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Scots in Sweden
Scots in Sweden, by Jonas Berg and Bo Lagercrantz
Seventeenth Century - Part 2

David Drummond

David Drummond (1593-1638) was the son of a Scottish nobleman, and was Spens’ son-in-law. He entered Swedish service as a Lieutenant in the Lifeguard in 1617, was promoted to Captain in 1619 and raised to the nobility in 1627. In the same year he succeeded Patrick Ruthven as commanding officer of a Smâland regiment, and in 1631 his regiment was transferred to Pommerania, where it remained in the garrision of Stettin until 1634. In this latter year Drummond was promoted to Major-general. He distinguished himself in the capture of Gartz in 1637, and became Commandant of the town. The enemy took Gartz by surprise in the following year. Drummond was wounded, fell prisoner, and died shortly afterwards in Spandau.

He was buried in Riddarholmskyrkan in Stockholm. When the — now lost — coffin was opened in 1758 it was found to contain only a sawn-off skull. This was probably a purely practical arrangement to facilitate transport.

Stockholm.  Detail of Swidde's engraving 1692
Stockholm.  Detail of Swidde's engraving 1692

Alexander Leslie

Alexander Leslie, later Earl of Leven and Lord Balgonie, born 1582 at Castle Blair in Athol, died 1661 at Balgonie. Son to George Leslie.

Leslie took part in the Dutch-Spanish War in 1605, as Captain. In 1608 he entered Swedish service, and took part in de la Gardie’s campaign against Moscow. In 1622 he became Lt. Colonel with Ruthven’s Smàland Regiment. From 1623 to 1629 he was Colonel of a regiment from Södermanland, Närke and Värmland.

In 1626 he was given command of the fort at Pillau, where he remained until 1628, when he commanded the force that was sent to relieve Stralsund, which he defended against Wallenstein. The main attack was, however, over by the time Leslie arrived. In 1630 he expelled the remaining Imperial troops from Rugen before the Swedish landing.

In 1631 he crossed to London to assist Lord Hamilton as Chief of Staff in transporting the latter’s troops to Germany. On his return he was made Major-general and Commandant of Stralsund.

In 1632 he fought against Pappenheim, without marked success, and took part in the battle of Lutzen. During the years following he commanded an Army Corps operating between the Elbe and the Weser. In 1636 he was made Field Marshal and Commandant General of the army in Westphalia. Shortly before the battle of Wittstock he joined the main army. It was in this battle that he served Sweden with most distinction, by the way in which he commanded the furious struggle in the centre. Banér’s brilliant victory was due in no small measure to his efforts.

The Battle of Wittstock 1636
The Battle of Wittstock 1636

In 1638 he retired from Swedish service and returned to Scotland, where he was given cornmand of the Covenanters when they crossed into England in 1639. After his capture of Newcastle in 1640, the Covenanters and the King came to terms in 1641. In the same year Charles I appointed him Privy Councillor, Earl of Leven and Governor of Edinburgh Castle.

James Ramsay

Most famous of all the members of the Ramsay family who entered Swedish service was Major-general James Ramsay (c. 1589-1638), the defender of Hanau. A branch of the family had settled in Sweden before his time. The father of Captain of Horse Hans Ramsay of Dalhousie, who was introduced into the House of Nobility in 1633, emigrated to Sweden as early as in 1573.

Hans Ramsay lived in Finland, and it is from him that the still existant Swedish-Finnish line of Ramsay (a branch of which was ennobled in the 19th century) is descended. One of the members of the Finnish line, Carl Henrik Ramsay (1866-1951) was a member of the Finnish Government during World War II, and was for some time Foreign Minister.

John Hepburn

John Hepburn was born c.1598 in Scotland. After serving Frederick of Bohemia 1620-23 under Mansfeld he entered Swedish service, and was made a Colonel in 1625. He distinguished himself in the Prussian campaign and in the storming of Frankfurt an der Oder in April 1631. At the battle of Breitenfeld he was in command of the second division of the centre, but lead the entire centre when General Teuffel fell. His brigade were known as "the Greens" from their colours, and consisted normally of his own and Spens’ Scottish regiments and Monro of Fowli’s enlisted German regiment, whose officers were mainly Scottish. In 1632 he left to enter French service, which is possibly connected with the fact that, unlike almost all of the other Scottish officers in Sweden, he was a devout Roman Catholic. After leaving Swedish service he fought in Alsace and Lorraine, entered the service of Bernhard of Weimar in 1635 and fell at the siege of Zabern in the following year.

