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Scots in Sweden
Scots in Sweden, by Jonas Berg and Bo Lagercrantz
Eighteenth Century


Scottish-Swedish relations in this century were to continue the development in trade and business, but the background to Scottish immigration remained the stormy political situation in the home country. The first wave of immigrants followed the Stuart rising 1715-16 and the second followed Culloden in 1745.

The ship Prins Gustaf in the Stockholm harbour
The ship Prins Gustaf in the Stockholm harbour.  Detail of the title-page for
"Architectura navalis mercatoria" by Fredrik Henrik af Chapman, printed in 1768.

The Jacobites and Charles XII

The links of the Jacobites with Charles XII in the years 1715-17 is an extremely interesting chapter in the history of Scottish-Swedish relationships.

After the final failure of his Russian campaign at Poltava in 1709, and five adventurous years in Turkey, Charles XII appeared in Stralsund in 1715 in an effort to save the remains of the Swedish empire in Germany. His opponents now included George I, who desired to bring BremenVerden, then a Swedish possession, under Hanover. Contact was established between the Duke of Mar and the Swedish government, through the good offices mainly of Count Carl Gyllenborg, the Swedish Minister in London, and the adventurous diplomat Georg Heinrich von Görtz, who had entered the service of Charles XII. The Jacobites subsidised Swedish armament in return for a promise that Sweden would support the restoration of the Stuarts. A landing by Charles XII in Scotland or England was planned, but it is not known just how far negotiations advanced. All such plans were in any case crushed early in 1717, when the English government had Gyllenborg arrested, in spite of his diplomatic status. The plans were in fact revived once more, but were completely abandoned in November 1718, when Charles himself fell at the siege of Fredrikshald in Norway

Colin Campbell and the Swedish East India Company

In the 1690’s there lived in Edinburgh a notary named John Campbell. He is first mentioned in the sources as being accepted into the guild on 14th December 1691, after a period of apprenticeship under John Dallas. On 9th September he became a burgher of the city, and in the years 1697-99 he was the city’s representative. He died an old man and was buried on 14th April 1699. This notary was married to Elisabeth Campbell of Moy, born 20th May 1658. Her father was probably Captain John Campbell of Moy (some time Captain in Colonel Monro’s regiment) whose will was registered in Edinburgh 13th February 1694. The couple had three sons, Archibald (died 1727), who followed the same profession as his father, Hugh, who was a businessman and paid a short visit to Sweden, and Colin (died 1757) who became a burgher of the city of Gothenburg. On 3rd August 1720 Archibald and Colin became burghers in Edinburgh, as a recognition of their father’s services. Colin was then referred to as "of London, Esq.,".

Colin Campbell lived in London 1720-23, and was involved in the transactions that led to the South Sea Bubble. He appears to have fled when the bubble burst and is next to be found in Ostend. 1723-30 he worked, largely as super-cargo, in the Austrian East India Company, which was based in that city. This company was a clear attempt to compete with the British East India Company, and many Scots were engaged in the enterprise. It did not, however, prove the success that the Emperor had expected, and Campbell left it a couple of years before its liquidation.

The next similar attempt was to be made from Sweden. In 1730 we meet Colin Campbell for the first time in Sweden, to which he had been called by the powerful Gothenburg merchant Nikias Sahlgren to assist in the formation of the Swedish East India Company. It is difficult to determine whether it was Sahlgren or Campbell who took the initiative originally but the latter clearly played a dominant role in the Swedish company from the very beginning. In 1730 Campbell was in Stockholm, but in the following year he settled in Gothenburg, where he lived until his death. He applied for Swedish citizenship on 14th June 1731, and we learn from his application that he was born in June 1686, and regarded himself as a member of the noble family of Argyll through the Campbells of Cawdor. From 1731 until his death he was a director of the new company.

The fortlet Gota Lejon in Gothenburg
The fortlet Gota Lejon in Gothenburg.  Engraving by von Avelen in 1709,
probably after drawing by Karl Magnus Stuart.

As a company of this kind must formally be managed by a Swede it is often only possible to guess at Campbell’s role as one of its leading spirits. In 1731 the Swedish government granted the new company its privileges, and in the following spring the Swedish East India Company’s first ship, the FRIEDERICUS REX SUECIAE sailed for China. Colin Campbell himself accompanied the ship on her voyage, armed with a letter of credit that made him the first ever Swedish envoy to the Emperor of China. Financially the voyage was a brilliant success, as were the majority of the 22 expeditions made in the first 15 years of the company, in spite of the fact that both the English and the Dutch did their best to hinder the Swedes from encroaching on what they regarded as their exclusive market.

After the death of Colin Campbell in 1757 the management of the company became increasingly Swedish. Its two most successful decades were in the 1760’s. After this came the decline that led to liquidation during the Napoleonic Wars.

Robert Campbell, the son of the Under-Secretary in the Board of Trade Robert Campbell — of the same family as Colin Campbell — who had immigrated in 1707, was appointed British Minister in Stockholm in 1757, but owing to the current antagonism to England in Stockholm never presented his letter of credence.

The Blackwell case

Alexander Blackwell (1700-47) was a Scottish doctor and economist who came to Sweden in 1742 and continued there certain experiments in agriculture that he had started in Aberdeen. These concerned, among other things, the breeding of horses and sheep, dairy management and the growing of colorific plants. He was richly rewarded for his initiative, and became physician to Frederick I. Politically he was concerned to bring Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden closer together. Since Great Britain had no diplomatic representative in Sweden he made contact with the Minister in Denmark. He was imprisoned on extremely flimsy evidence, accused of conspiracy against the Crown Prince, tortured and finally put to death in 1747. The event is one of the most famous legal murders in Swedish history.

Sir William Chambers

It was in the employment of the Swedish East India Company that Sir William Chambers travelled, in the 1740’s, to China, where he received the influence that was later to dominate his work at Kew Gardens and elsewhere. He came to serve in this company because his father lived in Gothenburg, as a merchant. The list of subscribers to Chambers’ A Treatise on Civil Architecture (London, 1759) contains a striking number of Gothenburgers, of both Scottish and Swedish origin.

The Tottie Family

The Tottie family came to Stockholm in 1688 with a tobacco dresser named Thomas Tottie, born in 1664 in Jedburgh, where his father was a customs officer. In the 1690’s Thomas Tottie set up his own tobacco dresser’s, which seems to have thrived. When he died in 1724 he was a very rich man. His wife and three sons continued for some years to run the factory, but in 1728 one of them, Samuel Tottie (1702-50) started a new factory in Gävle. The two other sons — Charles Tottie (1703-76) and William Tottie (1705-66) operated from the 1740’s a large-scale wholesale business. William Tottie was regarded as one of the richest men in Stockholm. Charles Tottie distinguished himself in a variety of fields, and was among other things one of the founders of the Stockholms City Fire Insurance Office. The family still flourishes in Sweden.

His manor, once situated just outside Stockholm, was removed about twenty years ago to Skansen, the open-air museum in that city.

The Carnegie Family

As early as in 1620 a merchant named Hans Carnegie had been active in Gothenburg but he apparently died without issue.

After the Battle of Culloden in 1745, one George Carnegie, who in the battle had fought against his elder brother, fled to the hills of Flenesk and Glenmark with James Carnegie, Laird of Balnamoon and an Ochterlony of Guynd. The three rebels shortly escaped in an open boat from Montrose, were picked up by a Swedish ship, and landed safely in Gothenburg.

George had apparently studied commerce in Scotland, but broke off his education to fight for Bonnie Prince Charles, of whose lifeguard he was a member. He was outlawed after Culloden, and in Gothenburg worked first as a shop assistent, but later became a wholesale dealer. In 1764 he had working in his office Thomas Erskine (later Earl of Kellie), John Hall (of British origin, although probably not a Scot, and later a man of great wealth) and James Carnegie Arbuthnott the younger. The firm exported bar-iron and boards to England, and imported from England wheat, butter and pitcoal, and from Russia rye and flax. In all probability George Carnegie was also a shipowner.

In 1769 he returned to Scotland, where he had some years before bought back his family seat of Pittarrow, and another estate, Charleton, both in Southesk and near Montrose. He married in the same year a Scottish woman by whom he had three sons, John, James and David. David, and James’ son of the same name, maintained contact with Sweden. George Carnegie died in 1799.

James Carnegie, "the rebel laird", was third cousin to George. It is uncertain how long he remained in Sweden. He was proscribed until 1758.

James Carnegie Arbuthnott, son of the above, was born in 1740, and we first learn of him in Gothenburg in 1764, when he worked in George Carnegie’s office. In 1766 he obtained his citizenship, as an inn-keeper, and was known in Gothenburg as "Old Man Carnegie of Klippan". He died unmarried in 1810.

David Carnegie (the Elder), son of George Carnegie, was born in 1772 in Montrose, and was in 1786 sent to Gothenburg where from 1787-92 he worked as clerk for Thomas Erskine, the British Consul. From 1793-c. 1800 he was accountant with John Hall & Co. In 1800 Thomas Erskine having inherited the title Earl of Kellie returned to Scotland, and David Carnegie took over his firm. In 1799 he became member of the Royal Bachelor’s Club. He was made a burgher, as a whole-sale merchant, in 1801. When in 1803 he took an accountant named Jan Lamberg into partnership, the name of the firm was changed to D. Carnegie & Co.

D. Carnegie & Co. exported timber and iron. From England colonial goods, wines, porter, meat, flour and salt were imported and from Russia flax and tow. The firm was also interested in herring fishery and owned curing houses. It also had certain mills in Värmland after John Hall & Co. had gone bankrupt.

In 1873 David Carnegie the Elder died in Gothenburg. He had a Swedish wife and a daughter, Susan Mary Ann Carnegie, from 1845 married to her cousin, David Carnegie the Younger, who had taken over the firm. David Carnegie (The Younger), nephew of the above, was born in 1813 in Scotland. He came to Gothenburg straight from Eton in 1830, to work in his uncle’s firm. In 1836 he bought at an auction the Lorent sugar mill and brewery. Later in the same year he took over also D. Carnegie & Co. The sugar mill was managed by John Nonnen and the firm of F. Malm, who took is over compietely in 1848. David Carnegie had a partner, W. Robertson. In 1850, when both Nonnen and Robertson had died, there was founded a company under Oscar Ekman. Carnegie apparently returned to Scotland in 1841, and four years later married his uncle’s daughter. They lived in Scotland but particularly during the 1880’s D. Carnegie donated large sums of money to Gothenburg. He died in 1890.

Thomas Erskine and the Bachelor’s Club

Thomas Erskine was born c.1746, of a family that were strong adherents of the Stuart cause, and who had suffered severely from the confiscation of estates after Culloden. In 1759 Thomas Erskine, then 13 years old, was in Gothenburg, where he worked until 1765 as a clerk in the offices of George Carnegie. 1765-67 he was accountant with John and Benjamin Hall. In 1767 he was made a burgher, and became part owner of John Hall & Co. He married a Swedish girl in 1771, and was for a number of years British Consul in Gothenburg. From 1794 he ran a business under his own name, for a while in partnership with David Mitchell, a Scot from Montrose. In 1793 he became, by inheritance, Sir Thomas Erskine, Bt., and in 1799 Earl of Kellie. No estates accompanied these titles, however. At the turn of the century he returned to Scotland, where he settled in Cambo House, Fife, which he purchased himself. There he died, in 1828.

Many members of the British colony in Gothenburg in the 1760’s were interested in billiards, a game forbidden in Sweden on public premises. As many were fairly young men, bachelors who worked as clerks and accountants in the various merchant houses, they had no homes in which they could indulge their passion for the game. On the initiative, mainly of Thomas Erskine, who was at that time still unmarried, there was founded in 1769 the Bachelors’ Club, for "billiards, and pleasant, undisturbed fellowship". Erskine was Member No. 1, and the 19 founder members include such names as Robert Innes, Henry Greig, David Lyall, John Scott and John Fraser. This club — since 1787 the Royal Bachelor’s Club — is apparently the fifth in age of the world’s existing clubs.

Rutger Maclean

It was long debated whether Rutger Maclean, one of the most important Swedes of the 18th century, was of German or Scottish origin, but it is now generally accepted that he stemmed from Scotland. His father was one of Charles XII’s officers, and the first of his ancestors in Sweden was probably Johan Macleer, the Gothenburg merchant who actively helped Montrose during the latter’s visit to Gothenburg in 1650. Johan Macleer had been raised to the Swedish nobility in 1649, and in the following year was created an English baronet by Charles I as a reward for his services in helping Montrose. His Swedish wife had a sister who was married to Jakob Makeleer, a silk mercer in Stockholm. The two brothers-in-law were obviously related and possibly brothers. They seem to have been the first of their family to settle in Sweden.

At the age of 40, in 17-, when he was an indigent captain, living in modest officers’ quarters in southern Sweden, Rutger Maclean inherited from his mother’s family the great estate of Svaneholm in the richest part of fertile Scania. Farming in Sweden, not least in Scania, was at that time still primetively organised, and the land split up into countless small allotments. The production of grain by then had begun to prove profitable, and the big landowners began to show an interest in agricultural reforms, and more effective large-scale farming. This was to be Rutger Maclean’s life’s work. He was one of the most well-read landowners in the country, and he had deepened his experience by travels on the Continent.

Map of the Svaneholm estate in Scanie
Map of the Svaneholm estate in Scanie, showing how Rutger Maclean's reform in
land distribution changed the landscape.

When Maclean took over his estate he found the peasants in his four villages so weighed down by their obligatory "daywork" for the landowner’s manor, that they were unable to look after their own land, which was also split up into numerous allotments, often as many as 60-70. But as a landowner Rutger Maclean was a benevolent despot. He called a surveyor, had the land measured up, and reorganised the many small allotments into one or two large ones. He also split up the villages and made the peasants live in new houses by the new ground they were given. The "day-work" system was abolished, and the putting of old pasture land into cultivation encouraged.

Within the space of some ten years Svaneholm was transformed into a famous model farm. The radical reforms introduced by Rutger Maclean provided a pattern for the single allotment system introduced by law in Scania in 1802, and was later followed in legislation for the country as a whole.

One of Rutger Maclean’s most outstanding successors was Carl Georg Stjernswärd (1767-1825). Stjernswärd was of entirely Swedish birth, but his work is very largely the result of influences from Scotland.

With a view to raising the yield of his estate of Engeltofta in Scania he made contact in 1794 with Thomas Erskine, Earl of Kellie, who was then still in Gothenburg. With him as an intermediary Stjernswärd succeeded in employing no less than ten or so young Scottish farmers, who in 1803 set about reforming the system at Engeltofta. Some of them were skilled smiths, and introduced modern Scottish ploughs into Sweden, which were greatly superior to the old Swedish ones. Stjernswärd also built a factory on his estate for the smithying of ploughshares, and from here the new implements spread over Sweden. The Scots at Engeltofta also introduced revolutionary new methods for putting land under cultivation, and these were of great importance for the development of Swedish agriculture during the 19th century.


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