Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Other Mayflowers, Voyage 3


Prisoner of War aboard the ship “John and Sara”
From Scotland to Boston, 1651

This is part three of my miniseries of Thanksgiving blogs on the immigration of certain ancestors to America, during the week when our thoughts usually rest with our Mayflower passenger ancestors. My 7x great grandfather William Munroe arrived in Massachusetts a little more than thirty years after the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth. His immigration was forced as a prisoner of war and indentured servant, similar to the stories of thousands of other European arrivals, yet not nearly as infamous as the story of the arrival of the hundreds of thousands who arrived in America as slaves.

William Munroe was a Scots warrior, from a long line of warriors in the Clan Munro who had fought in battles such as Halidon Hill and Bannockburn. During the English Civil War three brothers, William, Robert, and George Munroe all fought for the crown at the Battle of Worcester. The Puritan side won, and the Scots prisoners of war were marched to London, and on 11 November 1651 the Munroe brothers were listed as chattel aboard the “John and Sara.” The ship landed in Boston, and the 272 prisoners of war sold off as indentured servants by Thomas Kemble of Charlestown.

William served his time as an indentured servant at a mill in Menotomy (now Arlington, Massachusetts) and was on his own by 1657 when he was referred to in the Cambridge, Massachusetts records for being fined for not having a ring in the nose of his pig. By 1660 he settled in Cambridge Farms, now known as Lexington. He was a freeman in 1690 and in 1699 received communion into the church. The Scots were not welcome as neighbors to the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but one by one they began to integrate into society.

William Munroe was married three times. The first wife was Martha George, married about 1665, who died young leaving him with four children, including my ancestor George Munroe born about 1672. His second wife gave him ten more children, and so began a huge line of descendants that went on to fight in the Battle of Lexington, the Revolutionary War and contributed to many other further events in Massachusetts and the United States. The line of Munroe Scots warriors continued to serve in the Civil War, Spanish American War, and both World Wars. Thus, a reluctant arrival in America directly influenced American History. Of the militia members at the Lexington Green on the morning of April 19th, 1775, at least half were Munroes or near kin.


Munroe Tavern in Lexington, Massachusetts


On Thanksgiving week we must remember that there were also several servants and indentured servants aboard the Mayflower, including the four More children (all under the age of eight!) and my own ancestors Ned Doty and John Howland. All the Mayflower passengers were also indebted to the Plymouth Company to pay back their passage to the New World with goods to be returned to England in trade.

For more about the Munroe Lineage see my blog on November 5, 2009 "Google Your Way to a Quilt".

For more information about the social history of forced emigration see:

“Emigrants in Chains: A Social History of Forced Emigration to the Americas of Felons, Destitute Children, Political and Religious Non-Conformists, Vagabonds, Beggars and other Undesirables, 1607 -1776” by Peter Wilson Coldham, published by the Genealogical Publishing Company

“The Dictionary of Scottish Immigrants to the U. S. A.” by Donald Whyte, Magna Carta Book Company, Baltimore 1972

“Colonists for Sale: The Story of Indentured Servants in America” by Clifford Lindsey Alderman, Macmillan Publishing, New York, 1975

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Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

2 comments:

  1. I know this is an old post, but I am just now finding it. I'm writing a series of books about April 19th and, being of Scots heritage myself, am fascinated with Clan Munroe. Thanks for all your great posts. (And BTW, seriously?? A museum to the British soldiers?? Don't get me started.)

    I'm wondering if you know what happened to William's brothers.

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    1. I have seen things on the internet about William's brothers, but nothing with good sources.

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