First name
Social status

Text source

John Clerck (also known as Hans and Johan) saw service in the Swedish navy in several capacities. His service in the Swedish navy began when he became a captain 31/5/1617. He served as a private member in the staff of the vice-admiral's ship Vasa in 1620. He also served on the Jupiter which transported King Gustav II Adolf to Germany in May 1620. Two years later he went with two troop ships to Riga. Captain Clerck took over the late holmadmiral Richard Clerck's [SSNE 4137] monopoly of tackling, although he was later pulled up for not undertaking this duty properly. Some sources say that this Richard was his brother.

In January 1626 Clerk was contracted by Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna to prepare the fleet for embarkation to Poland. That year he became "over captain" and between 1626-8 he was in charge of rigging for the navy in Stockholm. Indeed he sold the rigging for the ill fated ship Vasa. By 1630, Clerck became a vice admiral and was sent to Holland to collect five ships. From 1631-44 he served as holm admiral in Stockholm. His successful career has led to his description as one of the driving forces in the Swedish admiralty at this period. In 1637 he was one of the Swedish navy's lieutenant admirals along with Simon Stewart [SSNE 1644]. He died May 1644. His son, or nephew - it is unclear - Richard [SSNE 4138] was also in the navy. His daughter Elizabeth [SSNE 2836] married the Scot Jacob Sinclair [SSNE 3441]. 

There is a reference to a John Clerk in the navy in 1622 in Svenska Sjoofficerare vol II, p.256. An incident is related where Capt Alexander Forrat and James Muir were accused of the murder of one James Logan. Logan was a relative of Muirs and newly taken on in Swedish service as a Fanrik. On the 30th of April 1622, Logan arrived at the house of Admiral Richard Clerk, where he met in with Muir, Forrat and Stewart. They went on to the house of Gerdt Spechts where they had a beer. There a dispute arose between Forrat and Logan over money. A fight broke out in which Forrat punched Logan, who promptly pulled a knife and put it to Captain Forrat's throat. Muir got involved and in the moments that followed, John Clerk was wounded and Logan killed. In the trial that followed Forrat was found guilty of starting the fight, fined and ordered to take any additional punishment imposed by the king. Muir was sentenced to death for killing a relative, though the text does not say whether the sentence was carried out. 

Sources: Swedish Riksarkiv, Axel Oxenstierna, Kontraktsböcker; Biografiska Anteckningar om Officerare vid Orlogsflottan 1600-1699, p.106; Svenska Adelns Attartavlor vol 1; J. Kleberg, Amiralitetskollegium - Marinförvaltningen Biografiska Anteckningar 1634-1934 (Stockholm, 1934), p.15; A. Norberg, Polen i Svensk Politik, (Norrtalje, 1974), p.275; E. Wendt, Amiralitetskollegiets Historia part 1 1634-1695 (Stockholm, 1950), p.19, 25, 63; A. Zettersten, Svenska Flottans Historia Aren 1522-1634 (Stockholm, 1890), p.258; A. Zettersten, Svenska Flottans Historia Aren 1635-1680, (Norrtelje, 1903), p.598.

Service record

Arrived 1617-01-01, as CAPTAIN
Departed 1644-05-31, as HOLM ADMIRAL
Capacity ADMIRAL, purpose NAVAL