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200 inadvertent settlers fall through a portal, and the portal closes. These 200 people were possibly the population of a small hamlet, transported against their will. They find themselves in a land with moderate climate, moderate predators, and no native population. They have general knowledge of their 1750's trades, and are a hardy bunch, but are otherwise poorly equipped.

After 300 years, our protagonist stumbles upon them. I'm trying to understand:
A) how high population can grow in ~300 years from the initial settlers, and
B) how robust the settlers might build their village.

After 300 years, would the initial 200 people marooned in the strange land be reduced to just 50 descendants, in a hunter/gatherer tribe? Or would the 200 people balloon to 10,000 and have developed their own infrastructure and technology?

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  • $\begingroup$ For clarification - when you say "poorly equipped", what do you mean? Do they have agricultural implements? Seeds? Domestic or farm animals? Or do they just have the contents of their 18th-century pockets? It makes a huge difference. $\endgroup$
    – tbrookside
    Jan 2 '20 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ Just the contents of their pockets, and whatever they may have been holding mid-workday. $\endgroup$ Jan 2 '20 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ And is this a depopulated 1750's Earth that they are transported to, or an alien but habitable world with its own ecology? $\endgroup$
    – tbrookside
    Jan 2 '20 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ What is "moderate climate"? If they are transported to a winter similar to 1750s England's, I have grave concerns about their survival. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jan 2 '20 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ No seeds, no agricultural equipment... 18th century Europeans had no idea how to make stone or bone tools... They are doomed. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 2 '20 at 18:13
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Based on the initial conditions identified in your question - but also in the comments - the 50 figure is the most realistic.

Your population will not be able to resume the practice of agriculture or animal husbandry, if they are limited to "the contents of their pockets". This leaves behind the entire basis for agriculture. Without seeds, they have no way to resume cereal production. If the new island is the equivalent of a never-populated England, they have no access to domesticable animals. They can fish, and that's it.

Basically they are in the position of 1750's persons stranded on desert islands - albeit in this case a large desert island. The best analogue I can think of would be the HMS Bounty mutineers - and they were vastly overequipped compared to your group, since they had a ship and the entire Polynesian food tool kit. It's very likely the entire group would be dead within 6 months. But if they survive that long, they should do at least as well as the Pitcairn island population, which currently numbers around 50.

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It's a toss-up. Many well-supported and well-funded European colonies of this sort or era in the Americas failed in a matter of years due to diseases, malnutrition, in-fighting etc. Without the optopn to go home, this lot might do better. But if crops fail and divisions open so they fail to help each other through bad times, their numbers may well fall off and then keep falling because they lack critical mass to keep their society going.

(I can imagine some of them might want to try to 'go home' and head off pointlessly, others might want to 'find somewhere better' and split to form one or more other colonies, which might not end well. Despondency sets in among the rest and they resign themselves to death).

Ideally, if all goes well and there are plenty of resources (good land, viable crops) and no disease, they may hope to double population every 30 years, so in theory after 300 years you could have about a thousand times the original number of settlers -200,000 people and a thriving city-state. This may not be enough for them to push much beyond 1750 tech levels.

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    $\begingroup$ What "crops"? They don't have seeds, they don't have ploughs, they don't know how to make stone or bone tools... They are doomed. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 2 '20 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed it depends on what is growing that they can cultivate. The question implies a benign environment, but if there's nothing edible it will be last cannibal standing. $\endgroup$ Jan 2 '20 at 21:02

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