(This article on the the settlement of the village of Majos in Tolna County in the 18th century is a translation by Henry A. Fischer from portions of the Heimatbuch written by Heinrich Marz.)
The expulsion of the Turks from Hungary under the leadership of Charles of Lorraine and the Bavarian Prince Max Emmanuel resulted in the liberation of Majos in 1686. It appears that the local population fled the area during the conflict. In the census of Tolna County in 1696 Majos is not even mentioned. Later some South Slavs (Croatians) resided in the community. In 1715 there were still four taxpaying Croat farmers in Majos but no Germans. Johann Weidlein suggested that Germans settled here between 1713-1715 but that cannot be substantiated. The County Archives in Szekszard speak of twelve Franconian families living in Majos in 1720 replacing the Croats who had left. The question is: Were the Germans really from Franconia (now the northern part of Bavaria). And secondly, when did they actually arrive?
There is nothing definite that can be said about the original German colonists in Majos. What we know for certain is that the nobleman Franz Kung signed a settlement contract on September 28, 1720 with:
Johann Heinrich Neun
Johann Heinrich Schneider
On the basis of the “Church Chronicles of Majos” the first German settlers arrived in 1720. That, however, is not probable. No landlord would sign a settlement treaty with subjects that he did not know very well. It stands to reason that they had arrived at least the previous year and Kun had the opportunity to observe their industriousness and skills as farmers. In addition, Franz Kun attests on March 22, 1727 that pastor Andreas Christoph von Wieder, who is referred to as the third pastor in the Minutes of the Lutheran congregation, was actually the fourth pastor to serve in Majos. According to the Church Records, pastor Schwarzfelder was the first, followed by Egerland who was second, and then von Wieder who was the third. But Franz Kun insisted that von Wieder was the fourth. We know now that he was correct. Before Schwarzfelder ever undertook his ministry in Majos, he had been preceded by Samuel Bertram, who had been driven out of the village by the Roman Catholic authorities. We are now quite certain that Germans lived in Majos before 1720 and had their own pastor, and after his expulsion from Majos they moved on themselves. That is probably the reason for the Second Point in the settlement agreement that states:
“…they are to build here again, where the village
formerly stood and rebuild the seventy houses
and resettle the village with other good people.”
Where did these original settlers come from? Where did they go? When did they first arrive in Majos? They were excellent settlers according to the above excerpt from the new contract agreement. There are no answers to our questions and those who followed them had no knowledge of their predecessors. The only thing we know about them was that they were evangelisch (Lutherans) and their pastor Samuel Bertram came from Magdeburg in Saxony, and because he was “a foreigner” he was run out of the village and the County, and was then quickly followed by the members of his congregation.
A book entitled: Eleven Families from Bleichenbach Emigrate to Hungary in 1722 was published in 1929. Among the eleven families were Augustinius Deckmann and Johann Heinrich Neun who were among the signatories of the first settlement contract in Majos. Pastor Johann George Blum provided this information in the book. He served the Lutheran congregations in Selters, Bleichenbach, Wippenbach and Konradsdorf. In the parish records he left behind, he left a significant note about “the emigration to Hungary”. He mentions that the loss of over sixty souls in his congregation in Bleichenbach saddened him greatly. There was also a family from Selters that joined the group from Bleichenbach. There is no additional information about the result of the emigration, provisions for their journey, the travel route they took, or how long their journey lasted. This is the final entry with regard to this notation by the pastor:
“…as the Turks fled Hungary from 1683 to 1717 and
left it a wasteland, the Emperor of the Holy Roman
Empire announced that Roman Catholics, Lutherans
and Reformed were welcome to come and settle in
Hungary and they would be free of providing labour
for their landlord for several years, and were guaranteed
freedom of religion and conscience. As a result, many
people from the Pfalz, Wetterau, Vogelsberg, Darmstadt
and Hanau were quick to leave, seeking a better economic
situation. They soon learned that they had a lot of hard
work ahead of them, and many of them wished they had
stayed at home in Germany, as David suggests in Psalm
In 1722, the following Lutheran inhabitants from Bleichenbach left for Hungary:
Heinrich Liebegott (an assessor at Court) his wife
and seven children
Johann Heinrich Neun, his wife Anna Maria and seven
Weigand Deckmann, wife Anna Maria and seven children
Johannes Ritzel, his wife Elisabeth Margareta, and four
Catharina Liebegott, widow of Hans Liebegott and her two
Johann George Rausch, wife Anna Catharina and their
Christofel Pflug, a tile maker, Roman Catholic and his
wife Margareta and seven children all of whom were
Johann Conrad Deckmann and wife Anna Margareta
Johann Heinrich Ritzel, his wife Elisabeth who was
In the previous year, Hans Jakob Arndt a Reformed
villager in Bleichenbach and his Lutheran wife Elisabeth
and their son who was Reformed and their three Lutheran
daughters left for Hungary
(Translator’s note: There were a minimum of 40 children involved in this exodus, which is hardly ever mentioned in descriptions of the Great Swabian Migration into Hungary. It is also important to note the degree of mixed marriages among them as well. The Arndt family is especially significant in that the tradition of sons following the religion of their father and daughters that of their mother was brought with the settlers to Hungary and would continue on in Hungary up to the expulsion of the Danube Swabians in 1946-1948.)
All of the above individuals and families ended up settling in Majos. Johann Ritzel, one of the new arrivals died on October 29, 1722 less than a year after coming to Majos. It appears that these families were in contact with Germany by letter and many others came in response to their encouragement to join them in Hungary.
In the Tax List of 1727/1728 a Latin notation points out:
“One can say that the village of Majos had reverted
to wilderness in long times past, but in 1720 one
began to settle it with Franconians and some other
nationalities and were granted three years of freedom
from labour from their landlords and the right for
families to inherit land. It belonged to the highborn
noblemen, Lord Baron Schilson and Lord Franz Kun.”
The estate owners ruled both the County and their subjects and received the land for services rendered to the Emperor during the Turkish campaign. Before the Turkish occupation the land and forests had belonged to the magnates and nobles. During the 150 year long occupation by the Turks many of the estate owners fled or their families died out and there were no heirs after the Turks were expelled. As a result, the Emperor was free to use these “orphaned” estates as payment or recognition of his faithful military and political allies, promising thereby continued loyalty to the Habsburgs. That is how the estates passed into the hands of Franz Kun and Baron Schilson and was later sold to the Perzel family.
(Translator’s note: The Settlement Treaty with Franz Kun follows in the text, which I am not including, except for Point Thirteen.)
“The calling of a pastor and the practice of
religion was subject to the Emperor’s will and
the approval of the County. The costs of
supporting a pastor, building a church or
parsonage were at the total expense of the
settlers down to the last penny.”
In the Tax List prepared by the County in 1720, the following families are listed for Majos. (Translator’s note: The Hungarian officials who prepared the list did so on the basis of what they thought they heard when the settlers were asked their family names. They would have assumed they were illiterate as were their Hungarian serfs. I have provided the actual German names wherever possible.)
Joannes Hoffman Joannes Christoph Smit (Schmidt)
Michael Snaider (Schneider) Joannes Peter Rauch (Rausch)
Joannes Paulus Secl (Jackel) Joannes Conrad Kenich (Konig)
Augustin Tekmann (Deckmann) Just Dewich
Conrad Nay (Neun) Andreas Klics (Glits)
Joannes Wilhelm Spiznagel (Spitznagel) Conrad Amd (Arndt)
In 1723 another group of colonists settled in Majos and these names are taken from the Tax Lists as above.
Heinrich Hesz (Hess) Philippus Schlajer (Schleier)
Peter Edlmann (Edelmann) Peter Fischer
Peter Pekt (Becht, Bechtel) Joannes Praun (Braun)
Paulus Wilhem Vencl Miler (Wenzel Muller)
Christian Pucher (Bucher) Paulus Hesz (Hess)
Caspar Raver (?) Petrus Hesz (Hess)
Jakobus Danyer (?) Stephan Hausz (Haas)
Johannes Schen (Schon) Andreas Vaihaldt (?)
Joannes Kirner (Kerner) Christian Pukler (Puchler, Pichler)
Friderich Mulak (?) Friedericus Malch (Mailach)
The following names were added to the Tax Lists by the County authorities in 1724:
Joannes Spitznagel Jakob Tewich (Dewich)
Philip Krais (Krauss) Joannes Peter Poth (Both)
Joannes Henrich Kraft Joannes Peter Edlmann (Edelmann)
Joannes Peter Weber Friederich Mannah (?)
Conrad Tekmann (Deckmann) Joannes Kruk (Krug)
Joannes Daupert (Taubert) Joannes Felte (Felde)
Thomas Denns (Denz) Joannes Fulhaur (Faulhaber)
Georgius Sporer Joannes Caspar Praun (Braun)
Johannes Sisler (Schissler) Philip Slajer (Schleier)
Ditrich Romeisser Peter Herczperger (Hertzberger)
Later that year they added the names of the following new settlers:
Heinrich Zimmermann Petrus Herczperger (Hertzberger)
Henrich Tekmann (Deckmann) Joannes Praun (Braun)
Joan Peter Jekel (Jackl) Konig
Paulus Wilhelm Henrich Beber (Becker)
In 1725 these new colonists came to Majos and were added to the list:
Paulus Klan (Klein) Christof Suker (Zucher)
Petrus Riczel (Ritzel) Henrich Hess
Stefan Raus (Rausch) Petrus Edlmann (Edelmann)
Philip Vagner (Wagner) Venselsius Miller
Andreas Vainhuk (Weingk my guess) R. Nicolai Oberndorfer
Franc Widera Desiderius Malach (Mailach)
From the records of deaths, some of the following places of origin can be identified:
Magelsdorf bei Nurnberg
The Chronicles of the Lutheran Church in Majos
The history of the Lutheran congregation in Majos must be seen against the backdrop of the Counter Reformation, which attempted to convert all non-Catholics. The Roman Catholics were prepared to use all of the force necessary to accomplish this. Since all of the settlers in Majos were Lutherans they would battle for the freedom to practice their faith in the decades ahead. This freedom of religion had been granted and guaranteed to them at the time of their emigration into Hungary by the Emperor Charles VI. Only with the publication of the Edict of Toleration and the permission of Emperor Joseph II would the lot of the Lutherans be improved when they were permitted to build churches and parsonages, as well as freely call their pastors and schoolmasters. But it would take years to achieve full religious freedom. Although they were allowed to build their churches, they could not be on a street but behind the houses or at the very end of the village. The entrance to the church could not face or be seen from the street. The Majos church building was built on a hill, at the outskirts of the village totally removed from any street and without a tower. The prohibition against having a tower was only lifted by Emperor Joseph II on January 27, 1789.
The resettlement of Majos is identified with the coming of the German colonists in 1720 for which there is documented proof. The Church Minutes in Majos report:
“In the year of our Lord 1720 we came from Germany
in response to the invitation of His Glorious Imperial
Majesty, Emperor Charles VI with the full assurance we
were allowed the full expression of our religion if we
settled in Hungary.”
(Translator’s note: This is one of many documented cases referring to the Emperor’s religious concessions to Ernst Ludwig of Hesse who made that a condition before he allowed the Emperor’s recruiters to enter his territories in search of settlers, which further indicates their origins were in Hesse.)
As pointed out earlier, these settlers had been preceded by other German Lutheran colonists a year or two previously. The Royal State Chancellery in 1730 recorded a note to the effect that, “It is understood that before 1720 religious life in Majos had already begun.” Obviously German Lutherans were in Majos as early as 1717-1718. However, there is no direct written account of that settlement. Others suggest either 1713 or 1715 as the date of their arrival, but without any historical documented substantiation for the claim. Franz Kun gave permission for the building of a Bethaus in 1720 to serve as a place for worship and a school and the so-called “first” pastor, Jeremias Schwarzwalder was also installed at that time. He also acted as the schoolmaster.
The above information was first compiled by Pastor Hagen who began to serve in Majos in 1784. He found only scattered notes and developed a comprehensive report out of them. It is possible that he overlooked the fact that another pastor had served in Majos before Schwarzwalder, or found no evidence to substantiate it. There are other references to Schwarzwalder as the first pastor, i.e. the Rausch family Bible. Only the attestation of Franz Kun mentioned previously, which was dated 27.03.1727 states, “The exiled pastor von Wieder was driven out of Majos a second time, and he was the fourth in line of the pastors who served Majos. Before von Wieder, there had been Egerland and before him Schwarzwalder.” If in fact, there were four pastors, who then was Schwarzwalder’s predecessor? It was Betram.
In Anton Tafferner’s source book on Danube Swabian historical writings he includes a report written by George Barany on the development of Lutheran congregations in the Tolna and its environs and relates the following:
“In 1719 the German Lutheran congregation was established in Varsad along with a filial group in Kalazno, and at the same time the congregation in Majos on the estates of Baron Schilson and Filials in Hidas and Ciko were organized, along with the German congregations in Izmeny, Kismanyok, Mucsfa and Bataapati. Later German congregations were established in Kistormas and a filial in Felsonana. In the same year congregations were organized in Moragy and Tofu.”
(Translator’s note: Filial is a term used to describe an organized congregation without a resident pastor associated with a pastor serving another congregation. In effect they formed a parish. Filial is part of the term affiliation.)
Barany then reports on the pastor who served in Majos:
Wieder (somestimes von Wieder)
At the first “synod convention” of the Evangelical Lutherans in Tolna County held in Szarszentlorincz in 1725, the pastor from Majos, Wieder was elected as the Inspector of the German-speaking congregations in the Seniorat.
(Translator’s note: The term Seniorat is the designation used to describe the church organization the Lutherans formed beyond the level of the local congregation which in North America would be called Districts or Synods.)
The name of Schwarzwalder is missing in the list of pastors in Majos. But he is named as the pastor in Varsad. That he also served in Gyonk for a short time is not mentioned. Barany could have made an error in this regard.
In Spiegel-Schmidt’s history, Schwarzwalder accompanied the settlers who arrived in Varsad in 1718. He was unable to minister there for very long. The Roman Catholic bishop of Pecs, Count Nesselrode, who was also High Sheriff of Tolna County had the pastor thrown into prison. He suffered torture and other physical abuse for six months in an attempt to convert him. He would not be released until he promised not serve as a Lutheran “preacher” or serve a congregation in Tolna County. In spite of that restriction, in 1720 the Majos church register records some interesting information in the section dealing with deaths and funerals as follows: “The deceased Anna Maria Blesserin, beloved wife of Johann Peter Blesser was buried in Kismanyok, with the funeral sermon preached by the pastor of Majos, Schwarzwalder.” He also baptized a child in Majos on September 27. 1720. The parents were Christian Johann Schadel and Anna Barbara.
Pastor Schwarzwalder was expelled again, this time from Majos in 1722 as his predecessor Friedrich Samuel Betram of Magdeburg had been earlier. In effect, Schwarwalder was the second pastor to serve in Majos. We also learn in Spiegel-Schmidt’s book that Schwarzwalder headed for Gyonk on his expulsion from his pastorate in Majos. But after a very short time he was to be found in Bakonyscsernye where he served for the next five years and where he was buried.
