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Arvid Alexander Forbes (1598-1665) was a son of Ernald Forbes of Mecklenburg (who was the customs officer in Borgå) and Carin Anderson and was born on 15 January 1598 in Borgå, Finland. By his fellow Scots he was called Fin-Forbes (aka Finnese-Forbes) and his first name rendered as Alexander. His brother was Mattias [SSNE 2248] and he was also in Swedish service. . Arvid Forbes married Margaretha Boij and was the father of the feisty Sophia Juliana Forbes [SSNE 6318].

Arvid Forbes' military service began as a lieutenant in Ernst Creutz' Nyland regiment from 1623-1626. Then he became a captain in Björneborgs regiment until 1630. The next year he was raised to lieutenant colonel. Arvid Forbes was then colonel of a recruited regiment which served during the German campaigns of the Thirty Years' War including the Swedish defeat at Nördlingen. After the battle of Nördlingen he quartered from 16 September 1634 until 29 January 1635 as commander of a recruited infantry-regiment in Sachsenhausen, a suburb of Frankfurt am Main. From 1635 the regiment was under the supreme command of Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar.

It was around this time that Arvid Forbes obtained a plot of land on which to build what has since become known as Arvid Forbes' 'lost' palace, located on the southern tip of Blasieholmen (an islet which came to serve as home for several Scots and many of the elite military and nobles of the era through Queen Kristina's generous land donations). On 2/5 1655 Arvid Forbes purchased a part of Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie’s large easterly plot – comprising Hofslagaregatan 1 and 3, also listed as Blasieholmshamnen 1 or 4, thus right on the shore, and Blasieholmsgatan 1 – in May 1655. There he had a house - small palatial abode - constructed at nr.4A Blasieholmen. The building was described as a beautifully proportioned jewel albeit not as magnificent as the nearby Bååtska palace, with an “Italianate” roof and a remarkable external double stairway facing the water. Arvid Forbes' daughter, Sophia inherited in 1665, and as she was married to Axel Jules de la Gardie the building for a time became known as De la Gardieska huset. All traces of it were razed in the 1860s. The building is represented on an undated but clearly seventeenth century map of Blasieholmen, which at one time was housed in Kammararkivet's Sandbergska Samlingen Y, which is considered to be the youngest of three surviving maps of the area and presumed to date to between 11/10 1658 and 30/08 1659. It was used to at the time to measure out individual plots. This map is interesting as it actually names new plot owners, including Riksråd Arvid Forbes.

Arvid and his brother Mattias presented their noble Scottish origins at a meeting of the Swedish estate of the nobility in 1636 - intriguingly it was noted that they were born 'Finns' (although the source is not clear on whether they made that statement or their peers). Nevertheless, Forbes was ennobled and introduced into the Swedish house of nobility with his brother Mattias in 1638.

By 1639 he commanded his regiment in Breisach on the Rhine and was nominated in the Swedish State Council to use his position there to become an envoy to the French. Field Marshal Baner's nomination got more support. Nevertheless, on 30 January 1641, Baner wrote an impressive letter of recommendation for Arvid. Perhaps because of this, on the 14th of August 1641, Forbes became vice- commandant in upper Pomerania and commandant in Stralsund. He was also colonel of a recruited regiment in Wismar, and then colonel for Vasterbottens regiment in 1642. Thereafter he became major general of the infantry in 1646 [other sources list 1648] and vice governor in Pomerania in 1648. Forbes's influence extended to being a member of the Krigsråd (Swedish war council) in 1650 [other sources say 1660]. In 1652 he was made baron and the following year he was a member of the riksråd (the council of state) with the rank of general (although one source notes this as 1658). He certainly attended the Riksdag in 1647 and 1654, and there is mention of him in 1636 and 1638. At some point during his life he had a stone house constructed on Blasieholm in Stockholm.

Arvid Forbes died on 20 January 1665 in Stettin. He was buried in Stockholm at Riddarholm church in the family vault. There is a portrait of Forbus dated 1649 and painted by Matthaeus Merian, court painter for Carl Gustav Wrangel, at Skokloster castle in Sweden. 



Letters to and about Forbus can be read here: Riksarkivets ämnessamlingar. Personhistoria

Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1623/8; 1624/5; 1625/4; 1627/5,8,10-12,14; 1628/11,12,14,15; 1629/6-10, 12,13,15,17; 1630/1,19,21; 1631/22-27; 1642/8,19-21; 1643/2,10,16-19; 1644/11,18-20; 1645/12,20-24; 1646/10/17; 1648/16; 1660/20; Anon., The Modern History of the World. Or An Historical Relation of the most memorable passages in Germany, and else-where, since the beginning of this present Yeere 1635 (London, 1635), A3; R. Monro, His Expedition with the worthy Scots Regiment called Mackayes (2 vols., London, 1637), II, List of Scottish Officers, 1632; Rikskansleren Axel Oxenstiernas Skrifter och Brefvexling, second series, vol. VII (Stockholm,1893), pp.822-823. Johan Baner's recommendation for Arvid Forbes, 30 January 1641; Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Swedish Riksarkiv, Generalguvernörer och riksståthållare, guvernörer, landshövdingar och ordningsmän i Sverige och dess besittningar; Sveriges Rikes Ridderskaps och Adels Riksdags Protokoll, andra delen 1633-1636, (Stockholm 1856), p.208; Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, vol. 2, pp.792-793; Bertil Steckzén, Västerbottens Regementes Officerare till år 1841 (Umeå, 1955), p.68-69; F.U. Wrangel, Blasieholmen och dess inbyggare, 2nd ed (Stockholm, 1914), p.3, 94, 96; F. Bedoire, Stormaktstidens Norrmalm folk hus och gator, (Stockholm, 2023, p.151; L.M. Bååth, 'Handritaded kartor öfver Stockholm från 1600-talet', Samfundet St Eriks Årsbok 1909, (Stockholm, 1909), p.100; H. Marryat, One Year in Sweden, including a visit to the isle of Gotland (London, 1862), p.478; S. Lewenhaupt, Svenska Högre Ämbetsmän från 1634 (Stockholm, 1961), p.45; S. Curman and J. Roosval, eds., Riddarholmskyrkan: Sveriges Kyrkor, Stockholms Kyrkor, vol. 2, (Stockholm, 1937), pp.634-40; A. Losman, Ansikten: Matthaeus Merian den yngres porträtt på Skokloster (Stockholm, 1996); Register till Sveriges Ridderskaps och Adels Riksdags-Protokoll (17 vols, Stockholm, 1910), vols. for 1636/38/47/49/52/54; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.22, 58; Sveriges Rikes Ridderskaps och adelns riksdagsprotokoll, vol.2, p.208. Anja RIECK, Frankfurt am Main unter schwedischer Besatzung 1631-1635 (Reichsstadt-Repraesentationsort-Bündnisfestung. Frankfurt/M. 2005), pp. 185-187; 161, 296, 297. Thanks to Dr Bernd Warlich for information added to this entry and this last and the subsequent references.

According to Detlev Pleiss, a Renevold Forbus, together with French and Weimarians troops, led Finns near Mosel and Rhine from 1637 to 1640. However the Swedish archives have not thus far revealed a commander of this name, and his position as commander of Finns and his proximity to the troops of Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar suggest that Renevold is actually Arvid Forbes. Indeed, Arvid commanded his regiment from Breisach in 1639 confirming the confusion in names. See Detlev PLEISS, Der Zug der finnischen Reiter in die Niederlande via Wesel 1633, in: Jutta PRIER (ed.), Stadt und Festung Wesel. Beiträge zur Stadtgeschichte der frühen Neuzeit (Wesel 1998), p. 9-48, here p. 38; See also the MDSZ database


Service record

Arrived 1623-01-01, as LIEUTENANT
Arrived 1641-01-01, as CHIEF COMMANDANT
Departed 1641-12-31, as CHIEF COMMANDANT
SWEDEN, STRALSUND (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern)
Arrived 1641-01-01, as COMMANDANT
Departed 1641-12-31, as COMMANDANT
Arrived 1648-01-01, as VICE GOVERNOR
Departed 1648-12-31, as VICE GOVERNOR
Capacity GOVERNOR, purpose MILITARY