First name
Social status

Text source

William Bonar of Rossie (Fife) was born in Scotland in 1614. His parents were James Bonar of Rossie and Euphania Kinneird. His paternal grandparents William Bonar of Rossie and Jeanna Johnstone of Elphinston; his maternal grandparents were David Kinneird (Fife)and Elisabeth Lindsey. Bonar's paternal great-grandparents were John Bonar of Rossie and Margaretha Mercer. The parents of his grandmother were John Kinneird and Helena Ramsay. Bonar entered Swedish service in 1634 (sometimes conflated with his namesake and probable cousin [SSNE 1833]). He first stayed with his countryman, Colonel 'Charre', as a volunteer before becoming an ensign and then a lieutenant. He then became quartermaster in the regiment of Colonel Armis in Erfurt. In 1644 Bonar acquired the rank of captain under Riksrad and Marshall von der Linde. The following year Carl Gustav Wrangel made him Lieutenant-Colonel of a regiment ('die Alten Blauen'). Bonar fought at the battle of Jankau and took part in the siege of Augsburg, where he lost his left leg. Due to his disability he was made commandant and colonel of a regiment of infantry at Gross Glogau (Silesia) until the fortress had to be given up by Sweden in 1648; according to the conditions of the Treaty of Westphalia. Some sources state that he was also commandant of Kustin. By 1651 Bonar was made governor of the fortress of Vechta in Westphalia which Sweden held until 1654. In Vechta, Bonar married Elisabeth von Brossart on 17 September 1651 with whom he had one daughter and six sons (two of whom died early). One of their surviving sons, Peter, entered Danish service [SSNE 258]. Elisabeth Brossart was the daughter of Pierre de Brossart, a cavalry captain in Swedish service. After his decommission from Swedish service (probably in 1656) Bonar moved to Minden, where he stayed until 1659. Thereafter he moved to Bremen although some sources state that he was made commandant of Stettin in 1658. During this period he also sent a letter to the Pfaltzgrav Karl Gustaf asking for a pension since his wounds prevented him from seeking his fortune elsewhere. That year he was awarded an annual pension of 2000 riksdaler and obtained leave to travel to Great Britain. By 1662 Bonar was in the city of Bremen (where his wife died in November the same year). Apparently Bonar was offered further commissions from the Swedish army which he however refused. Bonar spent the rest of his life in the city of Bremen and applied for a Scottish Birth Brief in 1670 as he wished to remain abroad. His request was granted and the birth brief was signed by the Earl of Crawford and other Scottish noblemen. William Bonar died in Bremen on 2 April 1674 of a stroke, aged 61. His death was lamented by his kinsman Sir James Johnstone of Elphinstone [SSNE 2743] who observed in 1677 that "I have lost a number of good friends both Duch and other nations especially Collonell Bonar, Collonell [John] Mollison [SSNE 6009], Major Chrichton [SSNE 6864] and others all dead and killed [] I have both mony horses, servants and eqipage, as good as in the armie, as the Scots merchants that hath seen me in Hamburg can tell". Given the link to Mollison, Bonar would also have been a friend of Sir Andrew Melville [SSNE 3701]. 


Sources: National Records of Scotland GD 190/3/195, Misc. correspondence (1639-1696), 24 April 1677, Sir James Johnstone of Elphinstone to his brother-in-law; Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, 3rd series, III, 1669-1672, p.193; Staatsbibliothek Bremen, 'Der Frommen Aufrichtigen koestliches und endliches Kleynodt', C.S. 61. No. 3; T. Fischer, The Scots in Sweden (Edinburgh, 1907), p.266; Ferdinand Minsberg, Geschichte der Stadt und Festung Gross-Glogau: Mit Urkunden und Dokumenten, Vol. 2 (1853), T. Riis, Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot (Odense, 1988), II, p.83. 


A printed version of William Bonar's eulogy (in German) can be found in the Staatsbibliothek Bremen. 

A link to his genealogy from Scotland can be found HERE.

Entry updated by Dr Kathrin Zickermann.


Service record

Arrived 1634-01-01
Departed 1670-12-31
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1649-01-01, as COLONEL
Departed 1653-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity GOVERNOR, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1658-03-01, as COMMANDANT
Departed 1658-12-31, as COMMANDANT