Published: 5 July 2016
Updated/Edited: 14 July 2016
William Furbish (1631-1694)
by B. Craig Stinson, a Descendant
(Edited by Teresa (Hamilton/Pepper) Rust)
How a Scottish Prisoner of War became One of My first American Ancestors
Bloody Rivalries From the Early Days:
The northeast coast of Scotland was first settled about 3000 BC, and the area is rich with Neolithic and Bronze age sites. Stone circle and cairns date from 2000 BC. Hill forts survive from the Iron Age. Romans, Celtic Christians, and Picts followed. In the 11th century, conflict between Clan MacBeth and Scottish-Scandinavian Clan Canmore raged across this area. Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” immortalized MacBeth’s 1057 fall at the Lumphanan. [Battle of Lumphanan]
In the 12th century, royal marriages brought many new Anglo-Norman families, including the House of Bruce and the House of Comyn. The Normans also brought the law of primogeniture, in which the oldest son inherited all the land and title of the father. This kept the estates large and strong, but gave nothing to the younger sons and the daughters.
Fighting among these newcomers resulted in the Scottish Wars of Independence, and in 1307, Robert the Bruce defeated first the English and then his Scottish rivals the Comyns, reestablishing a Scottish monarchy. [John Comyn, Earl of Buchan]
It is about this time that Clan Forbes and Clan Gordon made their appearance in northeast Scotland. Our ancestry traces to Clan Forbes (“Foirbeis” in Gaelic).
Duncan Forbes, 1271:
The first documented landholder of Clan Forbes was Duncan Forbes, who in 1271-2 received land grants from Alexander III of Scotland. Members of this clan thrived; today people of Forbes origin dominate the area surrounding Aberdeen. The website, Forbes Clan began in Strathdon, Aberdeen-shire, Scotland, claims, “All the Forbes families in Scotland or once there and now worldwide can trace their descent to” Sir John de Forbes, (ca. 1332-1406), of Scotland. To the west, Clan Gordon also thrived. Unfortunately, the success of these neighbors led to a rivalry that lasted for centuries and was often punctuated with violence and blood. By the 16th century the Protestant Reformation added religion to fuel to the fire, as Clan Forbes converted to Protestantism while Clan Gordon remained staunchly Catholic. Whether this was primarily a theological or a political or economic decision is unknown; in those days the Catholic Church was far wealthier than any king ever hoped to be.
Edom o’ Gordon, In 1571:
The feud grew especially violent. The Gordons won two small but hard-fought battles, first at Tilliangus (October 10, 1571) and then at Craibstone (November 20, 1571). John, Master of Forbes, was taken away into captivity. Adam Gordon then led his victorious men against Towie Castle, which by now was defended only by Margaret Forbes (nee Campbell) and her children and servants. Adam Gordon demanded that Margaret surrender the castle (and, in some versions of the story, sleep with him). She refused, and Gordon ordered that the castle be “fired”… that is, fires started around the perimeter of the castle. Depending on the perspective of the storyteller, the purpose of the fires was to either burn the castle and its vulnerable occupants within, or only to “smoke out” the resisters; but the castle did catch fire and all 27 residents were burned to death… except perhaps one young daughter who was lowered toward the ground in a sheet, only to be met by the spear of Adam Gordon. Even in a world where blood rivalries were an everyday occurrence, this act of barbarity was considered so heinous that it became the stuff of ballad. The atrocity at the castle is commemorated in a touching ballad entitled Edom o’ Gordon:
“It fell aboot the Martinmas time
When the wind blew shrill and cauld
Cried Edom o’ Gordon tae his men
“We maun draw tae some hauld”
“Whit hauld, whit hauld,” cried his merry men
“Whit hauld sal we gang tae?”
“It’s tae Towie’s Hoose that we maun ride
And see yon fair lady”
She thocht it was her ain dear lord
That she saw ridin’ hame
But was the traitor Edom o’ Gordon
That rik nae sin nor shame
“Come doon, come doon, Lady Campbell,” he cried
“And gie yer hoose tae meOr else this nicht I swear I’ll burnYe an’ yer bairnies three”“I winna come doon,” the lady cried“For laird nor yet for loonNor yet for any rank robberThat comes frae Auchendoon”The lady frae the battlementsTwa bullets she let 5eeBut it missed its mark wi’ GordonFor it scarcely grazed his knee“Lady Campbell,” the Gordon cried“That shot will cost you dear”An’ he has ca’ed tae his ain JockTae bring the faggots near“I winna come doon, ye fause GordonI winna gie up tae yeI winna forsake ma ain dear lordThat is sae far frae me”Then up and spak her youngest sonSat on the nooris’s knee“Oh open the door and let me oot
For this reek is choking me
“I wid gie up ma gowd,” she cried
“Ma siller and ma fee
For a blast o’ the whistling wind
Tae blaw this reek frae me”
Then oot an’ spak her dochter dear
She wis baith jimp and sma’
“Oh row me in a pair o’ sheets
And throw me ower the wa'”
They rowed her in a pair o’ sheets
And threw her ower the wa’
But on the point o’ the Gordon’s sword
She got a deidly fa’
Then Gordon turned her ower and ower
And oh her face was white
Ah micht had spared that bonny face
Tae be some man’s delight
Oh pity on yon fair castle
That was biggit wi’ stane and lime
And wae for Lady Campbell herself
Burnt wi’ her bairnies nine
And three o’ them were bairns
And three o’ them were leal maidens
That ne’er lay in young men’s airms.”
A beautiful contemporary recording of this sad song can be heard here: Edom o Gordon by Malinky.
The Massacre at Druminnor Castle:
Of course, it is not a rivalry if only one side commits atrocities; it is genocide. For a true feud to exist both sides must be somewhat evenly matched in firepower and in ruthlessness. Thus in this epic rivalry it was only a few months before Clan Forbes returned the Gordon’s favor. From: Picken, Andrew. Traditionary Stories of Old Families, and Legendary Illustrations of Family History with Notes, Historical and Biographical, (Scotland: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman, 1833) pages 38-39., “Subsequent to the tragical affair at Corgarff [or Towie], a meeting for reconciliation took place between a select number of the heads of the two houses in Lord Forbes’ castle of Druminnor. After much argument, the difference being at length made up, and a reconciliation effected, both parties sat down to a feast in the hall, provided by the Forbes’s chief. The eating was ended, and the parties were at their drink, the clansmen being of equal numbers, and so mixed, as had been arranged, that every Forbes had a Gordon seated at his right hand.
‘Now,’ said Huntly [Gordon] to his neighbour chief, ‘as this business has been satisfactorily settled, tell me, if it had not been so, what it was your intention to have done.’
‘There would have been bloody work,’ said Forbes, ‘bloody work, and we would have had the best of it. I will tell you. See, we are mixed one and one, Forbeses and Gordons; I had only to give a sign by the stroking down of my beard, and every Forbes was to have drawn the skean from under his left arm, and stabbed to the heart his right-hand man.’ As he spoke, Forbes suited the sign to the word, and stroked down his flowing beard. In a moment a score of skeans were out, flashing in the light of the pine torches held behind the guests. In another moment they were buried in as many hearts; for the Forbeses, whose eyes constantly watched their chief, mistaking this involuntary motion for the agreed sign of death, struck their weapons into the bodies of the unsuspecting Gordons.
The chiefs looked at each other in silent consternation. At length Forbes said, ‘This is a sad tragedy we little expected; but what is done cannot be undone, and the blood that now flows on the floor of Druminor will just help to slocken the auld fire of Corgarf.’”
The English Civil Wars:
It was some 60 years later, about 1631, when our ancestor William Furbish (Forbes) was born, probably in Aberdeenshire, the feud with the Gordons still raged. King Charles I presided over England, Ireland, and Scotland, three countries with very different histories and very different forms of religion. And within each group were further divides. Most Irish were Catholic. Most Scots were Calvinists. And most English preferred a more moderate form of Protestantism, although there remained a strong and fervent minority of Catholics in England as well as Puritans who were equally zealous. In addition, there were major divides in all three countries over whether the people should be governed primarily by a King or by a Parliament. Professor Mark Stoyle has written an excellent summary that helps the novice reader sort out the background to the British Civil Wars:
BBC History – Overview: Civil War and Revolution, 1603 – 1714, by Professor Mark Stoyle, last updated 17 February 2011.
Our interest, though, lies with young William Forbes, who by 1650 was about 19 years old.
In 1649, King Charles had been arrested, tried, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded. The new republican government in England, backed by the military and led by Oliver Cromwell, set out on a conquest of Ireland. Meanwhile, the son of the executed King Charles made a deal with the Scots, who crowned him Charles II of Scotland and prompted Cromwell and the English army to invade Scotland. This invasion is central to the narrative of our family, for the call went out to recruit 10,000 footmen and 3,000 horsemen to reinforce the Scottish Army of the Covenant against the approaching English. Our William Forbes was one of these recruits.
“The Scottish army was still mustering when Cromwell crossed the border from Berwick on 22 July 1650. Lord Leven planned to play for time and directed the construction of an extensive line of earthworks between Edinburgh and Leith which allowed the Scottish army to take up an impregnable defensive position. Secure behind the lines, Leven trained up his raw recruits and waited for the last of the levies from the north to arrive. Like Ormond in Ireland, he planned to let sickness and hunger wear down the invaders before moving against them — and the summer of 1650 proved to be particularly cold and wet. Leven also ordered the destruction of all crops and the removal of all livestock between Edinburgh and the border so that Cromwell’s army would have to get all its supplies from England.” The plan seemed to be working.
The Battle of Dunbar, September 3, 1650:
Under the field command of David Leslie the young and inexperienced Scots enjoyed an almost impregnable fortified defensive position on Doon Hill overlooking the English encampment at Dunbar. The English invaders were worn out, sick, and short of supplies. On September 2, 1650, Cromwell determined to evacuate his forces and return to England. Seeing the movement of the English army, Leslie inexplicably ordered the Scots to deploy on level ground, abandoning their defensive position. The move took them almost an entire day. Aware that the Scots had given up their one advantage, Cromwell is reported to have said, “he Lord hath delivered them into our hands!!” Under cover of darkness and heavy rain that night the English redeployed their 11,000 troops. At 4:00am on September 3, the English attacked.
Soon outflanked by a superior strategy, the Scots were routed.
“The battle of Dunbar lasted two hours. Cromwell claimed that 3,000 Scots were killed in the rout and another 10,000 taken prisoner, for the loss of only thirty men of the Commonwealth army. All the Scottish artillery and baggage was captured and 2,000 colours taken. Although Cromwell’s estimate of the Scottish losses are probably exaggerated, it was undoubtedly a serious defeat for the Covenanters.”
William Forbes, Prisoner of War:
The surviving Scots presented the English with a problem. In actuality there were probably about 5,000 captives. This was far too many enemy soldiers to set free and far too many to imprison and feed for long. So the wounded were released and the remaining body was force-marched south for eight days to be imprisoned at Durham Cathedral in England. One of these prisoners of war was William Forbes. Many hundreds of Scots died of illness or exhaustion along the way to Durham Cathedral.
Sir Arthur Haselrig was given authority to dispose of as many Scots as he felt proper. Many were sent to the coal mines; forty men became indentured servants at the salt works at Shields. Haselrig set up a trade of linen cloth and sold forty prisoners to be general laborers and twelve to be weavers. Ninety-two Scottish prisoners were sold to wealthy people in London and set to various tasks.
John Becx and the Unity:
Meanwhile, purveyors in human flesh began to sense an even larger opportunity. One particularly creative speculator was John Becx who, along with other investors, was an Undertaker of a new iron works in New England named Hammersmith. Becx was also a shareholder in an ambitious timber and sawmill project at Kittery, Maine, which would supply timber to the British navy. The sprawling project operating up to twenty saws at once was to be known as the Great Works. Both projects required cheap manpower, and what could be more cost-effective than purchasing the rights of strong young Scots who would supply labor for up to eight years for only a few pounds?
Contracts were made with two ships – first the Unity, which would sail immediately, and, after a haul of many more Scots defeated at the battle of Worcester a year later, the John and Sara. One hundred fifty of the most able-bodied young Dunbar Scots were first sent by sea to London. Becx paid £5 for each man. Those who survived the six-week voyage across the rough winter seas would bring £20-£30 as convict laborers in Charlestown (now part of Boston), Massachusetts. The Unity sailed November 11, 1650, under the command of ship’s master Augustine Walker. Our William Forbes was among the 150 prisoners of war loaded as human cargo into the ship’s hold. James Gordon, a son of the Forbes’ warring neighbors, was there in the darkness, too.
Nearly 275 defeated Scots from the Battle of Worcester would follow in 1652, on the John and Sara. Those prisoners not sold in New England were sent to Virginia or to various West Indies islands. Here is the contract with the John & Sara:
London this 11th of November 1651: Capt. Jn’o GREENE Wee whose names are vnder written freighters of your shipe the John & Sarah doe Order yow forthwith as winde & weather shall permitt to sett sajle for Boston in New England & there deliver our Orders & Servants to Tho : KEMBLE of charles Toune to be disposed of by him according to the orders wee have sent him in that behafe & wee desire yow to Advise with the sajd KEMBLE about all that may concerne that whole Intended vojage using your Indeavors with the sajd KEMBLE for the speediest lading your shipp from N.E. fit for the West Indies where yow are to deliver them to Mr. Charles RICH to be disposed of by him for the Joinet accout of the freighters & so to be retourned home in a stocke undevided thus desiring your Care & industrje in Dispatch & speed of the vojage wishing you a happy & safe Retourne wee remajne your loving freinds
Jo : BEEX Robt RICH Willjam GREEN
Signatum & Recognitum in pnica — Jo : NOTTOCK notar Publ:
Entred & Recorded at the Instant Request of the said Mr. Tho : KEMBLE. Edw: RAWSON Recorder, 13 May 1652
When the Unity finally landed at Charlestown in mid-December [Most likely late December] 1650 the Forbes surname made its first appearance in New England, albeit in an Anglicized version of the Scots’ Gaelic pronunciation. In Gaelic, Forbes is Foirbeis. When William pronounced his name, the English heard and wrote “Furbish”… that is, when they didn’t render it as Forbush, Fourbush, Furbush, Ferbish, ffurbush, or fforbes, which spellings of William’s surname are also found in various early documents.
Scots Sold to Local Buyers:
Many of the prisoners were in poor health. Nevertheless, iron saw blades and other iron tools were needed to process lumber for English shipbuilding and trade. Iron awaited “mining”, which amounted to dredging iron-rich mud from nearby bogs with long-handled clam shovels, sometimes as much as 15 feet deep. About 62 of the young men were sold to the Hammersmith Iron Works at Lynn, Massachusetts, thirty-six to work in the iron works itself, seventeen in the company’s Boston warehouse, nine in the Braintree forge.
We know that James Gordon, from the once-rival Gordon clan, was put to work as a miner for Hammersmith. Coal for the forges was hard to come by but wood was plentiful, so many of the prisoners were set to cutting timber to make charcoal. More skillful laborers were forge hands, while a few became blacksmiths. We are confident that William Furbish was not among those set to work for Hammersmith.
Some fifteen other Scots were brought north up the Newichawannock River by Richard and George Leader. They were to become the core of the ambitious “Great Works”, which was envisioned to employ twenty saws working at once. Great Works came to be the new name given to both the sawmills and the tributary that supplied the water power. The mill was located in a gorge below the present-day Brattle Street bridge in South Berwick, Maine. We can piece together a rough list of the Great Works Scots; William Furbish does not appear to have been one of them.
More than a dozen other sawmills had sprung up along rivers in New Hampshire and Maine, and fifteen more Unity Scots were sold to work those mills. Valentine Hill bought at least seven Scots from the Becx shipments for his mills near Dover, New Hampshire, and Nicholas Lissen purchased several Scots to work his mill on the Lamprey River at nearby Exeter.
We can identify three of the Scots who were purchased to work Nicholas Lissen’s saw mill “at the falls above the wigwams” on the Lamprey River – John Bean, Henry Magoon, and Alexander Gordon (another son of Clan Gordon). Lissen not only purchased laborers; he ended up gaining three sons-in-law! Unity Scot John Bean married Lissen’s oldest daughter Hannah in 1654. Henry Magoon from the Unity married Lisson’s middle daughter Elizabeth in 1661. And Alexander Gordon, who had come as a prisoner on the John & Sara, married Lisson’s youngest daughter Mary in 1664.
And what of William Furbish? One account says that Augustine Walker, master of the Unity, sold brothers Daniel and William Forbes to Samson Angier for £30 each. This same source says that Angier sent Daniel Forbes to his brother Edmund Angier at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and kept William with him. If this information is correct, William Furbish’s brother may be the early immigrant whose name is rendered at Cambridge as Daniel Farrabas. (Forbes and Forbush Genealogy)
The Indenture of William Furbish:
Regardless of what became of Daniel “Farrabas”, William Furbish almost certainly served out his indenture at Dover, New Hampshire. We know that when his indenture ended, William “Ferbish” was first taxed on land at Dover in 1659.
Note: Many sources quote historian Everett S. Stackpole’s claim in Old Kittery and Her Families (p.121 and p.437) that William Furbish was taxed at Dover in 1648. Stackpole did indeed make that statement in his 1903 publication, and many sources since then have repeated that claim, confounding those researchers who numbered William Furbish as #26 on the Dunbar Prisoner List arriving on the ship Unity in 1650 as an indentured servant. Writing in 1913 in the History of the Town of Durham, New Hampshire, Stackpole corrected his earlier error, noting that in Old Kittery the name Ferbish was confused with another earlier resident, William Furber. Furber was taxed in Durham in 1648, but Ferbish was not taxed there until 1659.
We know also that in 1662 William “Fourbish” got in trouble with the Puritans at Dover. That trouble will be explored later; for now, these dates serve to anchor William Furbish’s presence in Dover, New Hampshire, before he relocated across the river to Maine in 1664.
Very likely William Furbish was indentured to Valentine Hill. We know that Hill’s saw mill was one of the earliest established in the area and that it was operational by 1651. We know that Hill purchased several Scottish prisoners to work that mill. We know that one of Hill’s business partners in the mill at Oyster River and other projects was Thomas Kemble, who had the consignment of all the John & Sara prisoners. We know that in 1652 the town of Dover granted Valentine Hill four acres “for his Scots”. So when in 1657 we begin to see Scots taxed on land at Dover for the first time we can surmise that some or most of the young men “employed” by Hill had worked off their indenture and were beginning to own the land they had originally been granted by Hill.
Using several sources we have been able to piece together a list of some eighteen Scots who were first taxed on land at Dover (Oyster River) between 1657 and 1659, indicating that their indenture was now complete. About half of these men were Dunbar prisoners from the Unity in 1650, the others were Worcester prisoners from the John & Sara in 1652. They are listed below according to the year they first appear on the tax rolls. Note the numerous different ways their names were rendered:
- Patrick Jameson, aka “Patrick the Scott”, aka Gimison, Jennison, Gynnison, John & Sara #91, 1657. Valentine Hill said that Gimison had been a useful servant of his. [Stackpole]
- Robert Junkins, aka Robard Junkes, #42 on the Unity list, 1657. Junkins family histories name Valentine Hill as his original owner. That same history says Valentine Hill also owned Andrew Rankin (#94 DPL) and Micum McIntire (#61 DPL).
- John Kye, aka Key, Keiay, Keays, Mackey, probably John & Sara, (#44 DPL), 1657. [Teresa, note error was from History of Town of Durham p 81]
- John Curmuckhell, aka Carmicle, Cernicle, Carnicle, Chirmihill, Cyrmihill, John & Sara #30, 1657.
- James Kidd, aka James Skid, 1657.
- Henry Brown, prisoner #9 on Unity list, 1658. [Stackpole]
- James Orr, aka Ore, Oar, #82 on Unity list, 1658. Brown and Orr stated that they learned the sawmill trade from Valentine Hill. [Stackpole]
- Thomas Doughty, aka Dowty, #19 on Unity list, 1658. He is documented to have cut a road for Valentine Hill. [Stackpole]
- James Middleton (#55 DPL), 1658. Valentine Hill was his surety in 1659. [Stackpole]
- Edward Erwin, aka Arin, Irwin, Eurin, Urine, Duren, Dowreing, Dulen, John & Sara, (#41 DPL), 1658. [Teresa, note error was in History Town of Durham p 79]
- John Hudson, John & Sara #77, at Oyster River by 1652. A Peavey and Hudson family history says that he belonged to Valentine Hill.
- Walter Jackson, John & Sara #82, 1658. [Stackpole]
- James Morrey (#51 DPL), aka Morray and Murray, 1658. [Stackpole]
- William Furbish, #26 on Unity list, 1659.
- William Gowen (#38 DPL), aka William Smith, Elexander Gowing, 1659.
- Niven Agnew, aka “Niven the Scot”, #2 on Unity list, 1659.
- Peter Grant, originally at the Saugus Iron Works (#11 on Scots Ironworks Inventory), was at Oyster River by 1659.
- John Barber, 1659.
Valentine Hill was a businessman from Lincolnshire, England who made his way to Boston by 1636. He made his fortune by trading in wheat and fish and wholesaling English imports. Later he loaned money and speculated in town lots in Boston; he headed the group that developed the Town Dock. In 1643 Hill began accruing large holdings at the Oyster River Plantation in New Hampshire. In 1649 he built the first saw mill “at the fall of Oyster River” along with a large house overlooking the river, and was soon granted 500 more acres and timber privileges. Amazingly, this house has been preserved in part and renovated over almost four centuries; guests can still stay at the lovely Three Chimneys Inn, 17 Newmarket Road, Durham, New Hampshire, 03824.
Hill opened a second saw mill on the falls of the Lamprey River in 1657. Thomas Kemble and Richard Leader also owned an interest, although after the failure of the Great Works, Leader had personally relocated to the West Indies island of Barbados.
Small Acreages for the Scots:
By 1652, Hill set aside some land for John Hudson, one of the John & Sara prisoners. On October 5, 1652, the settlement of Dover granted Valentine Hill four acres for his Scots. The land was at Durham Falls on the south side of the Oyster River, abutting the mill pond on the north, Newmarket Road on the east, and John Hudson’s land on the south. Six years later in 1658, when “Henrey” Brown and James “Ore” earned their freedom, they were granted the “fower ackers which were given and granted unto Mr. Valentine Hills seven Scotes in the yeir 1652.”
It’s hard to know exactly how the Scots were treated during their indenture. On one extreme, some old histories suggest that the Scots worked four days of the week for their master and were given three days to work their own land. In stark contrast, others say the indentures were tantamount to “white slavery”. We do know that many of the English settlers had come as indentured servants themselves, probably voluntarily, just a decade earlier. That group included our ancestor John Hill of Dover, who was first taxed at Dover in 1648 and lived on the property that adjoined Valentine Hill. So practically everyone in the community would have been intimately acquainted with indenture, and probably recognized the value of industrious cohorts to help “civilize” this wild country. At the same time, these young men clearly “belonged” to the person who owned their indenture, as was the case with Mr. Valentine Hill’s seven Scots.
For sure the Scots stuck together, joined by a shared history and a dialect that sounded strange to English ears. The New England settlements in which they found themselves were steeped in Puritan sensibilities. This stuck in the craw of many of the Scots, since it was Cromwell’s Puritan army that had subdued them and taken them into captivity. Often we see the Scots earning their first taxable land in existing English towns but soon selling and relocating to unoccupied land where they could cluster together in new communities. These places soon took names that identified their residents, including the Parish of Unity and Scotland Parish. Scottish settlements tolerated a more boisterous lifestyle that determined to be free from Puritan authority and mores. When the English authorities did intervene in these places it was often to attempt to enforce church attendance or to fine the Scots for drinking or using coarse language. According to several written accounts of these unwelcome encounters, the constables were often met with curses from the Scottish men and more than once with fists from the Scottish women.
Furbish Earns His Freedom:
William Furbish was taxed on his own land at Dover, New Hampshire in 1659, so his indenture must have lasted about eight years. In 1661 his presumed former owner Valentine Hill died. But 30-year-old William Furbish was already gaining a foothold in Dover for himself, where he had now spent a third of his life.
Puritans Rule With an Iron Fist:
In 1662 the Quakers first visited Dover. They came from Salem and from “old England”. In public debate with Congregational minister Rev. John Rayner, and to his deep consternation, they convinced many listeners to take up the Quaker path. During their extended stay they crossed the river to Kittery, Maine, where Major Nicholas Shapleigh, one of our ancestors and an early settler in the area, provided them lodging.
In December the Quakers returned. But this time the Puritan Rev. Rayner was armed with more than his theology and his rhetoric. He had drawn up an order that called for the arrest of three Quaker women, Mary Tomkins, Alice Ambrose, and Ann Coleman. One of the deputies of the court, Major Richard Waldern, issued the order on December 22, 1662. The women were arrested and summarily convicted. Their sentence for professing doctrine contrary to the Congregational Church was to have their hands tied to the tailboard of a horse-drawn cart, and for each to be stripped to the waist and beaten ten times with a three-corded whip. They were then to be dragged through the snow and ice several miles to the center of the next town, where the beatings were repeated, a journey through eleven towns and 80 miles in all. The brutal punishment was of course designed to kill the women.
Rev. Rayner reportedly stood by laughing as the beatings were being administered. Two local men rebuked the pastor and for that act of disrespect were themselves put in the stocks. One of these two men was our William “Fourbish”, of Dover. Perhaps, in addition to the cruelty of the local clergy and the bravery he witnessed from the Quaker women, William Furbish also recalled his own 80-mile forced march from Dunbar, Scotland, to Durham, England, just twelve years earlier.
SEE: Hallowell, Richard P.. The Quaker Invasion of Massachusetts, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1883), p.100.
Despite the protests of Furbish and others, this sorry parade did continue in the bitter cold through two more towns, until at Salisbury the town leaders refused to comply with the order and put a stop to the persecution. The tale of the women’s courage in the face of such persecution led to the conversion of many in Dover and Kittery. Two hundred years later John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized this incident in his poem, “How the Women Went from Dover”. Here are two stanzas from the 29-stanza poem:
“…Bared to the waist, for the north wind’s grip
And keener sting of the constable’s whip,
The blood that followed each hissing blow
Froze as it sprinkled the winter snow.
Priest and ruler, boy and maid
Followed the dismal cavalcade;
And from door and window, open thrown,
Looked and wondered gaffer and crone…”
William Furbish Homesteads in 1664:
The Scots, who had worked side by side in the mills and the forests and the ironworks and the fields, continued to band together as their indentures ended. By 1659, as Furbish was completing his indenture at Dover, his fellow Unity prisoner Daniel Ferguson was completing his time at the Great Works. Ferguson settled about four miles east of Dover, New Hampshire, on the Maine side of the Newichawannock River (Abenaki for “River with Many Falls”) where it was joined by the Cochecho. Unity prisoner John Neal settled just south of Ferguson.
When William Furbish made his break with Dover this is where he went, purchasing what became the family homestead on the land adjoining the north side of Daniel Ferguson in 1664. The homestead was 40 rods (660 feet) of riverfront and reached back a full mile from the river, giving him 80 acres of beautiful Maine land. Furbish’s property was just three miles upriver from Nicholas Shapleigh, and two miles from where our Samuel Hill homesteaded in 1686. Given how little land a second or third son in Scotland was apt to inherit, this wonderful spread of wilderness must have seemed a dream.
The Furbish house was 30 or 40 rods from the riverbank; the marks of the old cellar could still be seen in the 1890’s. When it became necessary, the family burying ground was located a few rods south of the house, and eventually was populated with about 30 graves marked with field stones. This must be the final resting place of some of the first five generations of our Furbish ancestors, perhaps of William Furbish himself.
Now about age 33 and well established, William Furbish married in York County, Maine. According to old court documents his wife’s given name appears to have been Rebecca. We do not know who her parents were. Their son Daniel was born March 20, 1664. The baby was probably named for William’s brother.
SEE: Stackpole, Everett Schermerhorn. Old Kittery and Her Families, (Lewiston, Maine: Press of Lewiston Journal Company, 1903)
On February 28, 1667, William Furbish and Daniel Ferguson paid £50 for an additional 150 acres of land on the north side of Little Hill Marsh or Round Marsh. The land adjoined Nicholas Frost and Anthony Emery, and was purchased from James and Elizabeth Emery. It doubled the size of both the Furbish and the Ferguson holdings. The hand-drawn map below shows the land, which I believe was located just across the road east of the name “Wm. Furbish” on the “Middle Parish of Kittery” map above. You can see where the road bends and where Thompson’s River crosses the north part of the land. This property remained in the family for several generations; in 1725-6, William Furbish’s son-in-law Andrew Neal (1664-1739) willed a portion of that marsh to his son Andrew (1701-1757).
In 1668 the community of Kittery granted Furbish another ten acres, and in 1671 another 50 acres.
Children John (1667), Hopewell (12 May 1672), and *Katharine (about 1673) were added to the family.
Furbish Defies the Law Again:
Puritan laws were strict toward everyone, but especially toward Native Americans. In 1657 a law was passed making it illegal to sell or provide liquor to Indians; in 1663 it became illegal for an Indian to be intoxicated. William Furbish appears to have had little regard for puritanical laws; in 1674 he was fined in New Hampshire for drinking with two Indians named Richard and Harry.
The formerly peaceful Wampanoag attacked suddenly in 1675; on October 16 they ambushed and killed 70-year-old Roger Plaisted and two of his grown sons at his home in Quamphegan, two miles upriver from William Furbish. The assailants moved downriver, striking isolated homes, killing whom they could and burning what they could. We know the assaults continued past William Furbish’s house to Sturgeon Creek. Before winter arrived, eighty persons had been killed. We are unsure how the Furbish family avoided becoming numbered among the casualties, but apparently William was able to defend his family and home. William’s sons Daniel and John were eleven and eight, and daughter Hopewell was three. Daughter Katharine, my ancestor, was about two years old at the time.
The settlers responded with a promise for a truce, and when at a large gathering the antagonists laid down their arms, the English soldiers slaughtered them. This treachery on the part of both parties, now magnified, was never forgotten.
William’s neighbor Daniel Ferguson died in 1676; William’s fifth child, Sarah, was born about 1677.
William and Rebecca Furbish Abuse the Constable:
The first day of July 1679 the constable attempted to seize the Furbish homestead, for what reason we do not know, but we can certainly guess. Like an overzealous hall monitor, the Constable’s job was to note whether anyone was breaking any law, including swearing profanely, which the Scots were constantly in trouble for doing, or for not respectfully and regularly observing the Lord’s Day. Knowing Furbish’s disdain for the Puritan clergy, it is a wonder he went seventeen years between arrests!
We may not know the reason for the Constable’s threat, but we do know how the Furbishes reacted. Here is the complaint, in the language of the day, and the finding of the court: (Province and Court Records of Maine, Vol. II)
“1 July 1679, Wee present William Furbush for abuseing of the Constable & sleighting of his pouer & sayd hee could not answere what hee did in his office & he sayd Furbush tooke up a dreadfull weapon & sayd that hee would dy before his Goods should bee Carried away. Jury. The person presented fined for his Delinquency 40s & fees of Court 5s.
Rebeccah Furbush presented for strikeing the Constable. Jury. The offender fined tenn shillings & Cost of Court 5s.”
William and Rebecca’s sixth child, Bethiah, was born in 1680, so Rebecca may possibly have been pregnant during the ordeal with the Constable.
Furbish Defies the Law Again:
Furbish’s outspoken contempt of English authority may have only cost him a fine in 1679; in 1681 it cost him some flesh. William received twenty lashes on his bare skin for calling court officials “Divells and hell Hounds.” The beating amounted to the public spectacle of being stripped to the waist and tied to the whipping post near the center of town. An official then beat him 20 times with a three-corded whip, as an example of what happens to those who dare to talk back to the court. In this way Furbish managed to receive double the punishment the Quaker women had endured in 1662.
A Promise of Good Spring Beaver:
Apparently William and his neighbor Thomas Rodes made some extra money trading beaver pelts for other goods. We find this 1681 promissory note among the old Eliot papers:
“Receiued Janvary 18th 1681: of Joseph Rajne of the Great ysland M’rchant Goods to the ualew of sixteen pounds one shilling, seaven peence, which sayd some of sixteen pounds one shilling & 7d Wee both Joyntly & seuerally, whose names are here subscribed, do promiss & oblidg, to pay unto the sd Joseph Rajne or order, the ualew of the sd sume of sixteen pounds one shilling & 7d in good spring beauer, at or before the first day of May next Insewing, at seauen shillings p 1d.
Witness James Harbert
A Measure of Revenge Against Waldern:
While William himself was outspoken in his contempt of English authority, he was not one to pass up an opportunity to even the score with an old enemy, even one who was taking the same side of the argument. Major Richard Waldern was the deputy of the court that in 1662 had arrested the Quaker women and had placed William Furbish in the stocks for insubordination. On May 8, 1681, Waldern himself was on trial for challenging English authority. William fforbes “of Newichawannock” testified to Waldern’s disrespect:
“about two years since he being at the house of Joseph Hammond in the towne of Kittery in the province of Maine Major Waldern, now being of the Councill, took out of his pockett a paper which he read, being in derision of the government of England and after some discourse said these words, There was no more a king in England than thou, Richard Nason, unto whome he then spoke.” (Colonial Papers, Vol. XLVI, No 118. Manuscript copy in library on NH Hist. Society.) [This is very interesting as at this time Charles II was the King during the restoration AFTER Oliver Cromwell. One could imagine that many Puritans would not appreciate Charles II. In 1679 he dissolved parliament and ruled alone to the end of his life. Could Major Waldern have been reacting to this?~ Teresa]
William and Rebecca Defy the Law Again:
In 1683 William and his wife were fined for “talking against the government”. Not surprisingly, his disdain of English authority persisted throughout his life.
Their seventh and last child, William, his father’s namesake, was born about 1683.
Furbish Defies the Law Once Again:
In 1686 Furbish was fined in Maine for selling liquor to Indians “& making them drunke.” He admitted he had had a pint and had given Richard the Indian a dram. For this offense he was fined 10 shillings.
Rebecca Furbish, a Formidable Force, Dies:
Rebecca seems to have died in about 1686. In her lifetime she bore seven children over a period of 18 years. She was fined at least three times, for refusing to attend Sabbath services, for striking a Constable, and for speaking against the English government. She seems to have been a perfect partner for William Furbish.
Another Land Purchase:
February 20, 1687, “in ye third year of ye Reign of our Soveraign James ye Second of England Scotland ffrance and Ireland King defender of ye ffaith”, William ffurbish, husbandman, of Kittery, purchased from William Wittum 25 acres of land that adjoined him on the north. The cost was “for and in consideration of ye Sum of Nine pounds Lawfull paymt in New England in hand”.
Widower William Furbish marries Christian:
William may have married a second time, about 1688. His new wife was named Christian. She was born about 1652, and so was about 36 when she married 57-year-old William.
“The Second Indian War”:
On March 19, 1689/90, the Abenaki struck suddenly at Salmon Falls in the first move of what came to be called “King William’s War”. That day the Abenaki killed 35 settlers and abducted another 54 who were sold in Canada.
The attacks continued off and on with regularity until 1697. But William Furbish had had enough of the raids, especially in a conflict that in all actuality pitted the English against the French. Accounts say he “withdrew to Newcastle”. This must be New Castle, New Hampshire, (originally “Great Island”), a few miles downriver at the mouth of the Piscataqua, and not Newcastle, Maine, which was destroyed in 1689 by Indian raids. Perhaps wife Christian was from New Castle, for she appears to have remained there after William’s death. A future researcher might possibly be able to discover a deeper connection between Furbish and the Joseph Rajne of Great ysland who furnished goods in exchange for fine spring beaver in 1681.
William Furbish’s Last Will and Testament:
William Furbish made his will August 27, 1694. We surmise that he died in the winter of 1694-1695, because in 1695, Christian Furbish, “widow”, was subpoenaed to testify with others of Newcastle as a witness to the sickness of a man named Robert White. She was about 43 years of age at the time.
Furbish’s will was reported missing in 1695 and was lost for some 27 years.
March 21, 1701, in the absence of the original will, the children of William “Furbush” settled their father’s estate and signed the agreement. No provision was made for the widow Christian; she may have had means of her own.
Eldest son Daniel received the homestead and house “as his proper and whole portion of our Father’s Estate”. Daniel was also to pay any debtors and “any thirds that may appear due”.
There was apparently a dispute over the 25 acres that William Wittum had sold their father in 1687; the settlement stated that if Wittum should prevail in any future claim all the Furbish siblings would share the loss.
Bethia Furbush, net yet married to Joseph Goold, was to receive her portion from brother Daniel. Goold’s land was about ½ mile downriver from the Furbish homestead.
