A great obstacle in the way of trade was the war
between Great Britain, Spain and France during this century. A long story
is told of a certain Captain Robertson, who, fortified by letters of
marque from the King of Scotland, had attacked ships from Lubeck, because
of their carrying ammunition and other prohibited freight. His own vessel,
however, had suffered so much in the fight, that it
had to seek refuge in a Norwegian port to get repaired. But no sooner had
it arrived there, than German sailors, mostly hailing from Hamburg, board
the ship, ill-treat the crew and abuse the Scottish flag. Afterwards the
Court at Hamburg refuses to acknowledge the statements of the witnesses
made before the Scottish Admiral, and the King sees himself compelled to
renew the letters of reprisal to Robertson.
Another time a ship of Danzig sailing to Spain is
driven by stress of weather to the coast of the Shetland isles, and there
saved by Scottish sailors, only to be carried as a lawful prize into the
harbour of Leith, where it has to lie six weeks until the captain, one
Edward Jansen, complains before the authorities at Edinburgh, that he had
no longer any means to feed his crew. An order is then given to sell part
of the cargo, consisting of wax. Finally the Danzig skipper gets his
rights, and ship and cargo are restored.
Again Danzig complains in 1672
with regard to the unlawful seizure of three vessels, two of which, the
"Sun" and the "Crown," had been brought into Scottish ports suspected of
With the XVIIIth Century Scotland lost the last remnant
of independence. Her trade became the trade of Great Britain. After the
last fierce death struggle of a lost cause the neighbour south of the
Tweed gradually learned, if not to love his neighbour in the north, at
least not to slay him. Gradually the pirates hide in story-books, and the
grim spectre of the plague keeps at a respectful distance; gradually a
more enlightened commercial policy gains the day, and the full profit of a
rational working of the resources of the country is earned by the people.
The export also changes in kind. Coal, the black jewel of the land, and
the herring the silvery treasure of the sea, take the place of
rabbit-skins and coarse wool.
But our sketch of the commercial relations between
Germany and Scotland during the period of the independence of the latter
would be incomplete without considering that curious German and Polish
inland traffic—a pedlar-trade—carried on by Scotsmen during the XVth,
XVIth and XVIItb Centuries. The origin of this remarkable historical fact
is to be found in a very large Scotch emigration to Danzig, Konigsberg and
Poland from the end of the XVth Century and earlier, gradually increasing
until the end of the XVIIth, an emigration which makes Poland the America
of those days. Some writers have tried to explain this fact from one cause
only. They have tried in vain. It was not religious persecution alone, not
the well-known roaming disposition of the Scotch alone, which drove them
across the sea in thousands. It was the result of many causes working
together. First and chiefly: the hunger and the distress of their country.
We have already mentioned the letter of King James VI dated
1587 in which the great "scarcitie" and famine is spoken of and the
hope of alleviating it by a speedy importation of "viveris" from Germany.
But already in the year 1572 famine had been so severe that the King saw
himself compelled to take the extraordinary step of commanding emigration
by solemn proclamation at Leith. Birrell notices a great famine in
1595 in his diary, and the chronicles of
the Scotch towns are full of the distressful state of the country. Further
reasons we find in the never-ending religious and political wars at home,
the hardships of the law of primogeniture, in the love of martial
adventure and in the pronounced clannishness of the people. The first
thing a Scotsman did who had emigrated to Danzig or Konigsberg or had
settled at Krakaw was, to invite other members of his family, who perhaps
found it difficult to make their way at home, owing to the disturbed and
poverty-stricken condition of their native land.
But why—one might ask—was distant Poland chosen of all
other countries as the goal of emigration? The answer is not far to seek.
The English were the enemies of Scotland: all trade with them partly
restricted, partly prohibited altogether. Holland was already full of the
Scotch; and France, eldorado as it proved to be to
the Scottish soldier and scholar, did not offer the same facilities for
trade as a country did, where the middle and trading class between the
noble and the serf was actually non-existing. All trading in Poland on the
other hand was done by Jews and foreigners; here then was a field for the
enterprising Scot: a wide country with plenty of room to travel about, an
excellent seaport, Danzig, visited since the days of old by many a Scotch
trading vessel; a luxurious and magnificent royal court and little
competition in business. In a book of the time Poland is called the heaven
for the nobility, the paradise for the Jews, the hell for the peasant, and
the gold mine for the stranger; and a famous Scotch traveller, named
Lithgow, who on his journeyings over Europe had also visited Krakaw and
Lublin and found many of his countrymen there, calls Poland the "mother
and nurse of the youths and younglings of Scotland, clothing, feeding and
enriching them with the fatness of her best things, besides 30,000 Scots
families that live incorporate in her bowels. And certainlie Poland may be
termed in this kind the mother of our commerce and the first commencement
of all our best merchants’ wealth, or at least most part of them."
This statement has been doubted. But it
agrees with other contemporaneous information. Sir James Cochrane,
the Scotch Ambassador at the Court of Poland, "tells of many thousand
Scots in the country besides women, children and servants"; and in a
letter of the English Statesman Chamberlain to his friend Carlton (1621)
we read: ‘The Polish Ambassador had an audience of the King.... there are
about 30,000 Scots in Poland.’
Sir John Skene, the celebrated Scotch lawyer, who had
travelled far and wide on the continent, confirms in his book, "De
verborum significatione" sub verbo "pedlar" that he had met a vast
multitude of them, his countrymen, in Krakau (1569).
To this may be added long lists of names of Scotch
settlers in Poland and Prussia, which have been handed down to us in the
archives of these countries.
Scotch emigration then, having been proved to be
extremely large and to affect all classes of society and all ages, it is
not to be wondered at, that many went, who were utterly unable and unfit
to make their own living, or who finally turned out a disgrace to their
country. It is quite surprising how many young Scotch boys not older than
fifteen or seventeen years sought their fortune at that time in Danzig.
Naturally enough complaints of rowdyism were frequent. Patrick Gordon,
then Scotch Consul at Danzig, a man who will engage our notice again,
draws the attention of King James VI to the miserable and disorderly state
of many of the emigrants, and adds that the Scotch settlers themselves
wished to get rid of them. It is in consequence of this letter that the
King in 1625 issues the following proclamation: —"Whereas
the grite number of young boyes uncapable of service and destitute of
meanis of liveing yearlie transported out of that our kingdome to the
East-seas and specially to the town of Dantzik and there manie tymes
miserablie in grite numbers dyeing in the streets have given quite
scandal! to the people of those countries and laid one foull imputation on
that our kingdome, to the grite hinderance and detriment of those our
subjects of the better, who traffique in the saidis countreyis: it is our
pleasour, that by oppin proclamatioun ye cause prohibite all maisters of
shippis to transport anie youthes of either sex to the said easterne
countreyis bot such as either salbe sent for by their friendis dwelling
there, or then, sail carrie with them sufficient meanis of meantenance at
least for ane yeare under the pane of fyfe hundreth markis monie of that
our kingdome, toties quoties they sail offend in that kind."
After this edict the emigration, though
it did not cease, took a different channel; the people emigrating
often having some means of their own, or intending, if they were cadets of
a lord or laird of the country, to enter the military service of Poland
or, finally, wishing to visit their many friends in Germany.
Most of the Scotsmen settled in Poland were pedlars.
They sold tin utensils, a kind of woollen stuff called "Scotch," and linen
kerchiefs, often decorated with pictures of the Turkish wars. Those that
lived in towns had small shops (‘institutae Scotorum’), where one could
buy iron goods and scissors and knives and cloths of every description, or
they kept booths at the large fairs all over the country.
In many respects the great expectations of these Scotch
emigrants were not realised. It is true, there was religious tolerance in
Poland since 1573, and we never hear of any religious persecution; but
Poland as well as Germany was always ready to invent new obstacles and
burdens in the way of the free exercise of their trade. Of two trading
restrictions of Stralsund and Danzig in the first half of the XVth Century
we have already spoken. Later on, in the year 1564,
a tax was imposed on the Scots of Poland, a poll-tax, in common with the
Jews and Gipsies. If a pedlar went on foot, he had to pay one form; if he
kept a horse, he had to pay for it in addition. 1578 one form for the man,
two forms for the horse were raised; 1613 two
florins for the man and fifteen groschens for the horse. But this was only
an apparent relaxation: for now a tax is imposed on the goods also. At
last the influential Scotsmen by their united efforts succeeded in
mitigating these hardships. First of all they appealed to the King of
Scotland, complaining at the same time of the inactivity of the Scotch
Consul Gordon at Danzig. The King wrote in strong words to his
representative in return and possibly also to his friend the King of
Poland. Anyhow the terms of the law by which they were placed on a level
with the Jews, terms that had chiefly caused the irritation, were
expunged, and an edict of 1629 promised them the
same treatment as other "foreign merchants."
Other restrictions for other Polish towns followed,
chiefly caused and called forth by the jealousy of the native merchants.
King Sigismund II Augustus issued an edict on the 17th of Sept. 1568,
which was to check the influx of Scotsmen into Bromberg. It was chiefly
directed against the pedlars or small shopkeepers (‘revenditores’).
Merchants, who sell, not by the ell and the pound, but in whole pieces or
by stone-weight, are exempt, and special mention is made of four Scottish
merchants already members of the guild. It is therefore to be assumed that
the Scots tried to evade the restrictions of the law by becoming citizens
and members of the merchant fraternity. In 1673 one Gasparus Wolson
(Wilson) is the president of the guild; town councillors, aldermen, even
burgomasters of Scottish birth or parentage, occur in old Bromberg
documents. Especially frequent are the names of Watson, Wilson, Wallace,
Hutton, Herin (Heron) and M‘Kean. In 1733, a Joseph Wilson is provost, in
1823 one Makkien "Archivarius."
Nor were the laws against the Scots in other countries
less strict. The town of Breslau issued an edict on the 2nd of July 1533
against pedlars, Scots, gipsies, beggars, etc. In 1558 Markgraf Albrecht
of Brandenburg, Duke of Prussia, gave an order not to allow Scotch
"vagabonds," to roam about in the country, "because they are the ruin of
our own poor subjects, taking away their living and reducing them to
beggary." He also accuses them of using false weights and measures and
strictly limits their trade to the annual fairs appointed by law.
Thirty-one years later his son Georg Friedrich repeats his father’s
prohibition in much the same words.
Greater still was the hostility shown to the strangers
by the native tradespeople. The cutler-guild at Krakau accuses the
"cunning" Scots before the court, "that they did not content themselves
with one shop but had several at each end of the town, and would moreover
send a boy to sell their wares from house to house." Similarly the united
guild of "Kramer" of Prussia, in the year 1569, Nov.
11th, present a supplication to the Markgraf, in which they state that
their business is spoiled by the travelling Scots, that nobody cared to
come into the town to buy, if he could get the goods brought to his own
house; that the orders issued as far back as 1545 were disobeyed; that
there was a Scotsman, called Ventour, who said he was a citizen of Zinten,
but he did not live up to it, but kept boys, who in
his name travelled all over Samlandt, doing great harm to the whole
country; they (i.e. the Scots) probably bought beaver and marten
skins and amber in Prussia and sold them in Lublin (Poland); not content
with that they brought "false (adulterated) ware" into the country, such
as pepper, saffron, silk spoiled by water. (‘versoffene Seide’). "Let
alone that they are cheats," continues the indictment, "bribing the custom
officers and, it is to be feared, acting as spies to
betray the country (!) which may God prevent."
The petitioners finally express the charitable wish that His Serene
Highness would deliver the Scots and their goods into their hands, and
that then they would make over the value of the goods taken from them to
Now, we will not for a moment deny that among the
30,000 Scottish pedlars there were some that did not always act up to the
dictates of conscience, and that many of them lived a life of misery and
privation, but this document of the "gantze Krämerzunft von Preussen"
bears on the face of it only too clearly the ill-concealed inability to
withstand a sudden, keen competition of trade.
Against these insinuations the Scots defend themselves
in many supplications addressed to the Duke of Prussia In 1599 they sign
as "the honorable Company of the honorable Scottish Nation," at other
times as the "elders of the Scots in the districts of Holland, Riesenburg
and the Prussian Mark" or as the "Scots of the district Rastenburg and
They state first of all that they "the poor foreigners
have been ‘very exceedingly’ grieved (‘mit fast hochbetrubtem gemuthe’) at
the order of the Duke commanding them to cease their journeyings as
pedlars in the country except to the duly ordained public fairs, "as
if we, the poor strangers, were the worst of all."
Then they explain that they were not newly-arrived "juvenales" but mostly
"fellows well up in years" (‘ziemlich betagte gesellen"),
who had been travelling about for many years in this country and
against whom there never was any complaint raised as to "false measure,"
etc. "Why is it," they continue, "that we Scots alone should be singled
out for such excessively severe measures, seeing there are so many other
stranger-merchants in the land? We are the most humble and faithful
subjects of the Duke and have at all times paid ‘duty and contribution.’
We shall continue to do so, nay to serve Y.R.H. ‘to the risk of our body
and blood’ (‘mit Aufsetzung Leibes und Bludts‘).
"That we have not been made use of hitherto, is not our
fault; but it may yet come to pass, and though we are at the present time
not domiciled or owners of houses (‘heuszlich angesessen’), the good God
can in his own gracious time bring it about that we settle in the
dominions of Y.R.H. as the rightful owners of property."
Finally, they offer to pay an annual tax of two Thaler,
and urgently requesting again a withdrawal of the order and measures to
prevent the violent seizure (‘Auffgreiffer’) of their persons, they sign
in dutiful submission as subjects of H.R.H.
The Scots of the districts of Barten and Rastenburg
complain moreover, that there was no distinction made in the imposing of
their ‘contributions,’ though their trade-earnings were very different.
They also, very properly, request that a central comptroller should be
appointed of the whole province, who would make a list of their names and
receive their taxes at stated times; instead of having this tax gathered,
as now, by magistrates, collectors of the duty on grain, burgomasters and
It strikes one as very curious in these hostile
trade-manifestations against the Scots that the Jews are constantly
coupled with them; and yet the fact is easily explained by the
consideration that previous to the arrival of the Scots the whole retail
traffick in Poland lay almost exclusively in the hands of the Jews. The
Scottish strangers stepped into the Jewish inheritance with all its
advantages and burdens. Remembering this, and also bearing in mind
that large money transactions were carried on by the Scots, we need no
longer be astonished at the prejudices and groundless reproaches of
injured competitors: they were gratuitously transferred from the Jewish to
the Scottish pedlar.
For the Scots, however, these and similar
manifestations of ill-will served the good end of accelerating their
acquiring the rights of citizenship in the towns of Prussia and Poland,
and of making them band themselves together for mutual protection in a
large union (Bruderschaft) with laws regulating their traffick, such as
their own King James had recommended and the German and Polish authorities
acquiesced in. This they did, and we possess very interesting accounts of
their constitution. One comes from Krakau. In the year 1603 the Polish
Government had commissioned Abraham Young (Jung), a captain in the Scotch
regiment of the King, with full judicial power to make inquiries into the
organisation of his countrymen in Poland. The depositions of a witness
named Richard Tamson, a merchant of Posen, have been preserved, and from
them it appears that the Scottish Brotherhood in Poland had twelve
branches with their own elders and judges. The latter had power not only
to impose fines, but also, with the consent of the elders, to pronounce
the sentence of banishment. On each fair-day they held their meetings and
a general court of appeal met at Thorn on the Feast of Epiphany, when each
Scotsman could produce his grievances. There was no appeal to the King.
The "decreta" or decrees were entered into a special book. The duty of the
elders was to do everything necessary for the Protection of the guild and
its privileges, and to receive every newly arrived Scotsman into the
brotherhood. The clergymen, who collected a tax every year for the
building of their own Presbyterian churches, belonged to the number of the
elders ex oficio. Each guild had its own books, some of which
showed a hostile feeling towards the Roman Catholics. Guilelmus Forbes,
Gilbert King, Peter Orem, Guilelmus Henderson and John Forbes, rich Scotch
merchants in Krakau, were for many years judges. The new member of the
guild had to swear an oath, to observe the laws and regulations and to
submit to the decisions of the court. He wrote his name with his own hand
into a book.
