SOUTH BERWICK (NEWS CENTER Maine) – The next time you think life is tough, consider the Dunbar Scots.
These poor lads were conscripted in the Scottish Army in 1650.
They were decimated by Englishman Oliver Cromwell who killed a thousand on the field.
Three to five thousand were marched to Durham, England and imprisoned at a cathedral.
In the past decade, workers digging a foundation for a coffee shop found many of their skeletons buried in mass graves.
This has a Maine connection because 150 of the three thousand were sold into indentured servitude and brought to New England. Of those, three dozen were sold to the mills in Berwick.
“I call them the boys that lived” said Salem State College Interim Dean Emerson Baker.
“Their lives were miserable, but they were given a chance to live.”
After working off their indenture, they married (often Irish indentured women), bought land and had many, many children.
After fighting two major battles of the French and Indian Wars of the late 17th Century, they still numbered twenty percent of York County’s population.
Today, these hearty Scots are the ancestors of thousands of Mainers and tens of thousands of Americans who may have never heard the name, “Dunbar.”