A Lutheran archivist, Count Stephan Zichy reports:
“When he became ill in 1731, the pastor of Bakonyscernye was taken to Mor for medical help. After the ill pastor took the prescribed medicine he immediately began to sweat and died shortly afterwards. His congregation attempted to take his body back to Bakonyscernye for burial. The Capuchin monks at Mor attempted to hinder that. Only after long consultations and hearings was the congregation able to secure his body and carry out the funeral back at home. The church records in Varsad indicate their suspicions that their former pastor had been poisoned by the local barber who was awarded honours by the Capuchin monks for his “holy work”.”
(Translator’s note: Barbers served as surgeons, apothecaries and doctors as a sideline to their profession. The monks at Mor are best known for the mobs they led to raid the homes of the Lutherans in nearby Pusztavam (Ondod) for bibles, catechisms and hymnbooks which they publicly burned and regularly hauled off their pastors and schoolmasters to prison including Georg Mossberger the translator’s ancestor.)
Following the banishment of Schwarzwalder, the Majos congregation presented a petition to the County Administration to request permission to have the freedom to practice their faith as had been promised by the Emperor. When a decision was reached, the Assistant Sheriff of the County summoned the congregational leaders to Szekszard and informed them of their negative conclusion based on information from the Emperor. The representatives of the congregation defended themselves and replied:
“…Someone must have made a mistake and we beg the County to find the man who is responsible, because the congregation in Majos does not want to appear in a bad light, and we request that a permanent pastor be allowed to serve us, since the pastor from Varsad had served Majos ever since 1720 and what is just and legal for the congregation in Varsad should also be extended to the Majos Lutherans.”
It appears that Schwarzwalder was still listed as the Varsad “preacher” by the County in 1722, even though at that time he had a ministry in Majos as well. From the Minutes of the General Convention of the County in Szekszard on May 18, 1722 they report that at the request of Lord Kapuzi Gyogy, the vicar of Pecs, the Convention ordered the arrest of the Varsad preacher with the help of security forces and if found guilty he was to be turned over to the magistrate of the County for punishment.
On October 7,1722 the Majos congregation secured a new pastor, Johann Egerland, formerly a pastor in Gyor (Raab). He served the congregation for two years and died while in office. His funeral was held in the Bethaus. Nothing else is known of this man or his ministry.
The next pastor arrived in 1724, whose name was Andreas Christoph von Wieder from Pressburg which is present day Bratislava, and he was apparently a nobleman. The badgering and pestering of the pastor by the County and Roman Catholic Church officials was so bad that the congregation sent a letter to the Emperor.
(Translator’s comment: One has to admire the fortitude and determination of our ancestors and their recklessness in dealing with officialdom when it came to a matter of their faith and their rights.)
Their letter, written in Latin says in part:
“From among the masses who were only too happy to respond to your Gracious Majesty’s invitation to establish colonies in Your Kingdom of Hungary, we also in the same way have trusted in Your leniency and gentleness as our Sovereign, and for that reason we believed you would protect us against all disturbers of our peace, and all kinds of unpleasantness. Because of our trust in you and with a subject’s deep respect, we are compelled to share the following with you. In 1720 we came here in possession of your promise for the full freedom to practice our faith publicly in Tolna County, long before this recent decision by the so-called Commission in Pest. In 1725 an order from the Royal State Chancellery was made public that improved the conditions with which Lutheran pastors in Hungary had to deal. As a result the Lutheran pastor in Majos was re-instated in his office. Up to 1725 the County Administration put all kinds of difficulties in motion directed against the Lutherans, but the pastor in Majos was not attacked directly since he was a nobleman. Meanwhile the County took the Richter of Majos captive, beating him, putting him in chains and dragged him off to Simontoryna, the capital of the County. There he was thrown into prison, innocent of any offence, treated just like a criminal, where he had to do all of the dirty work and was kept there for several weeks.”
(Translator’s note: The Richter was one of the villagers nominated by the landlord to act as his representative and act on his behalf. He was responsible for collecting the tithes the villagers paid to the landlord and organized the free labour to be done on the nobleman’s estate but also acted as the spokesman for the villagers when approaching the landlord, officials and government authorities.)
“All of this was done to intimidate the Majos Lutherans and weaken their resolve to remain Lutherans, so that they would banish their pastor to finally get some peace. This was made very clear to the pastor through an understanding he had with the County Judge. The Judge had declared that as long as the pastor was in the village there could be no hope of talk of freeing the imprisoned Richter. The County was prepared to take other measures should the pastor be unwilling or refused to leave. The County threatened the confiscation of the pastor’s property/possessions and with also banning other members of the congregation. As a result of such great pressure and hindrances on the part of the County and also indirectly by the activities on the Roman Catholic clergy in the nearby neighbourhood, the pastor would have had to leave, except for the fact that like the Lutheran colonists on the estates of Count von Mercy, they had an Imperial Decree from the Emperor which protected them. The Majos Lutherans, like all of the colonists on the von Mercy estates, had come to Hungary with the assurance they could trust the word of the State, and would be true to the Sovereign and gave him respect and loyalty.
This trust in His Majesty was now disturbed, because by now we have invested many thousands of Gulden in the development of the village and vineyards as we had agreed to do in our settlement treaty with our noble landlord. It would be painful for us to have the last of what we own stolen from us and have to leave here and return to our former homeland.
That is why we throw ourselves before the throne of your Righteousness, Gracious Sovereign and Majesty, to issue a gracious decree to the County to earnestly uphold all of the measures guaranteed to us in religious matters, to re-instate our pastor in his ministry and that all of the other issues be resolved. In response, the people of Majos will continue to provide loyal service to His Majesty…”
This communiqué to the Emperor created panic in officialdom and the Superior Court Judge and a representative of the County Administration arrived in Majos to investigate the matters raised by the congregation.
But there is also an explanation given on the part of pastor who noted on November 24, 1726:
“This is to confirm and attest to my discussions with the highborn and noble Judge, Gabriel Gocze who met with me and delivered the decision that I had to leave the village of Majos and bow to the actions taken by the County. In good faith I also had to a sign a statement that within a space of approximately two weeks I would leave Majos, because I needed that time to prepare and move my furnishings.”
It must be mentioned here that during the pastorate of von Wieder the latest persecution was carried out with great pressure against all concerned. In pastor Barany’s report on the persecution in Tafferner’s book, he indicates that Pastor von Wieder as the Church Inspector of the Seniorat led the opposition against the County, but he was ignored and they shrugged off his efforts on behalf of Majos and Nagyszekely. At the same time, while Barany was writing to the Emperor around 1742, another persecution was being unleashed and County troops had taken possession of the Lutheran Bethaus in Mekenyes, while the Bethaus in Izmeny was damaged and their bell tower was destroyed.
The pastor and congregation in Majos received support from their noble landlord, Franz Kun. He wrote the following affidavit on their behalf:
“I affirm and attest that Herr Andreas Wieder began to serve in Majos in 1723, in the District of the Royal County of Tolna, the fourth Lutheran pastor to do so. He is not guilty of any human weaknesses; he always expressed his respect and honoured all Roman Catholics, as well as exemplified his Protestant piety, a sober and honourable man who was forced to leave Majos as a result of the indirect pressures and openly hostile activities of the Royal County. This statement is for the purpose of clearing up the truth of this matter. Bonyhad, March 22, 1727.”
