More on the early Scots around Dover

The Scottish prisoners of war who had been deported in chains to New England and sold into indentured servitude were becoming free men about the time the Quaker movement came to the New World. It must have added to the volatile social, economic, political, and religious mix.

My book Quaking Dover examines the tensions between the traditions and values of the settlers from Devonshire and those of the Puritans originating from East Anglia. In the Piscataqua watershed, the Scots no doubt added another dimension to that culture clash.

Their number in a sparsely populated area is impressive – more than 50 men in Berwick, Maine, plus Oyster River, Exeter, and Hampton in New Hampshire. In short, they were a significant part of the inhabitants, even before many of them scooted off to places like York, Maine, or Boston.


A historical marker on Sligo Road in Rollinsford, opposite Berwick along the Salmon Falls river, summarizes the life of one as thus:

Near this place lived David Hamilton of Westburn born in the parish of Cambuslang, Scotland, in October, 1620; captured by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester, England. September 3, 1651 brought to America as a prisoner in chains on the “John and Sarah” in the same year; settled near here and married Annah Jaxson of Lanark, Scotland; killed by Indians on September 28, 1691.

The marriage to Anna Jackson took place in 1662 in either Dover or Saco, Maine. She is believed to be the daughter of Richard Jackson, another Scottish POW. We are left wondering whether she had somehow managed to rejoin her father in New England or whether Hamilton knew her in Scotland and arranged for her passage. I’ve found little more about her father and nothing about her mother, although the fact that he died in 1691 in Berwick has me wondering if he, like Hamilton, fell in an attack by Natives.

David and Anna settled in Rollinsford and had seven sons.

He was slain in 1691 while working on his farm. His wife presumably predeceased him.

Today, Hamilton House can be seen across the river from the site of their farm.

That house gets its name from their great-grandson Jonathan, a wealthy merchant who built a manor overlooking a broad cove of the Salmon Falls. There, he had ships unloaded and repacked.

The site, with a classic Georgian house erected by later residents, is now maintained as a museum by Historic New England and open to the public.


The Oyster River connection brings into the picture an early settler who bought seven of the prisoners. He was Valentine Hill, who arrived in Oyster River in 1643 and established a large farm and saw mill at the falls. His 1649 house, now part of the Three Chimneys Inn, is one of the oldest structures in New Hampshire. His prominence is reflected in his construction of a meetinghouse in 1655 for the village, which was still part of Dover. Or should we say the Scots laboring for him did? The Puritan minister at First Parish held services there as well as at the Fort Meetinghouse on Dover Neck.

Through his first wife, Hill was distantly related to William Hutchinson, whose wife Ann had been banished from Massachusetts in a religious controversy and resettled in Rhode Island, where many of her followers later joined in the Quaker movement.

Valentine appears to have been thoroughly Puritan, but not so his likely nephew John, who settled in Oyster River in 1656; many of his descendants were active Friends in Dover. I’m assuming that John was the son of a John Hill who settled in Dover by 1639.


One Scottish POW who definitely had a line of Quaker descendants was John Bean, who settled in Exeter. As I describe in my book, Joel and James Bean and their two sisters left Dover to assist the growth of Friends Meetings in Iowa and then the West Coast, including roles in the founding of two colleges.

Their great-great-grandfather Bean was a recorded Quaker minister in Brentwood, New Hampshire, but stubbornly refused to submit to eldering from New England Yearly Meeting colleagues and was ultimately “disowned,” or removed from membership. Even so, he then led a splinter Quaker body in town. Was that the Scottish heritage at work?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.