Soldiers sailing with Hermann Mohll: Jacobites or Redcoats?

Some of the authors who have written about the Shotley Bridge swordmakers have discussed whether Hermann Mohll was working with Jacobite rebels because, when he returned to England with the swords he’d smuggled from Solingen in Germany, he sailed alongside a number of Scottish and Irish soldiers, said to number twenty.

While carrying out archive research for my book about the Shotley Bridge swordmakers, The Running Wolf, I uncovered a cache of documents, which have not been mentioned in any of the existing books about the swordmakers. Now, I can reveal the names and identities of the soldiers who were on board the ship. Interestingly, there were only six soldiers, and not twenty, and four of them were from the north east of England, with only one Scottish soldier and one Irish soldier present.

The Running Wolf by Helen Steadman

Mohll’s smuggling trip

Mohll sailed aboard the Eufro Angelique from Rotterdam to Tynemouth in December 1703, alongside some soldiers, said to be Scottish and Irish. (Most primary sources state Eufro Angelique, but there are also references to Saint Anne, Sinta Anna and Eufro Angonata). Mohll was subsequently imprisoned at Morpeth Gaol, at worst, guilty of high treason, and at best, of smuggling. (For more details about this, please see my full research findings, which have been published in Northern History journal.)

The soldiers’ nationalities

The soldiers’ nationalities have often been used to connect Mohll and the Jacobites. For instance, Richard H. Bezdek states, ‘because there were many Scottish and Irish soldiers on the ship, he was also accused of attempting to sell sword blades to the Jacobites.’[1] David Richardson argues ‘because most of the passengers were soldiers (about twenty), a Jacobite conspiracy was suspected in high quarters’, but concedes ‘no plots were uncovered’.[2]

Regardless, the soldiers’ nationalities do not prove they were Jacobites as many Scottish and Irish soldiers served the English Army. During the War of the Spanish Succession, recruitment was high on Queen Anne’s agenda and in December 1703, she concluded a treaty with the King of Prussia to obtain troops to assist the Duke of Savoy.[3] There were also plans to recruit from enemy armies, and the Earl of Nottingham, Secretary of State to Queen Anne, wrote to Sir Richard Hill, Envoy Extraordinary to the Duke of Savoy, on 14 March 1704, saying: ‘there are several of our subjects, of our kingdom of Ireland and other [of] our subjects who now serve in the armies of our enemies who, we are informed, are willing to quit that service, provided they may be assured of our pardon.’[4]

I can now reveal that there were only six soldiers aboard the ship and that of them, only one was Scottish and one Irish, with the other four coming from County Durham and Northumberland.

Sergeant John Ross, Morpeth, Northumberland

I have uncovered the deposition of one of the soldiers accompanying Mohll, Sergeant John Ross, who names five soldiers (somewhat fewer than Richardson’s ‘twenty soldiers’.)[5] On 22 January 1704, Ross stated he was a Sergeant in Colonel Row’s Regiment in Captain James Kygoe’s Company of Grenadiers, in what is now the Royal Scots Fusiliers; Ross’s regiment was quartered in Brabant, Flanders and he was released by his major on 16 November 1703 for a three-month recruitment furlough from fighting in the War of the Spanish Succession.[6]

According to Charles Dalton, Ross’s regiment was in Flanders in May 1702,[7] and army lists show Ross served under Colonel Archibald Row, as did Major William Campbell (who perhaps signed Ross’s furlough), and Captain James Kygoe; Ross was promoted to second lieutenant in August 1704 at the Battle of Blenheim.[8]

At Rotterdam, Ross boarded the Eufro Angelique, captained by Cornelius Soldart with his crew of four: Robert Jacobsen, John Cornelius, Thomas Roberts and John Harrison. Ross landed at Tynemouth and travelled home to Morpeth. A letter from Sir William Blackett, dated 21 January 1704, states, ‘I cannot learn what’s become of the passengers but I have sent a Warrant to Morpeth to seize Ross’.[9] Since Ross gave his deposition the following day, he was likely found there.

Sergeant Ross’s deposition naming the other five soldiers

Ross stated Hermann Mohll was aboard the ship with his wife and two children. Although he knew Mohll worked at Shotley Bridge as a swordmaker, he denied knowing about any swords on the ship. He concludes by stating that there were no passengers except the Mohlls, himself and the five soldiers listed below.

John Granger, Barnard Castle, County Durham

According to Ross, Granger was a carabinier (cavalry soldier with a small gun) in Brigadier Windham’s Horse Regiment (also known as the Carabiniers and the 6th Dragoon Guards), who came over on furlough and went home towards Barnard Castle in County Durham. To date, I can find no trace of him in Wyndham’s Regiment of Horse service records but that is not unusual as only officers tend to appear in service records prior to 1735.

Hugh Wyndham was appointed as colonel to the regiment in 1692 and was ultimately promoted to Lieutenant General in 1704. Wyndham is often recorded in the presence of King William III during battle: for instance, in 1690 at the battles of the Boyne and Limerick in 1690, and in 1693 at the battle of Steenkirk; Wyndham’s regiment was also recorded as being in Brabant in the summer of 1696 ‘under King William in person’. In 1690, Wyndham was awarded the king’s approbation for valour on the field, which he had witnessed first-hand in battles at Limerick. The regiment acted as escort for the royal family until 1702 when the soldiers returned to Holland, fighting under Marlborough, including at Schellenberg in the summer of 2004.[10]

Robert Carr, Scotland

Robert Carr, Earl of Orkney’s Regiment at Brabant in Flanders, who went homewards to Scotland. Captain Robert Kerr appears on the Blenheim Roll with a footnote stating he was called ‘Carr’. He became captain in 1689, and later had his commission renewed by George I.[11]

Ross describes Carr as a ‘Scotchman’, belonging to the Earl of Orkney’s Regiment at Brabant in Flanders, stating that Carr had received his discharge and had gone from Newcastle homewards to Scotland. However, Ross may have been mistaken, or Carr may have later rejoined the regiment.

In August 1692, George Hamilton formerly Colonel of the Royal Fusiliers, was appointed Colonel of The Earl of Orkney’s Regiment (aka, Lord Orkney’s Regiment of Foot, First Regiment of Foot, the Scotch Royals and the Royal Scots). Under Queen Anne, he was promoted to major-general in 1702 and lieutenant-general in 1704, fought under Marlborough during the Spanish War of Succession.[12] He also served as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to George I (1714–1716), as well as Governor of Virginia and was appointed Field Marshal and Governor of Edinburgh Castle.[13] For more information about the Earl of Orkney, see my article on his brother-in-law, Colonel Henry Villiers, justice at Mohll’s trial.

Christopher, Ireland

According to Ross, Christopher (no surname given) was an Irish man in ‘Colonel Hambelton’s regiment’ (the Earl of Orkney’s regiment). Ross did not provide a surname for Christopher, saying only that he was Irish and a soldier in Col. Hambelton’s regiment, who had received his discharge and went home to Ireland.

This is almost certainly the Earl of Orkney’s regiment, although it is odd for Ross to refer to it in two different ways; perhaps he described it in the terms used by each man. I have discounted the regiment as being Colonel Hans Hamilton’s 34th Regiment of Foot as Hans wasn’t appointed colonel until 1705. I can find no mention of any man called Christopher in the Earl of Orkney’s regiment, although again, this is not unusual if he was not an officer.

Joseph Heron, possibly Northumberland or Tyne and Wear

Joseph Heron, servant to Captain Ramsay of Brinkburn, Northumberland, in Colonel Walter Colyear’s Regiment at Bergen-Op-Zoom (a trading town in the south of the Netherlands).[14]

Heron had Ramsay’s baggage, which he landed at Howden Panns, a Wallsend Parish on the River Tyne. Possibly, this might be William Ramsay of Brinkburn, recorded as having a son, George, on 1 July 1691).[15] I have not located Heron in the army lists, which is not unusual if he was a servant, but I have found information relating to two Captains Ramsay in Colyear’s regiment. Captain John Ramsay served as Captain from 1694; he was son of William, first Earl of Dalhousie, and his brother William was also a captain, who succeeded to the earldom in 1711.

