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Papers Relating to the Scots in Poland (1576 - 1798)
The original records of those Scots in Poland known as the Scottish Brotherhood at Lublin (1)

There is a touch of romance in the broken history of the handful of Scots—mostly lowlanders and dissidents, as the Poles called them—who once sought shelter and livelihood, sometimes a competence, in the Polish Republic. For nothing could be wider than the difference between the plodding, matter-of-fact temperaments of the Chalmers, Davidsons, Tamsens, Thors, Gerns, and Rosses, and the people they came to live with, people who despised trade, and kept their rich, corn-bearing country by the strength of their swords alone. Of the more adventurous spirits, the Gordons, Stuarts, and the Murrays, who fought, as soldiers of fortune, now for the Poles against the Swedes, now for the Swedes against the Poles, then, as often as not, with the Muscovite against both their former companions in arms, little, alas, is known. So many were the wars that devastated Poland, so rich the booty her foes took away, that only a chance line here and there, left to us in some dry municipal deed, hints at the good tales they would tell, could their spirits rise again upon the battle-fields of Esthonia, Livland, and Muscovy. That these men, who died fighting, were of very different mettle from those who have left their records in the Green Book of the Lublin Brotherhood there can be no doubt. Living, as they did, by their swords, they looked down on the traders of Lublin, Cracow, and Warsaw, as did the Polish nobility. Their religion formed another link with the people by whose sides they fought, so that Gordons, Leslies, and Murrays seem to have assimilated and did not go back to Scotland. The Scottish traders were more in touch with the Germans, who had long since settled in Polish cities, since a Pole who left his arms to trade was punished with the loss of those privileges which nobility gave him. True, Prince Janusz Radziwill, himself a Protestant, became a patron of the dissidents; but the Scots who served him were soldiers. The Suchodolskis helped the Scottish brethren of Lublin and Belzyce; but the bulk of the nation looked on them as strangers, and despised them as merchants. So there is little wonder that they looked forward to returning to Scotland when they had made their fortunes. Many must have realised this hope, for there are so few traces of the Scottish merchants having left a mark upon the town population. A curious point about the Green Book of the Lublin Brotherhood is that the first part only is written in English. Afterwards, Polish and a little German is used. Did the ‘Scottish Gentlemen’ forget English, or did they write in Polish just because many Poles and Germans had joined them? The scantiness of the material to hand makes a continuous historical sketch of their lot in Poland impossible. Perhaps papers which would clear away the mist are still lying hidden away in the manors and presbyteries of Poland and Lithuania. Perhaps that wonderful library of the Zaluskis, which the Cossacks carried off from Warsaw to St. Petersburg, still hold tales of the adventurous Scots. But, though the cases where these volumes and manuscripts, so rudely packed that many priceless ones were shaved off to make them fit in, still lie in the Petersburg libraries, their present holders refuse to give them up, so that all research in that direction is impossible. There was a colony of Scots at Kejdany, who were in the service of Prince Janusz Radziwill. Most of the Kejdany archives were destroyed by fire in the seventeenth century. The few fragments saved were put into the archives of the Reformed Church at Vilna; but they have no reference to the Scots who lived there, though, in some complaints lodged by the Kejdany townspeople in 1628 against pedlars who came to take their trade from them, Scots are included in the list of peoples who do them harm. One Kejdany name occurs in the registers of the Protestant Assembly at Cracow: Jacob Inglis is entered as pastor at Kejdany in 1756, and superintendent of the Lithuanian Assembly; but Janusz Radziwill and his Scottish guards had long before passed away.

And so, whether they bartered, or tramped the country with packs on their backs, or fought, the Scots in Poland have only left their mark on a few charters, a few old letters, some pages of Protestant registers, and the Green Book of the Lublin Brotherhood. That is all. But their traditions still live: here and there, in Polish farms and manors, you can still meet a ‘Duglas,’ a ‘Lendze,’ or an ‘Ogilvy,’ who, though he has no papers to prove it, says he knows his forebears came from Caledonia. In notes to the transcripts in this little book the reader will find some of the scanty facts I have been able to find after ransacking hundreds of registers and records. Of others, whose names appear in no deeds, or other documents, I can but give the following account:--

Amongst the earliest Scottish names are those of Andrew and Henry Auchterlang (Auchterlony?), described in a record, now in the archives of Warsaw, as ‘Filii Alexandri Burgen dicti Burgi et Isabellae Lisiae et ex Cornitibus procedentum.’ The register states that they lived in the town of Sieradz, in the Province of Kalisz, from about 1617. Andrew had a son, Albert, whose name is mentioned in a Sieradz record of 1685, and again in 1649, as being an inhabitant of that town. The register of 1630 says that a relation of the Auchterlangs, one Alexander Lin Aberbrodek (of Aberbrothock?), returned to Scotland in 1680. For nearly a century after that we hear no more of the family; but in 1724, from a list of troops quartered at the garrison of Czenstochowa, which was a fortress as well as a monastery of the Pauline monks, we learn that a Casimir Achterlang was Captain of the garrison. Note the Polish Christian name—Casimir. After that all traces of the name disappear. I can find nothing like it in any street directory, or on any list of landowners in Poland. One ‘Eremis Englis,’ lived in Sieradz between the years 1622 and 1656.

