The Early Settlement of Tolna and the Upper Baranya


  The source of the following information is from “Franken und Schwaben in Ungarn” by Heinrich Kéri, Budapest, 2002.


  The earliest documented sources with regard to the German settlers in Tolna and Upper Baranya Counties refer to them as Francones et Suevi (Franken (Franconians) und Schwaben (Swabians).  The first settlers arriving in Tevel were Swabians who were later followed by others from Franconia.  But in the future they would all be lumped together and by the 20th Century they would be designated:  Danube Swabians.


  The first settlers were of various nationalities and religious confessions but lived a “common life” in terms of the social, political and economic situations they faced.  There were always close connections between the villages in Tolna with the villages in Upper (northern) Baranya.  At the outset, Kózar, Tofü and Mekényes were part of Tolna County before being ceded to Baranya County.  Most of the settlers in Baranya had first settled in the Tolna.  The first wave of settlers into Tolna County and then later into Baranya began in the 1720s and reached a highpoint in the 1730s only to slacken off to a mere trickle some time after that.  But small groups of other German settlers had preceded them in Dunafӧldvár and Dárda.  Slightly later they came to Bátaszék, Cikó, Kakasd, Kismányok, Majos, Paks, Varsád and Székszárd according to the County tax conscription lists.  From 1715 to 1720 their numbers increased from 53 families to 168 located in thirteen villages.


  This paints the following picture:


  In Tolna County


  Bátaszék                           21 families                       Székszárd                13 families

  Cikó                                    4 families                       Szentlӧrinc                7 families

  Kakasd                                9 families                       Tevel                       35 families

  Kismányok                         7 families                        Tolna                        9 families

  Majos                                12 persons                        Varsád                      7 families

  Mucsi                                  3 families                        Závod                     25 families

  Paks                                  15 families


  In Baranya County


  Dárda                                17 families                        Nagynyárád            15 families

  Fazekasboda                       6 families                        Pécsvárad                16 families

  Lovászhetény                    17 families                        Szajk                       10 families


  From the very beginnings there were some contentious issues involved in the settlement programme and they often became agenda items at the annual meetings of the governing assemblies in the Counties of both Tolna and Baranya.  The vast majority of those attending these sessions were nobles, higher clergy and other estate owners who had a vested interest in the matters involved.


  At a General Assembly of the representatives of the County of Tolna in 1715 action was taken to renew a former regulation which called for the confiscation of property and imprisonment of any subject tenant found guilty of taking any actions against their landlord while those nobles and landlords who gave sanctuary to subjects of another noble on their estates would be fined 200 Gulden for each infringement.


  At the Landtag (Hungarian parliament) in Pressburg 1722/1723 Article 18 was enacted that stipulated that serfs who fled from their master’s estates were not permitted to join in the resettlement of southern Hungary and would be forced to return to their former master’s domains.  Uncooperative landlords would be fined by the County.


  Count von Mercy lodged a complaint against the County of Tolna’s interpretation of Article 18 and 103 of the Landtag  of the year 1723.  In the brief he presented he reported

the landowners in the County were not settling and developing their domains.  Therefore those who did, had to undertake greater costs because in refusing his request for a six year exemption from taxes for his settlers, many of his colonists were threatening to return to the former homeland.  The County’s response was that they were upholding the intent of the Article in question.  On May 18, 1725 the Royal State Chamber asked for further clarification of this issue at the Count’s request.


  An official complaint was lodged by the inhabitants of Varsád with the County of Tolna on Noveber 6, 1725 that was addressed by the County Superior Court Judge János Dalmata and Andreas Maurer who represented the County Administration.  Their petition included the following complaints:


  “The “Swabians” or rather the settlers of German nationality in Varsád wanted to return to their homeland and not settle here because the owner of the Domain did not meet any of the requirements agreed upon in their contract and for that reason they could not remain.  The common meadow that had been promised to them had to a great degree been given to the new colonists in Szakadát, Kalaznó and Tormás.


  They had received no compensation for their loss and in their attempts to be redressed for their grievances with officials in Raab their representative had later ended up being imprisoned in the tower in Hӧgyész and placed in stocks later.


  Wild animals of all kinds do irreparable damage to the seeds that had been sown and wolves were on the prowl around the village and threatened their fowl and younger livestock but no attempt was being made on the Domain’s part to hunt them down.


  They were not allowed to let their dogs roam freely but had to be tied up at all times.  If one managed to free itself the Domain’s huntsman killed them right in front of the colonist’s yard and for such slain dogs the colonist had to pay the huntsman for doing so and pay an additional fine of 2 Gulden to the Domain owner.


  When the poor people who owned two oxen paid an annual duty for permission to have them, which is customary here in Hungary, if they traded them for three or four young steers they had to pay an additional duty for them in the same year.


