantage of the Immigration Act of 1709, which granted naturalization and English citizenship to foreign protestants coming to America. Our family was a part of both the Scotch Irish and German groups since some came from Ireland some directly from Germany. The ones from Ulster, North Ireland apparently came afterward since they settled primarily in North Carolina and the first groups came to Pennsylvania. Records show, however, that both groups communicated and started appearing in several colonies.

In effect, our family came to America as Pennsylvania Dutch, although, they were German, and not Dutch; and as Scotch Irish though they were not Irish and certainly not Scottish.