What happened when the Scots lost battles in the 1650s?
Article contributed to Scots in New England
by Leslie Landrigan, New England Historical Society
As many as 400 Scottish POWS captured in the Battles of Worcester and Dunbar were shipped to New England in the 1650s as temporary slaves to work in iron mills, sawmills, and farms.
The Great Migration of Puritans had ended, and the colonists badly needed workers. Across the sea, Oliver Cromwell’s new government had the costly and vexing task of managing thousands of Scottish POWs. One solution: deport them to New England, Virginia and Barbados.
Some of the Scottish POWs sent to New England were sold as a group to work in the Saugus Iron Works or the sawmills of Berwick Maine. Others went to York as servants. Still others were sold individually.
Editor’s note: To learn more about Scottish POWs, visit the SCOTTISH PRISONER OF WAR SOCIETY website: