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From the ODNB we learn "Urry [Hurry], Sir John (d. 1650), army officer, was the son of John Urry of Pitfichie, Monymusk parish, Aberdeenshire, and his wife, Mariora Cameraria (Marian Chamberlain), of Coullie in the same parish. He spent some years in foreign military service, probably in Germany."

In fact from the Ruthven Correspondence it appears that his service was with Sweden, being appointed Lieutenant Colonel to the regiment of Colonel William Stewart as early as 1609.

The ODNB continues: "He returned to Scotland about 1639 and received the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the covenanters' army (in accordance with their policy of seconding local leaders with skilled soldiers). In October 1641 he was asked to join the plot against the marquess of Hamilton and the earls of Argyll and Lanark, known as the ‘incident’. William Murray of the royal household and the earl of Crawford with other Scottish royalist nobles and colonels Cochrane of Cochrane and Alexander Stewart aimed to exile or kill Hamilton, Argyll, and Lanark. The conspirators unsuccessfully attempted to enlist Urry, who realized the importance of gathering information to thwart it. On 11 October Urry revealed all he knew about the plot to the lord general, Alexander Leslie, as did Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Home and Captain William Stewart (both of Cochrane's regiment). Rumour connected the king to the plot, which he strenuously denied, although his efforts against the five members indicate that the suspicion had some justification.

On the outbreak of the English civil war Urry joined the parliamentarians, and in June 1642 received command of the fourth troop of horse designated for Irish service under Philip, Lord Wharton. He took part in the battle of Edgehill, and at the fight at Brentford on 12 November ‘for his stoutness and wisdom was much cryed up by the Londoners’ (Letters and Journals of Robert Baillie, 2.56). At the start of 1643 he was nominated a major of cavalry under the earl of Bedford. However, owing to a personal pique, probably because he had not received a higher rank, he deserted to the royalists and provided them with very useful military information. He played a large part in securing the royalist success at Chalgrove on 18 June, and was knighted at Oxford as a consequence on the same day. On 25 June he sacked West Wycombe, and on 1 January 1644 he was reported dead at Oxford, of an old wound; but on 18 February he had moved northward with Prince Rupert. He fought in the royalist right flank cavalry at Marston Moor."

At this stage Urry sought and was granted a passport by Prince Rupert to leave England for Danish service. However, he chose another course of action.


The ODNB "In August 1644, despairing of success for the royalists, he fled to Sir William Waller's parliamentarian army at Shrewsbury. He planned to return to Scotland where the estates had already forfeited his possessions. Waller sent him to London, where the committee of both kingdoms ordered him into custody. On Waller's word, and on the statement of the army committee that his professional skill would be useful, he was allowed to rejoin the parliamentarian army on parole on 30 October. He had hopes of bringing over a superior leader to himself, probably his fellow Scot the earl of Brentford, whom he unsuccessfully attempted to cajole in November after the second battle of Newbury.

A little later Urry joined the army of the solemn league and covenant under the earl of Leven in north-east England. On 27 February 1645 the Scottish estates made him a major-general of horse and foot in Scotland and a colonel of dragoons. On 8 March he was sent into the highlands against Montrose, as major-general and cavalry commander under Lieutenant-General William Baillie, who disliked him. He took Aberdeen from the royalists on the 15th by surprise, but abandoned it the next day. His unsuccessful pursuit of Montrose after the sack of Dundee earned him Baillie's further disdain. Urry continued north in the pursuit of the royalists. Finally utilizing his commission as colonel of dragoons for Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, he transformed 400 infantry levies into horsemen. His army consisted of 1200 foot, and 160 horse plus the dragoons. North of the Grampians he joined with the earls of Seaforth and Sutherland and other local covenanters to hunt down Montrose. On 9 May he attempted a surprise attack on Montrose, but his initial success ended in disastrous defeat at Auldearn, near Nairn. With 100 cavalry he rejoined Baillie at Strathbogie, but soon after relinquished his command on grounds of ill health. The estates passed an act of approbation for his military services on 11 July. On 7 August they granted him a reward of £500 for killing Donald Farquharson during the March attack on Aberdeen.

Urry returned to the king's side by joining Montrose, for which he was excluded from the pardon offered by the estates to royalists. In August 1646 the covenanter Major-General John Middleton offered him a permit to leave Scotland, but fearful of the covenanters, he sailed with Montrose to the continent on 3 September."

Urry arrived in Moscow on 25 August 1647 with other Scots seeking employment, but left Russia less than a month later. The Swedish resident noted his rank as Major General and that he had left already by 15 September. From Russia he returned to Britain. 

The ODNB: " In 1648 Urry, against the command of the Scottish committee of estates, joined the train of the prince of Wales, then accompanied the duke of Hamilton's army to England, where he was wounded and fell prisoner after 18 August. He escaped to the continent again, where he linked up with Montrose. He sailed with the marquess to the royalist base on Orkney in 1650. From there Montrose ordered him to land in Caithness with 300 men and stop the earl of Sutherland from taking that county. Urry landed on 9 April at the Ord of Caithness, and continued to serve with Montrose throughout his last brief campaign. He commanded the royalist centre at Carbisdale, where he was wounded in the cheek and taken prisoner. He was beheaded at Edinburgh on 29 May, maintaining a brave and constant demeanour at the end of a vacillating career. Urry serves as the exemplar of the professional soldier, who followed the fortunes of war as opposed to maintaining firm allegiance to a cause or idea. He left five children, who, on 31 October 1658 received a certificate of gentility from Charles II. "

Urry's daughter Margaret petitioned the Scottish Privy Council in 1669 seeking a birthbrieve as she lived "abroad in a strange country, where her birth and pedigree are unknown, to the prejudice of her fortune there". It is unknown in which country she was in, or if she went to Russia with her father.

William Dunn Macray (ed.), Patrick Ruthven, Earl of Forth and Brentford, and his family: A.D. 1615 - A.D. 1662. With an Appendix of Papers Relating to Sir John Urry (London, 1868), p.151. Commission to be lieutenant colonel in Sweden, 3 September 1609. Swedish Riksarkiv, Diplomatica, Muscovitica, Dispatches from Karl Anders Pommerenning to Queen Christina. Dispatch dated 15 September 1647; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, 3rd series, III, 1669-1672, pp.29-30; D. Fedosov, The Caledonian Connection (Aberdeen, 1996), p.116; Edward M. Furgol, ‘Urry [Hurry], Sir John (d. 1650)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/28020, accessed 14 March 2013]


English Civil War

Service record

Arrived 1609-09-03, as LIEUTENANT COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1642-10-23, as COLONEL
Departed 1650-05-29, as MAJOR GENERAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1647-08-25, as COLONEL
Departed 1647-09-15, as COLONEL
Capacity MISC., purpose MILITARY REFUGEE