George Metts


George Metts, or Metz, was born in the German Palatinate circa 1681. (The German Palatinate is an area of southwestern Germany through which the Rhine River flows. ) He was a Lutheran in religion and a carpenter by trade. In 1709, because of the devastation of his homeland by the armies of French King Louis XIV and a near Arctic winter, he joined ten thousand of his countrymen in seeking refuge in England and America. At the time he left, as many as a thousand Palatines a week were making their way up the Rhine River to Rotterdam in Holland, where they waited in refugee camps to be taken across the English Channel. The crossing was made in English ships which were returning home after transporting British soldiers to the Low Countries (Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg) to fight the French.

George Metts arrived in England around June 2, 1709, as his name is included on a list of "poor Palatines" who arrived at St. Catherine's on that date. Soon, in October, 1709, he was selected as one of the 650 "young, healthy, and industrious" Palatines who would take part in Baron Christopher De Graffenried's planned settlement in North Carolina.

In January, 1710, George Metts and the Palatine settlers sailed from Gravesend [near the eastern terminus of the River Thames east of London] after listening to a sermon by a German minister and saying farewell to DeGraffenried, who remained behind to await a hundred Swiss settlers. The Palatines were escorted part of the way by an English squadron to protect them from enemy warships.

The trip proved so hazardous that George Metts was one of only half the Palatine settlers who arrived in North Carolina alive. The voyage, made in winter in rough winds and stormy seas, took thirteen weeks. This, plus close confinement and food problems, caused sickness and death. Some died of fever when the ship arrived in Virginia.

After recovering their health, the Palatines made their way on foot to the Chowan River (in southeast Virginia), then by boat down the river to the Albemarle Sounde (in North Carolina) and up the Neuse River to a tongue of land between the Neuse and Trent Rivers (near Pamlico Sound near the Atlantic Ocean in far east-central North Carolina), arriving in May or June, 1710. Even after reaching their destination, the hardships continued.

When De Graffenried arrived with the hundred Swiss settlers in September, he found almost all of the Palatines sick, and even the well were very feeble. Within eighteen months, however, they became so well-settled that they made more progress than the English had in four years. Every family was given its own plot of land along the Trent River, and De Graffenried founded the town of New Bern (named for the Swiss city of Bern). As carpenters were among those chosen to live in town, George Metts may have been one of the first inhabitants of New Bern.

On September 22, 1711, the Tuscarora Indians attacked without warning, commencing four years of war. As a result of the massacre, a number of children were left orphans. Many were apprenticed in foster homes. In August, 1713, George Metts went to court and requested that he might have an orphan girl, Katherine (Lluckins?), bound to him for four years. He also sought an unidentified orphan boy, obliging himself to teach the orphan to read and write, to give him a cow and calf in 1714, and take care of him until he was twenty-one.

Records show that George Metts filed claims for damages received in the Indian War. George Metts is mentioned in a number of early Craven County records. He is on the Craven Precinct tax lists of 1718 and 1719. In 1719, he had 200 acres and one tithable. He bought 200 acres of land on the north bank of the Trent River in 1722.

George Metts married Susanna (maiden name unknown) and had two known children: George Metts, Jr. (died 1794 in Jones County, North Carolina), and Ann Curtisse Metts (died 1763), who married John Becton (died 1753). [See "The Heritage of Lenoir County, North Carolina," for the descendants of John and Ann Curtisse Metts Becton.]

George Metts died between September 15th and September 19th, 1727, in Craven Precinct of Bath County, North Carolina. He lived in what is now Jones County, North Carolina.

George Metts Will

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