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The survivors in New England

The survivors in New England
But then I really want to talk to you mostly about the fellows that I’ve studied for a long time and those are the at least 30 or 40 or maybe more who ended up working in heavy industry in the sawmills of the Piscataqua region of Maine and New Hampshire. Now, you have to understand that New England in the 17th century has a very different labour situation, and a labour problem, than England does.
In particular, whereas in England they have too many able-bodied men and not enough jobs, in New England it’s just the opposite because after you’ve been there a little bit, some town will be glad to give you 50 or 100 acres of land and you can start your own farm. So it’s really hard to keep people working in menial tasks like sawing boards by hand - which really in England was used as a sort of method of Poor Relief - or to do heavy construction, heavy industry in particular.
So, there’s constant need for new labour in New England -there’s not a lot of trained labour- and so the Scots and other such workers as indentures were an absolute blessing and desperately needed to run the New England economy. And indeed, in New England where you don’t have much labour you end up building sawmills to saw the boards. They are almost unheard of in England, they are new technology really in the 17th century in the English world at least and you see the first ones developed in New England. And in particular in this region up here of Maine and New Hampshire, heavily forested timberland, then and to some degrees now.
It’s an area important for the masting trade, for naval stores, for boards, and in large part the boards that are being cut here and then sawn are being shipped to the Caribbean to help support the slave economy in the sugar islands of the Caribbean. This is all about that Atlantic trade, what used to be called the ‘triangular trade’. So this is sort of the economic engine. It is the fish and lumber as part of New England that the Boston merchants are selling into the Atlantic that allows the New England economy to grow and prosper and to make that work you need cheap labour…
But here’s the thing about the Scots, when they leave their terms of service after 5, 6, 7, 8 years in some cases. We know one or two that somehow managed to have their stay extended to about 10 years through some questionable practices by their masters. They stay. And I’d like to say one of the reasons they stay is because this is what it looks like. This is looking up river from the Chadbourne site to the Great Works river. It’s a really beautiful country and more to the point is -you can’t go home, I mean as long as Cromwell is in power you probably can’t go home.
You probably don’t have the money to go home if you can and unless you really do have family there that you’re really close to, that you’re married and have children and that doesn’t seem to be the case as far as we can tell so far. You can stay and get 50-100 acres of land because the chances of getting that here is absolutely an unheard of opportunity.
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Archaeology and the Battle of Dunbar 1650: From the Scottish Battlefield to the New World

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