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Papers Relating to the Scots in Poland (1576 - 1798)
Funds and Bequests founded by Scots in Poland (1)


Illustrious Sirs,—Master Robert Brown, a Scotsman who at one time amassed great wealth from the business in which he was engaged at Zamosc, in Poland, by a Public Instrument, dated July 14th, 1713, reserved and dedicated the sum of ten thousand shillings in our money, and arranged that its annual interest should be expended upon the maintenance and education of two young men of the Reformed Faith, the one a Scot, the other a Pole, to enable them to pursue the study of Letters at the University of Edinburgh. It was stipulated by the Legator that the Polish candidate should bring with him from his country a written testimonial from the Assembly or Synod of the Ministers of Poland, and also from the Elders and Citizens of the town of Zamosc who profess the Reformed Faith. By the terms of the same Instrument, three hundred shillings are to be paid to the Pole from the annual interest, and any surplus resulting from a vacancy must be spent upon the expenses of his journeys to Scotland and back. For several years now no student has been sent to this University from Poland, and it is on that account that this business has been entrusted to me by the Provost, Magistrates and Council of the City of Edinburgh, whom the said Robert Brown left Patrons of his gift, namely, to inform you that if you think fit to send any young man here with the requisite Testimonials, he will reap the fruits of this benefaction.— Farewell, Illustrious Sirs.

(By order) HUGH BUCHAN,
City Treasurer

Edinburgh, 11th December 1771.

To the Reverend Presbyters and Elders of the Congregation of the Reformed Faith at Zamosc, in Poland.


Whereas Master Robert Brown, Merchant in the kingdom of Poland, by his Act of Mortification, dated July 14th, 1718, mortified the sum of five hundred pounds English to maintain and educate in the University of Edinburgh two students, the one a Pole, the other a Scot, the interest of which money to be divided after the manner prescribed in the Act of Mortification, and as hereinafter defined:

And whereas the City Council of Edinburgh by their Act, dated May 5th, 1714, accepted the said Mortification, and ordained that the interest of the said sum of five hundred pounds English should be paid each year for the benefit of these students, viz., the interest of three hundred pounds for the benefit of the Polish student, and the interest of two hundred pounds for the benefit of the Scottish student:

And whereas every Polish student going to Scotland in order to study at the University of Edinburgh must have a Testimonial and Recommendation from the Synod of Pastors of the Reformed Faith in Poland, and also a Resolution and Recommendation from the Elders and Citizens of the Reformed Faith in the city of Zamosc; and the cost of the journey of the Polish student from Poland to Scotland, and from Scotland back to Poland, must be paid from the interest of the said money which was not disbursed during the years of vacancy:

And whereas the disturbances in Poland brought it about that for several years no Polish student was sent to Edinburgh; and since it is right that the will of the pious and beneficent Donor should be carried into effect:

Therefore, we the Elders and Citizens of the Reformed Faith in the city of Zamosc, in the kingdom of Poland, knowing Emmanuel Thomas Hay, that he is a youth of good ability and good character, and worthy to fill the place at present vacant for a Polish student, hereby recommend the same Emmanuel Thomas Hay to the Most Honourable Provost, Magistrates and general council of the city of Edinburgh, the Patrons of the said University, and resolve to confer upon the same Emmanual Thomas Hay the benefice at present vacant for a Polish student; and moreover, we pray that the same most excellent Patrons will order payment to be of the sum saved during the years of vacancy, as much shall be sufficient for making the journey from Poland to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh back to Poland. In testimony whereof, we have appended our signatures below.

At Zamosc, in the 1778th year of the Salvation of Man: month: day.

To the Great Glory of God! [Leszno Archives, vol. 85, f. 14.]

The good and Almighty God unceasingly cares for faithful ones and defends His Holy Church upon earth, even in the midst of persecutions, so that His great name may be praised by them, even until the world’s end; He provideth means for those who have been studying theology and have been found proficient and who wish to go to the Universities and have not the wherewithal to do so. It has pleased God to single out a God-fearing man, who, perceiving the great poverty of the Reformed Church in Poland, as well as the lack of good and eager teachers, and the small number of those who wish to uphold and succour with love and honour, has thought well to make a pious legacy, such a pious legacy as may remain and continue in good order for all time. And therefore I wish, while still alive, to lay down the following regulations, which, to my mind, are necessary. The first is:--

1. The Trustees are to name their successors during their lifetime, and these latter shall look after the fund in case of the death of any of them. I point out that the same must be good, straightforward and conscientious people, of good worldly standing, and that they must profess the Reformed Faith. I do not doubt but that they shall be such as every honest, God-fearing Protestant would refrain from taking up such duties if he do not mean to perform them well. And I add that this shall be done to God’s Honour and to better His persecuted Church.

2. The student who is to be sent to the University must have good recommendations: it is not enough that he has been a good scholar, so that he may, in future, become a good and well-educated theologian. But he must also have led a good life and be of good repute among the people. Further, he must be from Poland or the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, or be born in Poland, so that he be perfect with the Polish language. Those descended from Scots are to have special preference, if they are to be found capable and of good conduct. Thirdly, as this legacy will be increased through interest, it will be possible to maintain more than one student in foreign lands; and I think it well that another student should be taken, and, should he be in straitened circumstances, maintained. And, should any of the interest remain, or should the interest amount to more than is necessary to keep two students, I have found it good that the money remaining over shall be given yearly to the poor widows and orphans as well as to people without means, provided they are of the Reformed Faith; or the money remaining over shall be distributed amongst them every half year. Especially must we have compassion on the aged, whose term of life has already passed, who cannot earn anything themselves, and who are recommended by people as being of good life and actions. They can be kept as stipendiaries for their lifetime.

3. As before mentioned, the stipendiary must be of the Reformed Faith and be present at the meetings in our Reformed Churches and must have certificates from our Pastors to that effect. It does not matter whether they be of Scotch, Polish, or German nationality, but those of Scotch or Polish descent are to be especially preferred.

4. And their names are to be entered in a book so that they may receive yearly or half-yearly notice as to the time when they are to get that which God has given them.

5. Whether the capital be as it is, or whether it accumulate, it is very important that it should be kept in a safe place. Therefore I find that the best way will be to make a safe, and remove the money, as occasion arises, from the magistracy and other officially-controlled places. But the Trustees must always consider which is the safest place in which to keep the capital, and consider whether it is better to keep it all in the safe or to leave part of it in the magistracy.

6. The Trustees are bound to do nothing without knowledge and consent; but to do everything necessary the benefit of the students and the poor together. As far as the capital is concerned, however, each of them must have cash-books and papers; and each is to have a key and neither is to do anything without the other’s knowledge.

7. Since the capital is now invested in my own name, lest my successors, which God forbid, should make difficulties or covet that which is not for them, I have written a deed with my own hand and stamped it with my seal, although the capital for the poor is not entered into my books and although it is not for me to leave it to them as a gift. And therein have I written of what the capital consists. And, if God permits me, I shall renew the same yearly and leave it together with my books. And my Trustees shall do likewise after my death.

8. The Trustees are not allowed to take the money to their houses or safes; and even should they agree upon this point, they must take the money to other safes or to the houses of other citizens of this place. And I wish this for certain reasons of my own.

9. I lay stress upon the above clause out of pride, and should my successors and the Trustees find it necessary for the benefit of the students and the poor, and especially for the purpose of keeping order and submission (but without repressing or annulling my clauses), they can make rules for the good of the students and the poor. May Almighty God reign in their hearts and Councils, to the honour of His holy name and to the benefit of His persecuted church!

10. As I wish to name my successors and Trustees whilst I am still living, I hold it for good that I have done my best, through the Providence of Almighty God, to establish this legacy, so that, after my death, the capital may be kept in good order. I herewith nominate my eldest son, Alexander Davisson, for that purpose. But, should it be God’s will that I die before he come of age or be fit to be trusted with the management of the money, I request my brother-in-law, John Clerck, to undertake the management of the legacy with my sister’s son, Nicholas Begin, until my son becomes of age, and then to give up the management of the capital, together with Nicholas Begin. I express my thanks to the two above-mentioned persons and wish that the management of the capital may remain in my name and family. They are to keep my son Alexander and my sons under their protection. After them the eldest male offspring is to undertake the management, and so on successively, so that the management may ever remain in the name of Davisson.

11. The students who are going to be sent to the Universities and are accepted as stipendiaries are obliged to serve the Reformed Church of Poland in the future. Those students who only receive partial help or not more than 50, 30, or 60 florins, and who study in foreign lands, are not obliged to serve the Reformed Church of Poland. Only those are obliged to do so who receive yearly help and full stipends.

12. As the Reformed Congregations are growing smaller and smaller in Poland and as, therefore, the incomes of many of the clergy there are greatly reduced, I hold that it will be good for the poor clergy to receive such help as may be necessary and as the remainder of the income from this endowment allows. And this the more because this endowment is formed so that the holy order of clergy in Poland may be composed of good men—a thing which would be impossible if the clergy were to die of want of means. This, in any case, will not make the expenditure too great, nor surpass the intentions of the Founder of this endowment, because good works are its object, and I will also enlarge the fund from time to time to such an extent that I shall easily be able to make alterations as various cases may arise.

13. As I am not only the moving cause, but also the promoter of this good endowment, I expect that those who shall succeed me in the management thereof shall conduct all the correspondence in my name—Daniel Davisson—so that my good intentions may be known as a famous example to posterity.

14. With regard to the keeping of accounts of this endowment, I find that it should be done alternatively. If not, the bookkeeping, the management of the cash, papers, and so forth must be done as appointed in clause number 6. And the box is to be brought to him who keeps the accounts for that year.

15. The present copy is taken out of a book bound in white parchment; and on the title-page thereof is written ‘Dantzig, Anno 1688. February.’ This has been collated by me, a Notary, in the original order out of the aforesaid book. The words missing on page four, viz., ‘Reformed church,’ and on page five, the word ‘son’ have been inserted. In the last page in the original, the words ‘my brother-in-law’ have been struck out. The deed has been found to coincide with the original. This have I copied at the request of Mr. Daniel Gotlieb Davisson, and have annexed his written paper thereto.

Dantzig, April 29, 1779.


Authorised       Notary of His Sacred Majesty the King of Poland.

MY LORD,—I have received your Excellency’s letter dated March 10th, which your Excellency did me the honour to write touching two subjects which it recommends to me, of which the one is Robert Synclar and the other the son of the reverend father, your pastor, stating that they will apply to me in the month of June, the one to go to Edinburgh, and the other to Leyden, both in order to continue their studies, in order that I may take care to furnish them with the necessary for their journey—in which I will not fail. But with regard to the stipend of 25 red zloty per annum that your letter asks in Mr. Synclar’s favour, and for him who is at Lisse, I regret very much that the capital does not admit thereof, for, following my uncle the late Mr. E. Davisson’s example I try to preserve them as much as possible. As to the recommendation for the Magistrate of Edinburgh, I shall look after it as well as Mr. Synclair’s travelling expenses, if possible. I expect Mr. Jurick here in the month of May at latest. For the rest, I wish your Excellency a long and happy life, for the progress of religion and for the good of our church, and I am, with very profound respect, My Lord’s and your Excellency’s very humble and obedient servant,


Dantzig, April 4th, 1744.

P.S.—After having re-read your Excellency’s letter, I remark that Mr. Synclar is the son of a Scotsman. As the will made in the favour of Polish students says that those of that nation born in Poland ought always to have preference before others, I will arrange that Mr Mitecki shall have 70 and Mr Synclar 20 red zloty per annum. Otherwise, Mr Mitecki shall cede his place to the latter. Before all, I await your Excellency’s answer in order to be able to arrange everything.

To the Brilliant and High-born Gentleman, the Starost. [Leszno Archives, vol. 86, f. 19.]

In answer to the letter of the Well-born Gentlemen Seniors, handed to me by the student, Andrew Gojewski, I have the honour to inform your Excellencies that, much as I have wished it, I cannot give you any verbal proof, here in Dantzig.

You were kind enough to inquire after my health through Mr Roesner. For which reason I have the honour to thank you heartily and to say that I hope your Excellency and your family may always enjoy the best of health. My mother charges me to send you her respects —I remain, with the greatest respect, Your most humble servant,


Dantzig, October 8th, 1753

To the Brilliant and High-born Starost [Leszno Archives, vol 86, f. 88.]

Before everything I must humbly beg your pardon that I did not immediately answer your letter of the 4th of last month; but I could not do so before because I was not at home, having gone into the country. I therefore have the honour to tell you that the carrier or shipper was not here to see me once during his stay in the town, neither did he apply to me after his departure about the money business in connection with the Reformed Commune of Little Poland. As far as I could find out afterwards, the reason for this is as follows:—

Mr. Gibson went in for commercial business, to which he is a total stranger. He turned against me one of my customers, who used to sell me his corn every year; besides this, he insulted also other local merchants in the most disgraceful way. Evidently fearing that such behaviour would get him into legal trouble, he thought it much better not to show himself at all. This is the real reason why he preferred to go without the church money rather than give me satisfaction, or that I should protest against his conduct.

He alone is to blame for the expenses and damages the Reformed Church must suffer in order to get back the money. It would therefore be advisable for them to tell Mr. Gibson not to meddle with other people’s affairs, and to behave here in a moral manner. If not, he may get paid back by the local merchants’ guild in a very coarse way, which would be exceedingly unpleasant for him.

In accordance with your commands I herewith return the monies sent to this town, namely:--

In the year 1775 /3/m cap. 20/3. March (to pay) 16/rn. cap. August 15. A. p. C. @ 7/m. cap. November 16th; to pay A. p. C. which makes a total of:—

In the year 1776 5 % payable in March, 150.
In the year 1776 4% payable in August, 240.

Which makes altogether in ready money, 1060 Polish zloty. On a bill prima-secunda on Hamburg, payable at 6 weeks from present date to Mr. Thomas Tomson, merchant and councillor, in Breslau, to the amount of 173 thalers, 32 f. According to the present rate of exchange at 182 1/2 netto— which makes, in Dantzig money, 1055. 13.

In addition to this the factor takes 4 z. 17 grosz for the bill and for sending the money to Breslau.

Which altogether comes to a total of 1060 zloty, according to our money.

I ask you to kindly send me the receipt for this sum. It is to be feared that the local municipal bank will not be able to pay so regularly in future as business is getting worse and worse at present, and the town’s income decreasing very rapidly. As even the Jews are doing less and less business every day, the town’s receipts likewise suffer. And nothing but the present troublous times are to blame for this.

Commerce in general, banking and industries are rapidly going to ruin, so that the ordinary mortal has no chance of making any money.

Such bad times are driving people to the beggar’s staff. Even as it is you meet so many beggars in the street that it is impossible to drive them off. We all pray daily that God may have mercy on us and help us, for otherwise we shall be lost

In future I will try to do all business regularly, and to send your Excellency a regular report of what is going on —Your most humble servant, CHARLES ROSS.

Dantzig, October 15, 1776

To the Well-born Starost and Cousin. [Leszno Archives, vol. 86, f. 94.]

In consequence of your Excellency’s orders, and with great respect to the Little Polish Assembly, I will in the future endeavour that the small sums accruing annually from our municipal bank shall be paid in advance to Mr Gibson, whom your Excellency has named, or to anybody else your Excellency may appoint. The receipts from the above-mentioned bank amount to, so far, 6000 Polish zloty. The capital, up to the 15th of this month, amounts to 7000 Polish zloty. The capital is payable on November 16th of the present year.

At present we are going through terrible times here, and under such sad conditions the municipal receipts do not come in regularly; and God only knows how things will be in the future.

In the meantime I will endeavour to get these receipts, in accordance with my orders.

Your Excellency was good enough to mention a legacy of 2000 Polish zloty in connection with a local citizen, Andrew Steiff. I therefore have the honour to inform you that, so far, I have received no orders in this matter, and did not even know anything about it. I therefore spoke to the man himself, who is alive at present, I found out that he himself certified to these 200 zloty. At the same time I found out that he destines the percentage on this capital, 100 zloty, for the use of the Little Polish Assembly. He used formerly to pay this to the shipper, Mr. Gibson, namely, down to the year 1769. From that date, nobody has applied to him. It would therefore be desirable to find out when I, or somebody else, will get orders to take over this money, namely, from the year 1770-1777 inclusive, which amounts, during eight years; to 800 Polish zloty. This capital of 2000 zloty he has probably bequeathed before his death to the Reformed Commune in Little Poland.

It hurts me very much to learn that your Excellency has been ill for so long, and has not yet quite recovered. God grant that you may recover your health as soon as possible and bless you with it till a ripe old age! that the Christian community may benefit by your Excellency’s efforts as long as possible! I on my side will ask the Almighty to listen to my prayer.—Your Excellency’s most humble servant,


Dantzig, August 26, 1777.

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