Most of the families of Scottish emigrants running away from religious persecution in their homeland settled in Chelmno in the 17th century.
They came to Poland driven also by a desire to get richer through trade and since the 16th century the term ‘szots’ was used in edicts issued by the authorities. Their main occupation at that time was peddling. The Scots coming to Prussia in the 17th century were on the other hand rather wealthy. They came mainly from the Aberdeenshire: from Roundlichet and Bortie. The protestants’ favourite settlement places were the seaside cities – Gdansk and Elblag, and the Catholics’ – Chelmno.
The Scots that settled in Chelmno turned out to be a very mobile and energetic element playing a significant role in the life of the city. They also hugely participated in the struggle to improve its economical situation. They settled in the local society and being calm and kind gained the people’s liking. The Scots were not an isolated group and mixed marriages were not uncommon. In the life of the city the Forbes, the Chatters and the Smiths played a very significant role taking the highest offices in the city.
There were other Scottish families whose activities in the social and economic life of Chelmno made them quite outstanding and who were appointed to take various city offices on numerous occasions: the Smiths, the Chatters, the Gordons, the Herwows, the Ahorns, the Dominics, the Walters, the Blacks and the Arbuthnots. Many an epitaph prove the wealth and the role the families played in the life of the city. Among them the Forbes’, the Chatters’, the Smiths’ or the Walters’ epitaphs in the parish church of Saint Mary’s Assumption, showing people wearing traditional costumes of the Polish nobility.
copyright by E. Pawelec
According to the Laudum of the Prussian Land of 1616 the Jews were forbidden to stay in three provinces: Malbork, Chełmno and Pomorskie Provinces. They only could come to the towns to take part in fairs and markets. Some of them wanted to settled down and get the status of permanent residents. For that purpose they became neophytes, which means that they were converted to catholicism. The baptism ceremonies of the Jews very often were very solemn and formal. Many of such ceremonies were run by Missionary Priests in the Chełmno parish church. As mentioned in the chronicle one of such events took place in 1700 on the Feast of the Assumption of Saint Mary. Then, one of the Missionary Priests baptized a 30-year old Jew as Bishop Potocki ordered to accept him in the town and allow his membership in the gild of furriers because it was his job. Thus, he became the citizen of the town.
When Poland became independent many Jews left Chełmno. Only few of them stayed in the town. There were only 49 of them in 1921. The period of time between I and II World Wars was not favourable for mutual contacts. Antipathy was noticed in the local press.