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William Tosh (MacIntosh)

Also Known As: "Mackintosh"
Birthplace: Scotland
Death: 1685 (49-50)
New Shoreham, Block Island, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Immediate Family:

Son of William Mackintosh,18th of Macintosh, 19th of Clan Chattan and Margaret Graham
Husband of Jael Tosh
Father of William Tosh; Marcy Mott; Daniel Tosh; Sarah Mott; Mary Tosh and 5 others
Brother of Lachlan McIntosh of Torcastle, 19th of Mackintosh, 20th of Clan Chattan; Anne Mackintosh; Jean Mackintosh; Elizabeth Farquharson and nn Farquharson

Occupation: Possibly a Scottish prisoner of war following the Battle of Dunbar, sent to the New World following captivity.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Tosh

"Wm Mackontoss" was a Scottish Prisoner of War and on the ship John and Sara. See “Scotch Prisoners Sent to Massachusetts in 1652, by Order of the English Government,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register.

WILLIAM TOSH (or MACINTOSH), m. Jael Sullivan Feb. 7, 1660 says the Braintree record. He is thought to be the William Mackintosh or MacIntosh who was one of the Scottish prisoners sent to New England in 1651 after the Battle of Dunbar. His wife, Jael Sullivan, was perhaps one of the Irish captives sent over in 1654. They were among the first settlers from Braintree to go to Block Island, Rhode Island about 1661. He worked at the Braintree Iron Works, but settled permanently at Block Island where as William Tosh he is mentioned in possession of land sold by Thomas Faxon in 1662.

Source: Diane Rapaport, Professional Genealogist,


From the Hylbom Family History Project

William Tosh was born in Scotland. His date of birth is not known with certainty, but it was probably about 1635.

He lived during the time of the English Civil Wars, which began in 1642 and ended in 1651 with the execution of King Charles I in 1649, abolishment of the monarchy and the establishment of the supremacy of Parliament over the king. Although the term describes events as impinging on England, from the outset the conflicts involved wars with and civil wars within both Scotland and Ireland, as well as England. In 1650, Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland after the Scots had proclaimed Charles I’s son Charles II as king, and during this campaign his army fought the Royalists (mostly Scottish forces) under Charles II. Decisive battles occurred at Dunbar (3 Sep 1650) and Worcester (3 Sep 1651).

At the Battle of Dunbar, the English Parliamentarian forces under Oliver Cromwell defeated a Scottish army commanded by David Leslie which was loyal to King Charles II, who had been proclaimed King of Scots on 5 Feb 1649. As a result of the destruction of the Scottish army, Cromwell was able to march unopposed to Edinburgh. He quickly captured the Scottish capital, although Edinburgh Castle held out until the end of December.

The prisoners taken at Dunbar were force-marched south towards England in order to prevent any attempt to rescue them. The conditions on the march were so appalling that many of them died of starvation, illness or exhaustion. On 11 Sep 1650, the remnants (approximately 3,000 captives) arrived at Durham, where they were shut up in the city’s cathedral. The jailers blackmailed the prisoners, withholding the food and coal meant for the Scots. Desperate for warmth and food, the prisoners resorted to anything they could. They traded anything valuable that they had actually retained. The Neville family tomb was ransacked, probably by those looking for valuables to trade. The woodwork in the church, some of it dating from medieval times, was torn down and broken into bits for firewood.

While the prisoners were dying at alarming rates, the Parliament was discussing what to do about them. Stephen P. Carlson, in The Scots of Hammersmith, has written, “The disposition of such a large number of prisoners presented the English authorities with a dilemma: to maintain them as prisoners would prove costly, and to release them could prove dangerous to the security of the Commonwealth.”

In a similar manner, about 8,000 Scots were taken prisoner in 1651 at Worcester or shortly thereafter. Whether William was taken at Dunbar or Worcester, we cannot be certain. Ultimately a scheme was devised to sell the prisoners into indentured servitude, and many of the captured Scots (including William) were deported to New England, Bermuda and the West Indies. William was sent to Massachusetts on the John & Sarah, commanded by John Greene, who recorded the following entry at the time of departure:

  • London This 11th of November, 1651; Captain John Greene; “Wee whose names are under written freighters of your shipe the John & Sara doe order yow forthwith as winde & weather shall permitt to sett sajle for Boston in New England & there deliver our Orders and Servants to Tho. Kemble of charles Towne to be disposed of by him according to orders wee have sent him in that behalfe & wee desire yow to Advise with the said Kemble about all that may concerne that whole Intended bojage using you Jndeavo’s with the said Kemble for the speediest lading your shipp from New Eng; to the barbadoes with provisions & such other things as are in N.E. fit fo the West Indies where yow are to deliver them to Mr. Charles Rich to be disposed of by him for the Joinet accont of the freighte’s & so to be Retou’ned home in a stocke vndevided thus desiring your Care & industrje in Despatch and speed of the vojage wishing you a happy & safe Retourne wee remajne your loving friends…

In the ship’s manifest document, William is referred to as Wm Mackontoss. In general, it appears that the English captors were not adept at translating the Scottish names. At some point, William’s surname was “Anglicized” to “Tosh”.

Thus, William was apparently one of 61 Scottish prisoners of war, who arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts as forced indentured workers in the iron works that were established around that time [1]. As the Massachusetts Bay Colony grew in the seventeenth century, colonists needed iron to build ships and houses. At first the iron came from England, but it was expensive and slow in coming. By the 1640s, America’s first successful ironworks on the Saugus River was pouring “pigs” (pig iron) and forging wrought iron. Now it is known as the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.

Despite successful iron production, the iron works was beset by financial difficulties beginning in the 1650s, which caused a dispersal of ironworkers throughout southern New England and as far south as New Jersey, helping to spread iron-making technology throughout the colonies. Like many others in the struggling iron industry, William left Massachusetts around 1660.

William is listed as a “Settler” but not among the original “Purchasers” of Block Island. Nonetheless, William became a man of prominence there and was made a freeman in 1664 and Constable in 1667. By the time William died (in 1685) he had become a prominent citizen, and his property then inventoried shows 
that he was a well-to-do citizen as well, having 263 acres of land and a dwelling-house, estimated at £288. The children of William Tosh and Jael Sullivan are listed as follows:

  • 1. William (1659-1691),
  • 2. Marcy/Mercy (1663- ),
  • 3. Daniel (1664-1706) and
  • 4. Sarah Tosh(1666-1717).

The births of 22 persons bearing the name of Tosh were recorded in the records of Block Island, Rhode Island through 1735, and all are descendants of William Tosh and Jael Sullivan.


  • 1. The iron works were established by John Winthrop Jr. (son of Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts) in 1641. Capital for the scheme was raised by 1643, construction began in 1644 and iron production began in 1645. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The site of the iron works is now known as the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site (Saugus, Massachusetts) under the administration of the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the restored facilities are open to the public.
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William Tosh's Timeline

July 8, 1659
New Shoreham, Block Island, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Braintree, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
February 13, 1664
New Shoreham, Block Island, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Colonial America
New Shoreham, Block Island, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
May 8, 1669
January 10, 1672
New Shoreham, Block Island, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
August 20, 1674
September 1676