First name

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John Maclean (c.1600-1666), Swedish financier, merchant, burgess of Gothenburg and nobleman, was born in the early 1600s in Scotland, the son of Hector Maclean the fifth Baron of Duart and his second wife Isabella Acheson, daughter of Sir Archibald Acheson of Gosford. Little is known of Maclean's early life, other than that he was known as "Iain Dubh" and that his brother was Donald Maclean of Brolas. He was half-brother of Hector and Sir Lachlan Maclean of Duart, who became baronet in 1631. There has been some confusion between John and James 'Makler' (Maclean) [SSNE 5433], Scottish burgess of Stockholm who had close contact with John. James spent time in Gothenburg during the early 1620s as well and appears as a Gothenburg burgess in 1632. Although John Maclean married Makler's wife's sister, there does not appear to have been a direct blood relationship between the two men who are often noted as uncle and nephew, or even brothers. They did of course become brothers-in-law once Maclean married Anna Gubbertz in 1629. She was probably the daughter of the iron merchant Hans Gubbertz who worked out of Stockholm. They had 16 children together. One of these, Catharina [SSNE 5436] married the Scottish officer, David Sinclair [SSNE 3503]. When James Makler's only daughter, Lunetta, died in 1634, he asked Maclean if he could adopt his first daughter, Isabella. In 1636 she became Makler's daughter, but unfortunately she died in 1639.

TRADE AND CIVIC ROLE: Some sources believe Maclean was in Stuart naval service until 1629 (evidence for this is lacking), whilst others note an involvement in merchant trade in Germany. In 1629 he became a burgess of Gothenburg although he is already recorded there in 1628 (and it is probably he and not John who was recorded at Nya Lodose that year). This appears to be the time that he became a business partner of James Mackler. When John Maclean represented Gothenburg before the Riksråd in Stockholm in 1632 (along with Michil Wernle) he came to complain that there was trouble with the tax privileges that the town had received from King Gustav II Adolf and requesting that these privileges be protected. His main trade was iron bar and timber cargoes, but included shipbuilding materials, butter, glass, cloth, salt, herring, wine, spirits and English coal. From 1638 until 1663 "Hans Mackleer" (and variants of that name) was noted as freighting goods on ships to and from Scotland, mostly bar iron, but in 1650 he also imported Scottish herring, and in 1660 and 1663 he imported bread and flour. That year he exported oxen from Gothenburg to Amsterdam, and again in 1654, as well as to Ostend, and again in 1656 and 1661. In 1655 he sent 46 horses and 40 sheep to the West Indies. His success led him to build a small personal fleet. Maclean also served as a town councillor for Gothenburg from 1632-1650, and in that capacity he represented Gothenburg at the 1632 Swedish parliament along with another councillor Michael Wernle, and from 1639 he was an alderman taking an active role in ecclesiastical, educational, customs and buildings services. He also acted as customs officer in 1634 until he was replaced by Henry Sinclair [SSNE 4688] Maclean again represented Gothenburg at the parliament in 1649. He appears to have supported Nils Börjesson in his disagreement with Sinclair, another Scottish councillor and burgess from 1632-3. He entertained the Swedish regent Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna and the State Marshall Jakob de la Gardie in his home on their visit to Gothenburg in 1639. That year he was engaged in a dispute with Anthony Knipe [SSNE 4676], an Englishman who was president of trade for Gothenburg at the time, regarding some Scottish herring he had imported. Despite his financial security it appears that Maclean tried to smuggle some Spanish wine from Gothenburg to Stockholm without paying customs, but he was caught. However in 1646, after he became an established wine importer he specifically requested permission to send unsold goods from Gothenburg on to other Baltic ports without having to pay the toll the second time and this was agreed. Maclean and his associates established a rope and sail factory in Gothenburg on 20 May 1646. Later on and whilst in Gothenburg, Maclean acted as a go-between to ensure that the payment of 200 rixdaler (£580 Scots) ordered by General Robert Douglas [SSNE 2378] would reach the general’s two sisters, Euphame and Helen Douglas, then living in Fife. Maclean organized the payment with Robert Law, a skipper of an Anstruther ship, who delivered the money in January 1656.


MILITARY ROLE: Already during the Thirty Years' War Maclean served an important purpose for the Swedes by transporting goods on behalf of the government. During the Bishops' Wars in Scotland (1639-1641) Maclean provided the Covenanters with ships and weapons from Sweden. Maclean is also said to have funded the Irish 'Wild Geese' who settled in Gothenburg from 1640-47 to be militarily trained by the Ulfsparre family. This group remain extremely hard to trace in the archives. 

Between 1643-5 Maclean played a vital role in defending Gothenburg from Danish attack by supplying the Swedish crown with food and clothing on credit and by furnishing warships and privateers. He organised and funded a reconnaissance mission to Copenhagen in 1644. Maclean also called on the personal fleet of his friend, the Walloon financier Louis de Geer, to protect Gothenburg harbour from the Danes. In addition he provided 2000 riksdaler for sailors to be employed in the defence of the harbour. He rarely received money in payment from the Swedish government for his military services - rather he got vessels such as Enhorn, a Danish ship captured during the war. When the Stuart envoy Colonel John Cochrane was sent to Scandinavia in 1649 to obtain military support to restore king Charles II, Maclean provided James Graham, the Marquis of Montrose with ships and weapons at his own expense. Indeed the military college in Stockholm undertook a lot of correspondence with him regarding the delivery of ammunition and guns in April 1649. The National Archives of Scotland contain two lists of cannon, arms and ammunition "in custody of John Mackliere, a merchant of Gotenberge" showing the amount sent from different towns in Sweden and endorsed 'the accompt of amunition to be shipped out'. In return he was created a baronet by the exiled Charles II on 13 April 1650, perhaps in lieu of the £9112 - £4649 for ships lost and £4463 for arms and transportation expenses - (or 1350 riksdaler) Charles II owed him, which Maclean never received. In a January 1651 letter to English Councillor of State Bulstrode Whitelocke, the sums spent to support Montrose by 'John Mackeleare, a rich Scot merchant in Gottenburgh' were set at 60,000 crowns.  Maclean's involvement with Montrose is explained by his eldest son Jakob's marriage to Catherine, Cocherane's daughter.

Several royal letters reveal his business ties with Charles II (24.12.1650, 24,2,1651, 19.3.1651, and 28.12.1652). In the first Charles begged Maclean to speedily send arms and ammunition for "our sad condition of Scotland". Maclean had already done this in 1649 and 1650, but each time his ships - The Unicorn with 12 guns bound for France, The King David with 24 and The Mary with 12 iron cannons - were taken by Cromwell and their cargoes confiscated by sentence of the English Admiralty. The King David and The Mary sailed with a fleet of Gothenburg, which was released, but Maclean's ships were retained as enemies of the Commonwealth. This declaration is witnessed by two masters of the ships at Gothenburg on 26th August 1650. In the second letter Charles recommends the bearer (Captain Frederick Cooke) and refers to an earlier royal messenger sent to Sweden. The third letter concerns Charles debt to Maclean for guns received by James, Viscount of Newbury. In the fourth letter Charles ordered Maclean to hand over the remaining weapons and ammunition to Major-General Middleton, to whom Charles had entrusted the military affairs regarding Scotland. Maclean met with the Cromwellian ambassador Bulstrode Whitelocke [SSNE 4438] several times during his embassy to Sweden from 1653-4.


PROPERTY AND ENNOBLEMENT: Maclean was ennobled in Sweden under the name of 'Makeléer' in 20 May 1649 and introduced to the Swedish House of Nobility in 1652. A hand-drawn version of Maclean's coat of arms from 1649 is found in vol.225, p.15 of the Palmskioldiska Samlingen at Uppsala university library with the original hanging in Riddarhus (no.513). He  continued to build up his personal holdings. When he was ennobled in Sweden and in 1652 he bought the estate of Hammero on Lake Vanern, Varmland, from Colonel John Gordon - whose widow he would later marry. Between March 1636 and May 1646 Maclean and his first wife lost five children, all buried in the German church (Christina) of Gothenburg [son on 2 March 1636, child on 27 August 1636, daughter on 27 July 1637, daughter on 21 December 1641, and another daughter on 25 May 1646]. Maclean's first wife, Anna Gubbertz, was buried on 24 June 1653 in Christina church in Gothenburg, and he married his second wife, Lilian Hamilton [SSNE 5443], in Gothenburg on 30 December 1655. She was buried on 4 April 1658 in Christina church. In 1658 Maclean received three royal donations of land in Halland, Sweden. That year he married his third wife, Anna Thomson [SSNE 5442], daughter of another Scot in Sweden Colonel Thomas Thomson [SSNE 1648]and his wife Catherine Murray, and widow of Colonel John Gordon [SSNE 2515]. They lost a son in 1659, buried on 6 January. In 1660 he received the title of commissioner. Maclean died on 7 July 1666 and was buried in Christina church in Gothenburg on 16 August.



