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John Hepburn (1598?-1636) was the 2nd son of George Hepburn of Athelstaneford near Haddington, Lothian and his wife Helen Hepburn, daughter of Adam Hepburn of Smeaton. He probably studied at St Andrews in 1615,and then travelled to France with his friend, Robert Monro [SSNE 94], who later also became a colonel in Swedish service. Hepburn visited Paris and Poitiers. In 1620 Sir Andrew Gray [SSNE 378] began to levy forces for the support of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, and he established his camp on Hepburn family property at Monkrig. John joined Gray's forces, leaving Scotland in May 1620, and commanded a company of pikes who served as the personal guard to the exiled King of Bohemia. After the defeat at White Mountain Gray's forces united with Count Ernst Mansfeldt's troops, and by 1622 Hepburn held the rank of captain. He served during the battles of Bergen op Zoom in July and of Fleurus in August 1622. It was after Mansfeldt's forces were disbanded in 1623 that Hepburn and his troops entered Swedish service. In 1625 Hepburn was appointed colonel of his own infantry troop at a salary of £380 per annum. He served with honour during Sweden's Prussian campaigns, particularly in the defence of Mewe against a Polish army of 30,000 in 1625. He also served with Colonel Alexander Leslie [SSNE 1] at Danzig in 1626. Swedish sources have him as a captain in FB von Thurn's Hofregiment until 1627 and state he captured the castle of Marienburg in 1627 and was active in further campaigns in Poland in 1628. In the interim he was one of four Scottish colonels knighted by Gustav Adolf in 1627, the other three being Alexander Leslie, Patrick Ruthven and David Drummond. Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna sent him to Osterode in May 1629 to oversee the expedition of several lasts of powder to Elbingen, and then in January 1630 Hepburn was sent to Pillau, along with 2 of his companies, to strengthen the defences. Oxenstierna respected Hepburn, as at the end of that month he appointed the Scot as an envoy to Danzig, specifying that no Swede or other more suitable person for the task was at hand, regarding that port's relationship with Sweden. On 8 February Oxenstierna supplied Hepburn with a 13 point instruction letter for the Danzig negotiations, and this was followed by a 4 point letter for Hepburn and his colleague, Johan Niclas Dellonius, the auditor-general to represent Sweden in Danzig where the truce of Stuhmsdorf was signed in February 1630. In June 1630 Hepburn accompanied King Gustav II Adolph to Pomerania when the king initiated his German campaigns against the Habsburg empire. Hepburn developed a close working relationship with the Swedish king to the extent that when other Scottish officers, such as Monro, wished to speak to Gustav II Adolph, they relied on Hepburn to intercede for them. Hepburn jointly commanded with Colonel Maximillian Teuffel at Colberg, which capitulated to Swedish forces in 1630. Hepburn became the governor of Rugenwalde castle, after he and 6 of his companies were sent there to relieve Monro [SSNE 94] and Tisenhusen in October 1630. Oxenstierna noted that at this point Hepburn was so competently in charge of his men that he had heard no complaints as the troops passed through Pomerania It was shortly after that that Hepburn requested that he be appointed a cavalry regiment as an injury he had received to the knee made the job of infantry colonel difficult. Monro noted that Hepburn's men were usually called upon by the King when troops were needed for particularly dangerous situations, thus in December 1630 4 of his companies were sent to join the royal army. Hepburn's forces became known as the Green brigade/regiment. Hepburn proved very successful, as mentioned by Robert Monro, at the conquest at Landsberg/Warthe in April 1631. In September his troops distinguished themselves at battles at Frankfurt on the Oder and Breitenfeld, near Leipsig, where Hepburn was wounded. He commanded troops along with Sir James Lumsden and Lord Reay on the death of Colonel Teuffel (In the battle of Breitenfeld he led 12 Companies with 192 officers and 786 men). The following year he led infantry at Werben and when Gustav II Adolf divided his army in two, Hepburn was placed in charge of one section. In 7 days he captured 6 towns, resulting in the Swedish king's unopposed march southwards across the Rhine and Bavaria fell under Swedish control. One of the towns he captured was Oxenfurt (Ochsenfurt) which was thereafter garrisoned by men from James Lumsden's regiment. In December 1631, Hepburn as eldest colonel had the honour of 'the Storm' of Oppenheim. The Swedish Intelligencer records his actions in Bavaria at Donaworth (Donauwoerth) and Harburg Bridge where he was seconded by English volunteers including Lord Craven and Robert Marsham. He also served as an interim governor for Landshut until Gustav II Adolf arrived. The Chronicles of Landshut said unanimously that Hepburn, who was quartered in the residence along with the Swedish field-marshal Horn, maintained good discipline in the town until Gustav II Adolf appeared the 10 of May and demanded 150,000 riksdaler ransom (reduced later to 100,000, which Hepburn had to call in). During this time Hepburn gave protection of the college of the Jesuits which he had visited himself. Besides the ransom, Horn demanded a gift of 5000 riksdaler for himself and 1000 riksdaler for Hepburn. To fulfil these demands they took away eight hostages. Thereafter Hepburn became the governor of Munich in 1632. While in Bavaria he took a force of 2000 musketeers to join with Gustav Adolf in pursuit of the Duke of Bavaria around the region of Sulzbach-Rosenberg. They hoped to surprise Bavaria before he could meet up with Wallenstein's forces. By the time Gustav Adolf called all his forces together he commanded six infantry brigades, three of which were controlled by Hepburn. The two armies taunted each other for some time and by July, the Swedish forces were back in Nurnburg. Disease and desertion took their toll on both sides so that the armies were both reduced in size with few being killed in the fighting. Shortly after this it appears that Hepburn and the Swedish king had a disagreement which caused Hepburn to resign from the Swedish army. Some sources record that Hepburn's Catholicism and flamboyant personal style had always irked Gustav II Adolph - others state it was because he was not given the rank of lieutenant-general, but the actual cause of the disagreement remains unknown. Hepburn was dimitted by Gustav Adolf on the 10 July 1632. His regiment was taken over by his lieutenant-colonel, Adam von Pfuel while Colonel Robert Monro took over leadership of the Green Brigade. The Swedish Intelligencer reports that by August 1000-1400 men a week were dying of disease. Nonetheless, Hepburn remained in the field and took part in the battle of 24 August near Nurnberg as an observer (The Swedish Intelligencer describes his status there as being simply a volunteer). His advice on where to attack was challenged by Gustav Adolf, but nonetheless, Hepburn took over the post of the fallen Colonel Erpach and in a dangerous stituation Gustav Adolf requested him to ascertain the importance of a hill conquered by Duke Bernard of Saxony-Weimar. Hepburn allegedly answered that he was not in service no more, but as the order might be dangerous, he would accept it. After Hartes description Hepburn visited the hill and said, the enemy might be threatened from there with advantage. When Gustav Adolf went to the hill himself, it is said Hepburn put his sword into the sheat and said: “Now, Sir, my order is fulfilled, from this day I will not draw my sword for you". Gustav Adolf is said not to have answered to this. By the time Hepburn returned to the Swedish king a council was already in progress. Hepburn's advice on the placing of canon within 50 paces of the castle was rejected by the king who preferred 500 and thereafter the order to retreat was given. Thereafter Hepburn and a few other Scottish officers - Sir James Hamilton of Priestfield [SSNE 2585] among them - returned to Scotland.


Hepburn in French service:

On 26 January 1633 Hepburn received his first commission from the French government, who made him a marechal de camp. King Charles 1's warrant for Hepburn's levy of 1200 men dates from 26 March and the entry in the Privy Council records dates from 24 April. Hepburn raised 2000 men in Scotland for French service, and was in command at the conquest of Lorraine and at the siege of Nancy. He continued his successful career, in Alsace and at the taking of de La Mothe castle in 1634. Hepburn was in charge of 6000 men at this time gaining the rank of Marechal de Camp. He then served in Germany under Marshal La Force, de Breze, and cardinal de la Valette, eventually joining with Duke Bernhard of Weimar's army in 1635. By March that year, the author of 'The Modern History of the World' noted Hepburn as Field Marshal for the king of France's army and he was awarded the rank of Marshal of France. On either the 8 or 21 July 1636 Hepburn was killed by a gun shot wound to the neck during the siege of Savern. His colonelcy of the regiment in France devolved onto his kinsman Sir James Hepburn [SSNE 2657]. John was buried along with his sword, helmet and spurs in the cathedral at Toul in France. A monument, since destroyed, was erected there on the western side of the left transept. He appears not to have married or to have fathered any children. Andrew Hepburn, claiming to be the "brother german" of both Colonel Sir John and Lieutenant Colonel Sir James, petitioned the Scottish Privy Council on 26 July 1636 wrote a supplication in relation to his brothers. 


Sources: R. Monro, His Expedition with a worthy Scots Regiment called Mac-Keyes (2 vols., London, 1637), passim and II, The List of the Scottish Officers in Chiefe, list 1; The Swedish Intelligencer: The First Part (London, 1632), pp.63, 90, 93, 123-124; The Swedish Intelligencer: The Second Part (London, 1632), pp.27-28, 43-44, 46-48, 137-138, 145, 166, 171, 176; The Swedish Intelligencer: The Third Part (London, 1633), pp.2, 5, 43-47; The Modern History of the World: The Eighth Part (London, 1635), pp.8, 11, 15, 57; Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1625/2-4,6; 1626/3,5,6,8,10,11; 1627/4,5,7,8,12-14; 1628/4-12,14,15; 1629/7,9,10,14,16,18-20; 1630/22-33; 1632/28-30; National Archives of Scotland, RH1/2/828; National Archives of Scotland, GD406/1/254, Hepburn to Hamilton, 23 June 1633; T. Fischer, The Scots in Germany (Edinburgh, 1902); Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, 2nd series, vol vi, p.140-1, 157, 305, 401-2, 603, 666; Calendar of State Papers Domestic 1633-34, p. 72; Rikskansleren Axel Oxenstiernas Skrifter och brefvexling, first series, V, p.1, 4, 18, 19, 36, 40, 44, 53, 77-84, 98, 120, 122, 185, 336, 468, 596, 606, 616, 623, 632, 633, 638, 643, 664, 684, 685, 697, 704, 712, 740; ibid, first series, IV, p.498; Sverges Traktater, vol. 5 part 1, p. 367; H. Almqvist, 'Två uteblivna svenska fördragsratifikationer år 1630', Scandia, vol. I, 1928, p. 114; Dictionnaire de Biographie Francais, (Paris, 1987), XVII, p.818; Hartlib Papers, fol.11/1/17A-B: News from the Continent, 29 November 1634; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.77, 100, 120, 274, 350; Gustave Clanché, Sir John Hepburn, Maréchal de France: inhumé à la Cathédrale de Toul en 1636 (Toul, 1918) 


Dr Bernd Warlich kindly provided information from the following German language sources: Otto RUDERT; Die Kämpfe um Leipzig im Großen Kriege 1631-1642 (Leipzig 1937), p.55; Werner EBERMAIER: Landshut im Dreißigjährigen Krieg. Das Schicksal der Stadt und ihrer Bewohner im historischen Zusammenhang (Landshut 2001), pp.32-46; Franz Freiherr von SODEN: Gustav Adolph und sein Heer in Süddeutschland von 1631 bis 1635, Erlangen 1865, vol. I, p. 384; Peter ENGERISSER: Von Kronach nach Nördlingen. Der Dreißigjährige Krieg in Franken, Schwaben und der Oberpfalz 1631-1635 (Weißenstadt, 2004), p.330; Walter HARTE, Das Leben Gustav Adolphs des Großen, Königs von Schweden, Leipzig 1761, vol. II, p. 391; Richard BRZEZINSKI: Lützen 1632:­ Climax of the Thirty Years War (Oxford, 2001), p. 23, Anm. 9

Service record

Arrived 1620-01-01, as COLONEL
Departed 1620-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1622-01-01, as OFFICER
Departed 1623-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1625-01-01, as CAPTAIN
Departed 1632-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1630-01-01, as GOVERNOR
Departed 1630-12-31, as GOVERNOR
Capacity GOVERNOR, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1631-01-01, as GOVERNOR
Departed 1631-12-31, as GOVERNOR
Capacity GOVERNOR, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1632-01-01, as GOVERNOR
Departed 1632-12-31, as GOVERNOR
Capacity GOVERNOR, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1633-01-26, as Marchal de Camp
Departed 1636-07-24, as Marshal of France
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY