As Bideford’s population expanded in the nineteenth century, migrants from several European countries, including Germany, arrived and settled in Bideford.
Between 1801 and 1901, Bideford’s population nearly doubled, from just over 12,000 to approaching 21,000. The population boom included migrants from several European countries who settled in Bideford. Some of the new arrivals were from a German background, and included those involved in local industry and entertainment.
Surnames such as Koeller, Klein, Schmidt, Weiss and Gruber reveal German origins. Some were permanently resident in Bideford having married Bideford-born partners. Others were part of an itinerant workforce, working as musicians, labourers and in domestic service. Shipbuilding seems also to have been a common source of employment.
Frederick (FR) Schmidt had a prominent tailors and outfitters shop on the High Street. He is recorded in the 1881 census, and in Kelly’s trade directory for 1889 as a “Tailor” at “80 High Street”. Three children were born in Bideford in the 1880s.