Who Founded the Saugus Ironworks?

by Carol Burdick

Grade 5
Essential Question
How do you build a nation that fosters unlimited economic
opportunities for newcomers?

Guiding Questions
Did John Winthrop Jr. and the development of the Saugus Ironworks encourage immigration to America?
How did the life of John Winthrop Jr. differ from that of the workers at the Saugus Iron Works?
Did John Winthrop Jr. make money or a profit from the Saugus Iron Works?

Massachusetts History Framework Standard
5.10 On a map of North America, identify the first 13 colonies and describe how regional differences in climate, types of farming, populations, and sources of labor shaped their economies and societies through the 18th century.


John Winthrop Jr. founded the Saugus Iron Works. The colonists needed iron tools and cooking utensils, and New England had the natural resources England lacked: trees and bog iron ore. He sought money from businessmen in England and Parliament to start the Iron Works. They invested their money, because they thought they would make a profit. John Winthrop Jr. recruited skilled and unskilled workers to work at the Saugus Iron Works. Your groups will read through Winthrop's Petition to Parliament, John Winthrop Jr.'s will and estate inventory, and the Pynchon - Stewart Agreement which are all primary sources, to find how the ironworks was started.


In your groups you will identify the information from the primary sources that answer the guiding questions above. You must support your answers with text from the primary sources.

How was John Winthrop Jr's life different from the life of the workers at the Saugus Ironworks?
Did John Winthrop Jr. make a profit from the Saugus Ironworks?

Did John Winthrop Jr. and the development of the Saugus Ironworks encourage immigration to America?

Lesson Process

The documents to be used are:

Iron works charter (Digitization to be performed by Massachusetts Archives)
Company of Undertakers agreement with the Massachusetts Bay Colony
John Winthrop Jr's Petition to Parliament (Digitization to be performed by Massachusetts Historical Society)

Transcription of J. Winthrop Jr.'s Petition to Parliament 1643-44
John Winthrop Papers. Boston Public Library, 1882. F61. M41, pgs 56-57.

John Winthrop Jr. Will and Estate Inventory 1676

will page 1
will page 2
Estate Inventory
Estate Inventory Addendum

William Pynchon Agreement with John Stewart, a Scottish Iron Worker

 I agree with John Stewart to allow me yearly 12 shillings in
 Smithery work for 3 years, which is for my staying so long for
 that 30 pounds which is due to me from him for releasing him
 from my service. And he the said John Stewart consented and
 promised to allow me for three years twelve shillings per year in
 mending or making iron work.
From Book: New World Immigrants p144. Need full citation

Petition to Parliament Assignment

1. First you'll be assigned to a team of 4 students.

2. Next you will be assigned the role that you will fill (facilitator, reader, recorder, presenter)

3. Third, as a team read the Petition to Parliament. John Winthrop Jr. traveled to England in 1643 and presented this petition to the Parliament, the legislative branch of the English government. Your task is to use the Petition to Parliament to determine if the industrialization at the Saugus Ironworks promoted immigration to New England. As a team answer the questions on the worksheet.

Answer by restating the question and using complete sentences.

1. What did John Winthrop Jr. tell Parliament he'd found in New England?

2. Why did John Winthrop Jr. travel to England?

3. Why were many of the workmen and servants "dangerously sick of feavors"?

4. What was Winthrop asking Parliament for? Why was he asking Parliament?

5. After reading the Petition to Parliament, do you think starting the Saugus Ironworks promoted immigration to New England. Support your answer with text from the Petition to Parliament.

Pynchon - Stewart Agreement Assignment

In your team of 4, assume the same role you had when we last met (facilitator, reader, recorder, presenter). Then work together to learn about the wages paid a skilled ironworker in 1650. William Pynchon bought John Stewart, an ironworker who was one of the Scottish prisoners who worked at the Saugus Ironworks. Pynchon wrote the agreement. A shilling is worth $ today.

Answer the following questions in complete sentences that restate the question

1. According to the agreement how much money per year will John Stewart be paid?

2. How much money is that in today's money?

3. Was John Stewart a wealthy man? What does this document tell you about skilled ironworkers like John Stewart?

Estate Inventory Assignment

In your team of 4, work together to learn about John Winthrop Jr. Each of you will have the same role (facilitator, reader, recorder,presenter) as when we last met.