Enoch Hutchins, husband of Hopewell, was to have the land at Spruce Creek already in their possession. Just four years after this division of property, on May 4, 1705, the house at Spruce Creek was attacked. Hopewell, pregnant with her fourth child, was abducted along with her three young sons and sold to the French in Sorel, Canada, some 300 miles distant. Baby Mary Catherine was born in captivity there. Hopewell’s husband, Enoch Hutchins, Jr., was killed by Indians April 3, 1706, before any of his family were redeemed. He followed his own father’s unfortunate footsteps, as Enoch Hutchins, Sr., had been killed by Indians in May 1698. Theirs is a story worth pursuing for the interested reader!
The outlands of Furbish’s estate were to be divided by Andrew Neal, (Katharine’s husband), Thomas Thompson (Sarah’s husband), John Furbush (unmarried; he died at sea within months of this settlement), and William Furbush, who was not yet of legal age and was to have brother John as his guardian.
To solemnize their unity, the siblings then agreed that any future dispute among them regarding this distribution would be accompanied by a fine of £50.
The original will was discovered and brought to court on August 2, 1722; it was declared null since the estate had already been distributed by agreement of the heirs in 1701.
The children of William and Rebecca Furbish:
- Daniel, born 20 March 1664 at Kittery, York County, Maine; married Dorothy Pray about 1688; eleven children; died January 1745 at Lebanon, York County, Maine
- John, born about 1667, mariner; died, probably at sea, between March 21 and November 24, 1701
- Hopewell, born 12 May 1672 at Kittery, York County, Maine; married Enoch Hutchins, Jr. May 12, 1693; three Hutchins children; abducted by Indians May 4, 1705 and daughter born while in captivity in Canada; returned and married William Wilson April 25, 1711
*4. Katharine, born about 1673; married Andrew Neal about 1694; seven children; died 1755 at Kittery, York County, Maine (see more below)
- Sarah, born about 1677; married Thomas Thompson about 1698 in York County, Maine
- Bethiah, born 1680 at Kittery, York County, Maine; married Joseph Goold in 1705 in York County, Maine. Goold was a near neighbor of the Furbishes.
- William, born about 1683; removed to Craven County, North Carolina where he died November 20, 1724
What became of “Valentine Hill’s Scots”?
So what became of the Scots who originally belonged to Valentine Hill?
James Morray (#51 on “The Dunbar Prisoners” list) was “Acedently killd By falling of A tree” in 1659, just a year after his indenture ended.
After earning his freedom in 1659, Niven Agnew (Niven the Scot) (Unity prisoner #2 on “The Dunbar Prisoners” list) moved upriver to Salmon Falls, where he worked at one of John Wincoll’s mills. Wincoll may have had financial troubles; in 1671 Agnew sued him for back pay amounting to the large sum of £40. His friend and fellow Scot John Barry was killed in the Indian attack of 1675; Agnew administered the estate and not only took possession of Barry’s farm below the Great Works, he also married John Barry’s widow. When Agnew died childless about 1687, his will granted all of his property to two daughters of Scottish neighbors John Taylor and Peter Grant.
John Curmuckhell, also called Carmicle, had been captured at The Battle of Worchester and brought to New England on the John and Sara. In the end of the year 1660 he purchased land from John Pearce and soon married Pearce’s daughter. On July 6, 1675, his wife Ann was taken to court for not frequenting the public worship of God on the Lord’s Day. John Curmuckhell died not long after, and his widow married another Scot, Micuim McIntyre of York (Dunbar Prisoner #61 and probably also originally indentured to Valentine Hill).
Henry Brown and James Orr (#9 and #82 on “The Dunbar Prisoners” list) appear to have been among the “Seven Scots” who belonged originally to Valentine Hill and worked his sawmill at Oyster River. Neither ever married; they lived together their entire lives. In 1679 they relocated to Wells, Maine, where for five or six years they owned and operated a sawmill and blacksmith enterprise, having learned their trade from Valentine Hill. They legally bound themselves to one another so that if one died the other was to inherit all their common property. E. E. Bourne, in his 1875 book, The History of Wells and Kennebunk, has a very entertaining description of how he imagined their lives to have been:
“These men being habituated to their condition, very probably had come to enjoy this doleful music of the wilderness. Perhaps it soothed their wearied spirits to their nightly rest. Their intercourse with the natives may have been profitable, and all fears had been subdued, while amidst the beautiful scenery of the long falls, they were led to regard their position as highly captivating; and thence they could not understand why it was that not a single family should be disposed to share with them in its advantages. Perhaps invitations had been extended to some to form with them the most intimate relation in life, and these invitations had touched no accordant note, and that for this cause they had foresworn all connections with the sex.” (pp. 117-118)
Peter Grant was originally sent to the Hammersmith Iron Works and was sent north when the ironworks closed. In the summer of 1661 a York County grand jury indicted Peter and James (DPL #34) Grant, “for not returneing home” to their wives (whom they presumably left behind in Scotland a decade earlier, during the war). Whether the Grants made efforts to reunite with their Scottish wives is not clear. By 1664, however, James had disappeared, apparently dead (although evidence suggests that he may have faked his death, leaving a pregnant wife in Kittery and spending the next years as a mariner, finally settling in Boston, married to the daughter of Scotsman James English).
Peter Grant faced charges for living with the “widow” Joane. Scandalized judges fined him £10 or ten lashes, noting that Peter called Joane his wife, “as If they had been lawfully married which they never were nor Could bee, because [Peter’s] wife is yett alive for any thing that is known to the Contrary, & the sd Joane Grant being now bigg with Child.” Ordered to separate, Peter and Joane refused, and local officials backed down, allowing them to marry despite Peter’s apparent bigamy. The couple raised a large family and spent the rest of their lives together at a farm along the Newichawannock River about two miles upriver from Furbish. Peter was fined in 1680 “for lying drunke in the high way,” and in 1691 for profaning the Sabbath, when he and some other Scots killed a deer and frightened their neighbors, who feared that the gunshots signaled an Indian attack. (see “Scottish Prisoners in Seventeenth-Century Maine and New Hampshire” by Diane Rapaport)
Another Unity Prisoner Enters Our Family Story:
In 1660 fellow Unity prisoner John Neal (DPL #81) settled just south of Daniel Ferguson (#28 on “The Dunbar Prisoners” list). In fact, so many of the Unity Scots settled in this vicinity that the area on both sides of Furbish became known as the Parish of Unity. In 1668 John Neal was in court for being “absent from meeting”. In 1675 Unity bore the brunt of a Wampanoag attack during King Philip’s War. Sporadic attacks continued until 1690, when the Abenaki burned many homes and garrisons throughout the Parish of Unity. The Neal garrison, now headed by John’s son Andrew Neal, survived these attacks. This fortified home was located very near the present-day intersection of highways 101 and 236 in Berwick, Maine. In 1699 John’s unmarried daughter Amy Neal was “taken captive by Indians”, and later released.
The Furbish’s Daughter Marries the Neal’s Son:
In 1694, a less newsworthy drama unfolded that had a lasting consequence for our family… John Neal’s son Andrew married neighbor William Furbish’s daughter Katharine. Andrew was about 30 and Katharine was 21.
Katharine was definitely her mother’s daughter. Shortly after her marriage she was arrested for working on the last day of Thanksgiving, July 7, 1696. On Oct 6 of that year Andrew appeared in court and pled ignorance on her behalf; she was acquitted and paid court costs.
Andrew and Katharine had servants of their own, and not just indentured servants. In his will, Andrew Neal left to his wife Katharine a negro girl named Dillo and also a negro man named Quash, who had died by the time the second version of the will was drawn up. Having fathers who had been indentured servants did not serve to make their children abolitionists; rather, even New England and the Scots were early adopters of slavery.
Andrew and Katharine’s daughter Mary Sarah Neal grew up to marry Benjamin Hill (1703-1788) in 1726. So in this way William Furbish and John Neal, both prisoners from the Battle of Dunbar, became my 9th-great grandfathers. Their misfortune in battle brought Scottish blood into my English family. And the bitter warring between these English and Scottish rivals was finally tempered by the mutual attraction of their children’s children.
For a beautiful and haunting rendition of the old Scottish ballad Edom o’ Gordon, http://www.tablyricfm.com/Edom-o-Gordon-tab-Lyrics-fm-Malinky
Traditionary Stories of Old Families and Legendary Illustrations of Family History, Vol. 1, Andrew Picken, 1833. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013, pp38-39.
For good articles and websites on the British Civil Wars: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/overview_civil_war_revolution_01.shtml and http://bcw-project.org/military/third-civil-war/dunbar
Cover page of Worcester prisoners of war, 1651 http://bravebenbow.com/?page_id=284
“Scotch Prisoners Deported to New England by Cromwell, 1651-1652”, Col. Charles E. Banks, The Essex Genealogist, February 1986, pp. 9-15, originally published October 1927)
Directory of Scots Banished to the American Plantations, 1650-1775, David Dobson, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 1983
For those who want to know more about this fascinating story of these Scottish prisoners of war and what became of each one, visit Teresa Rust’s website:
“Scots for Sale: The Fate of the Scottish Prisoners in Seventeenth-Century Maine and New Hampshire”, Diane Rapaport, New England Ancestors, Winter 2003, pp30–32.
“Scots for Sale, Part II: Scottish Prisoners in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts”, Diane Rapaport, New England Ancestors, Holiday 2004, pp26-28.
“Scottish Slaves in Colonial New England, Parts 1 and 2”, Diane Rapaport, The Highlander, September/October and November/ Dece
http://ancestoryarchives.blogspot.com/2014/02/iron-working-in-early-new-england.html, for an informative article on early New England ironworking
Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Noyes, Libby, and Davis, Portland, Maine, 1928-1939, p.251
Old Kittery and Her Families, Everett S. Stackpole, Lewiston, Maine, 1903, pp.121, 437
History of the Town of Durham, New Hampshire (Oyster River Plantation), Everett S. Stackpole and Lucien Thompson, Rumford Press, Concord, NH, contains mini profiles of several of the Scot prisoners. Complete text at:
Forbes and Forbush Genealogy, Frederick Clifton Pierce, 1892, p.18
The New Hampshire (newspaper), April 1, 1916, p. 4, has a good article on Valentine Hill’s mill.
The Quaker Invasion of Massachusetts, Richard P. Hallowell, 1883, p.100
“How the Women Went From Dover”, John Greenleaf Whittier,
“The Descendants of William Furbish/Furbush of Kittery, Maine” by Bob Scott, to be published.
“Descendants of Thomas Farr of Harpswell, Maine and ninety allied families”, Edith Bartlett Sumner, Los Angeles, 1959
This article on William Furbish has some mistakes (he places Furbish in Durham in 1648), but also contains some useful references.
Piscataqua Pioneers: Register of Members and Ancestors, 1623-1775, John Scales, Editor, Dover, N.H., May 1919
Piscataqua Pioneers: Register of Members and Ancestors 1905-1967, compiled by Dallas Wylie Prugh, Genealogist and Registrar, 1967, p. 126
Historical and Genealogical Register, N. E. H. G. General Society of Boston, Samuel Drake, Publisher, 1847, Vols 1-50 (October 1847, pp. 378-379)
History of New Hampshire, vol. 1, Everett S. Stackpole, New York, 1916, pp. 68, 109
http://junkinsfamilyassociation.wikidot.com/robert-junkins-story , article on Robert Junkins and others as part of Valentine Hill’s “seven Scots”
Old Eliot, Book One 1897-1899, J. L. M. Willis, volume I p. 10, volume II pp. 138-139, volume III pp. 47-48,
Province and Court Records of Maine, Vol. II, Portland, Maine Historical Society, 1931, p. 355
York Deeds Book IV, Folio 6; Book VII, Folio 20, Brown Thurston Co., 1892
New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760 During the French and Indian Wars, Emma Lewis Coleman, Heritage Books, 2008, pp. 391-393
Old Berwick Historical Society, www.oldberwick.org
The History of Wells and Kennebunk, E. E. Bourne, B. Thurston and Co., 1875, pp. 116-118 has an entertaining sketch of Henry Brown and James Orr.
William Furbish, #26 on ‘The Dunbar Prisoners’ List
Descendants and Researchers:
Craig Stinson – – Direct Descendant
Heidi Lamonica – – Direct Descendant
Josiah Furbush – – Direct Descendant
Marian Novak – – Direct Descendant
Mark Pride – – Direct Descendant
Michael P. Marsille, Esq. – – direct Descendant
Ronald Engelhorn/Adamowicz- -Direct Descendant
William “Bill” Colbath in Maine – – Direct Descendant
Teresa (Hamilton/Pepper) Rust – – Researcher
B. Craig Stinson
July 2, 2016