|Abstract or Summary
- The research examines the reasons for and value of both deliberate
and amorphous mutual-aid societies that influenced the life
and success of an individual who lived in seventeenth-century Edinburgh,
Scotland, and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Information is
developed to allow a contextual comparison of life in both areas.
The mutual-aid groups in Edinburgh and Massachusetts Bay were different
and yet similar in function and origin. Some of these organizations
were indigenous; some were formed in the natural evolution of
a crisis situation, such as war, imprisonment or movement to a new
and foreign land. These mutual aid groups played an important part
in the life adjustment of Scottish immigrants to Massachusetts.
The function of mutual aid societies is examined through an
individual named Alexander Stewart. He was born and raised in Edinburgh.
Historical secondary data indicate he was taken prisoner by
Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 and was sold as an indentured servant in Boston in 1651. He lived in Charlestown, Yarmouth
and Marlborough, all in Massachusetts. He died in 1731 at the age of
98. He became a successful farmer and tailor, but he could not have
been successful without the aid of organized societal assistance,
whether it be from an ethnic community or from the family unit.
The primary difference between Edinburgh and Boston was urban
versus rural life style. Patterns of life style, other than the
religious aspects, developed along different lines. There was more
opportunity for economic advancement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony,
a situation that many of the Scottish prisoners were able to take
advantage of, but not without the reinforcement of aid groups.
Mutual aid societies, both in Edinburgh and Massachusetts Bay
Colony, developed in and of themselves when the situation dictated
the need, which could be social or economic, of natural evolution or
of purposeful creation. This is true both in the centuries-old
society of Edinburgh and in the new society of the Massachusetts Bay
Colony. Massachusetts Bay Colony mutual aid societies provided the
environment and opportunity for Alexander Stewart to succeed in an
alien new land.