Ross’s deposition contains references to Colonel Collyer and Collier. Examination of the Army Estimates in House of Commons Journals reveals Walter Coljear (whose name is also spelt Colyear, Colyaart, Colyart, Colieart, Coljeart, Colieer, Colgear, Coljears, Colyar and Coliaart, often within the same publication). To avoid confusion, I will refer to Colonel Colyear.

The House of Commons Army Estimates for 1699 show Colonel Walter Philip Colyear,[16] who was stationed at Bergen-op-Zoom on 12 August 1701. According to Ferguson, Walter Philip Colyear was born in Bergen op Zoom in 1658 and was brother to the Earl of Portmore, David Colyear (also a colonel in the Scots Brigades). Walter Colyear joined the army in 1673 and was in the Prince of Orange’s Guards in 1676. After taking part in conflict at the Boyne and Limerick, he was appointed colonel in 1697, transferred to the Dutch service in 1698 and was then promoted regularly until he became Field-Marshal, later becoming governor of Bonn and then Namur. [17]

Robert Dodsworth, Felton, Northumberland

According to Ross, Robert Dodsworth was with Joseph Heron, and a volunteer in Colyear’s regiment, who lived near Felton in Northumberland and went home from Newcastle. It seems reasonable to assume that both Dodsworth and Heron served in the same regiment: the Second Regiment of Foot. Robert Dodsworth, also a volunteer in Colyear’s regiment, returned to Felton, Northumberland.

Dodsworth was made captain on 20 March 1730, and was still serving in 1743 when he died.[18] Most likely, he is the Robert Dodsworth of Framlington recorded in the Anglican parish register of June 1707 as marrying Ann Sympson, whose daughter was baptised later that year (the chapelry of Framlington was part of the Parish of Felton until it was severed in 1891).[19] [20]

Interestingly, another Robert Dodsworth in the 1690 Manchester Jacobite trials named 28 Catholic officers as Jacobite conspirators. This Dodsworth was allegedly murdered by Jacobites, and although William Beamont casts doubt on this allegation, saying, ‘The murder probably took place, if at all, in 1692’ and goes on to say that he can find no evidence of trial or murder,[21] Evelyn Lord notes he died of knife wounds in ‘an alehouse in Bloomsbury’ on 5 November 1693, and refers to state papers showing his widow seeking government compensation.[22]

Captain John Burke

Additionally, it is worth mentioning Captain John Burke. While not on the ship, he was imprisoned on suspicion of being Mohll. On 18 December 1703, Nottingham wrote to commanders in Newcastle, Durham, Carlisle and Berwick.[23] On 24 December 1703, Blackett replied, ‘We have as yet heard of no one answering your description of either person’ but even so, Blackett arrested Burke, describing him as: ‘having the accent of a Scot though he pretends to be an Irishman; and having about him some unintelligible papers […] he being a big fatt man about 45 years old, wearing a short fair peruke.’[24]

Burke named a reference, Sir Patrick Johnson, President of the Session of Scotland, and later a Whig MP,[25] who was three-times Provost of Edinburgh, and appointed to the commission of the union, later being elected to the British Parliament as a Whig MP, where he fought to protect trade in Edinburgh and negotiated for tax exemptions and reductions.[26]  Johnson must have obliged because Nottingham wrote to Blackett on 8 January 1704, saying, ‘The pocket book and papers taken from John Burke may be returned to him, and he is to be released.’[27] Blackett replied on 21 January 1704, stating, ‘As my Lord has directed, Captain Burck was discharged.’[28] Although Burke remained in custody for almost a month, no evidence links him to Mohll.[29]

So, were the soldiers redcoats or Jacobites?

Of course, while none of these soldiers were outed as Jacobites, it does not prove they were not Jacobites as some veterans from Queen Anne’s armies later joined the 1715 uprising.[30] While Sergeant Ross spent some time in custody in Morpeth Gaol, alongside Hermann Mohll, he was also released and not charged with high treason.

However, as my research findings show, the case is not as clear-cut as it seems, given that one of the justices in charge of the case was himself convicted of smuggling the following year alongside a known Jacobite. For more information on that curious case, please see my article on Colonel Henry Villiers, justice at Mohll’s trial, or read the full research article: ‘The Shotley Bridge Swordmaker, Hermann Mohll: A simple case of smuggling, or getting away with High Treason in 1704?


Some of this article is based on my research article published by Northern History journal. The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Northern History, September 2020, <doi 10.1080/0078172X.2020.1802548>. If using this article, or parts of it, in an article of your own, please cite the following source:

Steadman, Helen, ‘The Shotley Bridge Swordmaker, Hermann Mohll: A simple case of smuggling, or getting away with High Treason in 1704?’, Northern History, September 2020, doi 10.1080/0078172X.2020.1802548.

Thank you to the publishers, Taylor & Francis, who have kindly permitted me to share this on my personal website.

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[1] Richard H. Bezdek, Swords and Swordmakers of England and Scotland (Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 2003), p.22.

[2] David Richardson, The Swordmakers of Shotley Bridge (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham, 1973), pp.45–46.

[3] William Blackley, Swords and Swordmakers of England and Scotland (Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 2003), pp. 179–81.

[4] Blackley, pp.90–91.

[5] Richardson, Swordmakers, pp.45–46.

[6] London, National Archives, State Papers of Queen Anne, NA/SP/34/3/89A, fol.131.

[7] Winston Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times: Book One Consisting of Volumes I and II of the Original Work, (London: George G. Harrap & Co, 1958), pp.740–51.

[8] Charles Dalton (ed) English Army Lists and Commission Registers: 1661–1714 , Vol V 1702–1707 (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1902), pp.80–82.

[9] NA/SP/34/3/88, fol.130.

[10] Richard Cannon, Historical Records of the British Army: The Sixth Dragoon Guards or The Caribineers (London: William Clowes and Sons, 1836), pp.16, 22, 25–36.

[11] Dalton, p. 34.

[12] Dalton, pp. 4, 6, 34.

[13] Bucholz, Robert. O. Office Holders in Modern Britain: Volume II (Revised) Court Officers, 1660–1837 (London: University of London, 2006), pp.14–18.

[14] Journal of the House of Commons, Volume 12, 1697–1699, 16 January 1699, pp.407–423.

[15] John Crawford Hodgson, A History of Northumberland, Volume VII (Newcastle upon Tyne: Andrew Reid and Company, 1904), p.452.

[16] Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 12, 1697-1699 (London, 1803), pp.407–423.

[17] James Ferguson (ed) Papers illustrating the history of the Scots Brigade in the service of the United Netherlands 1572–1782Vol II 1690–1782  Publications of the Scottish History Society Volume XXXV: The Scots Brigade in Holland, (Edinburgh: University Press, 1899) pp.17, 70, 124, 125.

[18] Ferguson, pp. 124–125, 231.

[19] Hodgson,  p. 452.

[20] Hodgson, p.452.

[21] William Beamont (ed), The Jacobite Trials at Manchester in 1694 (Manchester: Chetham Society, 1853), pp.xviii–xxvi, xlviii–xlvix, lxix, xliii, 106.

[22] Evelyn Lord, The Stuarts’ Secret Army: English Jacobites 1689–1752 (Oxon: Routledge, 2004), p.21.

[23] NA/SP/44/104, p.385.

[24] NA/SP/34/3/67, fols.100–101.

[25] Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley & D. W. Hayton (eds.), ‘Johnstone, Sir Patrick [d. 1736], of Edinburgh’ in The History of Parliament, The House of Commons 1690–1715, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p.218.

[26] D.W. Hayton, Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley (eds) The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2002).

[27] NA/SP/44/104, pp.489.

[28] NA/SP/34/3/88, fols.128–29.

[29] NA/SP/34/3/67, p.242.

[30] NA/SP/34/3/89A, fol.131.

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