The Dicksons, or Dixons, were well known in the city of Dantzig. But we also find traces of them in the Cracow registers. For instance, Alexander ‘Dikson’ was an elder of the Cracow Protestant Congregation in 1644 and again in 1651. Wengierski, the old annalist whose pages read like a romance, has two stories about them. The first, dated 1597, serves him as an instance of the annoyances to which the Cracow Dissidents were exposed at the hands of certain elements of the population, chiefly students. Wengierski writes in Polish, and this is a translation of what he says: ‘In the year 1597, on the twenty-first day of February, during Lent, Miss Sophia More, of godly, evangelical parents, being betrothed to marry Mr. Alexander Diksone, died two days before her marriage, to the great grief of her parents and bridegroom, and not without the astonishment of many people. And she was laid to rest in the Burial Garden. On the next day she was found dug up, bereft of everything in which she had been dressed, plundered and stripped and then left lying naked, by some villains, just near the wall. But God, who is just, did not will that their wicked deeds should remain a mystery; for, soon afterwards, the graveclothes of the dead one were sold in the market-place, from which, they found out who were the authors and perpetrators of the crime, so that two of them were sentenced to death to be beheaded in front of the Town Hall.’ In 1625 Alexander Diksone married Justine Dugert, a Frenchwoman, who died in 1633. An Alexander Diksone married Elisabeth Krause in the same year, but the register does not say whether both entries refer to the same man. Who were the Mores? Where did they come from? I cannot say. There is no more trace of them in the annals, or the registers. Alexander’s daughter died of the plague, as Wengierski tells us in an entry headed, ‘The Plague in Cracow.’ He says: ‘In the year 1653, when the terrible plague had scarcely abated and those who had fled from Cracow began to return to the city, then again, in October and November of that year, that is, in 1653, came again a smaller plague, in which Mistress Magdalene Kesler, daughter of Mr. Alexander Dixon and wife of Mr. Benedict Kesler, merchants of Cracow, did notice, during her husband’s absence, that a serving-maid in the house in which she lived had caught the plague, and left Cracow as soon as possible, together with certain of her household, with the idea of living with some of her kinsfolk at Podgora whilst this second suspicious period should last, not yet knowing that they themselves were plague-stricken. But when they were scarcely two miles from Cracow, going towards Bechna, on the road to Rydwan, the twelve-year-old daughter of worthy parents from Breslau did suddenly die and was at once buried by that same roadside. Seeing, with fear, that they were already plague-stricken, she went no further towards Podgora, but turned back to Cracow, and lived there in a garden, where she herself did die of the plague, being scarcely twenty years old; and a few weeks later, her children also died. She was quietly laid to rest in the Burial Garden by the Shooters’ Field.’

The Davidsons, prosperous merchants, and much respected, belong rather to Dantsig than to Cracow or Warsaw. But they migrated to Dantzig from Zamosc, a town which arose under the castle of the magnates, the Counts Zamoyski, and where various Scottish merchants are said to have lived. Unfortunately their records are lost, for the town was burned in 1633, and besieged and taken several times to boot. But a ‘Davidus Scotus de Zamoscie’ lent money to a citizen of Warta between the years 1561 and 1577. In 1691, a William Lindsay, a Zamosc merchant, went to Dr. Aram’s funeral and to the synodical meeting which was held in Lublin afterwards. In 1692 a report of the Lublin Synod mentions Andrew Davidson, Jan Akenhine, and Jacob Lendze as elders of the Zamosc Assembly. In 1775, when the town had suffered from the ravages of war—the Austrians captured it early in the eighteenth century—the Assembly there wrote to ask the Synod for some church plate. The letter is signed with several names, these being Scottish—John Lindsay, Daniel Walter Ogilvie (Postmaster), and Daniel George Ogilvie. A Francis de Ogilvie was student of the Academy in 1805. In 1755 a Jacob Ross writes from Zamosc on church business. To-day, Zamosc is a squalid little place, sixty-five per cent. of its inhabitants being Jews. As late as 1807, one Anthony Makay was studying at the Zamosc Academy. Transcripts about the Davidson family and their fund will be found in this book.

