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George Mathieson was a colonel in Russia from the 1620s. He is mentioned in Sir Thomas Urquhart's "Jewel". He was active in the Smolensk war 1632-4 and his will is dated Moscow, 1633. Most of his belongings (clothes, arms,7 books, a carpet, a mirror etc and 300 roubles) were bequeathed to his kinsmen in Broughton near Edinburgh. In May 1635, Matheson was made guild brother of Edinburgh by right of his late father William. Earlier that month, he received a ‘testificat’ from Edinburgh council which stated that the George of Leith was cast away at Ballinbreich Castle (‘Bambreich Castell’) in Fife in January 1635 with the whole crew. He was most likely the colonel George Matheson who recorded his coat of arms with Sir James Balfour, Lord Lyon, on 5 October 1639. By June 1643, George then designed Sir George Matheson was a resident of the Canongate. At this time and from there Matheson wrote his testament with an inventory worth £4,440 17s 6d. Matheson was owed vast sums of money to the amount of £64,656 13s 4d while his own listed debts came to a mere £488 13s 4d. An additional testament mentioned an extra £560 in his inventory, thus bringing the total to just over £5,000, and a further £4,186 13s 4d of debts due to him. Matheson died later that month on 23 June 1643.


NLS, blazons of Scottish arms by Sir James Balfour, 1630, Adv. MS 15.1.11, fo. 35r. NRS, Edinburgh commissary court, register of testaments, CC8/8/60, pp. 737-40; CC8/8/61, pp. 248-9. Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, A.D. 1626 to 1641, ed. M. Wood (Edinburgh, 1936), pp. 162-3; W. Barnhill and P. Dukes, 'North-east Scots in Muscovy in the seventeenth century' in Northern Scotland, vol. 1, no. 1, 1972, pp.49-63. 

Highland family histories assigned the recording of the said 1639 coat of arms with George Matheson of Shinness in Sutherland. He accompanied Donald Mackay [SSNE 93] in 1626 for military service and is erroneously said to have risen to the rank of colonel under King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden. It should be noted he is not listed as such in the List of Scottish Officers published by Monro, and nor has a muster-roll showing him at this rank in Sweden been uncovered. He later returned to Scotland. Confusingly, another family tradition made Donald Murchison of Auchtertyre the armorial recipient in this instance or, alternatively, that both actually had it done on that same day.

Edinburgh University Library [EUL], Sir Roderick Murchison Collection, MS 2262/2/2/2. A. Mackenzie and A. MacBain, History of the Mathesons with Genealogies of the Various Families (2nd edn., Stirling, 1900), pp. 140-1. J. Mackay, An Old Scots Brigade (Edinburgh, 1885), p. 208. EUL, Carmichael-Watson Collection, CW123, p. 5.

This record was kindly updated by Dr Thomas Brochard

Service record

Arrived 1620-01-01, as COLONEL
Departed 1633-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY