February 2023

Famous Scots. Colin Campbell.

Colin Campbell (1 November 1686 – 9 May 1757) was a Scottish merchant and entrepreneur who co-founded the Swedish East India Company and was Swedish King Fredrik I‘s first envoy to the Emperor of China.

Early life.

He was born in November 1686 to John Campbell, a lawyer and prominent citizen of Edinburgh and his wife Elizabeth Campbell of Moy, Inverness-shire. They were related to the noble family of Clan Campbell of Cawdor, later prominent in the Peerage. Colin was the youngest of three brothers (following Archibald and Hugh) and all followed their father in becoming notaries, merchants and prominent citizens. Colin became a Burgess of Edinburgh in 1720, when the citation described him as “of London“.


In 1723, he lost a great deal of money and was left burdened in debt following the spectacular investments and subsequent financial collapse known as the South Sea Bubble. He vowed to repay all his debts, and did so before he died, but meanwhile had to flee from his debtors to Ostend in Belgium. This was then part of the Austrian Netherlands, where Campbell helped the Austrians in their attempts to set up an Austrian rival to the British East India Company. He stayed there until 1730, mostly as a supercargo, accompanying ships and managing sales. The Austrian scheme was not a success, largely because of British opposition, so he moved to Stockholm, in Sweden. The following year he moved to Gothenburg, Sweden’s premier port, where other Scottish merchants had been long established.


In Gothenburg, he entered into partnership with wealthy and well-connected Swedes. Henric König (1686–1736) was an import/export broker from Stockholm, from a family of German Hanseatic merchants, though now resident in Sweden. His brother, Christian (1678–1762) was secretary to the Chancellery Cabinet and through him Henric had contact with the King Fredrik I. Köning had been developing an East Indian trading scheme, along with Niclas Sahlgren, a merchant who had worked with the Dutch East India Company, and who had already been involved in a possible Swedish West India project. Campbell approached Sahlgren who invited him to Sweden.

Swedish East India Company

Campbell’s Coat of Arms on Chinese porcelain in Gothenburg City Museum.

In April 1731, the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) approved the King’s Charter giving the Swedish East India Company a monopoly of all Swedish trade with the “East Indies” (meaning any port east of the Cape of Good Hope ). The Company was expressly forbidden to trade in any areas under the control of other countries (for example Britain and the Netherlands) without their permission, and the “privileges” which the Charter gave them amounted to no more than “the common rights of nature and peoples” (as one commentator said) but the riches expected were signalled by the Company agreeing to pay the King about 25,000 silver dollars per voyage. And indeed the Company was successful, making the Directors (of which Campbell was one) very rich indeed. As only Swedes could be Directors of the Company, Campbell applied for naturalisation as a Swede (on 14 June 1731), and was raised to the nobility, with a coat of arms recalling his Campbell ancestry and a motto of “Memento Deus dabit vela” (Remember that it is God who fills the sails).

First Voyage to Canton

Ship and crew

The first voyage of the Company was that of the Fredericus Rex Sueciae, which set sail from Gotheburg on 9 February 1732.] Colin Campbell was supercargo – carrying all the authority of the Company – to whom the First Captain, Georg Herman Trolle had to defer. There were a number of foreigners aboard the ship] including the Second Captain, George Kitchin, Mr Baron, Chief Mate and Hindric Bremer, Second Mate, the Chief Carpenter, Mr Brown, Jack, the ship’s boy, and Daniel Campbell, James Moir and Gustav Ross, all assistants to Campbell, who was the First Supercargo. The Second, Third and Fourth Supercargos were Mr Graham (also called Brown), Charles Morford and John Pike.

Ambassador to China

Campbell also carried sea-passes and a passport which confirmed him as minister plenipotentiary to the Emperor of China, the Grand Mogul and other Asian princes – all issued in Dutch, in case they were stopped by that navy, which indeed they were. He never made contact with the Chinese Emperor or the Grand Mogul. He did though establish a long lasting and profitable connection between Sweden and Canton.


The voyage lasted 550 days, with a stay of 120 days at Canton. In fact, the vast bulk of the Company’s subsequent voyages went to Canton and only once or twice even approached the modern East Indies. She went by way of NorwayCádiz and the Cape of Good Hope. Thence she went to St Paul, the Straits of Sunda and on to Canton, anchoring on 19 September 1732, six and a half months after leaving Sweden.

Dutch stop them

On the journey home, on 3 February 1732, they were stopped in the Sunda Strait by seven Dutch ships, whose officers refused to recognise the passes, evacuated the ship, put aboard a contingent of Dutch soldiers and ordered it to sail to Batavia, the headquarters of the Dutch. Only Colin Campbell was left aboard. At Batavia, the Governor General, Dirck van Cloon, examined Campbell’s passes, apologised and allowed him to proceed on his journey, under escort, on 9 February. Campbell had kept a diary/account of the voyage, but had destroyed it at the approach of the Dutch, in case they would think he had been spying, and in case they found out any commercially sensitive information. Campbell had studiously declined to provide any information on his cargo. He reconstructed the diary mentally years later, and its manuscript was published in 1996.

Voyage home

They proceeded to Europe, stopping off at the island of Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Brazil to replenish supplies and some recuperation from scurvy. On 7 September 1733, the Fredericus RS was once more in Gotheburg, eighteen months after it had departed. Campbell immediately set out a catalogue of complaints against the Dutch. A first dividend of 25% was declared for the shareholders of the voyage, followed by a second dividend of 50%. A very prosperous voyage, despite the Dutc

Success, riches and death

Over 20 subsequent voyages took place over the next 15 years, and Campbell grew rich, before paying off all his debts and dying in 1757.

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Infamous Scots. Donald Forbes.

Donald Forbes (1935 – 12 April 2008) was a Scottish convicted murderer. Forbes was convicted and jailed on three occasions, twice for murder and once for drug offences. He was at one time branded as “Scotland’s most dangerous man”

Forbes was found guilty of murder in 1958 after a robbery at a fish factory in Edinburgh in which he killed night watchman Allan Fisher. Forbes was originally sentenced to the death penalty but it was reduced to life imprisonment. 12 years after the offence Forbes was freed.

Only weeks after being released Forbes committed murder again, this time in a pub during a brawl. He was jailed again; one year after the second imprisonment he escaped from the maximum security wing but was later recaptured.

In 1980, he married Alison Grierson. He went on to serve 10 years in the Barlinnie special unit with notorious killers such as Jimmy Boyle.

In 1998, he was released. In 2003 he was branded “Scotland’s oldest drugs baron”. At the age of 68 Forbes was arrested for preparing large quantities of cocaine and cannabis for sale. Forbes was caught after an anonymous tip off.

Forbes died in hospital on 12 April 2008 with his son James Forbes at his side, while still serving his prison sentence.

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Kings-Queens of Scotland. Robert III.

Robert III

1390: Robert III. Upon succeeding to the throne he decided to take the name Robert rather than his given name John. As King, Robert III appears to have been as ineffective as his father Robert II. In 1406 he decided to send his eldest surviving son to France; the boy was captured by the English and imprisoned in the Tower. Robert died the following month and, according to one source, asked to be buried in a midden (dunghill) as ‘the worst of kings and most wretched of men’.

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Scottish Battles. Pinkie Cleugh

Taking place on 10 September 1547, the battle of Pinkie Cleugh was the last formal battle between England and Scotland.

This decisive English victory was part of a campaign later known as the ‘Rough Wooing’, instigated in 1544 by Henry VIII in an attempt to impose a betrothal between the child Mary Queen of Scots and his own heir, who by the time of this battle had risen to the throne as Edward VI.

The armies met near the coast at Musselburgh in Lothian where, in a five-hour battle, the Scottish were ultimately surrounded by England’s more efficient and more modern fighting force.

While English losses stood at around 500, estimates suggest those of Scotland were anything between 6,000 and 14,000 – many of whom were slaughtered as they retreated. In spite of this, the English did not achieve their aim. Mary was smuggled out to their enemies and betrothed to Francis, heir to the French throne.

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Scottish Bands-Music.(amorettes)

A SCOTTISH all-girl rock band have been plucked from obscurity to back big-haired 80s icons Europe.

The Amorettes will join the Final Countdown rockers for their UK tour after impressing band members during a music festival.

The trio – Hannah McKay, her sister Heather on bass and lead guitarist and vocalist Gill Montgomery – formed five years ago and will play to thousands.

Drummer Hannah said: “It’s a dream tour. It’s our first proper tour. Every gig we have played has been a weekend away. This is the first proper run of shows and it’s good to be with bigger names.

“It’s surreal because we never expected any of this to happen. Last summer we played with Black Star Riders in Holmfirth and a couple of them watched our set and really liked us. We played with Europe the next day at a festival in Wales and came away in talks about joining their tour.”

Hannah said: “It’s not as bad as you think [being an all girl band]. People think you must get loads of abuse. But the majority of feedback has been positive and every time we play a show we have folk waiting to speak to us at the merch stand.”

She admits it won’t be all work and no play for the girls on tour.

She said: “It’s Heather and Gill’s birthdays while we’re out so we might have a couple of mad nights for that and a few drinks.”

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Scottish Architecture.(heritage)


Scotland is a diverse and unique place; for most people, it holds a mystic quality that encourages exploration and adventure. The ever-changing landscape of rugged mountains, crystal clear seas, ancient villages and vibrant cities is a melting pot of centuries worth of design and architecture. Informed by heritage, modernism and tradition, the country’s rich legacy of innovation and creativity has born an array of architects whose work has not only defined the built landscape of Scotland but whose style and significance can be seen across the world.

Home to almost 3,000 castles and land developed around croft houses, much of Scotland’s architecture stands as wondrous feats of historical significance, treasured, nurtured, renovated and restored to preserve and celebrate the rich history of the beautiful country. Despite having a population of just 5.4 million people, contemporary Scotland is packed to the brim with creative talent. Plus, architects and designers from every continent choose Scotland for their inspiration and their home. As you will see in the following collection, diversity is found in every corner of the country, bringing with it divergent, exceptional and exciting interpretations of the home.

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Scottish Towns-Cities.(melrose)


The town of Melrose sits snugly in the heart of the Scottish Borders, just an hour south of Edinburgh. As I’ve mentioned time and again on Traveling Savage, the Borders are tragically under-visited. Along with nearby Jedburgh and Kelso, Melrose leads this triumvirate of classy lowland towns oozing Scottish charm.

Melrose lies wedged between the River Tweed and the Eildon Hills and is home to the greatest of the ruined Border abbeysMelrose Abbey. The town is full of shops, pubs, and restaurants and near to the highest density of interesting sites the Scottish Borders has to offer. From the abbeys to Abbotsford and Smailholm Tower to Scott’s View, Melrose is the perfect base for your time in the region, especially since a new train line serving the Borders recently opened — it hasn’t been this convenient to visit in well over a hundred years!

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Famous Scots. James Bremner.

James Bremner (25 September 1784 – August 1856), a notable Scottish naval architect, harbour builder and ship-raiser.

Life and work.

James, the youngest of the nine children of Janet and James Bremner, was born in Stain, near Keiss, in the parish of WickCaithness, in Scotland.

His only education was the Bible. At the age of 16, he was apprenticed for six years to the shipbuilders “Robert Steele & Sons” of Greenock. After he had completed his apprenticeship he returned to Wick and started his own shipbuilding yard in Pulteneytown, near Wick Harbour, where he built 56 or more vessels, ranging in size from 45 tons to 600 tons. At this time, he also became well known throughout the United Kingdom for his skills in rescuing sunken and stranded vessels. When there was an insurrection in Wick he treated the injuries of combatants from both sides and was tried for Sedition as a consequence. His peers found him Not Guilty and he was carried from the court on the shoulders of the cheering local populace.

A monument to James Bremner, Naval Architect, overlooking Wick Bay and harbour.

When, in 1846, Brunel‘s SS Great Britain went aground on the sands of Dundrum BayIreland, it is to his son, Alexander Bremner, that Brunel turned for help after various leading salvage experts had either declared the salvage impossible or failed in an attempt. Alexander called in his father to develop a successful methodology. The method used by Bremner was later used to refloat her off a beach in South Georgia over a century later, after which she was brought back to her final resting place as a tourist attraction in Bristol. He frequently corresponded with Thomas Telford and was employed by Brunel as an engineering consultant when he built the Thames Tunnel under the Thames.

His career involved the rescue of perhaps 236 or more stricken vessels. As well as building and rescuing ships, he worked on 19 harbour structures in Scotland, not least an extension to Telford‘s harbour in Wick Bay. He had watched Winter gales destroy harbour walls by lifting and working loose the horizontally laid stones. When he rebuilt the walls he simply relaid them on their ends to eliminate this structural weakness.

Bremner became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1833, and he was awarded the Telford Medal for several of his papers on engineering.

Bremner married early in his life and had numerous sons and daughters. His wife died in 1856 and Bremner himself died in the August of the same year. In 1903 a tall obelisk was erected to his memory on high ground overlooking Wick Harbour, where it stands to this day.

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Infamous Scots. Joseph Slater.

Oscar Joseph Slater (8 January 1872 – 31 January 1948) was the victim of a miscarriage of justice in Scotland. Wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death, he was freed after almost two decades of hard labour at Scotland’s HM Prison Peterhead through the efforts of multiple journalists, lawyers, and writers, including Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Early life

He was born Oskar Josef Leschziner in OppelnUpper SilesiaGermany, to a Jewish family. Around 1893, possibly to evade military service, he moved to London, where he purportedly worked as a bookmaker using various names, including Anderson, before settling on Slater for official purposes. He was prosecuted for alleged malicious wounding in 1896 and assault in 1897 but was acquitted in both cases.

In 1899, Slater moved to Edinburgh and by 1901 was living in Glasgow. He was known to be a well-dressed dandy, who billed himself variously as a dentist and a dealer in precious stones, but was believed to earn his living as a gambler.

Marion Gilchrist

In December 1908, Marion Gilchrist, a spinster aged 83 years, was beaten to death in a robbery at West Princes Street, Glasgow, after her maid, Helen Lambie, had popped out for ten minutes. Although she had jewellery worth £3,000 (equivalent to £330,000 in 2021) hidden in her wardrobe, the robber, who was disturbed by a neighbour, had rifled through Mrs. Gilchrist’s personal papers and taken only a brooch. Slater left for New York five days after the murder and came under suspicion, as apparently before the murder, a caller to Gilchrist’s house had been looking for someone called “Anderson”, and Slater had coincidentally previously been seen trying to sell a pawn ticket for a brooch.

The police soon realised that the pawn ticket was for an entirely different brooch and a false lead, but notwithstanding the contradictory evidence, still applied for Slater’s extradition. While Slater was advised that the application would probably fail anyway, he voluntarily returned to Scotland to clear his name of the alleged crime.

Trial of Oscar Slater

At his trial presided over by Lord Guthrie, whose summing up was highly prejudicial, defence witnesses provided Slater with an alibi and confirmed that he had announced his trip to America long before the date of Mrs. Gilchrist’s murder. He was convicted by a majority of nine to six (five “not proven” and one “not guilty“). In May 1909, he was sentenced to death, with the execution to take place before the end of that month. However, Slater’s lawyers organised a petition that was signed by 20,000 people,and the Secretary of State for ScotlandLord Pentland, subsequently issued a conditional pardon and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Slater was to serve nineteen years at Peterhead Prison.

The following year, the Scottish lawyer and amateur criminologist William Roughead published his Trial of Oscar Slater, highlighting flaws in the prosecution. The circumstantial evidence against Slater included his alleged “flight from justice”. The prosecution’s evidence and witnesses identifying Slater as a suspect, including maid Helen Lambie, were also criticized as fleeting and otherwise unreliable, prejudiced, tainted, or coached. In particular, Slater was conspicuously contrasted with nine off-duty policemen in a rigged identification parade.

Slater received little support from within Glasgow’s Jewish community, which was attributed towards concerns around drawing attention to Slater’s Jewish identity in light of the case’s notoriety and the potential for a rise in antisemitism as a result.

The Case of Oscar Slater

Roughead’s book convinced many of Slater’s innocence; influential people included Sir Edward Marshall HallRamsay MacDonald; (eventually) Viscount Buckmaster; and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In 1912, Conan Doyle published The Case of Oscar Slater, a plea for a full pardon for Slater.