One cannot help wishing that Wengierski had told us more of the Scots in Cracow. There are the ‘Karmichels,’ as their Polish neighbours called them. Jacob Karmichel was elected elder of the Cracow Congregation in 1642 and again in 1644. In the register of the Cracow Assembly is this entry, in Polish: ‘Anno 1655. May 8th. I buried Mr. Jacob Karrnichel, seventy years old, merchant and citizen of Warsaw, who, during the siege of Cracow (by the Swedes), on going up on the roof to see what was happening, fell down two or three steps. Then he was taken ill and died during the siege, just when Cracow surrendered. He was a godly man’ Amongst the list of burials which took place in the cemetery of Wielkenae, near Cracow, is this entry, in Polish ‘July 17th, 1665 Jacob Carmichael’s daughter was buried’ The same volume has ‘Anno 1678 March 28th Jacob Carmichael, Elder of the Cracow Assembly, a God-fearing man, who, during the plague, fell ill on Christmas Day and departed this life. He was buried here, with a great crowd of persons attending.’ In the Grzymala register is this, ‘Circa 1642, Jacob Carmichel was married to Anne Dixon.’

The Stuarts, of course, were closely connected with Poland at one time of her history. Maria Clementine Sobieska, grand-daughter of Jan Sobieski, King of Poland, married James, son of James the Seventh of Scotland, and thereby became the mother of Prince Charles Edward and Henry, Cardinal of York. But there were other Stuarts who became quite Polish, though I do not know when they first went to Poland. The name does not occur in any of the city registers. One John Stuart lived in Warsaw towards the end of the eighteenth century, for he is cited as a witness in a lawsuit. He married Fredericka Gerard, the daughter of a merchant of French extraction, and had a son, Cajetan, born in Warsaw on 17th January 1774. Cajetan became Captain of the Fifth Polish Regiment: his portrait still hangs in the Prior’s room at Czenstochowa, for he successfully defended that monastery-fortress against the Russians in May 1806. A Paul Stuart was cornet in the Polish artillery in 1792. Mr. Krasicki, who owns an estate in the Province of Piotrkoff, and whose mother was a Stuart of the same line as Captain Cajetan, assures me that the family has died out, the last representative being his mother’s brother, John, who was at one time captain of the Warsaw fire brigade. Mr. Krasicki says he had another uncle, who went to France many years ago, and was never heard of again. In 1822 was published at Warsaw the copy of a speech made by John Dickenson, sent, in 1615, as special envoy to Zygmund the Third, King of Poland, by James the Sixth of Scotland, to protest against a book published in Poland containing libels on the Stuarts. Dickenson is reported to have said: ‘We are much astonished that a secretary working in your Majesty’s closet and familiar with affairs of import, should not know how a Christian king must be treated.’ Dickenson then referred to chapters 2 and 7

volume three of the book, saying ‘It is a collection of the blackest and most shameful libels; besides curses laid upon Queen Elizabeth, on His Gracious Majesty my king and master, and on the whole line of Stuarts, especially upon his grandfather as a father, giving them such names as Phalarides, Antichrist, Domician, and Nero, I cannot hide from you that he calls those criminals who were so justly condemned for putting gunpowder under Westminster "exemplary men." He even denies the king his right to the Scottish kingdom. What do I say? He openly advertises that he is not acknowledged as a king nor counted as amongst Christian monarchs, but that verily he is called an apostate, Tyrant, and deserving everybody’s ill-will.’ He then demanded that the book, written by Canon Cichowski, should be burned in the market-place.

A branch of the St. Clair family still lives in Poland. The first to settle there, Mr. Alexander Bower St. Clair, of the Angus line, was grandson of that Bower of Kincaldrum who, implicated in the rebellion of ‘Forty-five, escaped to France and became attached to the court of Louis the Fifteenth. Alexander Bower St. Clair entered the Indian Naval Service, but settled in Lithuania on his marriage with Countess Kossakowska. Letters he wrote to his sister-in-law between 1845-1872 are filled with lively descriptions of his Lithuanian home and the neighbourhood. They are, as yet, unpublished, and in the hands of his grandson, E. Bower St. Clair, of our Consular Service.

Like the Davidsons, the Gibsons settled in Dantzig, though in 1783 and 1784, a Mr., Mrs., and Miss Louisa Gibsone were communicants of the Evangelical Assembly at Wiekle Tursk. Mr. John Gibsone, great-nephew of the British Consul, Alexander Gibsone, died in Dantzig, in February 1907. Up till 1909, his widow, a Polish lady, was still living there.

Alexander Kennedy, described as a Scot, appears in Warsaw city registers in 1621, for forty florins of a charitable fund having been invested on mortgage in his house, he paid no interest till 1639, when the whole sum owing had grown to one hundred and twenty florins. After a protest and threats of a lawsuit, he paid back the amount on 11th July of that year. Captain Walter, living in Warsaw in 1655, was taxed by the Swedes. He paid fifty florins to Gustavus.

Two Scots studied in Cracow university in the fifteenth century. They are entered in the ‘Album Studiosorum Universitatis Cracoviensis,’ for 1438 and 1453. Under 1438 we have this note: ‘Johannis Petri Tamer de Cracovia’; and under 1453 the entry, Laurencius Mathie Machaly (Macualay).’ One George Morton, described as ‘a merchant dealing in Eastern Merchandise,’ is mentioned in the Sieradz books in the years 1657, 1662, and 1669. He married the widow of Thomas Hamilton, who appears to have been a merchant of Sieradz, for he was described in a deed dated 1665, where his name is just mentioned.

There remain a few names yet. One Mistress Anna Tamson died at Opatow on 4th October 1726. She is buried near the church of Wielko Tursk. On 26th February 1727 Andrew Tamson died at Opatow and was buried in the same place as his wife. There was not a Protestant church at Opatow, so Protestants living there were obliged to go long distances for religious services, and Andrew was a member of the Wielko Tursk Assembly in 1708. But, at the same time, the trading importance of Opatow, which was a link between east and west, exporting goods both to Hungary and to Russia, and being in constant communication with Breslau and Posen, made it an excellent centre for merchants of all nationalities, who went there in large numbers.

In the library of the Leszne Reformed Church is a small English Bible, published by R Norton in 1652 On the flyleaf is this inscription:—

‘This book pertains to me, William Livingstone. William’s my name.’


‘Bono Guliemy Livingstony Anno 1688 die

‘They Byble pertains to me Patrick Fraser. Anno 1688

die 9 bris in Lowisc.’ [Lowisc means Lowicz, a very old Polish town in the Province of Warsaw, Opatow, in the Province of Kalisz, exists since the thirteenth century.]

And on the back page:--

‘Gulwlmus Livingstone Est hujus libri posessor. Anno Domino Milliesimo sexcentissimo Octuagesimo Octavo 1688 in Opatowia die mensis 3 Septembris Gulwlmus venit ad dominum. . . . Polonia suum 26 juny 1689.’

My meagre list of Scottish names is almost at an end. A John Malcom was senior of the Cracow district in about 1664. The name is used in connection with a pastor; but no details of the Malcolms are to be found. In 1653 Jacob Hogreff married Catherine Hensler, both of Cracow. A George ‘Kruikshank’ was elder of the Cracow Assembly in 1647. In 1641 he married a Mistress Juger. In 1782 Alexander Watson writes to the Synod of Little Poland on church matters. In 1780 he sent money to Claudian, a theological student, who enjoyed part of the proceeds of the Davidson Fund, which see. Robert and John Watson, citizens of Leszno, were ennobled in 1790. The family still lives in Warsaw, where they carry on a printer’s and stationer’s business.

The Scots began to emigrate into Poland during the sixteenth century: some of them went straight from Scotland, others from Prussia, where new and severe regulations checked their progress. Many began as mere pedlars, carrying packs on their backs; others put their wares on a pony, or a horse, for which they paid a special tax. Though religious toleration was one of Poland’s greatest prides, the new-comers were not warmly welcomed, as the burghers feared their competition. Therefore, various royal charters, of which transcripts appear in this little book, were issued. Their business-like qualities in the market place and their valour in the field seem to have been acknowledged by the kings, who kept on giving the organisation of their army supply to Scottish merchants, and often formed regiments of Scots, who fought in the wars in Poland, and in Russia. Like other purveyors, the Scots were supposed to follow the court, and had the right to open booths in the cities where the Diets were held, besides having their permanent shops in one bigger city, like Warsaw, or Cracow. Zygmund the Third, who disliked ‘Dissidents,’ tried to curtail their privileges. In 1595 he forbade them to build or open shops. They met with fresh oppositions from the Polish and German townspeople, but were able to hold their own. When Warsaw replaced Cracow as Poland’s capital, several Scottish traders settled there, and Chalmers, who became one of the king’s secretaries, was made Mayor of Warsaw three times. In 1649 the new king, Jan Casimir, gave them the right to sell wine throughout the country. The troubles brought by the plague and the Swedish wars must have affected the Scots as well. In 1688 Scottish names are lacking among the lists of court purveyors. From that time onward they are rarely mentioned in the deeds of the period.


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