Other witnesses add, that the Scots in Poland elected
four judges every year, who issued decrees and were at once accusers and
judges. Very often the punishment inflicted was a kind of proscription, so
that nobody was allowed to speak, eat or drink with the person in
question. Criminal cases however did not come under the jurisdiction of
this court. Fines paid were again lent out at a high rate of interest. As
their highest judge the Scots acknowledged, according to a privilege
granted them by King Stephen Bathory, the Royal Marshall only. They even
disputed Captain Young’s right to meddle in their affairs until King
Sigismund III made him the chief of all Scotch merchants living in Poland
(March 10th, 1604). Now they had to obey him and to enter their names into
his books "in order that they might be found easier if required for
the defence of the country"; as the order significantly adds. From this
blow, and a necessary blow it seems to have been, the Scotch autonomy
We are still more accurately informed of the
constitution of the Scotch Brotherhood in Brandenburg and Preussen. There
in 1615 a certain Jacob Koch (Kock or Cook), a Scotsman, made at the
command of the Kurfurst (Elector) a complete list of the Scotch Kramers in
the dominions of His Serene Highness. This list contains 410 names.
Prefixed are certain recommendations of Koch’s as to taxation, and his own
travelling expenses. At the end he adds the twenty articles which
constituted the Scotch Guild or Nation or Brotherhood. This curious and
important document, literally translated from the German, runs as follows:—
"In the name of the holy and inseparable Trinity. As a
great number of the Scottish nation in this Dukedom of Prussia, scattered
here and there, seek their living, and many of them not capable of a fixed
abode or a certain jurisdiction, and since on that account frequent
disorders have taken place, the Oberburggraf of this country many years
ago did graciously permit them, to establish certain rules and articles
amongst themselves, so as to prevent much bothering of the magistrates,
cheating and other excesses and irregularities for the maintenance of good
order, lest they might be considered, as has been done most unjustly and
untruly, mere fugitives and vagabonds. They have therefore constituted
‘unanimo et successivo consensu’ a certain brotherhood amongst themselves,
and ordered that their meetings should take place four times in the year:
at Martinmas, Candlemas, Whitsuntide and Bartholomew’s Day (Aug.
24th), when it is the duty of the youngest brother
to invite the others to be present without fail. After prayer all their
names are called by the secretary, and he who is not there before prayer,
must pay five groschen into the poor-fund. But those who stay away
altogether without sufficient excuse, shall incur the penalty the elders
may deem proper to inflict."
Besides this there are contributions and collections
for the poor, sick and needy according to the means of each one; there is
also something given to the hospital out of the collected fines. The other
articles are as follows:-
1. "Of the Sabbath.
Nobody shall without grave reasons miss the service and
the sermon in this Duchy of Prussia in whatever place it may be. This is
the will of all and the duty of a Christian. Neither shall he profane the
Sabbath by gluttony, drinking and gambling and such like misdeeds, but
keep it holy with love towards God and his neighbour according to the rule
of God’s Word. He shall also partake four times a year as a token of his
Christianity, of the supper of the Lord, in which He offers us His true
body and His true blood spilt on the cross, and shall not withdraw himself
from the table of the Lord. He who purposely offends this order shall
after due warning, if it occur again, be expelled from the Brotherhood.
2. Of duty towards those in authority.
In the next place everyone shall pray for those in
authority, show himself obedient and reverent, and in case of necessity be
ready to serve it even unto death. He shall also pay the due rent for his
stall in the fairs and as the Brethren have settled before, contribute an
annual tax to the rulers for their gracious protection and the hoped-for
confirmation of our articles. Neither shall any of us refuse to pay if a
tax should eventually be imposed upon us.
3. Of our elders.
Those that the Brotherhood esteems most worthy shall be
chosen for elders by a majority of votes, and they shall then be reminded
of their duties out of God’s Word.
4. Oath of the elders.
We the elders do swear with hands uplifted before God
and the whole Brotherhood, that we will not, according to our best
knowledge and that power which God has given us, do ought or allow it to
be done against any body, that goes against justice and is the outcome of
mere partiality for the preservation of the Brotherhood. So help us God
and His holy Word.
5. Of the appeal from the decision of the elders to
that of the whole Brotherhood and from it again to the German municipal
If anyone should feel himself aggrieved by the sentence
of the elders, he is free to appeal to the united Brotherhood. But if the
united Brotherhood confirm the sentence of the elders and the appellant be
not content yet, he may go to the judges in the cities. Two of our elders
however shall be in duty bound to defend their decision before the German
Court. If the sentence be approved of as just by the presiding judge, the
appellant must pay, if otherwise, the elders ought to pay damages to the
If it should so happen, that clearly one or the other
of the elders from envy or favour should try to obtain an unjust decree,
he shall, if convicted, be fined and dismissed from office.
6. Of those that withstand the elders.
They shall without delay and with one accord be
7. Of false measure, weight and wares.
Concerning this point, it has been resolved by common
consent of the Brotherhood, that nobody, be he rich or poor, shall use
false measure, weight or goods against God’s written law: Thou shalt not
steal. He who does not desist shall be handed over to the presiding judge,
that he may be sentenced as a thief or be expelled the country, or
punished with imprisonment as the occasion requires, if he should not be
able to pay. Or if a brother sell to the other brother or to anybody else
adulterated goods, the seller shall not only have no price, but also
refund the damages that may have accrued to the buyer hereby, and submit
to the decree of the elders. But this is to be done only upon condition,
that the buyer can prove his case, for otherwise many might come and use
this subterfuge adducing unheard of things, even those that never entered
a man’s mind. And he who tries to dispose of false goods knowingly shall
be punished without delay, and the value of the goods be paid into the
8. Of those who are consulted concerning a sale and
give false account.
They shall be punished according to the verdict of the
elders, and in case of the offence being repeated twice or three times be
considered untrustworthy witnesses and expelled the Brotherhood.
9. Of those who outside the fairs sell their goods
to the detriment of the towns.
They shall be severely punished according to the
verdict of the elders. Likewise nobody shall be permitted to keep more
than one shop in the country. Offenders to be duly punished.
10. Of those who know something of others that is
against our rule, and yet do not reveal it.
Everyone shall at our regular meeting according to his
conscience tell everything that he can prove of anybody, wherein an excess
or crime has been committed. If he conceal it and it should come out
afterwards through others, both shall be duly punished.
11. Of moving into decent lodgings.
It has been ordered that all Brethren of our guild
shall take up their lodgings in honest houses. He who stays in suspected
places shall not go unpunished. He shall also dress decently and suitably
to his station, and shall invariably be present at the funeral of a
deceased brother at the time appointed to assist in burying him honorably.
12. Those who abstract anything in peasants’ houses
or farms, or from other people, be it ever so
trifling, shall first settle with the party and afterwards be punished by
13. Of those who at meetings draw daggers, knives or
They shall be punished severely and be handed over to
the municipal Court.
14. Of those who use nicknames instead of Christian
Let them be punished without delay.
15. Of Brethren, who have been murdered by
We pledge ourselves to seek and pursue the evil-doer,
who without provocation murdered one of our Brethren or did him any other
wrong, until he has been seized, and after he has been put in prison to
proceed against him until be has either been executed or liberated by the
ludge. But if one of our Brethren be killed secretly or injured, we will
pursue the evil-doer at his expense, if he has means; if not, we will
raise money according to our power so that we may carry out our purpose.
As to the property of him that was murdered or robbed, we shall only use
it ‘pendente lite.’ Whatever may be left after the execution of justice,
our elders shall hand it over to the murdered man’s
relations when claimed, on condition, however, that the fourth Pfennig go
to the prince. And in case the late man had relations in the country, if
they be spendthrifts, the money shall not be handed over to them, but be
retained for his other friends in Scotland for a year. If the right heirs
do not claim the property within the space of a year, the assets shall be
distributed among the poor.
16. Of those who have for some lime stayed
We have resolved, that those of our Brethren, who hire
a servant-man from elsewhere or make an agreement with him in the country.
. .. shall be punished, especially
if the said man or boy did not complete his time,
but ran away from his master or was mixed up with other crimes.
17. Of stiff-necked and wilful servants.
They shall be expelled and lose their wages unless they
18. Because every year some of our nation are
brought here by skippers and others, who turn out badly and refuse to do
well, having already before they arrived here, as experience has taught
us, misbehaved, which tends to the disgrace of the whole Scottish nation,
and more especially causes unmerited disrespect, contempt and injury to
our Brotherhood in this place: we have resolved, that if a skipper or
other person do bring or Procure such servants, he should place them with
friends, if such there are, giving sufficient proof
of their honesty and find security of well-known people; but if the
newcomer cannot be lodged in this way, he shall take him home again. He
who trespasses any of these rules shall be punished by the Brotherhood.
Item, if anyone hire a servant who has been living here
for some time, yet owes his former master still something, the new master
shall pay this debt. Nobody is to keep more than one servant for four
If the master wrong the servant, he shall be punished
after due consideration of the case.
19. Not to hire any strange man, unless he can give
honest proof of having served his master faithfully for four years.
20. If any one of our Brethren, be he free man or
serving, be found squandering his own or goods entrusted to him by
card-playing, dice, laziness or other evil and useless doings by which the
Brotherhood suffer injury: if this should happen in the country he shall
have power to hold the offender till help arrives or bring him to the
magistrate, lest he do squander the remaining property also, and from this
remaining money shall he be satisfied who found him out and perhaps spent
some money in doing so, though he be only a serving man. But if he be a
free man but carries other people’s wares, and is admittedly in debt: he
shall fare likewise.
All the Brethren have solemnly sworn to observe the
above articles in all particulars as far as possible, so help them God!"
After this most excellent constitution had been
ratified by the authorities, though with many alterations, complaints
against the lawlessness of the Scotch cease.
But then trouble arose from political causes.
In Scotland in the meantime the thundercloud had burst
over the heads of the unfortunate Stuarts. Charles I having been found
guilty of treason had been beheaded in front of his own palace, and
Charles II as a fugitive in France needed money for the maintenance of his
semi-royal state, money again for his far-reaching political intrigues. In
his necessity he wrote to a number of foreign princes, nay he even
recollected his beloved subjects settled in Poland, of whose thriving
state, rumour—ever increasing in wonder with the increasing distance
— had perhaps reached his ears. As a proof of
their loyalty these Scots were now to pay a tax amounting to no less than
the tenth part of their possessions. This was the meaning and the message
of the King’s ambassador, Sir J. Cochran; to Hamburg, Danzig and Poland.
The fourth paragraph of his instructions ran: "If you finde
it to be true that our said good brother, the King of Poland, hath
endeavoured to bring all our Scotch subjects in that kingdome to a just
acknowledgment of us and of our power and authority as their lawfull king,
you shall from us thankfully acknowledge his friendship and justice
therein and intreate him to continue and improve his kindness to us in
that particular so far, that none of them be permitted to enjoy the
libertie they have in that kingdome, but such as shall approve their
loyaltie and good affection to us by some supply of money or other
assistance according to their abilitie in this time of our great
necessitie. To which end you shall intreat our said good brother to
authorize and encourage our bane of money or other assistance that our
said subjects can be induced to give.
A further duty of the ambassador was to assemble the
most prominent Scotsmen in Poland, to acquaint them with all the
circumstances of the "abominable" murder of his father and to persuade
them to assist their lawful monarch with a sum of money collected among
The consequence of this embassy and this request was a
decree of the "good royal brother," the King of Poland, dated 1650, which,
in recognition of the friendship of the King of England’s grandfather
"tempore necessitatis belli Turcici," and in order to assist him in his
present distress, commanded all the Scotch settled in Poland to assess
personally their fortunes and to deposit within two months ten per cent of
it with the local magistrates. This edict was approved of by the
parliament in December of the same year. It was, however, but slowly and
almost unwillingly, it appears, carried into effect. Poland herself was
about this time implicated in a frightful war against the Cossacks and her
means were straitened. Finally, towards the end of January 1651, John
Cazimir commanded Henry Drioss, secretary to the Royal Exchequer, to
enforce this tribute to the King of England "ratione subsidii" with all
On the 28th of February four of the wealthiest and most
influential Scotsmen of the city of Krakau, Carmichael, Fraser, Blackhal
and George Cruikshank, are cited before the Burgomaster. There they had on
oath to tell the amount of their property and to bind themselves to inform
their countrymen of the decree of the Polish parliament. But the payment
of the tax took place only on the 3rd of March. The four mentioned above
paid down large amounts varying from two to six hundred dollars; others
less. Andrew Dixon, a Scotch merchant of Krakau, refused altogether to pay
on the plea that he, having lived in Poland for the last fifty-seven
years, ought to be exempt from being taxed. His case was postponed for a
closer examination of the circumstances. A like plea is brought forward by
James Cramer of Brady, Richard Gordon of Leopol, and others. The loyalty
does not seem to have been quite as great as King Charles II presumed or
was led to presume. Nevertheless a sum of £10,000 was collected, of which
sum, however, only £600 or £800
reached the King.
Nor were the political troubles on the Continent less
disastrous to the Scotch settlers. In the year 1656 Danzig had declared
war against Sweden and the greatest possible efforts were made for the
defence of the town. Men and money were urgently needed, and, knowing that
Oliver Cromwell favoured the Swedes, the magistrates resolved to compel
the Scotch and English settlers either to submit—
(1) To the administration of the oath of fidelity;
(2) To military service;
(3) To a war-tax; or to quit the country.
The Scots unanimously refused these three points;
whereupon the expulsion of them, not even the asked-for delay of a few
months being granted, finally took effect on the 12th
July 1656. The banishment, however, cannot have lasted long, for we
find Scotch merchants in Danzig mentioned very soon afterwards.
In the meantime, thanks to their industry and their
superior intelligence, many of the Scotch merchants in Poland had earned
great riches and obtained influential positions at court. If they did not
return to Scotland, they acquired landed property in the country of their
adoption. Eight of the richest were made "mercatores aulici" or "curiales,"
purveyors to the Court. As such they enjoyed very great trading
privileges. They were also bankers. Many of them were ennobled. The names
of Scott, who lived in the castle, Orem, Dixon and Fergusson are mentioned
as such. How important their position was, is evident from an edict issued
by King Stephan in the year 1585. "Beloved subjects," it runs, "the Scots
who always follow our court and who are at liberty in all places, where We
and our Royal Council stay, to exhibit their wares and to sell them,
complain that they are prevented by our faithful subjects from exercising
their privileges granted by us, in Krakau likewise. Now we command you to
put nothing in their way in this business, especially not to hinder those
to whom we have given liberty of trading and assigned a certain district.
For if they on account of the failure of their trade should leave our
court, none of you indeed will follow us into Lithuania and other places.
Our court cannot be without them, that supply us with all that is
necessary. It is just, therefore, that they should enjoy the same
privileges in Krakau as elsewhere. They have also supplied us well in
former times of war. Let a certain district be assigned to them. This we
command our faithful subjects.’—Niplomice, the 7th of May 1585."
From this document it would appear that the
trading-liberty of the Scots was bound by certain local limits. However
this may be taken as a whole, their situation in the country was
tolerable. It was nothing extraordinary that they should be taxed as
pedlars: the pedlars in England at that time paid a similar tax; it was
nothing extraordinary that they should meet with trade opposition: the
times were not ripe yet for the blessings of an unfettered competition. On
the other hand we read of no religious persecution; they enjoyed many
privileges; they occupied high positions at various times in the town
council, and the luxurious Royal Court, not being willing to miss those
who had furnished supplies in money and otherwise in times of war and
peace, plainly preferred them to its own trading subjects.
It is, however, not in Warsaw and Krakau and
surrounding districts only that we meet with the trading Scot. He spreads
over the whole of Eastern and Western Prussia, Brandenburg, Pommern and
Mecklenburg. Andrew Spalding emigrates in the beginning of the XVIIth
Century from Scotland and settles in the small town of Plau in
Mecklenburg, which had at that time a considerable cloth-manufacture and
trade with England. In time he becomes a senator of the place. A branch of
the family was ennobled in Prussia in 1834. In
Wismar the Scots appear about the middle of the XIVIth Century; they were
small traders. The names of William and Th. Donatzen (Donaldson) 1571;
Jacob Mackay (1579-1592); Andreas Jack (about 1600), who married Mackay’s
widow; Thomas Dumasson (Tompson? 1577); and Hans (John) Selby (1597-1602)
are preserved in the records. The name of Watson also occurs, though it is
not expressly stated that its bearer was of Scottish origin. A Scotsman,
John Grinlis (Greenlees ?), buys a shop "under
the town-hall" at Strasburg in Western Prussia for the high price of ‘10
Marks. (1573.) Burgomaster and Councillors of Mewe in the same province
are commanded by a rescript of Sigismund III, dated 1588, to admit the
Scotsman Andrew Herve, who had been settled in the place for the last ten
years, without delay to the freedom of the city. In Tilsit Scotch
merchants are first mentioned in 1592, in Memel about 1607, in Stuhm 1594.
In Barten (Eastern Prussia) an old epitaph may be seen in the church
erected by Thomas Gordon for one Alexander Schant (?) from Aberdeen, who
died in 1637, fifty-five years old. In Marggrabowa
lived about 1670 a Scotch merchant called John
Birrell; in Angerburg occur the names of Daniel Wilson, Thomas Hamilton,
George Wilson and William Anderson as owners of breweries. The last-named
became a town councillor. His son and grandson obtained the dignity of
burgomaster. Other names of Scotch people occur in Christburg and
Strasburg. Even as far as Lithuania and Masuren, in Ragnit, Stallupönen,
Goldap and Lyck and Insterburg did they settle and find a home. Of the
Scots that settled in Memel since the commencement of the XVIIth Century,
the Ogilvies, Muttrays and Simpsons were most successful and rose to high
distinctions. Thomas and John Ogilvie founded a potash factory there in
1771. John Simpson (1774) as well as W. Muttray obtained the dignity of "Bürgermeister,"
the latter in 1813. Thomas Ogilvie became a member
of the Town Council. All three distinguished themselves by their truly
noble liberality and their constant efforts for the benefit of their
fellow-citizens. John Simpson and his cousin Ludwig became the chief
founders of the Lodge Memphis (1776) and left many valuable gifts and
donations especially to the Reformed, i.e.
Calvinistic, Church, of which they were members. When Muttray resigned his
official dignity as Mayor in 1815, he expended
almost the whole of the salary that had been attached to it, on charitable
purposes, giving to the Elementary Schools a donation of 1000 Thaler, to
the Institute for the education of the Poor 600 Thaler, and for the
purchase of books, instruments, etc., 250. He also deserves the chief
credit for considerable sums collected in 1815 and sent to the King of
Prussia at Paris, who expended them for the comfort of the wounded during
the great war against Napoleon. Thomas Ogilvie at his death in 1811 left a
considerable legacy to the poor of Memel.
Other names of Scotsmen residing in this town are:
Littlejohn (1616), Pesaller (1616), G. Wölssel (?)
(1620), A. Smith, the three last named from
Aberdeen. Also Arrot, Adam, Barclay, Durham, Irwing, Marschall, Minorgam
(?), Mitchel, Mitchelhill, Murray, Palmer,
Ramsay. Ritchie, Scrumseour (Scrimgeour): all of the XVIIth Century. Later
on we find a rope-maker James Duncan mentioned; indeed the emigration to
Memel seems never to have ceased, since as late as the beginning of the
XIXth Century Scotsmen were enrolled as citizens, notably one Robert
Pitcairn from Perth in 1807 in the town of Elbing—the seat of the Swedish
Governor-General for the Baltic coast from Memel to Elbing during the
Thirty Years’ War, and strongly garrisoned by Scotch troops—the following
names are rescued out of many: 1. Thomas Achenwall (Auchinvale) (born
1581, died 1653).’His birthbrief is still
preserved and is issued by the "Praefectus et consules et senatores
civitatis Sterlinensis" on the 24th of February 1614.
2. William Lamb de Aberton, whose son William is born at Elbing on
the 7th of December 1586. 3. Alexander Nisbet from Edinburgh, who died in
16I7. 4. Charles Ramsay, born
1576 at Dundee, died at Elbing in February 1650. His
birthbrief (1611) tells us that he was the son of Charles Ramsay at
Deidonum "urbis nostrae olim consiliarius," and of Janeta Duncan. His
family existed at Elbing up to 1863.
The earliest settlement of the Scots took place in
Danzig, as we have seen; but the exact date of the foundation of the
suburb, called ‘Alt-Schottland’ (Old Scotland), so called after a colony
of Scottish weavers, is difficult to ascertain. We shall not go wrong,
however, if we fix the year of the first arrival of the colonists at about
1380. With this the historian Goldbeck agrees, and
adds, that the place must have been tolerably well cultivated in the XIVth
Century, for it was burnt to the ground in 1520, when the Poles had
engaged upon a war of two years’ duration with Albrecht, the head or
‘Hochmeister’ of the Teutonic Order and afterwards first Duke of Prussia.
The Carthusian Prior Schwengel (ca. 1720)
relates, that Alt-Schottland was inhabited originally by so-called "gardiners,"
i.e. small peasant-proprietors, and that not
till later on tradespeople, especially Scottish linen-weavers and tanners,
had settled there. According to him the place was already known as "Alt-Schottland"
in 1433, when it
was burned by the Hussites. He further tells us, that on account of the
growing prosperity of the place, the people of Danzig procured the
privilege, that within a radius of five miles no town was to be built and
no trade to be established that was commonly carried on in townships only.
