First name

Text source

Christopher Potley was initially a soldier in Swedish service, who later became a diplomatic envoy on behalf of the English and Scottish parliaments. He began his service as a lieutenant with FB von Thurn's Hofregiment in 1624 (one source claims he joined in 1612). The following year he joined the Red regiment where he remained until 1627. That year he advanced to lieutenant major, then major. However, in 1628 he was captain with Didrik Gutrecht's dragoon company, and the next year he was captain in the Yellow company. In February 1629 he and his dragoon company were used to provide supplies to Osterode. However, in April that year mutiny broke out amongst his men on the march to Strassbourg which left him surrounded (even his lieutenant was involved) and under threat of losing his life. Patrick Ruthven [SSNE 3413] was called on by Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna to punish the guilty, be placing them in the stock and also by hanging every 20th man amongst those guilty. He was again a major with the Yellow company in 1631. In 1632 he became lieutenant colonel with George Fleetwood's [SSNE 2208] recruited infantry regiment. He continued to advance in rank. In 1636 he served as lieutenant colonel of a recruited German regiment which was disbanded at Hanau and the following year he became colonel of an infantry regiment in Baner's army. In 1639 he was awarded a pension of 500 riksdaler, which in 1645 was raised to 1000 riksdaler as a result of his new role as envoy. He left Swedish service in 1649. He was then sent to Sweden on his first mission on behalf of the English and Scottish parliaments, bearing letters from Hugo Mowatt, which included Potley's request to be released from Swedish service after having served 30 years. He returned to England in 1647 with money and various letters. In fact Potley's correspondence to Secretary Gydenklou came to eclipse the Scottish agent Hugh Mowatt's [SSNE 800] role in maintaining links between Sweden and the Scots at this time. In 1649 the English Parliament again sent Potley to Sweden where he had an audience with Queen Kristina. During this period he effectively worked as a spy, sending lists of Royalists back to England and information on Montrose's campaign for Charles II. It appears that Potley may have made an "unofficial" visit to Sweden in spring 1651, as a private person and unconnected to any of the British factions, although he expressed anti-Stuart sentiments. Some Swedish historians have taken this as the turning point in Swedish-English relations, claiming that Potley was told to inform the English Parliament that Sweden had broken all ties to the Stuart monarchy, even that any Swedish help given to Scotland in recent times had purely been of a "humanitarian" nature. Although Potley returned to England in 1651 it was not long before he once again was sent to Sweden, this time as an assistant to ambassador Bulstrode Whitelocke [SSNE 4438] in 1654. Certainly, when Bulstrode Whitelocke arrived as Cromwell's official ambassador, Potley accompanied him and provided translation services. Apparently Andrew Potley, Christopher's son, also accompanied him on this mission.


Sources:R. Monro, His Expedition with the worthy Scots regiment called Mackeyes (2 vols., London, 1632), II, List of the Scottish Officers in Chief; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1624/8,9; 1625/4; 1626/6,7,10,11; 1627/4,6,7; 1628/8,10,13-15; 1629/5-8,20; 1630/22-27,38; 1632/16-21; 1633/11-22; 1634/12-23; 1635/20-26,28-30; Rikskansleren Axel Oxenstiernas skrifter och brefvexling, first series, IV, pp. 370, 457-8; S. Tunberg, et al. Den Svenska Utrikes Förvaltningens Historia, (Uppsala, 1935), pp.77-8; S. Hedar, Kammarkollegiets Protokoll med bilagor, vol.1 (Stockholm, 1934), p.137; Swedish Riksarkiv, Svenske Sändebuds till Utländske Hof och Deras Sändebud till Sverige, (1841), p.83; Svenska Riksrådets Protokoll, vol.xi, (Stockholm 1906), p.98; Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; M.E. Ailes, Military Migration and State Formation, (Nebraska, 2002), pp.115, 120-121, 124, 129, 162; S.I. Olofsson, Efter Westfaliska Freden, Sveriges Yttre Politik, 1650-1654, (Stockholm, 1957), pp.238-9.

English Civil War; British Civil Wars

Service record

Departed 1624-12-31, as LIEUTENANT
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Departed 1629-12-31, as CAPTAIN
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Departed 1631-12-31, as MAJOR
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Departed 1635-12-31, as LT. COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Departed 1647-01-01
Capacity AGENT, purpose DIPLOMACY
Departed 1648-12-31
Capacity AGENT, purpose DIPLOMACY
Departed 1651-12-31
Capacity ENVOY, purpose DIPLOMACY
Departed 1654-12-31
Capacity AGENT, purpose DIPLOMACY