Scots in Civil Service

It was not only soldiers who were attracted by the rich opportunities of martial Sweden. The rising great power, with its newly discovered natural resources, attracted also men of business. The Scottish immigrants in particular were of a variety of trades and professions.

Alexander Erskein was the son of a merchant in Greifswald, who had emigrated with his wife from Scotland. After studying at several German universities and in Denmark, he entered Swedish service in 1628. He was employed as a diplomat and agent and in 1643 he was made President of the Court of Appeal in Pomerania, and raised to the nobility. He took part in the Congress of Osnabrück 1647-48, and during the period 1648-1656 was at times President of the War Council. He was created Baron in 1655, and died in imprisonment in Poland in the following year.

For more than two decades Erskein stands out as one of Sweden’s most distinguished civil-military agents and diplomats, not only during the war but on its conclusion by the Peace of Westphalia and in the following negotiations.

Doctor Jakob Robertson of Struan came to Sweden in 1614, and became physician to Gustavus Adolphus. In 1623 he was granted the right to a new apothecary’s in Stockholm, which was given the name "Markattan" ("The Long-Tailed Monkey"). He was raised to the nobility in 1630, and was from 1639 physician to Queen Christina.

He died in Stockholm in 1652, aged 86, and is reputedly buried in Spânga Church. On one of the bells in this church was inscribed his name, "Jacobus a Struan Robertsone Schotus", by the side of the names of two counts of the old Swedish nobility, which is some indication of the high respect in which he was held.

He had two daughters, both of whom married Swedish noblemen.

The Scots Return Home

From as early as 1637, when liturgical dissent began to flame in their home country, we see how the interest of the Scottish officers began to turn to the situation in Scotland. In 1639 they returned home in increasing numbers.

Towards the end of the 1630’s changes in the political equilibrium in England made it apparent that civil war was unavoidable. This naturally aroused the interest of the many Scottish officers in Swedish service, who, unlike their colleagues in Scotland and England, had a good training and experience of practical military operations. In 1639-40 large bands of them returned: it is recorded. for instance, that when Alexander Leslie landed in Leith in 1641 he met no less than 36 felIow officers from Germany. The returning soldiers were of all ranks, from Field Marshal (like Leslie and Patrick Ruthven) downwards. Not only officers but also other ranks were needed, and General James King was sent to the Continent and to Denmark to enlist men. The situation had been completely reversed.

Several officers, even so, stayed in Swedish service, many of them having married and having stronger ties in Sweden. Some of these attained high rank, and distinguished themselves in the final stages of the Thirty Years’ War and in the Polish and Danish wars of Charles X.

It can be mentioned, too, that a number of the weapons used in the fighting between Scotland and England were of Swedish origin, and had originally been gifts to retiring officers. Lord Hamilton, for instance, received six cannon in 1635, while Alexander Leslie received 2000 muskets in 1638 and a further 2000 muskets and a large quantity of shot in 1645. In 1640 Colonel Lumsden was presented with a number of muskets and cuirasses.

Robert Douglas

Robert Douglas was one of the many children of Patrick Douglas of Standingstone, the younger son of William Douglas, laird of Wittingham. Wittingham was a collateral line to Douglas of Dalkeith. The mother was a Leslie, probably of the same family as Field Marshal Alexander Leslie (Earl of Leven).

Robert Douglas was born in 1611 at Standingstone, and came to Sweden with an enlisted troop in 1627 with three elder brothers, all of whom died young. When the men were mustered in Sweden Robert was thought to be somewhat too young for military action and was employed as a page by Gustavus Adolphus’ brother-in-law, the Count Palatine Johan Kasimir. In 1634 he was given his first commission, and after only a few years of service with the regiments of Alexander Leslie and Alexander Hamilton he was made Lt.Colonel in 1634, and in the following year was given a regiment. In 1643 he was made Major-general in 1651 General and Baron Skalby; and in 1654 Count of Skanninge. He took part in the battle of Warsaw, and was made Field Marshal in 1657. In the years 1658-60 he was commander-in-chief in Livonia, taking e.g. Wolmar and Mitau.

Robert Douglas' manor Stjarnorp
Robert Douglas' manor Stjarnorp

He built the manor of Stjärnorp in Ostergotland, and died in Stockholm in 1661.

Both as general and administrator Robert Douglas played an important role in the building up of Sweden to a great power. Many of his descendants have also been prominent men. His grandson entered Russian service and in 1717 was made Peter the Great’s Governor General over Finland. In the 1890’s the then head of the family, Count Ludvig Douglas, was a distinguished Swedish Foreign Minister. The latter’s son was Commander in Chief of the Swedish Army during World War II.

In 1646 Robert Douglas married Hedvig Mörner, who bore him six sons and a daughter. Two of the sons died in their infancy, and three became officers, and died without issue. The daughter married an Oxenstierna. The remaining son, Gustaf Douglas, first of the Swedish noble line of Douglas, became a Colonel, and Governor of Västerbotten.

The Forbes Family

The many branches of the Scottish family of Forbes were apparently represented in the troops of Gustavus Adolphus by no less than some 40 members. Several interesting members of the family had visited Sweden.

The Calvinist theologian John Forbes (c. 1570-1634), after being exiled by James VI, was invited in 1608 to Sweden, where Charles IX was strongly interested in Calvinism. At the King’s order there was arranged in Upsala a disputation between Forbes and Swedish Lutherans. The latter emerged victorious, and the phrase "Ad haec Forbesius nihil" has since remained a common cliché in Sweden. Forbes left Sweden in 1610, after the King had been forced to abandon his attempts to bring the two Protestant doctrines closer to each other.

The first Forbes in Swedish military service appears to have been Henry Forbes of Tolquon, who fell at Kirkholm in Russia in 1605. His eldest son, Jakob Forbes, was the first of the Swedish family Forbes of Lund. The younger son, Peter Forbes, became a paymaster of the army.

In the early 17th century there emigrated to Finland, via Mecklenburg, one Ernald Forbes of Corsindae, whose two sons, Arvid and Mattias, were introduced into the Swedish House of Nobility in 1638. Arvid Forbus was born in 1598, in Borgâ in Finland, whither his father had emigrated. His father, who was a customs officer, died when Arvid was seven. Arvid started as a private, and gradually rose in rank. In 1630 he was made Lt.Colonel. In the early 1630’s he was one of the leading enlistment agents, not only in England and Scotland but on the Continental market. He distinguished himself under Bernard of Weimar, whose infantry he often commanded. He played an important part in surprising Rheinfeld in 1638, and was raised to the nobility in the same year. In 1641 he was made Commandant of Hither Pomerania, and in 1646 he was promoted Major-general. In 1650 he was elected to the Academy of War. Two years later he was created Baron, and in the following year became Privy Councillor. He took part in the wars of Charles X, and was made a full General in 1658. He died in Stettin in 1665.

The Hamilton Family

The two lines of the Swedish family of Hamilton stem from Malcolm Hamilton of Dalserf, Archbishop of Cashell, Ireland. His sons Hugo and Ludvig entered Swedish service during the Thirty Years’ War, and in 1654 they were created Barons under the name Hamilton of Deserf. Ludvig Hamilton died in 1622, and Hugo returned home to Ireland in the same year, with the surviving family of his brother. His descendants were still living in Ireland in the late 19th century. A third brother to Hugo and Ludvig, Captain John Hamilton, had two sons, Malcolm (1635-1699) and Hugo (1655-1724) who came to Sweden in 1654 and 1680 respectively, and were created Barons in 1689 under the name Hamilton af Hageby. The former was Major-general and Governor of Northern Sweden. The latter was made Lt.General by Charles XII and in 1715, by reason of his Scottish origin, was made commander of the planned expedition to aid the Jacobites. Malcolm Hamilton’s son, Gustaf David (1699-1788) became Field Marshal, and was created Count.

Hamiltons of both lines have played prominent roles in Swedish life right up into our own time.

Montrose in Sweden

In February 1649 Patrick Ruthven — over seventy years old — arrived in Stockholm as emissary from Charles II followed in September by James King, Lord Eythin.

On 15th November 1649 James Graham, 5th Earl of Montrose, arrived in Gothenburg from Copenhagen, and stayed with a Scottish merchant, James Maclean, who had been raised to the nobility in May 1649, under the name Makeléer. Maclean, or Makeléer had been an officer in the British Royal Navy before settling in Gothenburg in 1629. He had always been a warm supporter of the House of Stuart.

Montrose stayed for three months negotiating through King, for the purchase of warships from the Swedish Crown. In December 1649 a ship with fighting men arrived from Copenhagen, and the purchase of a ship from the Swedish Crown was settled.

In the beginning of January 1650 a large amount of weapons was delivered to Montrose from the Crown armouries in Stockholm and Kalmar. These included 3000 infantry swords, 600 cavaltry swords, 820 pairs of pistols, 2000 sets of cavalry harness, 30 pikes, 20 drums and great quantities of shot and powder. Montrose also had three standards manufactured in Gothenburg; and it was during his stay that he wrote the famous declaration to the Scottish people, which was printed in 1650.

On 10th January 1650 Montrose mustered his little fleet in the archipelago off Gothenburg. It consisted of three ships; the frigate he had bought from the Crown, and two merchantmen, one with the 200 men he had enlisted in Denmark, the other with the weapons he had bought. There he lay for over a month, waiting for orders from the indecisive Charles II. On the 14th he himself journeyed by land to Norway with three officers, and on the 17th the three ships set sail for Bergen, where they rejoined their commander, who had heard nothing from the King.

Montrose left Bergen in the middle of March, and arrived — after losing one of the merchantmen in a storm — in Kirkwall, in the Orkneys. Here he at last received a letter from Charles II, dated as early as ten weeks previously. The bearer of this letter also brought Montrose an Order of the Garter. But the letter was in favour of an invasion and by 9th April Montrose had mustered his troops, 300 men on foot and 50 horsemen. On the 12th he crossed to the mainland. By as early as the 27th he was defeated at Carbisdale, and he was executed in Edinburgh on 21st May 1650.

Scots and the Swedish Navy

As early as in 1534 Gustav Vasa wrote to a Scottish sea captain, who had been offered service with Sweden, trying to persuade him to accept.

In 1550 the King became interested in two Scottish ships, which had been boarded and brought to Stockholm on suspicion of piracy. They had shown an excellent performance under sail, and the King wrote to the Governor at the Royal Palace ordering that his shipbuilders should inspect the Scottish ships in detail, and "that he should have them build a ship for the King after the fashion and appearance that the ships of these Scots are built". Unfortunately it is not known whether any such ship was actually built.

Some years later Eric XIV wrote to another Scottish captain, and gave him a warrant to enlist 100 Scottish hands, with unknown result. A document from Reval, from 1574, shows that both captains and seamen of Scottish nationality were in Swedish service at that time.

Not until the beginning of the 17th century do we find the names of Scots in the service of the Swedish Navy, and at that time they played a very important role. We learn, for instance, of two Scottish shipbuilders, Jakob Clerck (perhaps the same man as Admiral Richard Clerck the Elder), who built a ship called Mars in 1606-08, and William Ruthven, a Captain of Horse who in his later days served as Shipbuilder and Superintendent at a number of Swedish yards, in the years 1609-13. And for almost fifteen years all rigging for the Swedish Navy in Stockholm was contracted for by Scots, first by Admiral Richard Clerck the Elder, 1615-1625, and after his death by Admiral Hans (or Johan) Clerck, 1625-1628. These two were probably brothers.

The first Scottish Captain known by name was Anders Stuart, who in 1598 was in command of the Svenska Björn. He was brother to Hans Stuart, and held several positions, the most outstanding in 1611, when he travelled to Russia as Swedish Envoy. For many years he was Colonel of a Swedish regiment. We hear of him in the Navy only, on one other occasion, in 1621, when he was Rear Admiral.

Two Captains Forath, most probably brothers, and from Dundee, deserve mention. Both had on several occasions the honour of conducting Gustavus Adolphus over the Baltic. Hans Forath was Captain 1610-1628 and Alexander Forath 1611-1627. The latter was in command of the Solen at the blockade of Danzig in 1627. A force of six ships ran into difficulties when ten Polish ships made a sortie from the city. Four ships fled, the Swedish flagship was boarded by the Poles, and the Solen, which was the next largest, was blown by its captain — an honourable death.

Naval Battle near Danzig in 1627
Naval Battle near Danzig in 1627.  The vice admiral in the Swedish fleet,
Alexander Forath, is blowing his ship and himself up.

One Simon Stewart (son of Robert Stewart of Touccars) who had come to Scandinavia with Ramsay’s unfortunate expedition of 1612, became — after a time spent as a prisoner in Denmark — a Captain in the Swedish Navy in 1616, and Admiral in 1630. He died as a landowner in Uppland.

