First name

Text source

Samuel Cockburn was born in 1574 in Scotland. He entered Swedish service in 1598. In Swedish records he is known as "Cobron", but his funerary monument explicitly refers to him as "Cokburno" clarifying his name as Cockburn.

A muster-roll for a reduced company of men under Cockburn's command exists for 1607. He is listed as one of the Scottish officers who under the direction of James Spens [SSNE 1642] was sent to King James VI and I in 1608/9 seeking levies for Sweden, although one source notes a travel pass for this purpose issued by the Swedes was dated 17 December 1609. A group of officers went including Hugh Cochran [SSNE 4221], Daniel Rogers [SSNE 4222], Robert Kinnaird [SSNE 4223], Patrick Ruthven [3413], John Wauchop [SSNE 4220], George Douglas [SSNE 2129] and William Horne [SSNE 4224]. He served as colonel of a regiment in 1609-10 and took part in the Swedish campaigns in Russia in 1611-1613. Cockburn played a leading role in the battle of Novgorod on 16 July 1611, in particular, his regiment blew open the town gates. In July 1612 he was sent by Jacob de la Gardie at Novogorod to Gustav II Adolf to seek payment for Cockburn's troops - some of his regiment had already been sent back to Finland for lack of finances. That year 1612 he obtained 301 homesteads in Österbotten as compensation for a claim of 8,000 dalers. 

On 1 August 1613 Cockburn's troops landed at Narva. Cockburn was appointed Governor of Dunaw in Livonia, which was called "Fortress Cobron" after him while his field rank was generalfältvaktmästare (a temporary field rank equivalent to Major General - but a role, not a rank). His regiment also formed part of the Swedish forces lent to Muscovy during the hostilities with Poland-Lithuania from 1614-16. He was at the siege of Augdow and Pskov, and relieved Ladoga. Cockburn's regiment is listed in military payrolls every year from 1611-1615, and in 1614 a register was made of all the sick soldiers under his command. In 1615 there is a note of decommissioning payment for Cockburn and his regiment, and by May 1616 the Swedes were keen to allow the soldiers to rest and recoup in case they were needed again. According to one source his troops mutinied at Narva in 1616 (?) and he then took command of the Karelian troops. 

Cockburn tried in vain to get reimbursement for his loans to the Crown in June 1616. Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna intervened on his behalf in October with the local baillies of Borgå (Porvoo) and Rassborg ordering them to leave Cockburn unmolested.  They were preventing the Scotsman from earning his keep from his land. 

At some point Samuel Cockburn was awarded land on Södermalm (Stockholm), which in turn on his death was awarded to Dr James Robertson [SSNE 1637] by King Gustav II Adolf. Whether Roberston ever fully got use of the farm and the land remains unclear as it was inhabited by another individual.

When the Swedish-Russian peace looked imminent, Cockburn requested a transfer into Russian service, and in December 1617 this was granted by the Swedes. Cockburn was to ensure that he was only used against Poland and that he was to convince the Tsar that the Poles were weak, being engaged in war with the Turks and facing domestic opposition. Although it is intriguing that a Scotsman was considered for such intricate use in Swedish foreign policy, it appears that Cockburn and his fellow officers never did enter Russian service however. There is a letter regarding Cockburn and his regiment dated 5 November 1621. At that point he was in active service on Gustav II Adolf's Livonian campaign in the renewed hostilities against Poland. Cockburn served as the commandant at Duna, near Riga in Livonia. One of the rare times Cockburn's troops were negatively described in action was on 4 February 1622, when they were quartered in three separate villages.

Axel Oxenstierna noted that Cockburn was one of the officers killed by illness by 12 February 1622. Jacob de la Gardie records that Colonel Cockburn had died by March 1622, (another source erroneously notes that he died in 1631 at Åbo) but he appears to have been buried in 1621 in the Åbo Cathedral. Thus his actual date of death lies in 1621. His 'brother' John erected a marble monument to his memory. In some sources this is given as John Cockburn [SSNE 7028] but research by Jack Blair has shown that the sponsor of the monument to have been John Clapperton. The nature of the brotherly relationship is yet to be established, but it is unlikely to have been brother-germane. Given early modern Scottish usage of the term 'brother', it is more plausible that Clapperton was a brother-in-law, half-brother or fictive brother.  

Samuel Cockburn had been married to Barbara Kinnaird [SSNE 6400] in her second marriage.

Sources: Swedish Riksarkiv, Militieräkenskaper 1537-1619, 1611, 1613, 1614, 1615; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1613/11; Swedish Riksarkiv, Latin registratur 1606-1609, fol.76.r, letter dated Stockholm 17 December 1609; Rikskansleren Axel Oxenstiernas Skrifter och Brefvexling, vol.2, pp.60, 62, 198, 272, 284, 291, 438, 440; vol.5, pp.5, 9, 11, 12, 45, 102, 153, 167; H. Almquist, Sverige och Ryssland 1595-1611 (Uppsala, 1907), p.271; T. Fischer, The Scots in Sweden (Edinburgh, 1907), p.72; P. Wieselgren, ed. De La Gardiska Archivet, part 10 (Lund, 1838), p.22; Strödda militiehandlingar före 1631, Armen, 1621; G. Göransson, Gustav Adolf och hans folk (Stockholm, 1994), pp.64, 81, 122 and biographical appendix; Otto Donner, A brief sketch of the Scottish families in Finland and Sweden (Helsingfors, 1884), p.23; G. Arteus, Till Militärstatens Förhistoria: Krig, professionalisering och social förändring under Vasasönernas regering (Stockholm, 1986), p.170; G. Elgenstierna, Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, vol. 5, p.537; R. Frost, "Scottish soldiers, Poland-Lithuania and the Thirty Years' War" in S. Murdoch ed. Scotland and the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648 (Brill, 2001), p.199; A. Norberg, Polen i Svensk Politik, 1617-26, (Norrtalje, 1974),p.52; T. Cappelan, ed., Finsk Biografisk Handbok, (Helsingfors, 1903), p.378; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), p.256. Stockholmsstads Tänkeböcker från år 1592, del xxi, 1633 (Stockholm, 2006), p.44.

Narrative of an Englishman serving against Poland’ in The False Dmitri. A Russian Romance and Tragedy, Described by British Eye-Witnesses, 1604-1612, edited by Sonia E. Howe, (New York, 1916), pp.151-183. With thanks to Michal Paradowski for providing this reference. 

See also the link brought to our attention by Robin Easton:

We also thank Robert Reisman for bringing the 1607 muster-roll to our attention. See Strödda militiehandlingar före 1631, Rullor, SE/RA/5104/5104.1/B./6 (1593-1610)

We thank Jack Blair who has provided a genealogy that seeks to make Samuel Cockburn equate to once Samuel Spence "a Colonel of Horse under Gustavus Adolphus". See Fasti Vol.2 page 40 for genealogy:                

No mention can be found of a colonel Samuel Spence in Swedish service. Further contemporary documentation is required to verify this origin, but that falls outwith the scope of this database.

Service record

Departed 1608-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Departed 1631-12-31, as COLONEL + CHIEF
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Capacity RECRUITER, purpose MILITARY
Departed 1621-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity GOVERNOR, purpose MILITARY