Riksarkivets ämnessamlingar. Personhistoria

Swedish Riksarkiv, Kommerskollegii Underdåniga Skrivelser 1651-1840 - Hans Mackeler, 26/04/1665; Swedish Riksarkiv, Adolf Johans Arkiv i Stegeborgssamlingen, Hans Makeleir, 4 letters 1653-1660; Swedish Riksarkiv, Brev til Nils Borjesson Oxenstierna, July 1639-May 1653 (21); Gothenburg Landsarkiv, ref. 801, Göteborgs Drätselkammare 1638, nos. 90, 92, 97; National Archives of Scotland, Gifts and Deposits (GD), 40/10/4; 220/6/2085; 220/6/2985; Register till Sveriges Ridderskaps och Adels Riksdags-Protokoll (17 vols, Stockholm, 1910), vols. for 1652, 1655 and 1660.

See also: B. Hildebrand et al., Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon, Stockholm, (vol. 1-, 1918-), vol. xxiv; N.A. Kullberg, et. al. ed., Svenska Riksrådets Protokoll, Stockholm, (18 vols., 1878-1959), passim and II, p.141 and 184; Sveriges ridderskaps och adels riksdagsprotokoll, vol. 1652, p.24; G. Elgenstierna, Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, Stockholm, (9 vols., 1925-36), vol. 5, p.142; Palmskiöldiska Samlingen, vol.225, p.17; G.E. Cokayne ed., Complete Baronetage, (5 vols., 1900-1906), vol. 3; H. Almquist, Göteborgs Historia, grundläggningen och de första hundra åren, Göteborg, (1935), p. 87, 97, 109, 110, 137, 264, 320, 348, 350-2, 551, 553, 597, 616, 632, 650, 673, 729, 765; W. Berg, Samlingar till Göteborgs Historia, (Göteborg, 1890), pp.11, 438, 439, 443, 448, 454, 458, 460, 465; H. Fröding and B. Andersson, Göteborgs Historia: Näringsliv och samhällsutveckling, Göteborg, (1996); H. Fröding, Berättelser ur Göteborgs Äldsta Historia, Göteborg, (1908); S. Skarback, Göteborg på 1600 talet, Göteborg, (1992); E. Långström, Göteborgs Stads Borgarelängd 1621-1864, (Göteborg, 1926), p.27; Svenska Män och Kvinnor, Stockholm (1949), vol.5; T. Fischer, The Scots in Sweden, (1907); H. Marryat, One Year in Sweden including a visit to the isle of Gotland, (1862); J.N.M. Maclean, The Macleans of Sweden, (Edinburgh 1971), pp.25-26; Hans Landberg, Lars Ekholm, Roland Nordlund and Sven A. Nilsson, Det kontinentala krigets ekonomi: Studier i krigsfinansiering under svensk stormaktstid (Uppsala, 1971), p. 35; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.19, 30, 141, 180, 354; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Third Report (London, 1872), 192;  St Andrews University Library, burgh court book of Pittenweem, 1630-1669, B60/7/1, 14 March 1656.


Several letters can be found in 'Krigskollegium Kancelliet; Adressatregistratur till Krigskollegiets Registratur 1631-1654' including "tre sedlar en till artillerigården en till slottsartilleriet och en till rustkammaren har i Stockholm angående någon ammunition och gevär att leverera 7/4/1649". Another from Captain William Ogilvie reads "att leverera till Hans Makeleer diverse vapen med tillbehor 7/4/1649


There are 8 letters to do with John Maclean recorded for 7 April 1649 in Swedish Krigsarkiv, Krigskollegium Kancelliet B.1. Registratur.

LETTER ONE to Slottshauptmannen Johan Martensson Trumlods ?? in Stockholm. "bref til slotzhopmannen Johan Tromlods? om et partie ammunition och gewahr som HKM hafa uppdragit Hans Makler ifrån Goteborgh" "vi underskrifna ? Rikens Raad helsa eder godh wan? Herr slotzhopman Johan Maartenson Arumlods? och forhaallr honom har medh acta? at H K Majt waar allarnaadigsta drotningh naadigst hafvar updraggit ehrligh och Wel. Han Maklar handelsman och innwaahnare i Goteborgh et partie Amminution och Gewahr, och oss i Krigscollegio naadigst befalt att assignera honom effterskrifvna sorter, saasom lundhs musketter 1200, pikar ?900, och bandalerar ?500. Wi begiare fordenskull har medh at i widh anfordring och quittans laata Wal. Hans Makleer eller hans fulmaktige ofverupskrifvin sorter affsattia, Hwilket i saalunda hafver eder till rattelser at stalla och befall?" Lars Kagg, Ake Ericsson Oxenstiarna, Merchior von Falckenberg.

