First name

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John Gib (Elder) was a Scottish skipper from Bo'ness who worked for Andrew Russell [SSNE 143], Patrick Thomson [SSNE 6475] and James Thomson [SSNE 6332] plying his trade between Sweden, the Dutch Republic, Scotland and England (and elsewhere when commanded). Gib was a frequent correspondent of Russell, and often wrote to him to keep him up to date with the location of his ship, the state of loading and passing on general information. Gib did not get on well with everyone in the partnership. On 26 August 1685, Patrick Thomson was already writing in terms suggesting a breakdown of relations between Gib and the Thomson brothers. 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". 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 braching hospitality. By 18 October, James Thomson again wrote to Russell 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. Some of Gib's letters give an insight into the conditions the seamen had to face at sea. On 23 November 1687, Gib wrote to inform Russell of their homeward voyage from Elsinore and reported one of the most violent storms. It had driven some ships from their anchorages out to sea, and other ships ashore or into port. More usually though the correspondence was mundain, simply recording where they were, where they had been and where they were going. For instance on 10 September 1688 he wrote from Elsinore to say that they were newly arrived after a voyage of 8 days from Stockholm and expected to sail that morning for their destination. The point of the letter appears to be to inform the family that they were ahead of schedule.

National Archives of Scotland, Russell Papers, RH/15/106. Passim; RH15/106/574. Various letters and accounts of James and Patrick Thomson (1685); RH15/106/607. Various letters of James and Patrick Thomson (1686); For the storm see RH15/106/636. 23 November 1687. John Gib to Andrew Russell; RH15/106/663. John Gib to Andrew Russell, 10 September 1688; For the loan of £2200 from Adie see RH15/106/663. James Adie to Andrew Russell, 26 July 1688; T. C. Smout, Scottish Trade on the Eve of Union (Edinburgh & London, 1963), pp.56-57; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.81, 146, 167,, 245.

Service record

Arrived 1685-01-01