THE INDOMITABLE JOHN SCOTT by Lilian Thompson Mowrer


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Not too accurately subtitled Citizen of Long Island, 1632-1701, this biography by the author of Journalists's Wife. Arrest and Exile, etc., is the story of an amazing and largely forgotten 17-century adventurer and secret agent who spent much of his roving life in spots far removed from Long Island. The son of wealthy Kentish Royalists, his father killed fighting for King Charles, in 1642 Scott, then ten years old, was arrested by Roundheads and the next year was transported to New England and sold as an apprentice in Salem. Going to the West Indies at the end of his term of service, Scott returned to New England to write that he was employing himself ""in and about an island called Long Island"", where his name still lingers and where he traded with the Indians for land, prospered, married, made trips to England, and became embroiled with Governor Winthrop, who in 1665 arrested him. A brilliant and bad-tempered man, Scott escaped to the West Indies, never to return to America but to explore the Spanish Main, map coasts and islands, and become Royal Geographer. As a secret agent he lived for years on the Continent and was by accident caught in the Popish Plot of Titus Oates in 1679. Back in England, he accused Samuel Pepys, who hated him and whom he hated, of being in the Plot; probably both men were innocent. Murdering a coachman in a fit of temper in 1682, Scott was again forced to flee to the West Indies, where he died in Barbados in 1704. Carefully documented and holding a picaresque flavor, this long and readable book should appeal to lovers of historical biography and to students of 17th-century American and English history.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy