Windham Life and Times – July 19, 2019

Nutfield 300

A Bulwark Against the Indians | Introductions

The Scotch-Irish made the decision to come to America for economic, social and religious reasons. The dominant English elites in New England and the British Crown had their reasons for wanting the Scotch-Irish to come and it certainly wasn’t to have them settle next to them as friends and neighbors. The main objective, stated by Governor Shute of Massachusetts and others, was to place the Scotch-Irish in frontier locations as a “bulwark against the Indians.” In our region of southern New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts, by and large, the Indians had been pacified and were no longer a threat to the European settlers. Such was not the case in the frontiers of Maine, which were in close proximity to Indian settlements and their connection to French and Catholic allies in Canada. The French and the Catholic priests led and encouraged Indian attacks on the British settlers and whenever war ensued between Britain and France, the attacks intensified. The Indian attacks on colonist in Maine were fierce and lasted almost until the time of the Revolutionary War.

The second reason the English elites encouraged Scotch-Irish immigration was because they wanted a source of cheap, skilled, labor. They were disappointed in this, when they discovered that many of the Scotch-Irish were well off. Earlier still, on July 28, 1718, Lechmere wrote to Winthrop: “They are none to be sold, have all paid their passages sterling in Ireland; they come upon some encouragement to settle upon some unimproved Lands, upon what other Towns I know not. ” On August 11 of the same year, he again wrote that “they are come over hither for no other reason but upon Encouragement sent from hence upon notice given them that they should have so many acres of Land given them gratis to settle our frontiers as a barrier against ye Indians.” Town Proprietors of the New England Colonies Roy Hidemichi Akagi, PH.D.

Indians or no Indians, the third reason the Scotch-Irish were encouraged to come to New England was because the New England region was one big land speculation. The wealthy Boston, Salem and English merchants had all invested in various development projects that needed settlers in order to  make the investors money. As seen above, the speculators in Maine lands had to offer much better terms then the speculators in Massachusetts or Connecticut lands because of the “slight issue” of possible Indian attack which must have been downplayed by the promoters.

One of the places in Maine that the Scotch-Irish immigrants settled upon in 1718 was on land of Pejepscot Proprietors who owned thousand of acres in Maine. “The course of the Pejepscot Proprietors, thus was inaugurated was not an uneventful one. They had however contributed much to the settlement of the eastern country (Maine) by building forts, by offering lands and inducements to settlers, and by bringing the Scotch-Irish immigrants…” In 1683 Richard Wharton purchased all these titles in rapid succession: Shapleigh sold his share first on July 4th; the Way share with Purchase in the original patent was disposed of on October 10th for £100; while the administratrix of Thomas Purchase sold the latter ‘s right to an Indian purchase fifteen days later. These purchases were confirmed by the English Government and the territory comprised the whole of what is now the township of Harpswell, the greater portion of Brunswick, and a tract on the river in what is now Topsham. To this tract Wharton added, in 1684, another large tract through purchases from six Indian chiefs. Before he could do anything with the territory he had thus acquired, Wharton died in England without issue in 1693 and Ephraim Savage of Boston became the administrator. Four years later the superior court at Boston authorized the latter to sell the same. All this time there was nothing but confusion from the several ambiguous purchases and grants. Nothing was done and the title slept in silence. These dormant titles were revived in 1714 just at the time when the conclusion of the peace of Utrecht opened. The Pejepscot Proprietors were the first of the Great Proprietors to become interested in the foreign immigrants as a possibility in the settlement of their land. Just about that time, in 1717, a dramatic figure appeared in Boston in the person of Capt. Robert Temple, later one of the largest shareholders of the Kennebec Purchase Company. He had been an officer in the English army and came to America with a view of establishing himself as a large landed proprietor, a purpose which naturally aroused the interest of those who had lands for sale. He was thus shown lands in Connecticut, especially the Winthrop holdings in New London, and the lands of the Pejepscot Proprietors in Maine. The Pejepscot Proprietors were already offering large privileges and inducements to settlers and finally won Temple to work in their interest in the competition against John Winthrop, represented by Thomas Lechmere, his brother-in-law and the Surveyor General of Customs at Boston.” TPNEC Akagi

    “The way Temple actually worked may be shown by an example of the vessel “McCallum” which arrived at Boston on Sept. 1, 1718, with some twenty Scotch-Irish families. Temple was again urged by Lechmere to send the immigrants to Connecticut but more attractive inducements were being offered by the Pejepscot Proprietors. In disappointment Lechmere wrote to Winthrop on September 1, 1718, and among other things said: ‘The method they go in with the Irish is to sell them so many acres of land for 12 pence an acre and allow them time to pay it in. I know land is more valuable with you, and therefore twill be more difficult to agree with them.’ Temple…made arrangements by which the MacCallum both arrived and cleared at Boston in the week September 1-8, 1718. Temple became an active colonizer of the Kennebec country. Within two years he had chartered five ships to bring families from Ulster, and by 1720 several hundred families were settled on the Kennebec or the Androscoggin which unites with the Kennebec near its mouth. The MacCallum’s passengers settled at Merrymeeting Bay in the region now know as Bath, but then called Cork, or Ireland. Many of the settlers brought in by Temple settled in Topsham, so named from the Devonshire port from which Temple left England on his first voyage. The Kennebec settlements were made in such force and had such influential support that their prosperity seemed assured; but Indian wars broke out with disastrous results.  A number of settlements were abandoned, with some of the people going to Londonderry, N.H., but the greater number removed to Pennsylvania.” This was the period when the first wave of the Scotch-Irish Immigration reached Boston and in 1718 alone some 6,800 Scotch-Irish landed in New England. Ford, Scotch-Irish in America


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