Scottish Participation at the Battles of Lexington and Concord

April 19, 2020 will mark the 245th Anniversary of the start of the American Revolutionary War.  

The battles of Lexington and Concord which triggered the War of Independence and was a brewing response to the Boston Massacre, taxation without representation, and other hardships such as the Sugar Act, Stamp Act and Townshend Acts imposed by Great Britain. These events generated fierce resentment in the eyes of the colonists. 

The “story” behind the story.  

More than a century before the American Revolution, the English Civil War raged from 1642 -1651. The final battles began in 1650 Charles (Stewart) II sent his Royalist army led by David Leslie to invade England comprised mostly of Scottish highlanders determined to regain the throne. In a disastrous campaign Leslie and his army were defeated by Oliver Cromwell’s Covenanter army at the Battles of Dunbar, Scotland and Worcester, England.  Ultimately, the losses forced Charles II to escape to the continent and English Civil War had ended. 

As a result of this failed campaign 15,000 Scots were taken prisoner where many died in captivity.  Cromwell deported 470 Scottish prisoners as indentured servants to Boston (arriving in Charlestown and Lynn MA). Upon arrival, the majority of these were sent to work as laborers at the Saugus and Braintree Ironworks and a smaller contingent was sent to work at the sawmills in Oyster River New Hampshire, Kittery and Berwick Maine.

In January 1657, 28 Scots who had fulfilled their time as indentured servants came together to form the Scots Charitable Society.  Their purpose, to raise funds to help release fellow former Scottish prisoners of war from servitude and to provide charitable support for Scottish families. 

In the years that followed, the descendants of the Scottish prisoners grew, prospered and merged into colonial society. The Scots played a prominent role in defending the colonies against marauding Indians and fought the Indians in King Philip’s War.  During the French & Indian War (1754-1763) which pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, Scots allied with the British in defense of the colonies. Then, fought against the British in the Revolutionary War.

On April 18, 1775, one day before the outbreak of the battle on the Lexington Common, a meeting was held at Munroe Tavern, a locally gathering place for colonials, owned by William Munroe, an Orderly Sergeant serving under Capt. John Parker, and a great grandson of the original William Monroe who was a transported prisoner of war after his capture at the Battle of Worcester.

In the predawn hours of April 19, 1775, Capt. Parker assembled his militia in response to the news General Gage had dispatched 800 British Regulars to march toward Lexington on their way to Concord to seize a large stockpile of gunpowder and ammunition. As the morning mist gave way to the light of dawn, 77 minutemen bravely stood facing well-trained British soldiers on the Lexington common.  Among these minutemen were 32 patriots of Scottish descent. Along with William Munroe, others may have also been the grandsons and great grandsons of the Scottish prisoners of war taken a century earlier at the Battles of Dunbar and Worcester.

Kirkin’ O’ The Tartans Postponed

Due to COVID-19, the Kirkin’ O’ The Tartans has been postponed. Stay tuned and until then, please stay healthy and safe!

The Scottish Origins of Bobby Orr

Robert Gordon Orr, born in Perry Sound, Ontario, is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest hockey players of all time.  Orr’s speed, scoring and playmaking skills revolutionized the position of defensemen.  He played for the NHL for 12 seasons, ten of them with Bruins.  He was inducted into NHL Hall of Fame in 1979. He is remembered by most Bruins fans for the acrobatic game winning goal he scored in overtime of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals that brought the championship back to Boston after a 29 year hiatus.

The name Orr is a sept or division of the Campbell Clan.  The name, Orr was first given to the son of Alpin, King of Scots, by Druid advisors and is believed to originate from the Kirkcudbright area of Scotland.  It is from a mainly lowland or Border family of the clan Campbell, who were also found in the region of Argyll and other family branches were found on the Isle of Skye.  Most interesting, but not surprising, name Orr means “enchanted,” as able to cause the death of enemies without combat.  No surprise here, throughout his career, Bobby Orr had most certainly enchanted many a fan and foe with his dazzling style of play! 

Additionally, his middle name, “Gordon” derives from Clan Gordon, that originated in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The Scots Charitable in American History

Gilbert Charles Stuart was a famous artist and portraitist born in North Kingstown, Rhode Island in 1755. His father was a Scottish immigrant and business owner, his mother was born into a prominent family in Middletown, Rhode Island. Stuart’s artistic talent was apparent at an early age.

Cosmo Alexander, a famous Scottish artist, brought Stuart to Europe to pursue his artistic studies. After a short stint abroad, Stuart had moved to Boston and was admitted to the Scots’ Charitable Society in February 1775. Shortly thereafter, Stuart left for Europe again, spent 16 years in England and Ireland before returning to the United States. While living in Philadelphia he created his most famous works that we still remember today.

He painted nearly 1,000 portraits of politicians and prominent figures of the time but one stands as the most famous of all.. The Athenaeum, the unfinished portrait of George Washington is the image portrayed on The United States One Dollar Bill! His work was also displayed on U.S. postage during that time. I

In 1805, he returned to Boston/Roxbury and lived on Devonshire Street until his death 1828. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Old South Burial Ground.

Scottish New England: Provincetown Pilgrim Monument

At the outermost tip of Cape Cod is one of the most popular summer destinations for New Englanders, Provincetown. This quaint little city is not only known for its art galleries, shops and beaches, but also as the place where pilgrims on the Mayflower first landed in the New World.

Cape Cod map post card circa 1930 ( The Mayflower Sales Co., Provincetown, Mass.
Tichnor Bros. Inc., Boston, Mass.)

To commemorate their landing, an unmistakable structure dots the Provincetown skyline: the Pilgrim Monument. Within the 252-foot stone structure are memorial stones from the cities and towns representing settlements in the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies, and from the three oldest chartered organizations in the state, including yours truly, The Scots Charitable Society. The cornerstone for this venerable tower was first laid by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, and was completed in 1910 with a dedication led by President William Howard Taft.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Napier

If you are in the area, check out the view from the top and don’t forget to stop by The Scots Charitable stone on your way up!  To read more about the history of The Pilgrim Monument, visit their website at https://www.pilgrim-monument.org/.

Photo courtesy of Mark Martins

Member Spotlight: The Patnod Twins

Gregory and Alex Patnod or collectively “The Patnod Twins” are two of the youngest members of the Scots’ Charitable Society. They became involved in 2015 through their Grandfather Ken MacDonald, who has a proud Scottish heritage, tracing his ancestors back to 17th century Scotland. From a young age Greg and Alex participated in cultural events. They were extremely grateful when they earned scholarships from the Society while pursuing their undergraduate business degrees and felt a strong desire to be more involved.

The Patnod Twins help lead new initiatives for the Society to aid its adaptation in a fast-changing world. They enjoy attending the quarterly business meetings and connecting with the leaders of the Organization with whom they grown close with. Over the last several years, they have provided hands-on volunteering for various SCS events including: the annual Kirkin’ O’ the Tartan, St. Andrew’s Gala and have spoken to undergraduates and their families at several scholarship ceremonies as they are strong advocates for engaging their generation to get involved with the Society and carry on its legacy.

On a personal level, the Twins spend much of their free time being active: hiking, skiing, traveling and boating on the Atlantic (depending on the season!). They also cherish spending time with their family and close friends.

Kirk Brunson, Ken MacDonald and Greg Patnod

2019 Summer Intern

This year, 2019, Scots’ Charitable Society took on their first summer intern, Olivia Conroy-Smith, to work full-time over an eight-week period. Olivia is originally from the outskirts of London with family in both Scotland and Ireland however, for the last four years Olivia has lived in Edinburgh, Scotland whilst studying Geography and Social and Economic History at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently 21 years of age and will be going into her fourth and final year of university in September, 2019. This summer she is a Saltire Scholar Intern, which is a Scottish program run by Entrepreneurial Scotland. Below Olivia shares her experience with being SCS’ Summer Intern:

“Hello! I’m Olivia Conroy-Smith, but most people know me as Liv, and I am writing this blog whilst I bask in the sun alongside the Charles River in Boston. I have just finished my fourth week as a working Massachusettsan and rewarded myself with a relax by the esplanade as I walk home from work. If you told me six months ago that I would be living and working in the East Coast of America for two months over the summer I would have laughed it off whilst dreaming of the possibility …. Alas, here I am in the heart of Boston, on the East Coast of America, lucky enough to be one of the fortunate Saltire Scholars of 2019. 

Entrepreneurial Scotland is a Scottish program which combines a group of young talent with worldwide opportunities with the hope of inspiring and developing the next generation of working Scots to create the most entrepreneurial society in the world. After a lengthy application and interview process I was very lucky to be offered a summer placement with Scots’ Charitable Society. I arrived here in late June and will be leaving in the middle of August so a relatively short but very sweet trip in Boston.

Olivia enjoying some sun along the Charles River Esplanade on her first 4th July in America

My role this summer is to help expand the organisation’s economic revenues, design fundraising programs as well as further develop the online platforms of the charity. Within my first few weeks I learnt more about the Society and their work, attended the annual Scholarship Award Evening, guest-spoke at their quarterly board meeting as well met with different team members to consolidate ideas about the future of the charity – I think its fair to say it has been a very busy and exciting few weeks!

I am currently focusing on widening the Society’s outreach to people in the Greater Boston area with a hope of continuing and building upon the work that SCS do. It is my hope that SCS can become even more engaging and interactive with the Scottish-American community via more events, greater online presence and expansive collaborations. This past weekend I attended the Glasgow Land Highland Games in Northampton where I focused on getting to know other societies and clans that SCS may become connected to within the future.

The University of Edinburgh where Olivia studies in Scotland

I feel privileged to be contributing to the longest-standing charitable organisation in the Western Hemisphere and to make things even more exciting I am the first woman to work for Scots’ Charitable Society too – I feel like I am making history by being here and that is all thanks to SCS! My hope is that I can make a significant impact on the society whilst in Boston as well as learning from the wonderfully intelligent people around me.