But already in 1526 the Bishop takes the part of the
linen-weavers. This is to be explained from the fact, that ‘Schottland’
and other small places in the neighbourhood of Danzig belonged to the
so-called ‘liberties of the Church,’ that is to say, to the property of
the Bishop of Leslau and the Monastery of Pelplin. These ‘liberties’
became Prussian possessions at the first division of Poland in 1772,
whilst the town of Danzig itself obtained the dignity of a ‘free City.’
Here as elsewhere the Scottish settlers held together
very closely; a Scottish factor, or ‘resident’ as he was called
afterwards, looked after their interests. Numerous Scottish names, such as
Murray, Muttray, Simpson, Nesbit, Maclean (MackIm), still current in or
about Danzig, testify to the extent of the former colony. Some rich
Scottish merchants there we shall have to mention in due course.
In the town of Posen, then belonging to Poland, the
records of a number of Scotch families date back to the middle of the
XVIth Century. They were mostly engaged in trade; some of them, however,
were handicraftsmen. King Stephan Bathory tried to make them permanent
citizens by directing the Magistrate of Posen in 1567
to remove those Scotsmen out of the town, who had no
house-property. The strangers now endeavoured to fulfil the necessary
conditions. They were an active, intelligent and cautious race, some of
them well-to-do. Their number, however, decreased in the following
century, chiefly on account of heavy taxation. The Forbeses and Watsons
are especially named as very rich. The then (XVIth Century) famous
merchant and shipowner Ryd (= Reid) in Danzig
and Posen, is very probably also of Scotch origin. He was a banker too and
supplied large sums to the needy Polish aristocracy. Here as elsewhere,
the hostility of the native trade-unions was great. Thus there is a
passage in the Statutes of the Purse-maker guild saying: "It shall not be
permitted to merchants, be they Scotch or Jews, to sell purses singly, but
only by the dozen. Offenders to lose their goods" (1675).
And the shoemakers received a constitution from the magistrates, in
which the nineteenth paragraph runs: "No master or any other person shall
make so bold as to bring boots and shoes from elsewhere for sale in Posen,
least of all the Jews, Scots, Armenians, Lithuanians and others that are
not members of the guild." A similar rule obtained with the tinsmiths.
Whilst this trade-opposition was common enough all over
Poland and Prussia, in Posen an event happened, which in the midst of
religious intolerance could not fail to render the Scotch settlers hated.
It was in the year 1652 that a drunk Scot, in a public-house and in the
presence of several people, uttered some blasphemous remarks against the
Virgin Mary. A great uproar and tumult arose and he barely escaped with
his life. But not content with that, the offender had to stand his trial,
the three classes of the representatives of the inhabitants assembled in
the town-house, and resolved to petition the King, "feria tertia in
crastino festi natalis Sancti Joannis Baptistae," to defend the honour of
the most holy Virgin, and to have the culprit punished most severely.
Thus it came to pass that in the
XVIIIth Century only a few Scotch families, such as the Watsons,
Fergussons and Forbeses were settled in Posen.
In the town of Deutsch-Krone (Polish
= Walcz) a Scotchman with the name of Wolson (Wilson or Watson?) is
made a sort of honorary member of the guild of cloth-makers (1617). It
must have been an exceptional act, since, in general, ‘Jews, Scots and
Heretics, i.e. Protestants,’ were refused admission.
It was here that a curious action, for sumptuous
apparel, in contravention of the laws against luxury frequently
promulgated in Poland during the first quarter of the XVIIth Century, was
preferred against the strangers, They were said to have dressed in robes
of blue silk, richly trimmed with costly fur and that they had even
assumed the distinctive sign of the nobility, the shoes of yellow morocco
leather. The plaintiff was a Polish nobleman, named Ostrowski, and amongst
the accused were the two richest merchants of Krone, Wolson and Lawson.
Now the Scots being proverbially known to be inclined to thrift and
parsimony rather than to sumptuousness in the way of silk and morocco
leather, the complaint seems on the face of it absurd; there were other
reasons, probably, which induced the plaintiff to prefer this charge.
Wolson as well as Lawson had both acquired a large fortune; both were
money-lenders, and the Polish nobility of the surrounding district seem to
have been pretty well at their mercy by reason of their debts. Thus we
read, that in 1617 the nobleman John v. der Golz and Barbara v. Walda
mortgaged their share of the estate of Klausdorf to Wolson, the Scot, for
1000 Guldens. and some years later (1630) another member of the
Golz family, not finding the magistrates of Krone inclined to assist him
in his law-suit against Wolson, attacked him at night ‘and maltreated
him.’ But he is himself brought to book in 1635 and 1639 for a debt
to the Scotchman amounting to 736 Guldens.
In a similar manner Sophia Lawson, the widow of the
above-named Lawson, and her son Christoph hold a bond of one Bernhard von
Blankenburg; and when Christoph dies in 1641 and his property comes to be
divided, we are told that five noblemen, whose names are given, owe him a
debt of nearly 6000 Gulden. May not also a case like this have been the
reason of Ostrowski’s charges? Be this as it may, the important position
of the Scottish settlers as money-lenders and bankers receives additional
and interesting confirmation by these events in the history of Deutsch-Krone.
Another settlement of the Scots was at Putzig, not far
from Danzig. In the records of this town we read of several actions for
insult preferred by them, against the inhabitants for calling them
"Scottish rogues." A long law-suit of this description against one called
George Ratzke in 1620 ends with his being sentenced to pay a fine and
costs, and when he is unable to do this, he is banished out of the town
"for a year and a day."