1. As a team read Winthrop's estate inventory. At death all of the belongings of a person are listed so that the town government can tax the estate of the dead person. These are the items John Winthrop Jr. owned when he died in October of 1776. After reading the estate inventory, work as a team to answer the questions on the worksheet.

At the time of John Winthrop Jr's death in October 1676, a middle class person would own 1 pair of shoes. A rich or wealthy person might own more pairs of shoes. A middle class person might have one suit for going to church on Sunday. It would be made at home from wool. Look at the highlighted items. As you review the list of Winthrop's belongings, think about what they tell you about him.

Elizabethan English Dictionary

1. As a team list 5 items from the estate inventory that you think tell you about Winthrop's life. Use the highlighted items and at least 3 more items. List the item as it appears on the Estate Inventory and then what the words mean in today's English. Write down what each item was worth then and what it is worth now.
The first column lists pounds. A pound today is worth $2.00.

2. Next on your own use 3 of the items to write a paragraph describing the life he led. Answer this question: What does the estate inventory of John Winthrop Jr. tell us about his life? What was the estate worthe in today's dollars? Was he wealthy? Where did he live? How did he earn his money? How do you know the answers to these questions? Include items from the list to support your answer.

3. Compare the amount of money John Winthrop Jr. had at death with the amount of money John Stewart, the skilled ironworker, made in a year. On your own, write a paragraph comparing their lives based on the information about money from the primary scources..

Will Assignment

In your team of 4, read Winthrop's will and answer the questions on the worksheet. Assume the same roles (facilitator, reader, recorder, and presenter) as when we last met.

Before Winthrop died, he wrote a will to explain how he wanted his belongings, land, and money distributed to his family and friends. Writing a will meant he could read and write and had enough money to pay a lawyer to write it for him. He also had enough money and property to leave something for each of his children when he died. Your task is to use the will and estate inventory to determine whether you think Johns Winthrop Jr. profited or made money from founding the Saugus Iron Works. Use the will and the estate inventory to support your answer.

Task: Pretend that you are Fitz, one of John Winthrop Jr's sons, and you are the executor of his estate. You must read his will and make sure his wishes, as stated on the will, are followed. Read over the will and answer these questions:

Use complete sentences that restate the question.

1. Who were the executors of the Last Will and Testament?

2. How did John Winthrop Jr. want his property distributed?

3. What did John Winthrop Jr. leave to his children?

4. What does the distribution of Winthrop's property tell you about how children who were boys were valued compared to children who were girls?

5. Use the estate inventory and the will to support your answer to this question; Did John Winthrop Jr. profit or make money from the Saugus Ironworks?

6. Think about what you've learned about the workers of the Saugus Ironworks and John Winthrop Jr.On your own write a paragraph answering this question: How was John Winthrop Jr's life different from that of a worker? Support your answer with proof from the estate inventory, the will, and the Pynchon- Stewart agreement.


You have examined primary sources and formed conclusions about the impact of the technology of the Saugus Irons Works on immigration to America. Other primary sources have revealed facts about how John Winthrop Jr. lived. You have learned about the role that John Winthrop Jr. played in founding the Saugus Ironworks and how he profited from the Saugus Ironworks. These documents have provided you with a close up view of what life was like in Massachusetts in the middle of the 17th century.


Students will be able to:
(1) inadequate
(2) adequate
(3) good
(4) strong
identify John Winthrop Jr. as founder of SIW.
Unable to identify Winthrop.
Associate John Winthrop Jr. with SIW.
Identify Winthrop as founder of SIW.
Identify and generalize to explain his importance in starting iron industry in America.
demonstrate understanding of industrialization's role in fostering immigration.
Unable to explain how SIW fostered immigration
Explain that SIW fostered immigration.
Give an example of an individual or group that immigrated to work at SIW.
Generalize knowledge by explaining what happened to 2 or more immigrant groups after they worked at SIW.
use a primary source to determine how a person lived.
Unable to read a primary source.
Read primary source and list 3 facts about how the person lived.
Read primary source and state facts about how the person lived and what was left to his/her heirs.
Read primary source, state facts learned, and generalize knowledge to explain the person's social and economic status.