In 1914 Thomas McKinnon Wood ordered a Private Inquiry into the case. A detective in the case, John Thomson Trench, provided information which had allegedly been deliberately concealed from the trial by the police. The Inquiry found that the conviction was sound, and instead, Trench was dismissed from the force and prosecuted on trumped-up charges from which he was eventually acquitted.

Criminal Appeal (Scotland) Act 1927

1927 saw the publication of The Truth about Oscar Slater by William Park. The contents of the book led the Solicitor General for ScotlandAlexander Munro MacRobert, to conclude that it was no longer proven that Slater was guilty.[2] An Act (17 & 18 Geo. V) was passed to extend the jurisdiction of the then recently established Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal to convictions before the original shut-off date of 1926. Slater’s conviction was quashed in July 1928 on the grounds that Lord Guthrie had failed to direct the jury about the irrelevance of allegations relating to Slater’s previous character.

After serving an almost two-decades long prison sentence of hard labour, Slater received only £6,000 (2019: £364,170) in compensation.


Detective-Lieutenant Trench died in 1919, aged fifty, and never lived to see justice done.

In the 1930s, Slater married a local Scottish woman of German descent thirty years his junior and settled in the seaside town of Ayr where he repaired and sold antiques. As an enemy alien (born German), Slater and his wife were interned for a brief time at the start of World War II, though Slater had long since lost his German citizenship and never returned to Germany. Most of Slater’s surviving family, including his two sisters, ultimately were murdered in the Holocaust. He died in Ayr in 1948 of natural causes.

The lessons of the Slater miscarriage were considered, as late as 1976, by the Devlin Committee review on the limitations of identity parades.

More recently, the Slater case has been revisited by several scholars and writers

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Scottish Battles. Moiry Pass.

The Battle of Moiry Pass was a military engagement between a Scots-Irish army commanded by Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, king of Scotland and a Hiberno-Norman force. It was a battle of the First War of Scottish Independence and more precisely the Irish Bruce Wars.[1] Edward Bruce attacked a garrison of soldiers from the Lordship of Ireland, as part of his attempt to revive the High Kingship of Ireland. Bruce considered the battle a great success but his campaign would ultimately fail.


After the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, the Lordship of Ireland was created with the king of England as lord, represented locally by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The country was divided between the Gaelic dynasties that survived the Norman invasion and the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.[2]

Edward Bruce, Earl of Carrick, invaded Ireland on 26 May 1315, with the full support of his brother, Robert the Bruce.[3] A number of MacDougalls and their allies had fled to Ireland and the Bruces saw it as another front in the ongoing war against Norman England.[2] Edward’s 6,000 troops landed unopposed near Larne He defeated an of his brother’s father-in-law, Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, led by Thomas de Mandeville, before moving on to take the town of Carrickfergus.


In late June, Edward proceeded from Carrickfergus along Magh Line (Six Mile Water), burning Rathmore, near Antrim town, which was a holding of the Savages. He then went south by way of the Moiry Pass. Here he was met by Mac Duilechain of Clanbrassil and Mac Artain of Iveagh,[3] both of whom had submitted to him at Carrickfergus. Their attempted ambush ended in their defeat, and Bruce gained some supplies from the fleeing Anglo-Irish. According to the 14th-century account by John Barbour, the Scottish troops were led in the battle by Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, who had them fight on foot as was typical. [4]


Moving southwards, they burned Rathmore and destroyed De Verdon’s fortress of Castleroache near Dundalk. Outside the town Bruce encountered an army led by John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 4th Lord of Offaly, his son-in-law Edmund Butler, Earl of Carrick and Maurice FitzGerald, 4th Baron Desmond. The Scottish push them back towards Dundalk and lay waste to the town and its inhabitants.[1] At Ardee they set fire to the church in which a number of people had taken refuge and all were burned to death.[5]

Although Bruce had a large army, he was losing large amounts of forces at every battle he was involved in. By 1318, Bruce had only 2,000 men left. At the Battle of Faughart, Bruce fought the lordship with all of his surviving men. Bruce was killed by John de Bermingham at the battle and Bruce was buried at a cemetery above Faughart.[6]

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