A further document will show that the Judge was not responsible for these actions by the Royal State Chancellery. The Judge, Gabriel Gocze claims on March 23, 1727:
“…with regard to Herr Andreas Christoph Wieder, the pastor of those holding to the Augsburg Confession in Majos, that is located in a district of Tolna County, and belongs to the land holdings and estates of the noble born Baron von Schilson and the highly esteemed Lord Franz Kun, I wish to state that the expulsion order for the said pastor to leave was not a decision I made on my own part, but by order of the Royal State Chancellery which yielded to the pressure exerted by the County Administration, and the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy. The pastor was further forbidden to hold any worships services anywhere…”
The Judge attempted to wash his hands of any guilt in the matter, since it appeared that Kun was definitely on the side of his subject serfs and the pastor involved. Not only did Kun thereby maintain good relations with his peasants in Majos but his peasants worked diligently for him and paid their taxes.
The following document concerns the fate of the imprisoned Richter of Majos and comes from the Royal State Chancellery. The document begins in superlatives in describing the esteem and honour in which the Chancellery holds those who adhere to the Augsburg Confession!
(Translator’s note: The Augsburg Confession is the statement of faith that the Lutheran lay representatives presented at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 to the Habsburg Emperor and is normative for all Lutheran congregations to this day.)
“We wish to forward the memorandum enclosed from his Imperial Majesty addressed to the inhabitants of Majos, which is located in Tolna County, the following: The County has forwarded this memorandum of the Imperial Chamber to deal graciously with it as we investigate on what grounds the procedures taken against your Richter were undertaken. In matters of religion, the Carolina Resolutio of the Emperor, the Sovereign has precedence and does not permit the introduction of any new infractions that are all subject to the interpretation of the special commission in Pest. On this basis, we believe, dear noble estate owners you are required to inform us of the grounds upon which the actions were taken against the Richter of Majos.”
It was signed by the Royal State Chancellery, June 9, 1727 at a session in Pressburg, with the signatures of Count Nicholas Palfy, Baron Adam von Mesko and John Adelffy.
The following letter was written in response. The authors were Johann Dalmata, magistrate of the Royal County of Tolna and Nikolaus Fardics a representative of the County Administration. It is in Latin and partially in Hungarian.
“In the year 1727 on July 3rd, we the undersigned carried out a legal investigation in the village of Majos located in Tolna County. The investigation consisted of questions put to witnesses, as to who and what needed to be considered. What could each witness reveal about the nationally known and heroic Judge, Gocze Gabor and the grounds for the order of the County for the expulsion of their preacher? What the witness saw and heard from the mouth of the preacher and also what he heard in the village.
The first witness was Stefan Kis, a soldier serving the County, about 37 years old, under solemn oath he said, “I was in the company of my Lord Judge, because at the time he wanted to use force to remove the preacher from the County if necessary. He (Wieder) said, “I protest. I am a nobleman and I have my people. If you lay one finger on me, I assure you there will be consequences.” The villagers of Majos also heard this. But from the mouths of the members of the congregation we also heard them say, “We will spill our own blood to stop you from expelling or arresting our pastor. He (Wieder) also interpreted this to the rest of us who knew only Hungarian. The preacher spoke audibly in Hungarian to all.”
Others who were present at the time affirmed this eyewitness report. Franz Toth from Pari, a leader of the glorious Royal County aged 30 years. The third witness was Andreas Beczo from Bonyhad, also a leader of the glorious County, about 37 years old. The fourth witness was Johann Beszte from Varalja, another County official, about 50 years of age.
Their testimonies were recorded and sealed.”
Under the date of July 5, 1727 a report to the County Administration of Tolna and the Emperor from the Superior Court Judge with regard to his investigation of the request and correspondence of the Majos congregation to the King, dealt with the issue of the freedom of religion.
“The gracious magistrates of this glorious County of Tolna, examined and investigated the memorandum sent to the Emperor by the inhabitants of Majos.
Then in the name of the whole congregation, the following persons from Majos appeared in our presence. The ringleader of the rabble, Johann Setel (Translator’s note: should obviously be Schadel) who following his declaration and testimony remained in chains in the County dungeon in Simontornya; Andreas Klicz (Klitsch) the assistant Richter and also Johann Hoffmann, Ernst Steter, Johann Rudolff, Andreas Vayhalt (Translator’s note: the name is probably Weinhold) and finally Wilhelm Spiessnagel (Spitznagel). We proceeded to read Your Majesty’s memorandum and explained it to them. They listened to us in rather great consternation and answered it as follows: that they knew nothing of this matter and had never heard of it, and they blamed no one for it. There was some evil-minded person who wanted a pretext to create hatred against them. All of this was unknown to them. They returned the Emperor’s memorandum and requested that it be sent back to the Emperor under protest because they were not prepared to accept it.
On this basis, the community of Majos requested that the glorious County of Tolna not punish them because of this matter. Concerning the question of the religious preference of the community of Majos, it had been clear to all that in 1720 the well-known pastor in Varsad served Majos as a filial congregation. But as early as in the following year of 1721 Majos had its own pastor who subscribed to the Augsburg Confession with the full permission of the Commission in Pest.
Because of contemporary correspondence and documents presented by the delegation, one had to acknowledge the establishment and founding a Lutheran pastorate in Majos and the beginning of a ministry by the first pastor in 1720, and public worship was allowed and not forbidden in that year. In that year, the Majos congregation was assisted to become a self-sustaining parish. This document is dated July 5, 1727 and signed by Johann Dalmata, Superior Court Judge of the glorious County of Tolna and Nikolaus Furdics, County Administrator.”
The real reason for interrogating the Majos delegation was to uphold and preserve the “true Catholic faith”. The document indicates that the Richter and the other representatives of Majos claimed to have knowledge of the petition sent to the Emperor. No actual document has been found or an author identified. Is it possible that it was Schadel, who is called the ringleader and was claimed to be stubborn and belligerent who was actually its author?
On July 5, 1727 the congregation of Majos made an application to the County for permission to have and retain a pastor.
Franz Kun, along with Baron von Schilson, who were the joint owners and landlords of Majos, were not Lutherans themselves, but were fond and devoted to Protestantism in general. On July 7, 1727 the County General Assembly met at Szekszard. Johann Ferenczffy, a lawyer, and the treasurer of Tolna County, reported that he noticed that Franz Kun was a signatory to various religious writings of the pastor of Majos who was a Lutheran serving in Majos, which had been published and for which Franz Kun paid the printing costs. He then praised Kun over the contents of the literary works of the Protestant preacher because he emphasized the similarities between the Lutheranism and Catholicism and did not engage in polemics. But then Ferenczffy brought up the fact that these “cheap” editions and writings could, however, create great damage to the Roman Catholic faith if not understood in the correct context.
The following is an excerpt from the Protocols of the County Assembly:
“…that is why Johann Ferenczffy called for Franz Kun to be ordered to appear before the County Court for his scandalous activities and their consequences. The inhabitants of Majos were also charged, because they had illegally contacted the Emperor with a petition that complained against the County. For that reason they would have to stand before the Court and surrender a copy of their petition. The Investigating Committee would be named later in the Minutes…”
There is a notation in the Minutes of the County Administration dated July 9, 1727 to the effect that the County Administration thanked the Royal State Chancellery in Pressburg for supporting the expulsion of the Lutheran pastor in Majos and accepting the complaints against the Richter of Majos who was imprisoned in Simontoryna. Further, they reiterated that the petition of the Majos congregation was without any validity. The complaints against the County were unfounded and without any truth.
The truth of the matter was that the Lutherans of Majos simply wanted to take advantage of the promises made to them by high officials of the State that upon emigrating to Hungary they would be free to practice their Lutheran faith freely and openly without an hindrances. They worked hard and were loyal to their noble landlords. They provided the support for their pastors and schoolmasters, whenever they were allowed to fulfill their office in Majos and not be expelled from the village. All of this was too much for the County, the State and the Roman Catholic Church. In future, whenever they did not have a pastor of their own they sought the services of the pastor in Kismanyok. Most of the entries with regard to births, deaths, marriages related to Majos during these periods can be found in the Kismanyok Parish Register. But that included other villages as well who were faced with the same situation: Bataapati, Bonyhad, Ciko, Csibrik, Gyore, Musfa, Hidas, Izmeny, Mekenyes, Moragy, Toffu and Varalja. All of them experienced difficulties and persecution, harassment and hindrances directed against any attempts to carry out any form of Lutheran church life.
After the banishment of Pastor von Wieder in 1726 there was a pastor serving Majos but there is no record of his name. Pastor Hagen who arrived as pastor in 1784 during the construction of the church wrote the following in the Church Chronicle:
“In 1729 in the Year of Our Lord, our pastor was expelled from Majos, accompanied by two Hungarian Hussars and the County Magistrate carrying out the orders of the County and the Bishop of Pecs. His identity, however, escapes us.”
The following document was probably written some time between 1729 and 1730. It relates to the Lutheran pastors in both Majos and Hidas and the report is written by the Roman Catholic Administrator of the Roman Catholic Parish of Bonyhad:
“The action was taken as ordered by His Majesty the Emperor through the Royal State Chancellery that the ministers of the Augsburg Confession in the villages of Majos and German Hidas be expelled because they were placed in office contrary to the Emperor’s decree and that the villages are Filials of the Roman Catholic Parish of Bonyhad and belong to it. The local inhabitants in terms of the care of souls and pastoral services will not be served by Lutheran pastors as per the regulations of Leopold II and strengthened by the decrees of Charles VI, the so-called Carolina Resolutio. The fact that the Lutheran pastors went beyond serving their villages but also went to other villages on foot to provide pastoral care and celebrate the sacraments is well known to the General Assembly of the County even though the Imperial decision forbids this. None of the inhabitants of the villages, however, will admit to this.
On the basis of this, they seek to bring a minister of their own Confession from somewhere else to preach in their prayer houses unless they have a schoolmaster of their religion who leads them in worship. In this way they seek to avoid the use and payment for priestly services to the Roman Catholic Parish in Bonyhad, which is their legal obligation. The Calvinist inhabitants in the town have joined them in this disobedience. And what is even worse, our greatest concern is that the Roman Catholic rectory because of age and poor construction threatens to collapse any day now. Because of that, I beg the glorious General Assembly of the County to forbid the minister of the Augsburg Confession in Kismanyok the right to make pastoral visits to Majos and Hidas, because the Lutherans in Majos and Hidas, as well as the Reformed believers in Bonyhad are responsible for supporting the Bonyhad Roman Catholic Parish on a yearly basis providing subsidy by Imperial decree. In addition, they are required to earnestly comply so that the rectory in Bonyhad may by renovated and become a worthy residence for the parish priest. And when the tithes and fees in wine, produce and money appropriate to the compiled assessment of the named pastorates, done in the presence of their landlords, are carried out and paid, the landlords be ordered by the General Assembly to return the acreage assigned for the support of the priest.”
After most of the Lutheran congregations in the district surrounding Bonyhad were orphaned by the expulsion of their pastors, they requested pastoral services from the pastor in Kismanyok. The Roman Catholic priest raised an uproar with the County officials not only because of his loss of fees and revenue from the Lutherans, but also because this stood in the way of their conversion. This led to the next difficulty and complaint.
The Administrator of the Roman Catholic Parish in Bonyhad, Lord Michael Kocziany, complained to the County Assembly in writing on October 22, 1736:
“I have been forced to acknowledge on my own authority that the “little” pastor of the Augsburg Confession has taken his jurisdiction beyond the borders of his parish, namely Kismanyok.
(Translator’s note: He uses the term “little” in a pejorative sense. The Hungarian word for little is “kis” as in Kismanyok. The village is a stone’s throw away from the larger village of Nagymanyok. Nagy means: big or large. The Lutheran pastor is nothing but a little frog in a big pond.)
The man dares to provide pastoral care in my filial congregations, above all in Majos and Hidas, but to what extent I cannot determine for certain. At the same time he is also receiving income, not only the fees that should come to me, but other income as well. This is a terrible shame, and is an affront to the Roman Catholic Church and the laws of the land and our holy faith. The parishioners in the above named Filials were forced to pay him on the basis of previous claims I have made. In addition, members of the local Calvinist sect go to great lengths to blaspheme against us. As a result of these blasphemies against God, it is becoming very frightening, for when God acts he will punish many innocent people when He eventually responds…”
After the Lutheran pastors were expelled in Majos and most of the other settlements, by order of the State and County, all of the Lutherans now belonged to the Roman Catholic Parish of Bonyhad. In this way they wanted to force the Lutherans to accept Roman Catholic ministrants for baptisms, marriages and funerals and gradually integrate them into the Roman Catholic Church. The fees and assessments for such ministrations were to be paid to the Roman Catholic priest. But during these times when they were without a pastor, the settlers in Majos went to the Lutheran pastor in Kismanyok instead. The Church Register in Kismanyok contains many references to the families in Majos. Why was the pastor of Kismanyok able to avoid expulsion? The answer is simple: Count von Mercy, who was their noble landlord, a world renowned General, Governor of the Banat, had so much power that the County Assembly was afraid to take him on.
From 1730 to 1779, Majos was officially without a pastor. In these times, the schoolmaster led the worship services, and if the pastor from Kismanyok were not available, he would preside at funerals, visit the sick and baptize. After the death of Lord Sigismund Daranyi, the Bishop of Pecs, and with the permission of Lord Joseph Perzel of Bonyhad, the then owner of Majos, who served as the Vice Governor of Tolna County the congregation installed Pastor Samuel Haynoczy in Majos on May 29, 1749.
Pastor Haynoczy was well liked by the County Administrators, as well as the Vicar General of Pecs, who unlike the former bishop was not rigid in his attitude against the Protestants. A new bishop had not yet been named. This vacancy provided the opportunity to initiate his pastorate in Majos.
The following is a quote from a letter dated June 18, 1750 from the Royal State Chancellery in Pressburg to the County Administration:
“With regard to the religious developments in the village of Majos and the current resident preacher; even though he has not been properly installed there, because he is there as a follower of the Augsburg Confession. His Royal Majesty, the King has decreed that these developments must stop, especially in light of the permission for him to erect a new prayer house in the village to be used as directed by his religious convictions.
On these grounds all forms of religious freedom are simply denied and the pastor must leave the area. The newly erected prayer house is to be locked, boarded up and declared illegal. The County Magistrate should be sternly rebuked for failing to put an end to the illegal assemblies of the Lutherans in Majos. The inhabitants of Majos themselves, having attended these gatherings have earned a suitable punishment and fine at the order of His Majesty the Emperor and hearings and interrogations of individuals should proceed through a County attorney…”
The letter continues chastening the County officials for their negligence and ordering them to act swiftly as directed in the letter and inform the Pressburg officials of the outcome. “Above all, put an end to the assembly of the non-Catholics under your entire jurisdiction…”
But at the conclusion of the tirade the letter ends with:
“In conclusion, however, you will have to permit the inhabitants of Majos to freely worship in other communities of their Confession as the King’s grace and decree allows them to practice their Lutheran faith.” The letter was signed by: Count Joseph Keglevich, George Fabriancovics and Michael Domsich.
In these letters mention is made of a newly erected prayer house. There is no evidence as to when or why a new prayer house was constructed. It is obvious that the first prayer house would have been of wood construction because of the availability of timber and lumber. It is most probable that the new prayer house was built with the knowledge and permission of their landlord, Perzel, but without the blessing of the government apparatus. It is also obvious that the Imperital State Chancellery received a notice from Bonyhad that resulted in sending the above documented letter.
A further letter from Superior Court Judge Sztankovanszky on September 7, 1750 to the Royal State Chancellery in Pressburg indicates that on August 27th, the doors of the prayer house had been bricked in and the keys had been confiscated. In the Church Chronicles it is noted that it was the Judge along with a County cavalry unit that came and carried out the action.
On the 14th Sunday after Trinity, in 1750, Pastor Haynoczy held his farewell service in front of the locked and barricaded prayer house. His last sermon text was from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 23, Verse 28: “Jesus turned to them and said, “You daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.”
Before they even had a pastor for a full year he was forced to leave. It was a tearful parting from a pastor who had won their love and affection. The 14th Sunday after Trinity was designated a day of repentance and prayer every year until 1944. The entire congregation received Holy Communion on that Sunday to remember this event in the life of the congregation.
From this point on the bricked-in prayer house was no longer to be used for church functions. For worship and prayer the congregation assembled in the schoolhouse led by the schoolmaster. They did this until one day the door of the prayer house stood open and from then on they worshipped in the prayer house again. Naturally, this was not kept secret from the authorities of the County and as a result the Superior Court Judge Sztankovanszky and the Court Assistant Joseph Jekey appeared in Majos on April 26, 1753. Their report to the County stated the following:
“We the undersigned, at the instruction of and in the name of the glorious County of Tolna and its Administration brought the decree of the County to the inhabitants of Majos. In our presence appeared the following persons: The Richter, Valentin Bechtl, the council representatives of the congregation: George Mayer, Johann Husch, Valentin Romaiser, Johann Arnold Tranner, Heinrich Schmidt and Jakob Denz, the last of whom lives next door to the prayer house. We questioned them about the person who had damaged the seal and opened the prayer house of the adherents of the Augsburg Confession. Which persons entered it and perhaps held services in it again? The above named swore an oath that the official seal on the door became soaking wet from the rain and fell off. None of them knew who had unlocked the doors. Since they saw the doors were open they entered and did not lie admitting they held worship services again until the County would forbid it.”
Shortly after returning and reporting back to the County Administration, they were ordered to return to Majos and carry out their orders. The report notes:
“At the order of the glorious County, we the undersigned presented ourselves in Majos to lock up and seal the illegal prayer house of the inhabitants holding to the Augsburg Confession.
In the presence of Valentin Bechtl, the Richter, and the following other inhabitants of the village, namely: George Schlayer, Johann Husch, Heinrich Pflug, George Krauss, Jakob Tewig, Konrad Oberndorf and Heinrich Spitznagel. We locked the doors of the prayer house and put the County and State seals on it.
At the same time we forbade one and all that held to the Augsburg Confession to damage the seals or to practice their faith publicly. We also took the keys into our possession as well.”
The report is dated April 29, 1753 and signed by Paul Szankovanszky and Joseph Tekey. As a result, on April 19, 1753 the prayer house had been doubly sealed.
From now on, the services were held in the schoolhouse led by the schoolmaster. The schoolmaster was elected by the congregation and supported by them. This Confessional school operated up to 1945. The new powers that be in Hungary at the time made it into a state school. It was illegally confiscated from the congregation.
These settlers in Majos expressed a strong and deep faith and had a great longing for the Word of God. They had courage and steadfastness and sent petitions to the Bishops, the County officials and even the Emperor as we have seen. Here is an example of one written around 1751:
“Mighty esteemed Lord Bishop, along with the Highly Respected and Praised County of Tolna. Gracious, worthy to be bowed down before and highly exalted Lords! With deep respect as your subjects we desire to bring to your esteemed Greatnesses’ attention that our local bell tower is in very bad shape and needs immediate attention before it simply collapses and the bell be damaged or destroyed. Therefore, as dutiful subjects and with great respect, we beg your Excellency the Bishop and your Highly Praised County Administration that you would graciously allow us to erect another bell tower. With this hope we appeal with great respect as obedient subjects in the village of Majos.”
One year later, the congregation had still received no response from either the Bishop or the County. The congregation wrote to the Bishop again. This next letter neglected to use all of the full-blown niceties of official Habsburg correspondence.
“After almost one year, your Excellencies, in spite of numerous supplications on our part, with regard to our request to replace our damaged tower you have given us no answer as of this date and we repeat the need for direction in the very immediate future to deal with this problem. So we request once more, as obedient subjects of your Excellency and the Highly Praised County to graciously allow us to build a new bell tower. But the most needful and important matter, that we respectfully request of your Excellency, as well as on the basis of the gracious compassion of God, with weeping eyes we plead that your Excellencies will be merciful to us, and graciously allow us to hold our simple services of worship in our own poor locked prayer house. Such great grace on your part and your compassion will not go unnoticed by our compassionate Lord. On our part, we will offer our poor prayers on your behalf, that our gracious God will keep your Excellency in His protection and grace and provide you with good health and happiness and a sense of well being…the congregation of Majos and all of your servants.”
The next petition to the County and the Bishop comes from the year 1753. The content of the petition is the request for a hearing to contest the order of the Vice Sheriff of the County to force the Lutherans of the Majos to receive all services for baptisms, marriages and funerals from the Roman Catholic priest in Bonyhad, while strictly forbidding the Majos Lutherans to hold worship services in their local prayer house. They rested their case on the fact that from the establishment of Majos, thirty-two years previously, through the great grace of the Emperor and the Imperial Majesty as they put it, they had been granted the right to worship in their local prayer house and seek the ministrations of the Lutheran pastor in Kismanyok for baptisms and marriages. They asked for the re-instatement of the rights granted to them by Charles VI in 1721. Neither the Bishop nor the County ever responded to their petition.
Life for the Lutherans in Majos was less difficult than that of the Lutherans in nearby Bonyhad. In Majos all the inhabitants were Lutheran, while in Bonyhad there were Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists and those of the Jewish faith. For instance, there is a document from the Royal State Chancellery in Pressburg, dated December 22, 1766. The Chancellery indicates that it had received information to the effect that on November 1,1766 in the town of Bonyhad, the Richter who had been elected by the inhabitants was a member of the Lutheran sect. Because the Roman Catholic priest refused to give the new Richter the oath of office, the noble landlords welcomed the new Richter into their houses and then also appointed the Assistant Richter who was also a Lutheran. The Roman Catholic representatives on the town Council were put out of office and were replaced with non-Catholics who took over the administration. Added to that, Bonyhad elected the son of the Lutheran preacher in Hidas as the town Notary. In this report there is also a reference to Majos, and an indication that the goal of the Counter Reformation to convert the Lutherans there was still in full force. The report notes:
“We immediately need to forbid the practice of this non-Catholic faith in the village of Majos, a filial of the Roman Catholic Parish of Bonyhad. This is the basis of the Gracious Royal Decree of July 18, 1750 of which your officials are aware. The installed preacher there must be expelled and the newly erected prayer house must be confiscated and the use of it totally prohibited.”
Of interest, is the fact that outside of this reference there is no other written evidence of a pastor living and serving in Majos at the time. It most likely is a reference to the schoolmaster who carried out worship and other pastoral duties.
(Translator’s note: The term schoolmaster is a misnomer because the men were Levite Lehrers a reference to a priestly class in the Old Testament. They were trained theologically and often served as teachers prior to their ordination.)
The letter from Pressburg continues:
“The Highly Esteemed noble landlord should be strongly urged to take action against this “preacher”. The schoolmaster’s house that is attached to the school is where the preaching services are held and we demand that action be taken against all concerned.”
The congregation’s loyalty to the Word of God was so strong that they did not allow themselves to be cowered by the authorities and continued to worship in their prayer house. As a result, they were fined twelve Gulden on February 18, 1768. In response, they sent a petition to the Bishop of Pecs, but it was denied. The Royal State Chancellery wrote on April 25, 1768 to the higher authorities in Tolna County noting that the twelve Gulden fine was to be paid by the schoolmaster, not the congregation of Majos. The schoolmaster had to personally pay the Vice Sheriff of Tolna County and he was ordered to forward it to the Royal State Chancellery as quickly as possible.
On June 3, 1768 the Emperor, Joseph II personally visited Szekszard and representatives from the Majos congregation handed him a copy of a petition that they had sent on June 6, 1768 to his secretary and aide, Lord Johann Drossclegg in Vienna.
Just as there had been no answer or results to their other petitions, it also held true for this one. Emperor Joseph II travelled throughout the Empire to hear the “voice” of the people as he put it. The results of what he learned would take effect later. In 1781, his Edict of Toleration was signed and new wind would be blowing for the Protestants in the Habsburg Empire.
The Edict of Toleration raised the hope for freedom of religion in the Habsburg lands. The Lutheran congregations in Tolna County acted quickly to build churches and call pastors. But it was not that simple nor was it that easy to achieve what the Edict promised. The Imperial Royal Hungarian Chamber did all it could to hinder the Lutheran congregations from exercising their new rights as much as possible. Because the County was still strongly influenced by the Roman Catholic bishop and clergy there was also opposition from that quarter. It would require a lot of perseverance and determination on the part of the congregations to realize the benefits of the Edict of Toleration.
On October 13, 1781 the Emperor Joseph II promulgated the Edict of Toleration in the lands and territories within the Habsburg Empire, granting “tolerance” to Protestant and Eastern Orthodox believers. They were however simply to be tolerated.
The primary purpose of the Edict from the Emperor’s perspective was to regulate the status of non-Catholic Churches in the Empire. This would replace the former regulations that had been used to curtail the life of non-Catholics that had been decreed in 1681. In those former decrees, the Habsburg emperors regulated the regions in which Protestants were permitted to practice their faith in the so-called Artikular churches. Which meant that two Lutheran churches were permitted in each County of the Kingdom of Hungary. The same also applied to the Calvinists and Orthodox.
(Translator’s note: Varsad and Gyonk are the examples in Tolna County, but due to the influence of Count von Mercy, both Kistormas and Kismanyok were also granted that status and continued to function without too much interference.)
This new Edict and decree of the Emperor no longer recognized such special regional restrictions but allowed for the free development of religious faith in the Empire without any territorial boundaries such as Counties. The central and primary status of Roman Catholicism remained uncontested, although the bishops opposed the Edict and protested against it vehemently with the support of Papacy, but without any results in their favour.
(Translator’s note: All of the details of the Edict are included in the text but I will only provide some of the salient features that might be of interest.)
The preamble to the regulations of the Edict indicates the following:
The three groups who were to benefit from the Edict are identified as those holding to the Augsburg Confession (Lutherans), the Helvetic Confession (Calvinist/Reformed) and the Greek Orthodox family of Churches. The Roman Catholic Church alone remains the public state religion of the Empire. Those of either of the Protestant faiths or Orthodox believers who live in a situation in which numbers fail to reach the minimum of one hundred families to form an official parish are permitted to practice their faith privately.
The First Regulation:
Wherever one hundred families of a common Confession live a community or in close proximity to one another whether there is a prayer house served by a pastor or not may organize themselves into a congregation and will be allowed to erect a prayer house along with a school. Those who live farther away are free to visit such prayer houses as often as they desire and call upon the clergy to visit them, especially the sick. Anyone attempting to hinder this ministry will have to answer personally for this affront. In terms of the appearance of the prayer house, unless it is already built, there shall be no bell or tower nor shall there be an entrance facing a street.
The Second Regulation:
The congregation is permitted their own schoolmaster, whose support is the responsibility of the congregation and he must meet certain government standards.
The Third Regulation:
Protestants are permitted to elect their own pastors and must provide support for them from their own resources. Where Protestant Church structures exist i.e. Seniorats or Synods, they must confirm the call. Such consistories should be established as soon as possible for the sake of good order.
The Fifth Regulation:
Protestant clergy and teachers are no longer responsible to Roman Catholic bishops nor can they be placed under their jurisdiction, nor must they answer to them for their theological convictions.
The Sixth Regulation:
0With regard to mixed marriages, in the future, the sons of such marriages will be raised in the religion of the father, and all daughters in the religion of their mother.
The Edict was formally decreed in Linz in Austria on October 13, 1781.
There were very long waits, because of the numerous applications from congregations and parishes across the Empire, where there had been absolutely no visible presence of organized Lutheran church life for over one hundred years. Overnight hundreds of underground congregations emerged in Austria, Slovakia, Bohemia, Hungary and Slovenia and to the Emperor’s surprise even in Vienna itself where Lutheranism had always been banned. Such an application to organize was made by the congregation in Majos on July 1, 1782.
“Glorious County Assembly. The undersigned obedient subjects of the Glorious General Assembly of Tolna County, request to secure permission to publicly express our faith, to install an appropriate pastor, erect a new prayer house and a parsonage and send a delegation of representatives to investigate these possibilities with you.
First of all, it must be said, the right to practice our Lutheran faith had been granted to us previously and has now been newly strengthened by Emperor Joseph II, under whose protection we now claim this right.
(Translator’s note: This is less than a subtle reminder of the Emperor’s promises in the past when their ancestors had first emigrated to Hungary. These were hardly servile peasants like the County officials were more accustomed to dealing with. In terms of the time and place, this statement is utterly amazing. The reader will notice they get even bolder.)
Secondly, we formerly had the right of publicly practicing our religion and enjoyed a pastor of our own up to the year 1748, but in that year we were robbed of this right. We had to be content with the services of our faithful schoolmaster.
Thirdly, because our congregation consists of 159 married couples, we are eligible to be recognized as a congregation.
Fourthly, we are prepared to assume the costs for the building of a new prayer house, a parsonage, and for the salaries of our pastor and schoolmaster.”
Their application was forwarded to the County Administration in Simontornya. The reader will note the date 1748 differs from the expulsion of the pastor in 1750. But at that time no church records were kept and they relied on their memory and used an approximate date.
It took a long time for the Royal Hungarian Chamber to respond when it set in motion the first census of Majos and wrote to the congregation to that effect on January 24, 1783. In February and April of 1783 the County of Tolna was informed that the Lutheran congregations in Szekszard, Kety and Bikacs had received approval to build their prayer houses. The same decision had also been made in regard to the Lutherans in Felsonana and Kalazno. But Udvari and Szarazd were not included because they could not arrange the finances to build one. The request of the congregation in Izmeny was still outstanding because of two circumstances. They were allowed to visit a prayer house in their vicinity because they were unable to bear the costs to erect a prayer house of their own. The Moragy congregation received permission to publicly practice their faith. The Reformed and Lutherans in Bonyhad were not granted the public practice of their faith because both groups could easily access a prayer house in the vicinity and neither had the required number of one hundred families. As a result, some of the families moved to Majos and Mucsfa. Aslonana could not meet the requirements while in Bataapati the public practice of their faith was recognized and permitted. Finally, the congregations whose requests had not been approved were told join themselves to nearby prayer houses and pastors, but would have to continue paying their church tithes to support the Roman Catholic priest and schoolmasters in their communities. Majos belonged to this latter group. The promised census in Majos was not undertaken.
On December 31, 1783 the Supreme Court Judge of Tolna County, Joseph Dory von Jobahaza informed the Hungarian State Chamber of a second application from Majos and wrote that the humble petition of the Majos congregation with regard to the public practice of their faith had led to a census as previously promised. It was proven that the number of households and the extended families, as well as the financial commitment for erecting a prayer house and the support of a resident pastor and schoolmaster were all in place. The County counted 92 houses, in which 111 families resided, numbering 602 persons. In the same letter, the Supreme Court Judge further reported that the Lutheran inhabitants of Bonyhad had appeared before him and declared that in the event the Majos congregation received permission to practice their faith publicly by a decree from the Emperor, they, the Bonyhad Lutherans would become a filial of Majos.
Along with his letter, the Judge included a list of all of the families, their numbers, the taxes they paid and their commitment to the cost of the anticipated church life they planned for the future. This list was notarized by Michael Winkler, the Roman Catholic priest in Bonyhad and Vice Sheriff, Peter Magyari Kossa on behalf of the Protestant deputies of the County, (he was the Calvinist landlord in Gyonk) along with Samuel Hajos on behalf of the deputies adhering to the Augsburg Confession. The letter was dated January 24, 1783 in Majos.
(Translator’s note: The head of each household or family had to make a personal and public profession of faith in the presence of the Roman Catholic priest and sign a declaration to that effect.)
On December 1, 1783 the Hungarian Royal Chamber in Pressburg announced the decree that approved the petition of the Izmeny congregation to call a pastor and permission to build a prayer house. On the same day another resolution was passed in response to the petition of the Lutherans in Muscfa even though their number of families was less than the one hundred that the Edict called for. It was their feeling that the numbers were still sufficient for them to authorize the request. From a letter of December 15, 1783 the inhabitants of Murga received permission to elect a schoolmaster and build a school. The Majos congregation received a letter dated January 20, 1784 in which they were informed their application to publicly practice their faith was granted and permission was further given for them to receive the Lutherans in the market town of Bonyhad as a filial congregation but with the understanding that their tithes for the Roman Catholic priest in Bonyhad stayed in effect for them. This was due to the large influx of recent settlers from Wurttemberg. Finally on January 26, 1784 the “gracious decree” was received in Majos, and freedom of religion was granted to them. On February 3, 1784 the Lutherans of Kety received a similar decree and permission to erect a prayer house and to support their own schoolmaster. On the same day, similar decrees arrived in Izmeny and Mucsfa to call and support a pastor. On March 15, 1784 Izmeny was granted freedom of religion.
Along with all of these “gracious decrees” on April 26, 1784 an order was sent to all of the Protestant pastors in which they were warned not to convert any Roman Catholics to their faith. However, if someone sought to embrace the Protestant faith, he was not able to do so without first receiving six weeks of instruction in Catholicism from a priest and produce a witness that the person participated in Protestant worship at their own personal request.
The first pastor in Majos after the Edict was put into effect was Paul Hagen former pastor of Ossiarch in Carinthia in Austria and where he had also served as the “bishop” of all of the underground Lutheran congregations in the Steiermark. He served from 1784 to August of 1785 until he died suddenly. He, in turn, was succeeded by Peter Wargott Gerib, who was a Transylvanian Saxon.
Even though the Edict was in effect, there were still instances of Roman Catholic interference in the lives of the Lutherans and their congregations. A complaint from the pastor in Majos to the County indicates such an issue.
“The village of Majos whose inhabitants are adherents of the Augsburg Confession complain against the parish priest and vice-deacon of Bonyhad who, in spite of the newly promulgated Royal decree proceeded with the publication of bans of a Lutheran inhabitant residing in Bonyhad. The Roman Catholic priest prevented the man from leaving to get married in Majos, even though he paid the priest the necessary fees. The priest from Bonyhad chastised the Lutheran pastor with words inappropriate for Christians to speak to one another.”
The County responded by warning the priest to desist from such interferences in the future. But in order to placate the priest, the Lutherans and Reformed in Bonyhad had to provide free labour and building materials to help build the new Roman Catholic church fit for the expanding market town along with a special tax only they had to pay. No Lutheran or Reformed clergyman was allowed to set foot in the town until 1811, when a Lutheran pastor dared to enter the town to minister to one his sick members. He was taken to court and expelled from the County. The furor this caused led to the imposition of the Edict of Toleration in Bonyhad and the largest Lutheran congregation in Tolna County emerged there with a high school, preparatory college and a Lutheran deaconess Motherhouse to serve the social and spiritual needs of the community in the following decades until the disillusion of their Order under the Communists in 1948.
(Translator’s note: Majos is now incorporated within the city of Bonyhad. The vast majority of the population of Majos was deported in the late summer of 1947 and replaced with “new settlers” from Eastern Hungary. There is still a small remnant Lutheran congregation in existence. Today, at the front of the church you can see the memorial to eighty-one of the men and women from Majos who were taken to the labour camps in the Soviet Union during Christmas 1944 who never returned and died there.)
The Places of Origin of the Settlers In Majos and Bonyhad
Ackermann, Johann Christoph Lorch, Wuerttemberg
Ackermann, Philip Lorch, Wuerttenberg
Allmeyer, Matthias Neusiedl am See
Arndt, Hans Jakob Bleichenbach
Arnold, Leonhard Nordlingen
Bach, Johann Friedrich Noertigen
Bardshoff, Martin Klingenbergen
Bauer, George Neumsollbach
Bechtel, Appollonia Griesheim
Binder, Joseph Olhan, Eisenburg County
Deckmann, Johann Conrad Bleichenbach
Deckmann, Weigand Bleichenbach
Ehrenfels, Johann Nicolaus Wolfstein
Ehrhardt, Jakob Friedrich Klingen
Erdlin, Daniel Nordlingen
Faul, Johann Philip Kirchheim
Friedrich, Johannes Magelsdorf bei Nurnberg
Gebhard, Johann Heinrich Schoenberg
Harold, Adam Brodorf
Heiml, Christoph Besenrind, Pfalz Bayern
Herold, Adam Brendorf, Bayern
Hertlein, Heinrich Muehlhausen
Hochstatt, Heinrich Altenbuchhausen
Hoff, Caspar Gedern
Horn, Gottlieb Friedland
Klemen, Anna Appollonia Leutershausen
Kramer, Jakob Krebsweiler
Kunz, Gyula Friedrich Frickenhofen, Wuerttemberg
Ladensteiner, Anna Maria Granau bei Pressburg
Liebegott, Heinrich Bleichenbach
Liebegott, Catharina Bleichenbach
Mertz, Johann Adam Heigenbruecken
Miller, Maria Elisabeth Bei Hanau
Mueller, Bernhard Abschwingen
Mueller, Jakob Oedenburg, Hungary
Mueller, Philip Windsheim, Bayern
Nellinger, Jakob Rensburg, Holstein
Neun, Johann Joachim Bleichenbach
Neun, Joachim Bleichenbach
Olden, Johanna Christina Jena
Pflug, Christoph Bleichenbach
Philip, Johannes Ordenbug, Bayern-Pfalz
Rausch, Johann George Bleichenbach
Ritzel, Johannes Bleichenbach
Ritzel, Johann Heinrich Bleichenbach
Roesslen, George Michael Klingenbergen
Roth, Chrisoph Eichelberg
Roth, Joseph Oedenburg, Hungary
Schaedel, Elisabeth Margaret Woekershan
Schmeisser, Nicolaus Boitelbach, Zweibruecken
Schuchmann, Johanna Obergimperg
Spiess, Johann Lorenz Altershausen, Franken
Stoeckel, Anna Maria Lorch, Wuerttemberg
Thime, Lorenz Gross-Grotorf, Wuerttemberg
Wagner, August Magdeburg
Walter, Johannes Lindach, Schwaben
Weber, Leonhard Neuenstein/Hohenloisch
Wenzel, Ludwig Adolf Ortenburg/Stollbergisch
Wilms, Johann Ludwig Martin Moellen/Lauenburgisch
Windecker, Catharina Bernstein
Winhold, Konrad Nordlingen