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.
Bates A 1898, The ancient ironworks at Braintree, Mass. (Quincy).
Bezís-Selfa J 2004, Forging America, ironworkers, adventurers and the industrious revolution (Ithaca).
Black R 1966, The younger John Winthrop (New York).
Crossley D 1972, ‘A sixteenth-century Wealden blast furnace: A report on excavations at Panningridge, Sussex, 1964-1970’, Post-Medieval Archaeology 6, 42-68.
Dalton J 1802, ‘Experiments and observations to determine whether the quantity of rain or dew is equal to the quantity of water carried off by rivers’, Memoires of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester 5(2), 345-72.
Edwards W 1954, History of Quincy Massachusetts (Quincy).
Eves J 1992, ‘Shrunk to a comparative rivulet’, Technology and Culture 33(1), 38-65.
Gajewski K 1988, ‘Late Holocene climate change in eastern North America estimated from pollen data’, Quaternary Research 29, 255-62.
Gordon R 1997 ‘Choice of method for making wrought iron in the Salisbury district of Connecticut’, Historical Metallurgy 31(1), 25-31.
Hallett M 1973, ‘A note on slag from the first American blast furnace’, Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 7(1), 6.
Harris H 1885, ‘Charcoal iron manufacture in the Salisbury Region’, Journal of the United States Association of Charcoal Ironworkers 6, 49-53.
Hartley E 1957, Ironworks on the Saugus (Norman).
Keith H and Harte, C 1937, The early iron industry of Connecticut (Hartford).
King P 2005, ‘The production and consumption of bar iron in early modern England and Wales’, Economic History Review 58(1), 1-33.
Kulik G 1980, The beginning of the industrial revolution in America: Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 1672-1829, PhD dissertation, Brown University.
Kupperman K 1984, ‘Climate and mastery of the wilderness in seventeenth-century New England’, in D Hall, D Allen and P Smith (eds), eventeenth-Century New England (Boston), 3-37.
LaCroix P 2016, Bogastow Ironworks, unpublished report.
Linebaugh D 2000, ‘Forging a career: Roland W. Robbins and iron industry sites in the northeastern U.S.’, Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology 26(1), 5-36.
Linsley S and Hetherington R 1978, ‘A seventeenth century blast furnace at Allensford, Northumberland’, Historical Metallurgy 12(1), 1-11.
Loomis E and Newton H 1866, ‘On the mean temperature and fluctuation, of temperature in New Haven Connecticut’, Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 1(2), 194.
Pattee W 1879, A History of Old Braintree and Quincy (Quincy).
Rehder J 2011, The mastery and use of fire in antiquity (Montreal).
Stott P 2007, ‘Economic and industrial development’, in Massachusetts Historical Commission, Historic and archaeological resources of southeastern Massachusetts: A framework for preservation decisions (Boston), 187-231.
Thornberry-Ehrlich T 2015, Saugus Ironworks National Historic Site: geologic resources inventory report, NPS/NRSS/GDR/NRR-2015/929.
Tylecote R 1976, A history of metallurgy (London).
U.S. Geological Survey Water Year Summary 2019, 01105583 Monatiquot River at East Braintree, MA.
Whitney G 1827, Some account of the early history and present state of the town of Quincy in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Quincy).
Winthrop J Jr 1882, ‘Petition of John Winthrop Jr to houses of Parliament’, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th series 8, 36-7.
Winthrop R 1892-4, ‘October meeting 1892’, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2nd series 8, 1-17.
Woodward W 2010, Prospero’s America, John Winthrop, Jr., alchemy, and the creation of New England culture (Chapel Hill).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.