First name

Text source

Andrew Russell from Stirling served as the main factor for Scottish trade in Rotterdam between 1668 and 1697. His papers as preserved in the National Archives of Scotland indicate that Russell's connection with Rotterdam probably predated 1659. Indeed his brother John Russell had also been active in trade with the Netherlands regarding the importation of wine to Scotland between 1657-9. A Dutch document dated 12 September 1659 endorsed "a discharge for money I [Russell] was owing in Holland whereof the ticket was lost". In May 1660 he brought a sum of 436 guilders over from Scotland to Gilbert Alcorn [SSNE 6832] in Rotterdam on behalf of the laird of Polmaise. His trade also included the wool industry as in July 1679 a John Craig shipped him 2 fardels of "fingram" (woollen cloth) from Scotland which he hoped Russell would sell for him in the Netherlands. Russell's accounts from 1674-1676 note him as a merchant in Edinburgh and Rotterdam. The historian D. Catterall described him as a "staunch post-1660 Covenanter" (p.77) and noted that Russell's role as factor meant that he served various prominent Scots of conflicting political affiliations. From at least 1676 Russell was an elder in the Scots Kirk at Rotterdam, which had about 1,000 members by the end of the 17th century, and was involved in setting up a charity fund for the poor Scots of the community. Catterall has highlighted how in the 1680s Russell was amongst those who opposed their Covenanter minister, John Hog, for his public drunkenness and sought his dismissal. Russell's business networks were extensive, both within the Netherlands and abroad. These included: in Scotland (Aberdeen, Bo'ness, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kilsyth, Stirling), in England (London,), in Ireland (Dublin), in Belgium (Bruges, Ostend), in France (Paris, Rouen), in Sweden (Stockholm, Norrkoping), in the German and Baltic states (Hamburg, Bremen, Riga), in Denmark (Elsinore), in Surinam, in Boston, as well as within the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, Brill, Campvere, Dort). Much of his correspondence survives and provides a complete overview of Russell's extensive contacts. For example from one decade alone: in November 1682 Robert Main, the keeper of the letter office in Edinburgh, wrote to him; in December 1686 Russell wrote to David Melville 3rd Earl of Leven [SSNE 5000] in Berlin stating that "None of your Lordship's affayres under my trust hath been neglected"; and in May 1689 Robert Baird in Surinam described the repulse of an attack by French ships there. A letter, dated 26 November 1685, from William Livingston [SSNE 7131] to Mr. Patrick Davidson stated that "brother Russell haveing resolved not to do any more in commissions hath amongst others given over yours to me" - indicating that Russell had ceased some of his factoring activity at that point. However his business correspondence with Stockholm, Edinburgh and Amsterdam certainly continued from 1685 until 1696. Indeed Russell formed a joint-stock company with Patrick Thomson in Stockholm [SSNE 6475] and Robert Turnbull in Stirling. These were all friends from Stirling who discussed the idea in the 1660s. Formally constituted on 1 January 1684, each man put up £1000 sterling. Turnbull gave over half to his son-in-law, Alexander Baird. James Thomson [SSNE 6332], Patrick's brother, became an associate and managed the trade at Norrkoping. Smout explains the partnership as one where each man used his expertise in each location for the benefit of all. The Scottish based partners sourced coarse wool for Rotterdam and finer cloth, gloves, rawe wool, stockings, tallow and herring for Sweden. Russell too provided goods for Sweden, while the Swedish based merchants sourced iron and copper to be shipped to Bo'ness, Amsterdam or where instructed. Turnbull sent coal to La Rochelle where salt was collected and sent by Russell to the Thomson's in Sweden. Andrew Russell was married to Janet Livingston [SSNE 7133] and with her he had several children. Their daughter Helena married John Hamilton, Scottish factor at Campvere. Other members of the Russell family in the Dutch Republic included Christian Sinclair [SSNE 7159] in Den Bosch. He moved there in 1689 and wrote to Russell in June that his wife had had an easy delivery of a new son.

National Archives of Scotland, GD 1/832/5; GD 1/885; RH 1/2/772-773, 787, 792, 797, 963, 975, 979; RH 15/106/107, 110, 111, 113, 119 (legal and financial papers and correspondence relating to Andrew Russell), 130, 139, 147, 199, 305, 387, 483, 494, 531, 532, 561, 574, 575, 576, 607, 609, 636, 637, 663, 689, 710, 724, 757, 781, 789, 802; National Archives of Scotland, GD 26/13/370, Andrew Russell to Earl of Leven, Rotterdam, 17 December 1686; D. Catterall, Community without Borders, Scots migrants and the changing face of power in the Dutch Republic, c.1600-1700, (Brill, 2002), pp.77, 78, 128, 201, 283, 286, 288, 291; S. Leiper, Precious Cargo: Scots and the China Trade (Edinburgh, 1997), p.11; T. C. Smout, Scottish Trade on the Eve of Union (Edinburgh & London, 1963), passim; T. C. Smout, 'The European Lifeline' in G. Menzies (ed.), In Search of Scotland (Edinburgh, 2001), p.121; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), passim.

Service record

Arrived 1660-01-01
Departed 1685-11-26
Arrived 1660-01-01
Departed 1696-12-31
Capacity MERCHANT, purpose MERCHANT