Stockholm in the 17th century
Sometimes called the Venice of the North, Stockholm is built on a group of islands at the entrance to Lake Mälaren, once an arm of the sea, now an inland lake. The city developed from the lowest bridging point which is also a transhipping point as a result of the rapids formed on either side of the central island. Nowadays navigation past the rapids is controlled by a series of locks called the Hammarbyslussen.
Established in the 13th century, Stockholm was frequently invaded and sacked by Letts, Finns and Danes. It was not until Sweden became a major Baltic power in the 17th century that the city began to develop rapidly as a trading centre.
The 17th century, too, was the time of greatest Scottish influence in Sweden, especially in the navy. Admiral Richard Clerck the Elder (originally, Clark, from Montrose) led the Swedish fleet which captured Riga. Simon Stewart, who was captain of the Swedish flagship, Tiger in the defeat at the hands of the Poles at Oliwa in 1627, survived to become an Admiral. Alexander Forath, one of two brothers from Dundee who were captains in the Swedish navy was not so fortunate, he blew up his command, the Solen rather than let it fall into Polish hands.
It was not just on the seaborne side of the navy that the Scots had an influence. Richard Clark was involved in building warships and another Scottish immigrant, William Ruthven supervised the building of naval ships at several Swedish yards. The Clark family were also the exclusive suppliers of rigging to the navy from ca 1615-1630.
Much of the trade with Tayside was as a result of the merchants who had establised themselves in Stockholm. Berg and Lagercrantz note the importance of Scots in the silk trade there naming Nacher, Morij, Kinnemund, Feif and Petrij or, dealing in cloth, Rebben, Ross, Feif, Helligday (or Helleday) and Greger.
Helleday, we know, came from Fife. Three sons of Alexander Feif, a merchant in Montrose emigrated to Stockholm in the 1630s and became burghers there. Jakob was a brewer, David a draper and Donat the silk merchant. Sons of two of them became goldsmiths in Stockholm, one being alderman of the guild, and another was appointed magistrate. The noble Swedish families of Feif, Adlerstolpe and Ehrensparre are descendants of these Montrose immigrants.
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© George Welling
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