First name

Text source

William Colquhoun (Cahoun, or a variant, in Swedish sources) was born in Scotland and was the son of Alexander Colquhoun of Luss and Colquhoun and his wife, [N.N.] Buchanan. According to George F. Black in his Surnames of Scotland, one Adam Choquoyn (from the Luss branch), became rector of Stobo in the Eastern Scottish Borders, and several of that branch found success in Sweden. Any relationship between this branch and the Swedish ones awaits substantiation.

William Colquhoun apparently entered Swedish service around 1565 along with his brother Hugh [SSNE 778], both of them serving along with Andrew Keith [SSNE 1534]. They brought troops of cavalry across for the use in King Erik XIV's army, to serve at the battle of Axtorna. In 1567 William and another Scottish officer Thomas Buchan appealed to King Erik XIV regarding a matter of pay: they had acted as security for another Scot who had reneged on his promise to bring troops to Sweden. Although the king had then advanced 1200 thaler to Colquhoun and Buchan, the money had never been forwarded from Mechelen. The Swedish king had to rely on a foreign merchant, Willem van Wijk, to pay for Cahoun's and Keith's troops. Lars Ericson states that "William Cajun"'s 360 Scottish troops cost 78,000 'marks'.

Perhaps the financial difficulties were partly to blame for William Colquhoun's decision to support Johan III in his struggle for the Swedish Crown in 1568. According to Swedish records William Colquhoun's troop of cavalry were the highest paid at the time, getting 36 daler per horse, of which there were 360 and thus owed a total of 77,760 daler. They had already taken service with the man who became King Johan III in February 1568. An unnamed servant of his who had couriered correspondence to Kalmar was paid 20 "peningar" on 22 June 1568.

William Colquhoun was seemingly taken prisoner by the Danes in 1568, although he must have been released as from 1570-1574, he spent most of his service in Reval and Livland. He also received 100 daler from Duke Johan in 1568, along with Andrew Keith and Henry Camar. A muster roll survives from 1569 showing William's troop to be 100 men strong. In 1570 Johan, now King Johan III, sent Keith, Colquhoun and another officer William Moncrieff letters dismissing his Scottish troops with a few months' pay.

William Colquhoun was in Stockholm at some point in 1573 as he provided evidence to the Stockholm magistrates in a dispute between Andrew Keith and Johan Allards. On 8 June that year the case was discussed and Keith refers to Colquhoun's testimony that Allards struck the late Julius Spalding. This dispute seemed to involve several of the Stockholm-Scottish community: George Sandilands (Jören Sanderlan), William Anderson, Henry Sibbeth and Hans Watson, William Tait, John Williamson, and a reference to Samuel Coburn.

References to William Colquhoun seem to vanish after 1574. His brother, Hugh, however remained in Johan's service, eventually meeting a sad end. 

A Peter Cahun (often given as either Hugh's or William's son) emigrated to Poland. His coat of arms exists and is reproduced in Möllers' article. The family eventually became ennobled as Canonhielm and descendants also used the form Gahn

Sources: Swedish Riksarkiv, Kammararkivet I, Bergsbrukshandlingar före 1620, vol.3; Swedish Riksarkiv, Militieräkenskaper 1537-1619, 1569; Swedish Riksarkiv, Ämnessamlingar, strödda historiska handlingar, vol.6; Stockholmsstads tänke böcker 1568-1575 (Stockholm, 1941), p.269; 

T. Fischer, The Scots in Sweden (Edinburgh, 1907), pp. 48-49; George F. Black, The Surnames of Scotland (1946, Birlinn 2007 Reprint), p. 163; J. Berg and B. Lagercranz, Scots in Sweden (Stockholm, 1962), p.13, pp.21-2; James Dow Ruthven’s Army in Sweden and Estonia, Historiskt Arkiv 13 (Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, Stockholm, 1965), pp. 25-30; P. Möller, 'Colquhon-Cahun-Gahn-Canonheilm; en boskillnad' in Person Historisk Tidskrift, (1966), pp. 85-125; Strödda militiehandlingar före 1631, Armen, undated; G. Arteus, Till Militärstatens Förhistoria: Krig, professionalisering och social förändring under Vasasönernas regering (Stockholm, 1986), p. 169; Lars Ericson, Johan III en biografi (Lund, 2004), p. 85.

Service record

Arrived 1565-01-01
Departed 1568-01-01, as CAPTAIN OF HORSE
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1568-12-01, as CAPTAIN
Departed 1574-12-31, as CAPTAIN
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY