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Sir James Livingston, Lord Almond and Earl of Callendar was a younger son of Alexander, 1st Earl of Linlithgow, and a Scottish soldier in the Dutch Republic, Denmark, and Scotland during the Eighty Years War, Thirty Years War, and Wars of the Three Kingdoms, respectively. The first mention of a “Jacobus Levingston” in Dutch service is in a letter of recommendation from James VI and dated to 17 February 1599 (RSG, 1598-1599, p. 504). However, James Ferguson reckons that there was another “young man Livingston, who had previously served” before 1607, so the above letter is perhaps not an accurate indication of the start of Almond’s service (Ferguson, 1, p. 69). 

(N.B. to avoid confusion with the other Livingstons in Dutch service, Sir James will be referred to as “Almond” for the duration of this biography, despite the fact that the title was only conferred in 1633).

Service in the Scots-Dutch Brigade, c. 1616-1622

Almond was certainly a lieutenant in the Scots-Dutch Brigade by 3 July 1616, when he is mentioned as witness to the marriage of Thomas Brison, a soldier in the company of Almond’s older brother, Sir Henry (Maclean, p. 281). Almond had another brother in Tiel at this time, Lieutenant Alexander Livingston, who was perhaps the future second Earl of Linlithgow. Presumably the three Livingstons were serving together in the same company (Ferguson, p. 325). The Livingston network in Tiel must have been somewhat substantial, as Alexander’s two daughters were both married to Sir Henry’s other junior officers during this time (Maclean, p. 282). Still in Tiel by 31 October 1618, Almond had accrued over 125 guilders worth of debt to various denizens of the town, and Sir Henry was to be his guarantor. It is noted that during his time Tiel, James Livingston had become “sick and maimed.” It is currently unknown how the debt was resolved or how Almond became unwell (Ferguson, pp. 295-196). It is possible that Livingston served as a volunteer at the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom (Rijcke, et al). 

Service in the Anglo-Dutch Brigade and Denmark, c. 1626-1629

In 1626, a Scottish procuratory letter notes that “James Levingston of Brighous, knight, brother of [Alexander, Earl of Linlithgow]” was a member of the King’s privy chamber and “colonell of an inglis [my own emphasis] regiment under the estates of the united provinces in holland,” (NRS, GD86/480). What at first seems to be a surprising conflation of “English” and “Scottish” is made all the more baffling by the fact that Almond was not to become a colonel in the Scots-Dutch Brigade until 1633, a full seven years after the signing of this letter (Ferguson, p. 325). However, it appears that at some point between 1618 and 1626, Almond had in fact been transferred to the regiment of the Earl of Oxford in the Anglo-Dutch Brigade, and served as acting colonel of the regiment during the expedition of Sir Charles Morgan [SSNE 89] to Denmark during the mid to late 1620s. This is noted in Het Staatsche Leger, as well as in a report on the strength of the Morgan expedition dated to 2 April 1627. Almond is noted there as colonel of a regiment alongside Morgan, Sir John Borlase and the Earl of Essex, whose regiment was commanded by another Scot, Sir John Swinton [SSNE 256], (HSL, Vol. IV, pp. 15-16; NA, SP84/133, f. 98). Of the original 1,190 soldiers Livingston was to command on this expedition, he was left with only 634 men, after the other 556 ran away. The expedition ended in failure with the fall of Stade in April 1628 and Almond returned to the Dutch Republic, where he was made lieutenant-colonel in the Scots-Dutch Brigade under Sir David Balfour [SSNE 8033] in November 1629, after the death of James Haddon [SSNE 8035]. According to a letter from Sir William Kerr of Ancram to his father, Sir Robert Kerr, Livingston took the rank reluctantly, citing the fact he had already been a colonel. Kerr wrote: "Since Mr. Hadan's death the Prince hath been dealing with Sir James Levingston to take his place of Lieutenant Colonell to Sir David Balfour, which he hath long refused, because he hath commanded in a higher degree," (Ancram, p. 50). Nonetheless, Livingston was able to be persuaded to take the position by the "Queane [of Bohemia], and the Embasador [James Hay [SSNE 1470]] and my Lord Veer [Robert Vere], and all the other Colonells," (Ancram, p. 50). 

