Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BRIDGES, Robert, colonial iron-factor, lived in the 17th century. Little is known of him personally, save that, according to Edward Johnson, of Woburn, author of "The Wonder-Working Providence" (Boston, 1651), "he was endued with able parts, and forward to improve them to the glory of God and his peoples good." In 1645 he was appointed a commissioner to confer with the governors of the French provinces to the north of New England. He appears as a member of the general court in the colonial records, and in 1646 was elected a speaker of that body. He settled at Lynn, Massachusetts, and in 1643 formed a company to work the large deposits of "bog iron-ore" found in the vicinity. He went to London and organized "The Company of Undertakers for the Iron Works," consisting of eleven wealthy Englishmen who advanced £1,000 to begin work. A foundry was established on the western bank of Saugus River, and expert foundrymen and ironworkers came from England and Scotland to develop the industry. These works furnished most of the iron used in the country for several years, and, but for the scarcity of money in the colony and the consequent difficulty of making collections, gave every indication of success. The enterprise ultimately failed, though on a small scale the works were continued for more than a century. Capt. Robert Bridges was probably the first American promoter of an American mining scheme involving the investment of British capital.
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