From day 1 I have felt truly grateful and unbelievably excited for this opportunity and the experience has already surpassed all my expectations for the summer- I can only imagine what the next few weeks will have in store!

I will make sure to keep you all updated but for now it is see you later!

Thanks for reading,

Olivia”

Member Spotlight: Our Three New Members

On Thursday, June 27th 2019 the Scots’ Charitable Society welcomed three new members; Kirk Brunson, Karen Mahoney and Peggy Wynne. Below we have blog passages from Kirk and Karen explaining what SCS means to them.

Kirk Brunson: 

Scottish arts and heritage is a longstanding aspect of my family. From a young age I visited my grandfather, William Buchanan, and listened to bagpipe music with him. Shortly thereafter I began bagpipe lessons and since have taught and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland and Scotland. Celtic music has been a focus of mine for a number of years, and I look forward to contributing to the Society’s purpose of advancing Scottish and Celtic heritage.

Kirk Brunson and Peggy Wynne

Karen Mahoney: 

Why did I seek to join SCS? 

In May of 1993, I said goodbye to the town of my birth, Kearny, NJ, and it’s three fish n’ chip shops, two Scottish butchers, two pipe bands, my Scottish Highland Dancing teacher of 19 years, and my employer at The Piper’s Cove and I moved to Boston. I knew my new city would enrich me in many ways, and it certainly has, but as I had intended, I started teaching Scottish Highland dance out of my Roslindale, MA apartment soon after settling here. I didn’t know then, that what I was doing was creating my own cultural outlet. Before long, I had students competing at Games and Festivals near and far. Over the past 25+ years of teaching dance, I’ve met so many people who have influenced and shaped me, including our current SCS President, Alan McCall and SCS member, Dennis Napier. When a fellow dancer asked me recently “why did you join SCS”, it was an easy answer: I’m a do-er and a giver, as are both of these wonderful men. I am not a passive participant in anything I do, and the idea of simply donating monetarily to the good works and mission of the SCS did not appeal to me. I had to do something, and actively participate. So, here I am, giving and doing, and living up to my high school honor of “Most Helpful”. 

Kirk Brunson and Karen Mahoney

The Travels of the Robert Burns Statue of the Fen and Winthrop Square

By William Budde, Historian, Scots’ Charitable Society, Boston, Massachusetts

Winthrop Square
(re-located back to the Fen in 2019)

The Robert Burns statue that graces Winthrop Square in Boston was originally erected in the Back Bay Fen. Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759 and died on July 21, 1796, is often referred to the National Bard of Scotland. A prolific writer, he produced about 300 poems, songs, and ballads that romanticized everyday Scottish life. It helped that he wrote in a vernacular Scottish dialect that was easily understood and pronounced by readers without knowledge of the native Scottish tongue. 

Traditionally, Boston has had a large Scottish population. From about 1870 to 1930, the Scots living in Boston were extremely active, especially in the organizations, events, and celebrations they organized. The oldest charitable society was the Scots’ Charitable Society organized in 1657 to assist needy Scots in the Boston area. Events often attracted 300 attendees, with one report of over 1,000, and honored guests included the mayor of Boston and Governor of Massachusetts, a future United States president, and Andrew Carnegie. 

The Burns Memorial Association was organized in 1899 to plan and erect a suitable memorial to Robert Burns. In 1910, the association announced a competition to design a statue. The winner was Henry Hudson Kitson, an English emigre, and he was awarded the commission in the autumn of 1911. Kitson was a well-known artist living in the Boston area. His list of earlier New England works included the David Farragut statue at Marine Park in South Boston (1881), the Minute Man statue on the Lexington Town Green (1900), and the Roger Conant statue in Salem (1905). Later work in the Boston area included the Henry B. Endicott tablet in Boston (1921), the Pilgrim Maiden statue in Plymouth (1922), and the Richard Saltonsall monument in Watertown (1931).

The original design for the bronze Robert Burns monument included a more elaborate base. The chosen site was in the Caledonian Grove in the Fen along the Charles River, near the memorial to the well-known Irishman John Boyle O’Reilly. Although the commission was awarded in 1911, the statue was not erected until 1919. The delays were probably due in part to fund raising, but a significant delay was the involvement of the United States in World War I. Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge (the future U.S. president) dedicated the statue on New Years Day 1920. 

Robert Burns stood in the Fen for 56 years. According to some reports, when developer Ted Raymond renovated the old Hearst Building at Winthrop Square the plans included a small park. The park apparently seemed somewhat empty so a search was started to find a suitable statue of historic import. The first choice, John Winthrop, was not available, so another monument was sought. One source indicates it was the chairman of the Boston Art Commission, Nelson Aldrich, that suggested the Burns statue be moved from the Fenway site to a more prominent location at Winthrop Square about 1974. Burns then settled into a new location in the square in 1975. 

Why was Robert Burns moved? In all likelihood, there were probably several reasons. The first choice, John Winthrop, was not available. To commission a new statue would take years, not to mention the cost that would have been involved. And who can say what influence the Boston Scots had in the decision?