Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Woodprint of Scottish Soldiers - 1631

It's always fascinating to see how clothing styles evolve over time, the clothing of Highlanders being no exception!

This image shows four Highlanders who were serving in Mackay's Regiment of Foot during the Thirty Year's War. They fought for the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus during his continental campaigns, and it is estimated that during the 1630s 20,000 Scots served in the Swedish Army.
(source)

Scotland and the Thirty Years War, Ed. Steve Murdoch p. 191

Likely none of these individuals are Mackinnon's, but it is a contemporary portrait of how Highlanders dressed during this time period. Given the number of Scots who served in the Swedish army, it's not too unlikely to imagine there may have been at least a handful of Mackinnons serving with the King of Sweden.

If you know of any Mackinnons who served in the Thirty Year's War and would like to let us know, please contact the webmaster.

Derivative work from NYPL Digital Gallery Scan from A Short History of the English People, published 1893-1895.


*Update* Aug 26th, 2010:
On a whim I decided to see if I could find any MacKinnons who served in the continental armies during this time period, and providentially happened upon Steve Murdoch's Scotland, Scandinavia, and Northern Europe Database.   The database is a listing of individuals from Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland who were known to be active in the Baltic region between 1580 and 1707.  Unfortunately instead of posting a comprehensive list from the muster roles they have instead limited themselves to officers, nobility, merchants, and those that also appear in church records and the like.  Nonetheless it is a fascinating and monumental work, and in spite of the limitations of the nearly 8000 records, two MacKinnons do appear:

The first, Thomas MacKinnon (MiaKinnin) (ID 4001) Is listed as serving as an officer in the Russian army between 1632 and 1634.   Apparently he was "a Nobleman from Tain in Ross,"  and according to the database he "He arrived in Moscow from Pskov with other Scottish officers and probably fought at Smolensk."

If this is the case then Thomas was involved in the Smolensk War, and formed part of the Tsarist Russian forces sent to recapture the city.  Russia had ceded the city to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1618 and with the recent death of the Commonwealth's ruler in 1632, decided to take the initiative.  Unfortunately for Thomas, the Tsarist forces were ultimately defeated, and surrendered on February 25th 1634.

The second MacKinnon is a wee bit more enigmatic, and in this case we do not even know his first name (ID 5494).  According to the database "A Scot named Mackennan (surname) was noted in Kedany, Lithuania during the 17th century."  Whether he was a soldier, merchant, student, or simple traveler we do not know.

*Update August 26, 2010 Part II*

Another interesting reference comes from Robert Scott Fittis' Sports and Pastimes of Scotland, pg 128 (emphasis my own):

"When Charles I was mustering soldiers for the French war, in 1627, he requested the Laird of Glenorchy, Black Duncan of the Cowl, to assist in levying a body of 200 Celtic archers, having heard great praise of their skill.  At that time a strong body of Highland bowmen, commanded by Alexander M'Naughton of that Ilk, and accompanied by a number of the clan Mackinnon, with harpers and pipers, embarked for France to bear part in the war."

Though there is very little chance that any of the Highlaners portrayed in this woodcut are MacKinnons, likely the MacKinnons that departed with M'Naughton for France dressed very similarly to those in the woodcut above.

If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that the war being referenced was the Anglo-French War (1627-1629).  Perhaps there were a fair few more Mackinnons gallivanting in Europe at this time than I had previously imagined!

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