NEW Timeline of SPOWs from the Battle of Dunbar to Charlestown, MA

Added October 24, 2015:

The following is from Social and Economic Networks in Early Massachusetts: Atlantic Connections by Marsha L. Hamilton. Found at

“After the Battle of Dunbar, Cromwell and the Council of State had to decide how to dispose of the prisoners at Newcastle. Captured soldiers traditionally would be ransomed or exchanged, but military leaders feared that healthy men would return to the Scottish army and fight again. The English also did not want to deport Scots to Europe or Ireland, for fear that they would join the armies of the Commonwealth’s enemies. The Council finally decided to send most prisoners to English colonies in the Americas – in particular, Barbados, Virginia, and Massachusetts. In early November 1650, the Council ordered Sir Arthur Haselrig, the governor at Newcastle, to deliver 150 prisoners from Dunbar to the agents of John Becx and Joshua Foote, two of the principal investors in the Company of Undertakers, bound for the Saugus ironworks in Massachusetts Bay. These men sailed to London, where they boarded the Unity under master Augustine Walker of Charlestown. The ship departed from Gravesend on 11 November 1650.

The Unity arrived in Boston in mid-December, a remarkably quick voyage for that time of year. The number of Scots who survived the voyage is unknown, as are most of their names. Of the 150 men who left London, however, the Company of Undertakers kept sixty-two for ironworks operations. Thirty-six prisoners went to Saugus, and seventeen worked for manager William Aubrey in the company’s Boston warehouse. The remaining nine intended for the ironworks were sent to the Braintree forge or sold to local farmers and artisans soon after their arrival. Fifteen Unity prisoners went to the sawmills in Maine under the management of Richard Leader, the former manager of the Saugus ironworks, and his brother George. Fifteen more went to other mills in Maine and New Hampshire. The remaining men were sold to farmers and merchants in New England. Thus of the 150 Scots sent to Massachusetts in 1650, only the thirty-six sent directly to Saugus can be positively identified as part of the Unity contingent. Many others can be tentatively associated with this group, however, based on the dates that they begin to appear in court records.”

Timeline Basics:
September 3, 1650 – Battle of Dunbar – Scots are defeated by Cromwell’s Army
September 4, 1650 – Forced march begins with a 28 mile non-stop journey to Berwick.
September 5-10 – March continues south to Durham with stops in  Morpeth, Northumberland, England  and St. Nicholas Church in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
September 11th – Scottish POWs arrive at Durham Cathedral.
September 12- October 31, 1650 – SPOWs still living in Durham Cathedral.
November 1-10, 1650 – Sent by sea from Newcastle to London.
November 11, 1650 -The SPOWs on the ship Unity departed from Gravesend, England.
Mid December 1650 – The ship Unity arrived in Charlestown.

September 3, 1650:
Battle of Dunbar in Scotland

September 4, 1650:
Forced march begins with a 28 mile non-stop journey to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, England.

September 5-10,1650:
March continues down along the seacoast (the current A1 route) through Morpeth, Northumberland and on to St. Nicholas’ Church in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.

Morpeth, Northumberland, England –  ” Its position as a crossing-point over the river has meant that the area has long been occupied.” From Historic Morpeth

St. Nicholas’ Church in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England:

September 11, 1650:
Arrive to Durham Cathedral in Durham, Durham County, England.

November 1-10, 1650:
Leave by sea from Newcastle to London.

November 11, 1650:
Set sail for Boston, Massachusetts from Gravesend on the ship Unity.

Mid December 1650 – Arrived in Charlestown, Middlesex, Massachusetts – “Charlestown is the oldest neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.[1] Originally called Mishawum by the Native Americans, it is located on a peninsula north of the Charles River, across from downtown Boston, and also adjoins the Mystic River and Boston Harbor. Charlestown was laid out in 1629 by engineer Thomas Graves, one of its early settlers. It was the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it was a town in Middlesex County when the colony was partitioned on May 10, 1643.” Wikipedia

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2 Responses to NEW Timeline of SPOWs from the Battle of Dunbar to Charlestown, MA

  1. Diana Johnson says:

    What are the facts of transport surrounding one of the best known if not THE best knownof the prisoners from the battle of Dunbar, Ninian Beall, sent to Barbados before being sent to Maryland as an indentured servant?

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