Scots for Sale!

The following is an excerpt from
Rapaport, Diane. “Scots for Sale, The Fate of the Scottish Prisoners in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts,” (New England Ancestors. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2000-2009.) (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009.)

RE: William Monrow

According to local and family tradition, William was a Scottish survivor of the Battle of Worcester, although his name does not appear specifically on the John and Sara transport list. (A “Monrow” on the document whose first name was torn or obliterated is believed to have been William.)[13] Other Munro prisoners accompanied William on the John and Sara, including a John, Robert and Hugh “Monrow,” but apparently they were not close kin, and the other men served their indentures far away from William in Plymouth Colony.[14]

William began his indenture in the Menotomy area of Cambridge, Massachusetts (now the town of Arlington) for millwright John Adams.[15] Later William worked for and rented land from Joseph Cooke of Cambridge[16] (whose brother Thomas coincidentally fought for Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester).[17]

William remained single for the first thirteen years after his arrival in Massachusetts, finally marrying about 1665. His bride was Martha George, whose father once worked for Massachusetts governor John Winthrop but now faced trouble with Puritan authorities for founding an illegal Baptist church in Charlestown.[18] Martha died a few years later, leaving William to raise four young children.[19] He remarried, to 20-year-old Mary Ball of Watertown, a woman with a troubled past. (Her parents were in and out of court on charges of beatings and neglect, amid hints that the mother was insane, and Mary herself had suffered judicial sanctions for an out-of-wedlock child.)[20] William brought stability to Mary’s life; married twenty years, they had ten children together.[21] His third wife was Elizabeth Johnson Wyer (widow of a Scots tailor from Charlestown).[22]

Gradually William purchased small pieces of land in Cambridge Farms, and by 1695 joined with sons and a son-in-law to purchase 100 acres;[23] his area of town came to be known locally as “Scotland.”[24] With increased landholdings came greater status in the community. He was made a freeman, chosen as one of the town Selectmen, and admitted as a member of the church.[25] When he died on January 27, 1718, he was one of Lexington’s most respected citizens.[26]

Other Scots from the John and Sara settled near William Munro, but some were not so fortunate.

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One Response to Scots for Sale!

  1. Thanks for featuring my ancestor, William Munroe!

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