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William Barclay (1603-1676) of Vrå (now Frederiksdal) in Sweden, Scottish officer and Swedish nobleman. According to Swedish genealogies, Barclay was born in Siggot (a corruption of Sigget in Aberdeenshire), in Scotland on 4 May 1603, the son of Patrick Barclay, the laird of Sigget and his wife Margaret Stuart.

William Barclay entered Swedish military service during the Thirty Years’ War, although the exact date is unclear. However in October 1636, Captain “Wilhelm Berckley”, who was quartered in Plau [Mecklenburg-Vorpommern], was attacked by the Imperialists at a time when he had apparently blackmailed 7000 florins from the town.

William Barclay became a  lieutenant colonel in Robert Douglas' [SSNE 2378] regiment in 1639, mentioned in the complaints of the council of Delitzsch [Northern Saxony] to Johan Banér, 4/14 March. The regiment was disbanded in 1649.

In 1646 William Barclay became the colonel and chief of a cavalry squadron (4 companies) from Värmland and Dalarna and served in Germany. William Barclay was involved in a lengthy battle to get a debt settled by the Swedish government from 1642 onwards. He had already been awarded a pension in 1645, to the value of 1000 rixdaler annually. This was only the first of a series of disputes which featured the Scotsman.

The following year a land donation was authorised for William Barclay and on 27 August 1645 the Swedish Riksråd (State Council) ordered that Barclay’s debt be settled from the sale or mortgage of "Märtmer’s remaining property".

After 1645, according to some in 1647, William Barclay married Margareta Becker, daughter of Stockholm merchant Johan Becker and his wife Christina de Wijk. Margareta was the widow of another Scotsman in Swedish service, Patrick Kinnemond [SSNE ], who had also been ennobled. They had four sons and one daughter. William Barclay buried two children at St Nikolai church in Stockholm in 1652. It was through Margareta Becker that William Barclay came to own a substantial property called 'Fredriksdal' in Vagnhärad. Margareta's mother, Christina de Wijk, remarried to Hans Fredrik Fuchs and he bought Akra gård from the Swedish Crown in 1638, comprising 1 'skattegård' and 1 'skattejord'. He then further purchased Adervik, Fågelsö, Fänsåker, and Kjesselbro. Christina de Wijk inherited all this from her second husband and in 1652 purchased Risevid, Skåäng and Trosa by. She died that year, leaving her property to her daughter Margareta Becker, William Barclay's wife.

William Barclay must have had a residence in Stockholm, but the details remain to be ascertained.

William Barclay soon found himself in trouble with the Swedish authorities again. Not only did he receive instructions to control what was left of his squadron in March 1648 but that year (one source says 1652) he was later convicted by a Swedish war tribunal of excesses of plunder and lost his colonelcy as a result.

This did not, however, prove an obstacle to William Barclay's ennoblement that same year in December.

From 19 September 1650 Queen Kristina wanted regular musters of the Stockholm town corps. As part of this Barclay became the first town major for Stockholm in 1652 (presumably the first time this rank and appointment had been held).

Thereafter, Barclay actively sought admission to the House of Nobility. Queen Kristina allowed this but denied his requests for further land donations. He was introduced into the House of Nobility in 1654 under nr.562.

William Barclay attended the Riksdag that year and the following three, which was one of the duties of a member of the Riddarhus. Just two years later the Stockholm town council chose Barclay in preference to another soldier for promotion to town colonel (although some sources say this was in 1657). Later that year he was also chosen to represent the city when receiving Queen Kristina on her return from Prussia.

It was not long before William Barclay became embroiled once more in a conflict with the Riksråd over a dispute with the master of court, whom he blamed for not undertaking his duties properly. Always controversial, Barclay upset the chief governor of Stockholm the following year by approaching the military college on a matter without discussing it with the governor first. For all his various altercations, he overcame these setbacks and remained in royal favour, being appointed a conscription commissioner for the Swedish army in 1657. Later that year he was involved in yet another quarrel between Stockholm’s military defence corps and the burgesses of the city. Although he was receiving 500 Swedish Riksdaler a year from Stockholm city, his royal wages were slow in appearing, and Barclay threatened resignation from military service if his salary arrears were not paid. In 1662 his pay was raised to 750 daler. He must have been paid as by 1665 he was promoted to the rank of major general. That year he obtained free quarters in the city.

In November 1667, William Barclay petitioned the Scottish Privy Council for a birthbrieve which they granted to him the following year. The Council noted that Barclay had "happily spent much of his tyme in the warrs abroad under the King of Sweden, and being now resolved to fix his residence abroad, necessar it is for testification of his discent and pedigree that he have a bore-breiff under his Majesties great seall". Barclay had supplied the Council with a certificate signed by the Earl of Findlator and others.

William Barclay remained settled in Sweden as a royal Swedish letter dated 13 March 1674/6 gave Barclay an annual pension of 15,000 daler in silver coin, in reward of his lengthy services to the Crown.

William Barclay died on 6 May 1676 and was buried in Vagna church. His "soul-ringing" was listed at St Nikolai church in Stockholm on the 7 May 1676. It appears that his estates and titles were not passed onto his son. His wife Margareta drowned on 23 April 1696. They appear to have had a daughter, Magdalena Margareta who was baptised in Nicolai Kyrka on 16 November 1673


Sources: Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, 3rd series, II, 1665-1669, p.577; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1646/9; Swedish Riksarkiv, Carl Gustaf's Arkiv i Stegeborgssamlingen, Letter from Lt. Colonel William Barclay, Olau an der Oder, April 1647; Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, vol 1, pp.232-3; Some of his letters can be found through "Krigskollegium inkommna handlingar 1646", see no. 665, 5 July 1646, Nyköping. William Barclay to Krigskollegiet in German, about military administration; no 739, 16 July 1646, William Barclay in Swedish, about his regiment, particularly about the "praedicanter" and various incomplete squadrons. In the 1647 volume see no. 965, 12 April 1647, William Barclay in German, again reference to administration and general fieldmarshall Torstensson. Several other letters can be found in through 'Krigskollegium Kancelliet; Adressatregistratur till Krigskollegiets Registratur 1631-1654' including "förskrift till landshövdingen Olov Stake att inrymma honom några gåudar 15/7/1646"; "att han låter sig i bästa måtan vara befallt de övriga ryttarna som nu i Tyskland behållna finnas av hans skvadron 1/3/1648"; "att svara Rasmus Påfve pa det han kan hava honom att tilltala 6/3/1654"; "att tillfredställa Rasmus Påfve 14/3/1654"; C. Forsstrand, W. Swahn, and C. Magnusson, Stockholms Borgerskap (Stockholm, 1929), p.110; H. Marryat, One Year in Sweden, including a visit to Gotland (London, 1862), p.486; Otto Donner, A brief sketch of the Scottish families in Finland and Sweden (Helsingfors, 1884), p.20; Sveriges Ridderskaps och Adels Riksdagsprotokoll, 17 vols, see the vols for 1654, 55, 56, 57 and 1660; T. Wennerstrom, Stockholms Borgargarde, (Stockholm, 1937), p.238; Stockholm Stadsarkiv, St Nikolai församling döda 1627-1680, p.21; Stockholm Stadsarkiv, Klara församlings register över döda, 1680 - 1710, p.20; C.F. Corin, Självstyre och kunglig maktpolitik inom Stockholms stadsförvaltning, 1668-1697 (Stockholm, 1958), p.211; Stockholm Stadsarkiv, (Storkyrkan) Nikolai församling dopböker, 1623-1717, I, p.82; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), p.106. For 'Fredriksdal' see also:


For correspondence from and about him see: Riksarkivets ämnessamlingar. Personhistoria


We thank Dr Bernd Warlich for providing information on his role in 1636 which he gave us fromGeorg Friedrich LISCH, Geschichte der Stadt Plau, in: Jahrbücher des Vereins für Mecklenburgische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Band 17 (Schwerin 1852), pp. 29-249, here p. 213. He also provided the details of the complaint made to Johan Baner which he found in "Lehmann, Johann Gottlieb, Delitzscher Stadtchronik. Ausgewählt durch Christel Moltrecht. Teil V: 1600-1649. Veröffentlichungen zur Delitzschen Geschichte Heft. 10, hg. vom Kreismuseum Delitzsch 1985, p. 94f."


Service record

Arrived 1636-10-03, as LT. COLONEL
Departed 1650-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1652-01-01, as TOWN MAJOR
Departed 1674-03-13, as MAJOR GENERAL