We would not raise him
from the dead, even if we could. For were he here, standing up in
all his grim majesty of martial pomp, we would not sneer at him who
in his time did his time’s work faithfully and manfully. Much less
would we worship him as a hero; for even his exploits of bravery and
endurance cannot raise him to the standard of a hero of our days.
Why not, then, let him rest in his foreign grave? Yes, let him rest,
but as a lesson to this century, as a proof that all human
excellence and all ideas of human excellence are passing away to
make room for other excellence and other ideas of excellence, let us
try to raise, though it be but for an hour, the shadow of the shadow
of Sir John Hepburn.
In East-Lothian, almost within sight of Berwick-Law, and on the
brink of that deep hollow or ford where the Scots defeated and slew
Athelstane, the Saxon king, stands a goodly-sized manor-house,
overlooking the rocky hills of Dirleton, flanked by an old kirk and
surrounded by decayed moss-covered trees. The stone steps of the
mansion are worn away with the tread of many generations of men and
women who have passed away and left no trace behind them. Others,
the denizens of that old gloomy house, are mentioned here and there
in stray parchments and records; and from the collected evidence of
these it appears that House Athelstaneford was built by a branch of
the Hepburns of Hailes and Bothwell, and that the place was held
feudally of their kinsmen the Hepburns of Waughton. These Hepburns
of Hailes and Bothwell, and of Athelstaneford and Waughton, were an
impetuous and warlike family, who took their fill of fighting and
plunder in all the frays of the Border. Thus, in January 1569, we
find them expelled from their ancestral seat at Waughton, and
assembling in large masses to retake that place, “and Fortalice of
Vachtune,” where they slew, “Viqle. Johnne Geddes,” and hurt and
wounded “divers otheris,” besides breaking into the Barbican and
capturing sixteen steeds. But while thus employed, they were
attacked by the Laird of Carmichael, the Captain of the Tower, who
slew three of them and drove off the rest. Among them was George
Hepburn of Athelstaneford, who was subsequently tried for the
proceedings of that day, and who was acquitted in this case not
only, but also for the share he took in Bothwell’s insurrection, for
his part in which he was arraigned as having slain “three of the
kings soldiers" at the battle of Langsides. Thus, escaping from
sieges and battles, and, what is more, from the dangers of the law,
George Hepburn died. No one knows how and whether he came to his end
on the field or the scaffold, or in his own house of Athelstaneford.
Nor is anything known of the day or year of his death, for little
store was in those days set by the life of a simple yeoman. In the
year 1616, it is found that his eldest son, George Hepburn, is
“retoured" in the lands of Athelstaneford. George’s brother was John
Hepburn, the chief hero of Mr. Grant’s Memoir. We say the chief
hero, for he records other names and the deeds of other men of the
This is how the article starts which
you can read here
Article from Tait's Edinburgh Magazine
I also found the book
about him which I am going to ocr onto the site.
Adventures of Sir John Hepburn
Knight, Governor of Munich, Marshall of France under Louis XIII.,
and Commander of the Scots Brigade under Gustavus Adolphus, etc., by
James Grant (1851)
The selection of one prominent name from
among the many that usually figure in great historical events, is a
more pleasant mode of illustrating the manners of an age than can be
achieved in narrating the more cumbrous annals of a nation; and thus
the Author of these Memoirs, in presenting them to the public, has
endeavoured to delineate the career, and glean from the masses of
warlike history the achievements, of a distinguished soldier of
While avoiding all disquisition on the merits of the Thirty Years’
War, he has grouped around his hero all the great leaders in that
long and sanguinary struggle for the liberties of Germany.
Signalised on many a hard-fought field, the conduct and bravery of
Sir John Hepburn won for him the pre-eminence of being esteemed the
best of that warlike age, next to the great Swedish leader; and the
episodes of these Memoirs will show how brightly the chivalry and
valour of his Scottish comrades shone forth amid the brilliant
exploits which distinguished, and the heartless ferocity which
degraded, the long war with the Empire.
These pages contain a brief record of the services of those Scottish
troops who (to use the words of the famous Major Dalgetty) served in
the German wars, under “the Invincible Gustavus Adolphus, the Lion
of the North, and Bulwark of the Protestant Religion.”
A proper memorial of their valour and their worth has long been
wanting to complete our national history.
The Author has confined himself more immediately to achievements of
Hepburn’s brigade in Sweden, which afterwards became the Regiment
d’Hepburn in the service of France, and is now known as the Scots
Royals, or First Regiment of the British Line.
The records that survive of this old regiment, which the Hepburns,
Lord Douglas, and the Earl of Dumbarton, successively commanded in
France, are preserved among the military archives of that country.
The high military commands borne by Scotsmen in all ages evince the
reputation for courage which the nation has gained abroad. In every
army in Europe they have risen to eminence, and by their intrepid
courage, persevering spirit, and inflexible integrity, though
invidiously designated by some as adventurers, have attained the
highest honours that can accrue to subjects.
Though Hepburn had never a higher rank in Sweden than that of
colonel, it is remarkable that he should have been appointed to
command nearly forty thousand infantry in the intrenched camp at
Nuremberg, when there were so many Field-Marshals and other general
officers in the army.
The house in which he was born still occupies a prominent place in
his native village of Athelstaneford, and was lately shown to the
Author by the patriarch of the parish, a man upwards of eighty years
of age, who in his youth had frequently heard his predecessors speak
of Sir John Hepburn, and who many years ago assisted the late
venerable incumbent to search the Hepburn Aisle and the churchyard,
for any inscriptions that might remain to the memory of the Marshal
or his family: but none were found.
The property of Athelstaneford, and the sepulchre where the Hepburns
lie, belong to their successors, the Kinlochs of Gilmerton.
Since these pages went to press, the Author finds he has somewhat
underrated the number of Scottish soldiers who followed the banner
of Gustavus. His regiments were maintained at the strength of one
thousand and eight rank and file, and, as he had thirteen from
Scotland, this gives us the number of thirteen thousand one hundred
and four privates, all Scotsmen, and exclusive of their countrymen
who led them and nearly all the other regiments, troops, and
companies of the Swedish army.
Edinburgh, October 1850.
Chapter I. The Hepburns of
Chapter II. The Scottish Bands in Bohemia, 1621.
Chapter III. The Scots at the Battle of Fleura.
Chapter IV. Hepburn taes service in Sweden.
Chapter V. The Grave of the Sinclairs.
Chapter VI. Hepburn Commands on the Vistula.
Chapter VII. Invasion of Germany.
Chapter VIII. Mackay's Regiment rescued at Rugen.
Chapter IX. The Green Brigade.
Chapter X. Slaughter of the Scotland at Brandenburg Revenged at
Chapter XI. Landsberg.
Chapter XII. The Marquis of Hamilton's Troops.
Chapter XIII. The Scottish Brigades at the great Battle of Leiozig,
Chapter XIV. The Friendship of Hepburn and Munro.
Chapter XV. Storming of Marieburg.
Chapter XVI. Hepburn defends
Chapter XVII. The Sconce on the Rhine.
Chapter XVIII. The Scots under Munro, Douglas and others.
Chapter XIX. March into Bavaria - Capture of Donauworth.
Chapter XX. Hepburn captures a Castle, and Leads the Van at the
Chapter XXI. Hepburn is made Governor of Munich.
Chapter XXII. Quarrels with Gustavus Adolphus.
Chapter XXIII. The Altenberg and the Alts Feste.
Chapter XXIV. Hepburn leaves the Swedish Army.
Chapter XXV. Marechal-De-Camp.
Chapter XXVI. Invasion of Lorraine.
Chapter XXVII. Hepburn crosses the Rhine.
Chapter XXVIII. Le Regiment D'Hebron.
Chapter XXIX. Saverne Besieged - Hepburns dies a Marshal of France.
Appendix I. List of Scottish Field-Officers who served in Sweden.
Appendix II. Military Attire - The Red Coat.
Appendix III. Military Excercise of 1627.
Appendix IV. Of Hepburn's family and regiment, etc.