by Cynthia Noble
Grade 5
Essential Question:
How do you build a nation that fosters unlimited
economic opportunities for newcomers ?
Guiding Questions:
What conditions emerged in England in the 17th century that created the situation of unwilling exile for the Scots?
What was life like for the Scots working at the Saugus Iron Works?
How did the Scots take part in an important chapter of America’s industrial history?
Massachusetts History Frameworks
5.6 Identify some of the major leaders and groups responsible for the
founding of the original colonies in North America.
5.9 Explain the reasons why English colonists largely shaped the language, political institutions and political principles
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.


The Saugus Iron Works was the first integrated ironworks in North America from 1646-1668. In 1650 the local work force was augmented by a group of 61 Scottish prisoners of war who arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts as indentured workers. This created new tensions between iron workers and the local community. You will investigate what happened to the Scottish workers at the Scottish Iron Works. You will discover how the Scots felt. Were they better off working in the Massachusetts Bay Colony rather than serving time in the English prisons? Through your research you will determine what were the subsequent contributions of the Scots to New England society after they gained their freedom. The saying “an iron hand in a velvet glove” will define the role of the Scottish prisoners at the Saugus Iron Works. You will study their influence and impact on the Massachusetts Bay Colony.


In your assigned groups you will research how the Scottish prisoners arrived, lived and worked at the Saugus Iron Works. You will also learn through documented sources where some former prisoners moved after gaining their freedom. Your group will design a product exhibiting a summary of the Scottish prisoners lives before, during and after the Saugus Iron Works.

Lesson Process

  • First, you will be assigned to a group of four people from the Social Studies class.
  • Secondly, you will determine the role that you will fill - ( facilitator, reader, recorder, presenter).
  • Thirdly, using both primary and secondary source documents as well as the introduction and Colonial Life sections of the Saugus Iron Works PBU determine what information applies to the Scottish prisoners of war before, during and after living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • Then each group will select an individual Scottish prisoner and describe their historical affiliation to the Saugus Iron Works before, during and after their experiences in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • Lastly, you will create and design a product (preferably a three column poster board) demonstrating your research findings of the Scottish prisoners of war before, during and after their forced worked experiences at the Saugus Iron Works.

Letter to Mr. John Gifford - full transcription
p. 28 Expenses for the Scottish prisoners of war was an important issue for those responsible for providing for the basic needs of the Scots. According to the accounts given in the Letter to Mr. John Gifford, what were the criteria for determining the monetary implications to support their Scottish prisoners of war?

p. 40 Many types of Skilled workers were required for the successful running of the Saugus Iron Works. What references are made to the various work roles that the Scots could undertake at the Saugus Iron Works ? Notice the pecuniary recommendations assigned to the labor performed by the Scottish prisoners at the Iron Works. What conclusions can you make from the information presented here ?

p. 253 The Saugus Iron Works discontinued the production of iron mainly on account of mismanagement issues. The Scottish prisoners of war having served their time attained trades that would benefit them in their next phase of living lives of freedom. Refer to the trades and the effects of the financial situation as mentioned in this portion of the letter.


You have investigated the Scottish prisoners of war and their affiliation with the Saugus Iron Works during the 17th century. Do you have the impression that the Scots were treated as slaves, indentured servants or forced to work against their will ? Explain what you believe happened to them. What was daily life like for the Scots at the Saugus Iron Works? Did they establish a good relationship with the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony? The Scots mostly remained in the colonies after they served their time at the Saugus Iron Works. The Scots were a hard working group of people. What were their contributions to the societies in which they finally settled after their time spent at the Saugus Iron Works? You have discovered the very important role that the Scots contributed to America's industrial history.



Students will be able to:
(1) inadequate
(2) adequate
(3) Good
(4) Strong
utilize both primary and secondary sources to determine the role that the Scots as prisoners of war at the Saugus Iron Works assumed as an important chapter in America's industrial history.
Students are unable to discover the role that the Scots played at the Saugus Iron Works as indentured servants working against their will.
Students demonstrate a basic knowledge of how the Scots arrived at the Saugus Iron Works as prisoners of war from England.
Students are able to investigate the Scottish prisoners of war affiliation to the Saugus Iron Works before, during, and after their tenure at the Saugus Iron Works with relevant important details.
Students demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Scots serving time at the Saugus Iron Works. They can explain the historical background of their arrival at the Saugus Iron Works. The difference between slavery and being an indentured servant, and their contributions that the Scots made to the colonies after receiving their freedom.

The original Jan 2006, SIW Content Evaluation Rubric.


Geneology of Peter Grant, Berwick Maine
Alexander Innes - Scottish Prisoner
Grant Clan Peter Grant - Scottish Prisoner
Scots for Sale: The Fate of the Scottish Prisoners in Seventeenth Century Massachusetts
Great Works - SIW to Berwick Maine connection, Richard Leader
material with regard to the Scottish prisoners sold to iron works - Digitization request MA Archives
Reverend John Cotton, Hutchinson Papers - BPL?