Robert Gordon


John Winthrop Jr brought industrial-scale ironmaking to Massachusetts for the London-based Undertakers of Ironworks in New England beginning with a blast furnace blown-in at Braintree in 1645 followed by a nearby finery forge. Within a year a new location for the furnace was sought and the Braintree furnace abandoned for reasons never satisfactorily explained. Archaeological evidence now shows that inadequate, unreliable waterpower caused the failure at Braintree, locates the site of the finery forge, and demonstrates that a blast furnace built near the forge would have succeeded. Winthrop’s preoccupation with alchemy and pansophy contributed to the failure of the Braintree furnace. The resulting loss of the Undertakers’ capital left the replacement works at Saugus burdened with debt. Winthrop’s 1657 second blast-furnace finery-forge project made iron but not profits for the New Haven Colony. Only in the mid-18th century was this technique successfully revived in New England.


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How to Cite
Transfer of blast-furnace finery-forge technology to New England. (2022). Historical Metallurgy, 53(2), 76-83.