First name

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Patrick Thomson was a Scotsman who settled in Sweden and became a merchant there by November 1671.

He left Scotland after receiving 300 guilders from Andrew Russell [SSNE 143] on the account of Robert Turnbull in Stirling. One of his first letters to Russell from Sweden informs us that Robert Gib was his 'brother' while William Gib [SSNE 7185] was his nephew. Soon after arriving in Sweden he became friends with Daniel Young (later ennobled till Leijonancker) [SSNE 4206] and the two of them became interested in trading together. Thomson soon made contact with Mr Thomas Benson [SSNE 7146] of Konigsberg to whom he gave some money to remit to Andrew Russell in Rotterdam [SSNE 143] on behalf of his nephew William Gib. This news was brought to Russell by Mr Jeffrey, though as yet it is unclear which one he meant. With the outbreak of the third 'Anglo-Dutch' war in 1672, Thomson wrote to Russell on 27 March expressing the belief that it was still safe to but iron as he had been assured that Sweden would remain neutral in the conflict. By 6 June he noted that iron prices in Stockholm were actually more expensive than expected noting that "Irone hir falls deirer than was expected, reasone the burgers heir bought it deir in winter not expecting wars and dubell custome which is payd upon irone and copper this year, the Sweedes being neutral in the wars so that the burgers is resolved to ship out their iron and copper themselves". In the same letter he went on to note that the Swedes were afraid to venture out due to fear of privateers if they sailed without a pass from the College of Commerce. The answer to this was that the king of Sweden was expected to convoy his ships out in July. Thomson later formed a joint-stock company with Russell and Robert Turnbull in Stirling with who, as we have seen, he was already connected. These were all friends from Stirling who discussed the idea in the 1660s. Formally constituted on 1 January 1684, each man put up £1000 sterling. Turnbull gave over half to his son-in-law, Alexander Baird. 

James Thomson [SSNE 6332], Patrick's brother, became an associate and managed the trade at Norrkoping. Smout explains the partnership as one where each man used his expertise in each location for the benefit of all. The Scottish based partners sourced coarse wool for Rotterdam and finer cloth, gloves, raw wool, stockings, tallow and herring for Sweden. Russell too provided goods for Sweden, while the Swedish based merchants sourced iron and copper to be shipped to Bo'ness, Amsterdam or where instructed. Turnbull sent coal to La Rochelle where salt was collected and sent by Russell to the Thomson's in Sweden. However, other artefacts and destinations were also included by the company. For example, in 1682, Thomson sold 1200 'Olland stones' to Thomas Robertson in Edinburgh. Thomson was noted as being in Edinburgh by William Chesalain of Middelburg in March 1685. The following month Patrick wrote a letter from Elsinore to Russell explaining the prices in the town suggesting he was en route back to Sweden. Letters from David Melvin [SSNE 1159] show clearly that the Thomson brothers were both his good friends and trading partners. When mail started to go missing in 1685 Melvin took on the job of forwarding the company letters to Andrew Russell. It is very likely that the Thomsons stayed at Melvin's house when in Elsinore as the skippers they employed did. On 28 May 1685, Patrick wrote to Russell from his home in Norrkoping asking advice on banking a quantity of money to the sum of 20-20,000 daler copper-mint in to the Bank of Hull for six months and then take it out at 6% profit. [Note, 24 daler copper-mint equals about £1 Sterling]. That same year tensions started to appear between James Thomson and one of their skippers, John Gib (Elder) [SSNE 7071]. By 26 August 1685, Thomson had written to Russell telling him not to meddle with Gib until he had written further. In another letter of 17 September, it appears that Patrick was suggesting Gib was refusing his commissions. On 23 June 1686, James Thomson wrote to Andrew Russell confirming this and declaring that in Norrkoping Gib had said he was not obligated to freight goods of the company as he already had his charterparty. Thomson commented that "the man is very high and my brother not only now but before has such a kyndness for that man that he can do no wrong". Again, 14 August 1686, Thomson sought clarification from Russell as he declared that Gib had told him that he would only go where Russell sent him. Thomson seemed surprised by this and wished clarification of when that agreement had been reached. The anti-Gib invective was becoming stronger by the time of James Thomson's letter to Russell of 30 September in which he accused him of breaching hospitality. By 18 October, James Thomson again wrote to Russell complaining about Gibb stating "I had enough to do to command my passion, he having (besyd what he said the last voyadge) called me the basest of men and also my wyfe that she conversed to hell in Kircaldie with the greatest of witches". He remained in their pay however in what Patrick Thomson [SSNE 6475] called his "rotten old bush". The reason he was not let go was the fact that the Thomson and Gib families were related through marriage. It is also very possible that Thomson's outburst reflected a temporary tiff, as in later letters he speaks well of Gib and even laments the skippers decision to remove his family from Sweden in some of those where he vented anger against him - see for instance that of 14 August 1686. On that occasion he described in detail how he was sorry that Gib was taking his wife away and that Thomson and his wife had both argued for him to stay. But the Thomson-Gib fall out was indicative of the mans disposition. There were, for example, also disputes between the Thomson brothers themselves and in an undated enclosure of c. November 1685, Patrick Thomson wrote to Russell expressing concern that "he did not make me at home". Despite these tribulations, Patrick did well in Sweden and by 9 October 1685, James Thomson wrote to Russell to inform him that Patrick had taken a house in Stockholm. Also in October, letters survive (e.g. from 17 October) that show that Patrick Thomson was in direct correspondence with the Scottish consul in Elsinore, Patrick Lyall [SSNE 1144]. He noted in one letter to Russell on 28 October that he had sent Lyall a bill via one ship to be taken out at the Sound and put aboard a more appropriate ship should occasion allow. Despite his correspondence by letter, Thomson found Stockholm something of a lonely place. 