  According to the contract the colonists were exempted from performing free labour for the Domain of any kind but despite that they hadto go to the Danube for logs and bring them back to the estate and were also forced into doing other free labour.


  Several men, carpenters and other tradesmen who have been working in Hӧgyész for over a month and some for over two months have never been paid for their work.


  They were duty bound to recruit and encourage newly arrived colonists in the town of Tolna on the Danube to come and settle on the Mercy Domains.  The new colonists paid the agent Fendrics 3 Gulden for permission to do so while they the colonists who did the recruiting did not receive a penny.


  If a colonist sold his house he had to relinquish one third of the sale price to the Domain and if a colonist was asked to leave the Domain by His Excellency’s administrator the colonist had to pay the equivalent of the taxes he had been exempt from paying if he had remained on the Domain.”



  The County Administration was informed that King Charles III had determined that only Catholic families from the Reich (Holy Roman Empire) would be allowed to receive a travel pass to come to repopulate Hungary.  (January 7. 1726)


  In the same notification of January 7, 1726 the General Assembly of Tolna County was informed in answer to their question with regard to how many tradesmen they could recruit in foreign lands that the County had already received enough Swabian tradesmen to meet their needs.


  The General Assembly of Tolna County goes on record acknowledging that the nobles and Domain owners may only accept Catholic families with official passes to settle on their estates.  The acceptance and settlement of families of another confession is not permitted.  Should such families present themselves for settlement it must be reported to the County Administration.  (February 5, 1726)



  Similar situations were also dealt with by the General Assemblies of the County of Baranya in relation to issues dealing with resettlement of the estates and domains in their territory.  The following are two more examples.


  On February 5, 1726 at the General Assembly of the County of Baranya, the nobleman and Domain owner of Paks, and Vice-Governor of the County, Ferenc Daróczy protested against the taxes assessed to his colonists and communities.  If the newly established communities would revert to ruins and be depopulated as a result of these excessive taxes the blame would not lie with him.  If Swabians and Germans left because of these taxes the County could not anticipate receiving the taxes it needed from those who remained.


  The County of Baranya supports the appeal made by the County of Tolna to the Landtag meeting in Pressburg (May 11, 1728).  Currently the County does not have the right or power to hold back any colonists from leaving their present masters.  They migrate wherever they wish and leave houses empty and their taxes unpaid.  There is a need to regulate that they must remain wherever they have signed a contract and been assessed for the payment of taxes.



  In the land and tax conscription lists assembled by both Counties between 1715-1720 it must be pointed out that only Hungarians could be considered subject tenants in the true sense of the word because settlers of other nationalities had the right of migration from one community and estate to another and could ignore County boundaries in that regard.


  In future, the Counties were strong in their opposition to the migration of settlers from one noble to another, especially when it meant moving to a different County which meant losing taxpayers.  The ideal colonist was the Hungarian serf.  In a real sense the Hungarian peasant was nothing more than “a beast of burden” as perceived by the nobles ever since the Peasant’s Revolt in 1514.  It was this status that the nobles sought to retain.  So it was natural for them to attempt to place the same restrictions on the German colonists to bring about stability in dealing with them in their communities.  By the time of the Urbarium Regulations of Empress Maria Theresia in 1767 of the 332 existing villages in Baranya County there were only 50 villages in which the inhabitants had the right of migration while in Tolna County half of the villages had that right written into their contracts.


  In June 1722 seven German families settled among the Hungarian Reformed inhabitants of Nagymányok.  Adam März came from Bӧnstadt, Johann Heinrich Krill was from Einstein/Hanau, Laurenz Reichert had come there from Cikó but his place of origin is not known.  Reichert’s name is included in the contract with the Dean of Cathedral in Pécs.  In 1724 or perhaps as early as 1723 the three of them left there and settled at the prairie known as Tófü.  It is not too difficult to figure out why they had left.  It was most likely because they were Lutherans and hoped they would find the freedom to practice their religion as did their Lutheran co-religionists in the neighbouring villages of Izmény and Kismányok under the protection of Count von Mercy or in Majos under Ferenc Kun.  Tӧfü belonged to the Eszterházys who were not known for their religious zeal and had learned a measure of tolerance exceptional for that age.


  In the tax conscription list in 1725 we find the names of Johann Adam Pickelhaupt and Johann Adam Kerber in Belac but in 1728 their names appear in Tӧfü.  The Pickelhaupt origins were in Langen Brombach in the Odenwald.  Kerber came from Waldbulau (Erbach).  In the conscription list of 1730 there are three new settlers added who all came from Bӧnstadt in Hessen.  They were the two brothers and brother-in-law of Adam März.


  The original inhabitants of the village of Pári were decimated as a result of the plague and those who followed them were from Silesia, Moravia and Lorraine.  In 1728 there were only eleven survivors of the original settlers, thirty-six had died of hunger or had frozen to death in the first winter spent in earthen dugouts.  Of the twenty-nine colonists who first arrived in Kalaznó in 1722/1723 twelve of them had died by 1727.  Plagues and epidemics raged in 1738 reaping a harvest of countless victims.


  The issue of the settlement of German Protestants (Lutheran and Reformed) would become a major issue because of the fact of their numerous settlements in Tolna County.  The vast majority of them came from Hessen where the Emperor Charles had assured the Landgrave that any of his Protestant subjects who ventured to come to Hungary would have their religious rights respected.  It was a promise he would never keep.  The situation in which these settlers would find themselves was dependent upon their landlord, the County officials and the resilience of the people themselves.  The Roman Catholics had problems of their own as reports from Baranya County point out.


  Wilhelm Franz Baron von Nesselrode, the Bishop of Pécs, (1703-1732), concerned himself with things other than the spiritual welfare of his flock.  Throughout the time of his holding office he was in constant quarrels with the Cathedral Chapter and the County Administration and was hated by his contemporaries so that he was given the nickname “the gruesome.”  In 1729 a canonical visitation was carried out in Baranya County by the bishop’s vicar, Sándor Fonyó, on behalf of Mátyás Domsics the Dean of the Cathedral.  He learned that in many cases the priests could not speak the language of their flock who were Hungarians, Croats and Germans.  The nobleman Olivier Wallis complained that the priest who served the town of Tolna was unable to speak German.  The German parishioners in Pári complained that they were without spiritual comfort or counsel.


  In addition to these problems it became apparent in Tolna County that by 1720 the settlers were fast disappearing and there were no signs of “Franconians and Swabians” in Szentlórinc, Cikó, Varsád, Závód, Kakasd, Bátaszék and Kismányok.  The majority of the settlers had died.  The rest were weakened by hunger and sickness.  Some went begging from door to door for food.  When they became strong enough they undertook the journey back home.  The villages they abandoned were resettled by new arriving colonists who were none the wiser.  The issues for the County to deal with in 1724 and 1725 were caused by the Landlords and the settlers themselves.


  The flow of settlers in the 1730s was miniscule compared to the 1720s.  The unreal hopes of the first settlers were not realized.  Disease and sickness took their toll and decimated their numbers followed by famine and natural disasters that led to starvation.  Nor was there much more fertile land available in the two Counties.  This lesser migration into Hungary was not part of the concurrent massive movement taking place in the Banat.  There were none of the same supports for the settlers in Hungary as would become available to those who were part of the “organized emigration.”


  At the time of Count von Mercy’s purchase of the his estates in Tolna County in May 1722, the inhabitants of Mucsi, Závod, Apar, Pálfa, Szárszentlӧrinc, Kӧlesd, Kisvejke, Diósberény, Varsád and Felsӧnána were taxpaying peasants and had settled or moved into the area three years previously.  In Varsád only the Hungarians paid taxes while the tax conscriptions lists indicate seventeen German families had settled there at Pentecost in 1721 (although four German families are mentioned in 1720).  Izmény received German colonists in June 1722 and Kalaznó in April and June of 1722.  Hidegkút became part of the von Mercy’s estates in 1722 and had been previously settled by Germans who had arrived in the County earlier because they were already paying taxes.  Mucsfa was settled with 42 families in 1724 and other families arrived in Kistormás in that year.  Others would follow from 1730 to 1750.


  There is no evidence that there was an organized settlement programme on the part of Count von Mercy or any of the other nobles for which they publicized their need for settlers in the German lands and principalities.  It appears that the settlers were often self-organized groups of people in search of a new homeland as the founding of Kistormás and Musfa suggests.  Those settling in Kistormás brought their pastor and teacher with them.  Those in Mucsfa all came from the Odenwald.  There is also very strong evidence that settlers who were heading for the Batschka and Banat abandoned that goal as they passed through Hungary.  Not even the placement of Imperial agents onboard the ships going down the Danube was able to prevent the sometimes wholesale abandonment of the ships by settlers at the river ports along the Danube to settle in Hungary giving up on their goal of going on to the Banat.  Count von Mercy was well aware of this.  It would lead to quarrels with the County Administration.  It was no wonder that all of the landlords placed agents to recruit settlers at Paks, Tolna, Mohács and Dunafӧldvár, the major river ports along the Danube beyond Buda.



  There is very little evidence of Count von Mercy’s actual presence in Tolna County.  On  February 25, 1722 the representatives of the former owner von Sinzendorf attended the General Assembly of the County.  On May 7th of that year a delegation from Kismányok appeared at Apar before the Count and received his assurance to protect their freedom to practice their faith.  At the County’s General Assembly on May 15th, at Count von Mercy’s request, Tobias Vatzi was acknowledged as his steward and representative and Anton Ignatius Karl Auguste Mercy de Argentau was recognized as his adopted son.


  Until 1725 the representative of Count von Mercy’s Domains at the Assemblies of the County were four different individuals.  Count von Mercy never attended which was also true of the other two major Magnates:  Eszterházy and Styrum-Limburg.  The lesser nobles and landowners were present and filled all of the major positions in the County Administration.  Melchior Hamer was von Mercy’s steward and representative in 1722.  The Minutes (protocols) of the County indicate that relationships with von Mercy (his heir) were rather strained for various reasons and threatened to become more volatile by January 30, 1725.


  On January 17, 1725 the General Assembly of Tolna County was presented with a deposition in the name Count von Mercy, the Governor of the Banat, with various suggestions to improve the County Administration.  The document, however, was signed by his nephew and heir Argentau.  During the sitting of the Assembly all of the points he raised were dealt with and denied.  Count von Mercy then approached the King through his adopted son and his proposals were forwarded to him.  They were once again denied.  Count von Mercy (or his heir) had proposed to strengthen the power of the landowning nobles over against the County Administration because the members of the County Administration had interests that conflicted with  the large landowning families.  They were all of the lesser nobility with small landholdings and “milked” the County for their own ends and advancement.  Both the higher nobility and churchmen along with the lesser nobles on their part claimed to hold the poor people’s best interests in mind in their decision-making.  On their part, the County Administration portrayed von Mercy as a rapacious landlord with no concern for his settlers with whom he had often broken his contracts.  The inhabitants of Kӧlesd complained to the County that the prairie of Tormás which had been granted to them in their settlement contract had been taken away from them and given to the recently arrived Germans who founded Kistormás.  Because of complaining to the County Administration the villagers of  Kӧlesd were being threatened with resettlement elsewhere which the County sought to hinder.  Another issue which played a major role in this quarrel was the Varsád Memorial mentioned earlier in which they claimed von Mercy had not met his obligations as outlined in their contract.


  As noted before the County appointed a commission to investigate the charges and a disturbing picture emerges.  These German peasants on the von Mercy Domains could not consolidate and stabilize their life and existence there and were prepared to return to their homeland because their noble master did not fulfill his obligations to them.  How personally involved or aware von Mercy was of this quarrel is hard to determine.


  The matter of the settlement of the “illegal” Protestant settlers who did not have an Imperial pass to go on to the Banat had little to do with the personal sympathy of the landlords.  The nobleman, János Meszelényi, guaranteed that his Hungarian settlers were free to practice their Lutheran faith and build a church in his contract with them on June 11, 1722.  This was in Gyӧrkӧny.  German Protestants were also welcome on the estates of the Magyary-Kossa family in Gyӧnk and the estates of István Szekélyi in Varsád.  All three of these noblemen were Protestants and before the German settlers arrived in Varsád and Gyӧnk there were Magyar Calvinists already residing there.  There were German Protestants who were settled by Styrum-Limberg in Nagyszékely.  Sinzendorf in Kismányok.  Eszterházy in Tófü.  Ferenc Kun in all of his villages.  They were simply more tolerant and had an ecumenical attitude unlike the zealous Roman Catholic clergy.  But of course the major settler of German Lutherans in Tolna County was Count von Mercy in the numerous villages that he established with them.



  There are notable variations of the story of how the Reformed settlers in Kismányok left there in 1721/1722 because of differences they had with the Lutherans.  They responded to an invitation from Styrum-Limberg to settle in Nagyszékely which they left the same year in which they arrived because they were offered no land or house lot and moved to Gyӧnk to join Magyar Calvinists who lived there and were warmly welcomed by Peter Magyari-Kossa, who was not only a nobleman but also a Superintendent (bishop) of the Hungarian Reformed Church.


  The source of this story was in an address given by the pastor of Gyӧnk, Joszef Por in 1877 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the building of the Reformed Church describing events that took place 150 years before.  But what were his sources?


  There is a contract Count von Mercy signed with the residents in Kismányok dated in 1722.  The second document is a clear statement of the Count’s religious position in terms of his settlements.  On May 7, 1722 two representatives from Kismányok came to Apar to put their case before their new landlord and requested permission to call and install a Lutheran pastor to serve them.  He agreed to that to the limit of his authority and the laws of Hungary.  There is a further document from 1724 in which the terms for the pastor’s keep is outlined which is the same as for priests in the Roman Catholic villages.


  Even though Count von Mercy is mentioned with all of his various titles, his adoptive son is the one who actually signed the document a clear indication that he was acting on his uncle’s behalf in these matters and the Governor of the Banat was far removed from the parochial concerns of his settlers in the Tolna.



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