LETTER TWO "Bref till hoppmannen Gustaf Pillfalt? angaaende et partie Ammunition och gewahr som assignerat ar till Hans Makaler i Goteborgh at lefverera af Magazin huset i Jonkoping" "Wi underupskrifna ?Sv. Rikens Raad ? och forhaala eder har medh ?acta at effter saasom HKM waar allaenaadigsta drotningh hafwarnaadigst updragit arligh ?och Wal. Hans Makeler Borgarn och handelsman i Goteborgh et partie Ammunition och Gewahr Hwarfore hafvar effter hogbarm. Kong. Majt naadige befallning wi assignerat honom af Magazin huset i Jonkoping tolfhundrade lundht musketer trehundrade? pykar, ettusend soldate swardh, ettusend bandalerer, fortio? partifannen och fyrahundrade och trettio par pistoler. Wi begiara fordenskull wahnligen at i straxt detta waart breff eder tillhanda kommer, inn order stalla, at ofvanskrifvin sorter maage i trakistar wall blifver inlagda, musketerna i straa infixa?, pikarna sammanbunden, och saaledes i godh beredskap, till det whatGewahret, som fores ifraan Wadstena till Jonkoping, dyttkommer, daa will i forordna en gods Karl dar hoos, som what, iampte what ifraan Wadstena kommer, skall till Goteborgh framforar? kommenderes dyt, skall what bevaras till Hans Makeler och whar upaa quittans tagas. I maaste och hoos landshovdingen Wahlborna Bengt Ribbing om fordenskaz till benamte gewahr omhaaller at han almogen tilhaalla willa saadant till Goteborgh at framfordra effter som wi honom haer bredsa? ? daer om tilskrifvit hafva. Detta willa i saalunda eder till rattele staller och befall?" Lars Kagg, Ake Ericsson Oxenstiarna, Melchior von Falckenberg.

LETTER THREE "breff till Graf Lennart Torstenson om et partie gewahr som HKMajt hafvar uppdragit Hans Makler i Goteborgh" Hoghwalborne Grafven etc. Herr faltmarskalken och General Gouvernoeuren ar ? utan kunnig dhet HKMajt waar allarnaadigst drotningh hafvar naadigst updragit erligh och Wal.Hans Makeler handelsman och innwaahnare uti Goteborgh et partie Ammunition och gewahr och hogstbam. HKMajt havar oss i Krigs Collegio naadigst befalt at assignera af Magazinhuset i Giotheborgh lunte musketer fyrahundrade?, pikar nittonhundrade och bandelerer femhundrade?. Wi begiar fordenskull wahnligen what H.Faltmarskalken och General Gouverneuren willa behaga den order laata stalla at benamta sorter maage benmte Makeler widh anfordings och effter noijachtigs? quittan blifwa lefererade och befall" Lars Kagg, Ake Ericsson Oxenstiarna, Melchior von Falckenberg.

LETTER FOUR "breff till landshovdingen Welb Bengt Ribbing angaaende den Ammunition som ifraan Wtzstea och Jonkopingh till Gotheborgh afgaa skall at benmt ammunition for?dalst landhovdingens befordran medh allmogans haestar och fordenplax? blifwer konstsatt och framfordt" "wi underskrifna Sveriges Rikens Raad och paa ? narwarande krigsraade helsa eder till forlaathe godse Wan Hr Landshovdingen Bengt Ribbing af Guds ? och forhaalla honom har medh iact? att effter saasom HKMajt waar allarnaadigsta drotningh hafwar naadigst behagat att laata nu strax afgaa et partie Ammunition ifraan Wadstena och Jonkoping till Goteborgh, hwarfor hafva wi slotzhopmannerna der om tillskrifvit, at den straxt? laate aflaggia den sorter som der till forordnade ahrr, och den i traekistar, halm? och paa hwadd satt den bor? forwahras kunne, inlaggia, och sedan till Goteborgh afsanda. Och saasom har uppaa markt ligger, at detta maa strax blifva effterkommit, altsaa begiara vi har medh what Hr Landshovdingen willa laata befordra dessa sorter till Goteborgh medh almogen hastar och fordenskull paa what, at inthet forsummelse? whar medh maa skee?, omsenndes? saadant laenda HKM till nodigt behg. ? etc" Lars Kagg, Ake Ericsson Oxennstiarna, Melchior von Falckenberg, Simon Simonson Rosenberg, Nils Hansson Silfvergren, Carol Piper. 

LETTER FIVE "bref till staathaalaren Dawidh Da?burgh angaaende et partie ammunition och gewahr som Hans Makeler af HKMajt uplaatit ar af Magazin huset i Wadstena at bekomma" "Wi underskrifna Sv. R.Raad och forhala eder har medh icta? at effter saasom HKMajt waar allernaadigsta drotningh hafver naadigst updragit ehrligh och Wal.Hans Makler Borgare och handelsman i Goteborgh et partie af Ammunition och gewahr. Hwarfor hafva effter HKMajt naadiga befalning wi assignerat honom af Vadstena Magazinhuset tolfhundrade 3 pundiga runda lods trettiio skep? lunta, ettusenhundrade? (prob ellefvahundrade) pikar, firttio partifanner/partisanner, trettio trumbar och fem hundrade paar pistoler. Wi begiar fordenskull wahnligen, whad i straxt? detta waart bref eder tilhanda kommer, stalla den order?, at ofvanskrifen sorter maage blifva i tradsekistar wall inlagda, pikarna wall samman bunden, och inden medh boyortarna till Jonkoping forskickade. Och effter saasom naagra sorter skola tagas i Jonkoping dar till. Hwarfor willa i afftala medh artollerie capiteinen Gustaf Hansson at han forfardigar? en wiss? Karl medh ofvanbenmta saker aat Jonkoping, hwilken i likka maatte skall den samma stade emottaga den saker darifraan sandas skola, och fohra detta tillhopa aat Goteborgh, kommandes dit skall han lefverera det alltsammans till Hans Makeler, och dar uppaa taga hans quittans, ?skilder paa whad som ifraan Wadstena tagen och inndelne paa det som han i Jonkoping annammer?, saa laghandes at detta utan naagon forsummelse? maa straxt blifwa effterkommit och befalt?" Lars Kagg, Ake Ericsson Oxenstiarna, Melchior von Falckenberg, Simon Simonson Rosenberg, Nils Hansson Silfvergren, Carol Piper.

LETTER SIX "Trenne sedelar? en till Artollerie Gaarden? en till Slotz Artollerie, en till Rustkammare har i Stockholm, angaaende naagon Ammunition och gewahre at leferera till Hans Makeler"  "Aff Rustkammaren i Stockholm lefereras rustmastaren Daniel Hansson till Hans Makeler Borgaren och Handelsman i Gotheborgh lunta musketer, tolfhundrade, pikar ottahundrade, bandelarer ettusen, Ryttar swardh sexhundrade?, ryttar harnisk tutusend?, soldate swardh tretusend, partifannar trettio, trumbar tiugo, och pistoler ottahundrade och tiugo paar hwilket han sigh har under laater quittera" Lars Kagg, Ake Ericsson, Oxenstiarna, Melchior Von FalckenburgSimon Simonsson Rosenbergs, Nils Hansson Silfvergren, Carol Piper.

LETTER SEVEN "Aff slotz artolleriet lefrerar Arcliemastaren Wilhelm Ogilvij till Hans Makeler Borgaren och Handelsman i Goteborgh sex lastar krut hwilka han sigh har under laater quittera" Lars kagg Ake Ericsson Oxennstiarna, Melchior von Falckenberg, Simon Simonsson Rosenbergh, Nils Hansson Silfvergren, Carol Piper.

LETTER EIGHT"Aff Artollerigaarden laater Ofverstelantmarsken Walb. Maans Ulffsparre lefverera till Hans Makler Borgaren och Handelsman i Gotheborg tolff enn pundiga regementz stycken? medh laadher, forstaller, sedslar? och allt tillbehor, Hwilket han sigh har under laater quittera." Lars Kagg, Ake Ericsson Oxennstiarna, Melchior von Falckenbergh, Simon Simonsson Rosenbergh, Nils Hansson Silfvergren, Carol Piper.


With thanks to Nigel Alington and Thomas Brochard for updates.

Service record

Departed 1666-12-31
Departed 1650-12-31
Capacity COUNCILLOR, purpose CIVIC