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Papers Relating to the Scots in Poland (1576 - 1798)
Translation of three letters of James VI.

JAMES (VI. of Scotland) to the most Excellent, Worshipful, and Well-born Lords, Mayor, Magistrates, and all the Council of the Royal City of Riga, our beloved friends, our royal greeting and good wishes.

Most Excellent, Worshipful, and Well-born,

It has come to our notice, nor do we think it wholly unbeknown to you, that Captain Thomas Buck, our subject and servant, a man of high birth, the courage, loyalty, and success of whose achievements in the recent Livonian war are familiar to your Excellencies, has been fraudulently cheated by the trickery and wicked deceit of an inhabitant of your city, Michael Keffin, his secretary, to whom he had entrusted the management of his accounts in the treasury of Lithuania. Wherefore, that the same Captain may the more easily receive satisfaction, we have desired to add to the earnest mandate of his Most Serene Majesty the King of Poland our friendly intercession; and this we do with the greater readiness, as we know that your Excellencies are of your own inclination disposed to administer justice equitably, and to protect the rights of strangers, and have earned our thanks in the past. This singular favour which you show toward our subjects shall be granted to your citizens, should they ever happen to implore our aid, a favour not only pleasing for us to grant, but also of no small value to them. And so we commend to the Divine protection your Excellencies and your state.

Given at our Palace at Windsor.


To his Most Serene Majesty, Prince and Lord, SIGISMUND, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Russia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia, etc., our most beloved kinsman, brother, and friend.

Most Serene King, beloved brother, and kinsman,

We have received the most complete evidence from men of great repute and the highest character, that a Scot of noble birth, Thomas Bucke, served under your standard in the wars concluded not so long ago, and that in every business entrusted to him he conducted himself with loyalty as well as with courage. We are of opinion, therefore, that our letter will not be displeasing to your Serene Majesty, earnestly requesting that the payment which is due to him may be made without further delay. ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire,’ and one who was prepared to pour out his life-blood in defence of your honour, after the great toils which he endured to an end, after the sufferings which he underwent, if he receives no gratitude, deserves at least from a liberal hand the pay which is actually his own and belongs to him by right. This will give us the very greatest pleasure, and we will be ready always to repay a like favour as occasion may offer.

Given at Royston on the 25th day of October 1614, the twelfth year of our reign over Great Britain, France, and Ireland.

Your Serene Highness’ loving brother,



JAMES (VI. of Scotland) to his most Serene Highness JOHN SIGISMUND (Margrave of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia).

Whereas we have learned from our mandatary, Patrick Gordon, that many complaints have often been lodged with your Excellency by natives against our subjects born in our kingdom of Scotland, and engaged in trade in Prussia:

Wishing to advance the interests of both, we have resolved to adopt a plan whereby a fixed arrangement may be made for removing every ground of complaint, and for diminishing the number of those who cross over to that country each year, so that they may not inflict upon their own countrymen trading there and upon the natives alike annoyances and losses which increase day by day. But it is not to be thought in the slightest degree consonant with reason that innocent men should be punished on account of the offences of the guilty, even though the guilty be punished with them. And yet John Duncan and Charles Angus, the former a citizen of Neidenburg, the latter of Marienwerder, who married the daughters of citizens of these towns, and undertake the same burdens as their fellow-citizens, are being most unjustly precluded by them (even by those who are Scotsmen) from the enjoyment of their privileges and liberties. Although they have very often protested strongly to your Excellency concerning this injury, they have nevertheless been overwhelmed by the calumnies of evil-wishers and the influence of stronger men, and have been unable to obtain any justice. Since, however, they have now had recourse anew as suppliants to our royal intercession, we most urgently request, in virtue of our firm friendship, that through your Excellency’s authority these same may be permitted, as they have received full rights of citizenship, and have no stain on their life-record, to enjoy the privileges of their cities. Nor do we doubt that your Excellency, both on account of the justice of their cause and by reason of our intercession, will ensure that they have no just cause for complaint in time to come.

In conclusion, we bid your Excellency a sincere farewell.

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