A Scottish family that played a much larger role in the Swedish Navy than those mentioned so far was the Clercks of Coulli. During the 17th century there were generally one or two Swedish Admirals Clerck. They seem to be of the same family, but perhaps two different branches, as they have two different coats-of-arms in the Swedish House of Nobility. One branch would then include Jakob or Richard the Elder, who was in the Swedish Navy 1606-1625, his brother Hans or Johan, who was in the Navy 1617—1644, and the latter’s son Richard the Younger, in the Navy 1628-1688. The other branch, which started in Sweden with William Clerck, Captain in the Army, would include his son and grandson, both of whom were named Hans, and who were in the Swedish Navy 1632-1679 and 1663-1711 respectively. We have already mentioned their interest in shipbuilding and rigging.


In the early 17th century the stream of Scottish burghers seems to increase. We now find not only merchants, but a number of craftsmen. In 1619, when Gothenburg replaced Ny-Lodose, the Scotsmen in this town included not only merchants as Jacob Linsaj, Thomas Stewardt and Hans Carnegie, but a barber, a hatter, a weaver, a tailor and a smith. In Stockholm, too, we find the occasional Scottish craftsman, such as Jakob Clerck the goldsmith, around 1610, but the great majority of Scots in the capital were merchants, trading above all in silk (Macher, Morij, Kinnemund, Feif and Petrij) and broadcloth (Rebben, Ross, Fief, Nairn, Helligday and Greger). Many were wholesale dealers of a more general kind (Guthrie, and Primeros).

Even in some smaller Swedish towns Scotchmen played prominent roles. Hans Belfrage was a wellknown Provost in Vanersborg at the middle of the Century. Many came from Danzig and settled in Kalmar, where David Haijock became a leading burgher.

Gold and silversmiths

A large number of silversmiths of Scottish birth were active in Stockholm during the 17th and early 18th century.

Among these were no less than five by the name of Clerck. Of Jakob Clerck, who was active 1605-15, very little is known. His son, Sander Clerck was active 1636-65, and appears to have been a respected burgher with the rank of Lieutenant in the Stockholm Burgher Militia, and a member of the city’s Council of Elders. Of his sons, Jacob (1636-79) became a magistrate, while Hans and Nicolaus were goldsmiths. Hans became Master Goldsmith in 1665 and died in 1679, and was one of the leading goldsmiths in Stockholm. A large number of his works are still extant, but unfortunately nothing is known of the work of his younger brother Nicolaus.

Johan Willem Helleday (1670-1711), who was married to Elisabet Feif, daughter of a Scottish goldsmith, was the grandson of Hans Helleday, from Tulliebole Castle in Fife, a wine merchant who had emigrated to Sweden in the 1630’s. Johan Willem Helleday had two younger brothers, one of whom was the patron of a manufacturing estate, and the other a magistrate in Stockholm, which reminds us of the high social standing enjoyed by goldsmiths.

A third family produced many goldsmiths, but it would be wrong to talk of a family of goldsmiths. Three sons of Alexander Feif, a merchant in Montrose, immigrated in the 1630’s and became burghers in Stockholm. The eldest brother, Jakob, was a brewer, and was the first of the noble line of Feif. The second brother, David, was a draper and a highly respected burgher, with many children and grandchildren. One of his sons, Henrik, was Chairman or "Alderman" of the Goldsmiths’ Guild, and another, Salomon, was also a goldsmith. Work of both is still preserved. The youngest brother, Donat, was a silk-mercer. One of his sons was a magistrate, and the other, Donat, became Alderman of the Goldsmiths’ Guild. Some of the latter’s works are preserved. He had two sons, who were raised to the nobility under the names Adlerstolpe (1727) and Ehrensparre (1719).

Apart from the above, we find two persons with the name of Feif in 17th century Sweden, Hans, a burgher in Gothenburg, and Duncan Feif, who was probably an officer. The latter was married to a Swedish woman, and in 1641 ordered from a famous Stockholm founder a church bell "TIL BE GIFIN TO THE KIRK AND CHAPEL OF KARMEILE". The bell bears his arms, a lion rampart with seven cannon balls. It was never delivered to its destination and came somehow to Havero Church sixty miles north of Stockholm.

Curiously enough, the Adlerstolpe arms are identical with those of Duncan Feif, and the same components are contained in the Ehrensparre arms. The noble line of Feif, 1705, however, bears quite different arms.

An outstanding member of the Swedish commoner line of Feif was also Casten Feif (1662-1739), who began as apprentice to a hatter and advanced to high positions in the administration of Charles XII. He was raised to the nobility in 1705, accompanied Charles to Turkey, and after the King’s death became President of the Exchequer in 1723.

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