On 22 April 1686 he wrote to Andrew Russell expressing that "and as for religione heir ther is non, I never did know a serious man in all this east countrie that ever I could know or learn of, the pouer of religione is all most I think riven out of the earth, help Lord, and to bringe one heir to get [?] for it is not possibill. All our Scots heir is Loutherens or athiests, the English is yet worse if worse can be and they have a K (sic) that taketh their affairs one in 14 days who said prayers for all the rest [***] So I am heir alone". 

Thomson then asked that Russell should send a young man to help him adding that he would get free board and lodgings. No one arrived prompting Thomson to begin a letter to Russell on 5 June the same year with the words "Young Andrew, I think you have forgot me, the reasone I know not...". However, he soon found a close confederate. By 26 June 1686, Thomson began to write in positive terms regarding his ability to purchase certain 'half freedoms' for the importation of wool and manufacture of tobacco, and in particular a ship and cargo to be bought and imported to Sweden by John Gib (younger) [SSNE 7072]. On 10 October, Thomson made it clear that Daniel Young had arranged exactly how to buy the ship and that the 'freedoms' applied to Stockholm only. When writing about the subject again on 23 October he noted that Young Gib was to receive seals and letters from Young which would prove his ship was Swedish and allow him to sail 'toll free'. Indeed, Young was able to procure a grant for Thomson to import Scottish wool free of all customs for a period of five years. The same year, 1686, Patrick Thomson formed a partnership with Daniel Young in a Stockholm-based tobacco concern, hence his confidence in the letter to Russell over the gaining of concessions (and also his impatience with Patrick May and the other skippers for not yet arriving with the raw goods required which he expressed in the same letter). The following year Thomson purchased a share in the cloth manufacturing business which won the contract to produce 36,000 ells of blue cloth for the army. In 1688, Thomson presented a plan to the Stockholm magistrates regarding recruiting Scottish glovers for Swedish service. The plan was for Stockholm to pay each master-glover 100 daler and each apprentice. Daniel Young died in 1688, and the future of these plans seems unclear.

Nevertheless Patrick Thomson, noted as "having greatly improved the Swedish wool-manufacturing enterprise thanks to his financing", was awarded in May 1689 permission to import all kinds of goods and materials into Sweden, on payment of the same fees as any other manufacturer. This privilege was further extended that year to include tobacco spinning, the locale of which lay in Södermalm, in the "inner quarter" in hired premises. According to Loewe this area as inhabited by a small 'colony' of Scottish and English manufacturers. In 1690 Patrick Thomson hired a servant boy and girl and four tobacco spinners - each on was of Scottish or English origins: Johan Black, Nils Fergus, Thomas Totte, and 'David'. The latter was possibly David Siwerts. Thomas Totte was most certainly Thomas Tottie [SSNE 6685].


In March 1688 Thomson ordered John Gib Elder to Danzig. In an interesting few lines in a letter of 26 July 1688 regarding the grounding of John Gib Younger's ship at Heyligna the previous September, James Adie [SSNE 7080] noted that he had lent Gib £2200 which Thomson was to reimburse. Gib also made it clear that all the actions he had carried out in regard to refloating the ship were done with the advice of Thomson, Mr Arthur [SSNE 7172], Mr Fenton [SSNE 7173], Mr Hurst [SSNE 7174] and James Adie [SSNE 7080]. The following year James Thomson wrote to Russell that the brothers were sick of Sweden and wished to return to Scotland "and learn to die". The company continued trading for some years after however. Patrick continued to take out bills of exchange via Russell throughout the 1690s. He also took care of personal business of one of the crew on board Robert Jaffray's [SSNE 7160] vessel. Kathrin Clerck, spouse of James Kippin (mariner on board Robert Jaffray) received a sum of money from Andrew Russell in 1691. There is a blot where the signature should be and underneath Russell has written "This is all Kathrin Clerck could write for subscription". Another skipper employed by the company was James Jaffray/Jeffrey. On 24 October 1696, Patrick Thomson submitted an account relating to the sale of lead in Stockholm on which he noted some 18 customers including William Smith. According to Smout, the company wound up in 1696. He noted, "the company did not perish of insolvency - it died of old age". However, accounts still arrived from Thomson dated 31 December 1696 and he himself remained a little longer in the country. 

Sources: Swedish Riksarkiv, Kommerskollegii Underdåniga Skrivelser 1651-1840 - Patrick Thomson, 'Engelska Medborgare', 30/05/1689; National Archives of Scotland, RH15/106/139/35, 45, 46, 47 (various lettes, 1671). The one mentioning William Gib as his nephew and Robert Gib as his brother is from 29 November 1671; RH15/106/147, two letters from Patrick Thomson to Andrew Russell, dated 27/03/1672 and 03/06/1672; RH15/106/569. Various letters from Patrick Thomson to Andrew Russell and Robert Gib, Rotterdam (1684); RH15/106/574. Various letters of James and Patrick Thomson (1685); RH15/106/575 (9 items from 1685, RH15/106/576/1, Patrick Thomson to Andrew Russell, 24 April 1685 and RH15/106/608 (22 items from 1686); RH15/106/609/2-7. Letters of David Melvin to Andrew Russell, February -October 1686; RH15/106/663. James Adie to Andrew Russell, 6 &24 March and 26 July 1688; RH15/106/663. Various letters, John Gib to Andrew Russell (1688); RH15/106/724/1-2. Bills of Exchange from Thomson to Russell, 9-10 July 1691 & Receipt of Kathrin Clerck; RH15/106/772 (1694). Charterparty between Patrick Thomson and Edinburgh Merchants n.d.; RH15/106/789/1-2. Accounts of Patrick Thomson relating to the sale of lead, 24 October 1696 and Balance Sheet and current account with Philip Forster & Companie in Stockholm, 31 December 1696; See further RH 15/59/5 for William Jaffray; T. Fischer, The Scots in Sweden (Edinburgh, 1907), p.31; T. C. Smout, Scottish Trade on the Eve of Union (Edinburgh & London, 1963), pp.111-113, 161; Walter Loewe, Tobaksspinnarna och tobaksfabrikanterna i 1600-talets Stockholm (Stockholm, 1993), p.110. 

Davie Horsburgh kindly provided the following additional information; "Claes Serick, skipper in Stockholm, Disposition of "ane ship" to Robert Gib & Patrick Thomsone, merchant burgesses in (Stirling) and James Thomsone, merchant in Kirkcaldy; 22 May 1675." Source: Kirkcaldy Burgh Registers of Deeds, B41/7/1 fol 24-25; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.81, 112, 117, 119, 141-147, 167, 177, 218, 244-245.

From the Rotterdam Notarial Archive:


Aktesoort machtiging  
Datum 06/06/1690  
Archief ONA Rotterdam   
Inventarisnummer 1604   
Aktenummer/Blz. 155/279   
Notaris Johan van Lodenstein  
Bij bestellengewenste vorm  papierdigitale scan per e-mail  
Inhoud Jan van Rixtel, coopman tot Haarlem tegenwoordig binnen deze stad en in compagnie met zijn zoon Jacob van Rixtel, machtigt Patrik Thomson, koopman tot Stokholm. Met deze machtiging zal deze van Boudewijn Lewijn, coopman tot Stokholm, en van Gilles de Besche, koopman tot Noorcoppen in Sweden, geld innen ter voldoening van de uitstaande schulden.

Service record

Arrived 1672-03-01
Departed 1685-09-30
Arrived 1684-06-01
Capacity MERCHANT, purpose TRADE
Arrived 1685-01-15
Capacity MERCHANT, purpose TRADE
Arrived 1685-04-24
Arrived 1685-10-01
Departed 1696-12-31