Colonelcy in and out of the Republic, 1630-1640

On 25 July 1630, a complaint was lodged against Almond by P. Sluysken, which stated “[Almond] was never with his company, nor even present at the two musters of 11th January and 4th June,” and so he should not draw any pay for that time (Ferguson, p. 438). Nonetheless, Almond was obviously not derelict in his duty as he was present at the siege of Maastricht in 1632 where both he and Sir Charles Morgan were wounded (Akkerman, 2, p. 119). Unusually, Almond was transferred out of Balfour’s regiment and was promoted to colonel in the Scots-Dutch Brigade in place of the Earl of Buccleuch [SSNE 5009] in 1633, perhaps another indication of his talents as a soldier. 

Almond’s career in the Republic between 1633-1638 remains somewhat obscure. His regiment was present at the siege of Breda in 1637, and it is likely he was there commanding them (Ferguson, p. 578). On 9 July 1639, Almond’s lieutenant-colonel, Sir Philip Balfour lodged another complaint against Almond, writing that “during the year 1638, [Balfour] discharged the duties of colonel, in the absence of… Baron d’Amont,” (Ferguson, 456). Balfour, in turn, was awarded a colonel’s salary and on 5 November 1640 he was promoted colonel of the regiment when it became clear that Almond would not be returning to the Republic (Ferguson, p. 325). 

The Army of the Covenant and the "Cutting of the Stone"

Indeed, by 22 June 1638, Almond was in England or Scotland, receiving medical attention for a possible kidney stone (CSPD, 1637-1638, p. 526; ODNB). David Stevenson contends that the kidney stone was a front, and that he used it as an excuse to avoid picking sides in the First Bishops’ War. However, on 10 December 1638, when the Marquis of Hamilton and the King’s council left the assembly, contemporary Thomas Smith noted that Almond stayed behind with Argyll, leading Smith to suspect “they have left the King,” (CSPD, 1638-1639, p. 160). Robert Baillie wrote that Almond went to France to “be cutted” of the stone in the “tyme of our most need,” but it is not impossible that Almond was instead going on behalf of the Covenanters to bring France on side. This is only supposition, but makes sense given the fact that Almond would be made lieutenant-general of the Army of the Covenant during the Second Bishops’ War—a position unlikely to be granted to a person with suspect loyalties. 

Later Years

The remainder of Almond’s career is already well-noted, and so only a few further notes in reference to his service abroad will be made here. Almond served at at the siege of Newcastle in 1644. It should come as no surprise that Almond would be chosen to reinforce the siege in 1644, as he was well versed in siege warfare because of his previous service in the Dutch Republic (Murdoch & Grosjean, pp. 134-135). In 1647, Almond proposed to serve the King of France, but only if he was made a brigadier-general, and so the offer was refused (ODNB). Almond signed the Engagement and was part of the Duke of Hamilton's army that was defeated by Cromwell at Preston in 1648. Almond’s military career appears to have permanently ended then, and he fled to the Dutch Republic, where he visited other Scots, like the Earl of Ancram [SSNE 8213]. He returned to Scotland in the 1650s but was imprisoned in 1659 for still having suspected loyalties to the Stuarts. He died in 1674, after being rehabilitated during the Restoration.



Abernethy, Jack, ‘Scottish Participation in an Anglo-Dutch Army in Danish Service: Reassessing the “English” Expedition of Sir Charles Morgan, 1627-1629,’ Northern Studies, 53 (2022), pp. 42-59. 

Akkerman, Nadine (ed.), The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia (2 Vols, Oxford 2015), Vol. 2, p. 119.

Calendar of State Papers Domestic, 1637-1638, p. 526; 1638-1639, p. 160.

Correspondence of Sir Robert Kerr, First Earl of Ancram and his son William, Third Earl of Lothian, Vol. I: 1616-1649 (2 Vols., Edinburgh, 1875), p. 50 and Vol. II, 1649-1667, p. 318.

Fallon, J.A., 'Scottish Mercenaries in the service of Denmark and Sweden 1626-1632' unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Glasgow, 1972, passim.

Ferguson, James, Papers Illustrating the History of the Scots Brigade in theservice of the United Netherlands, 1572-1697 (Edinburgh, 1899), pp. xxxiv, 232, 295-296, 307, 308, 313, 314, 318, 322, 325, 331-333, 437, 438, 447, 456-458, 578.

MacLean, Dr. Ir. J., De Huwelijksintekeningen Van Schotse Militairen in Nederland: 1574-1665 (Zutphen, 1976), pp. 281-282.

Murdoch, Steve and Grosjean, Alexia, Alexander Leslie and the Scottish Generals of the Thirty Years’ War, 1618-1648 (London, 2014), pp.61-63, 114, 132, 134-136, 142, 149, 172.

National Records of Scotland, GD86/480.

National Archives, SP84/133, f. 98.

Resolutiën der Staten-Generaal, 1598-1599, p. 504.

Rijcke, Lambertus de, Vayus, Nathan, and Rieu, Job du, Bergen op den Zoom, Beleghert op den 18 Iujilj 1622, ende Ontleghert den 3 Octobris des selven Iaers… ende heft sich erbarmt over fijn volck, (Middleburg, 1623), list of officers appearing at the end of the book.

Stevenson David. 2004 "Livingston [Livingstone], James, first earl of Callendar (d. 1674), army officer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 25 May. 2019.

Ten Raa, F.J.G, and de Bas, F., Het Staatsche Leger, 1568-1795, IV (Breda, 1915), pp. 15-16.


Also see: Archives du Royaime de Belgique; Bundle 377, ff.163-164: Don Ferdinand; correspondence avec les trois ambassadeurs ci-dessus nommes 1640-1641 (Translated from Spanish by Susana Calvo Alvaro)

7th of September 1640

In the letter of the 1stof this month we gave Your Highness an account of the state of the Scottish movements, we also related how they have forced this King to set out for that frontier in a hurry in order to gather his army and impede the entrance these rebels were trying to do into this kingdom, which they executed on 30thAugust, crossing the river Tweed that divides the two kingdoms near Berwick, with an army of 20000 infantrymen and horsemen, 12 pieces of artillery, and 40 pieces of new invention, so it is said. On the first of this month they penetrated 7 or 8 leagues into this kingdom, where they were joined by Baron Aumond (James Livingstone, Lord Almond) with 12000 men, him being Leiutenant-General after General Lesley [Alexander Leslie]. They come marching together towards Newcastle, place of great commerce and fame in that area, however it is not powerful, although the English are fortifying it hastily. Close to this town and its surroundings, there is a river that the Scots will try to cross and the English impede. The King’s army is believed to reach 24000 men including 3000 horsemen, out of which 1000 have left Newcastle to reconnoitre the rebels forces, who will have arrived very near the river already, and it is possible that they will attack Newcastle. We cannon express the fright that this entrance had caused in the spirit of the well-meaning peoples of this town. Nonetheless the majority, infected by Puritanism, daringly publishes its displeasure of the present government and shows a wish for the Scots to prosper, because they imagine that they are coming just to force the King to gather the parliament and govern according to what would be determined there. However one cannot expect but compassion, violence and thefts along the kingdom and maybe a general revolt, if the Scots and their English allies prevail. What most encourages the royal party is the fact that with the arrival of the King the province of York has shown great fineness by everybody pledging allegiance to serve His Majesty on this occasion. This will be reinforced even more with the presence of the Viceroy or Ireland, native of the already mentioned province, who left from there in search of the King on the 3rdof this month, although sickly and affected by the illness that had him so unwell for the past few days. We are expecting anxiously the answer that Your Highness will kindly order to send to us with dispatches and propositions, so that we can give it [an answer] to the Viceroy of Ireland as well, who is expecting it [...] trust. Before leaving he sent us a proposition about that ??? by means of which he offers to serve His Majesty and to have them ready for March of which we will inform Your Highness on another occasion. From London, the 7thof September 1640

            El Marques de Velada

            El Marques Virgilio MALVEZZI

            Don Alsonso de Cardenas


Bishops Wars; English Civil War.


This entry expanded by Mr Jack Abernethy.

Service record

Arrived 1616-06-03, as LIEUTENANT
Departed 1626-03-10, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1626-03-10, as COLONEL
Departed 1629-11-01, as LIEUTENANT-COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1629-11-01, as LIEUTENANT-COLONEL
Departed 1633-12-31, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1633-12-31, as COLONEL
Departed 1640-06-09, as LIEUTENANT-GENERAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1638-01-01, as LIEUTENANT-GENERAL
Departed 1647-01-01, as LIEUTENANT-GENERAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1647-01-01, as LIEUTENANT-GENERAL
Departed 1648-08-17, as FLEES TO HOLLAND
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY