First name

Text source

Maria Sofia Maclean was a daughter of the Scot, Baron John Maclean [SSNE 1631], of Gothenburg. She married her fellow Scot, General James Duncan [SSNE 277]. Duncan was born in Scotland. He migrated to Sweden where he became a captain of horse with P. F. de la Gardie's recruited cavalry regiment. Then he transferred to Klas Tott's recruited cavalry regiment in 1657. His promotion continued and in 1666, Duncan became a lieutenant colonel with Anders Planting Bergloos' recruited cavalry regiment. By 1668 he was lieutenant colonel with K. G. Wrangel's cavalry lifregiment along with his brother, David. Duncan became a colonel with a pension of 1700 Riksdaler. King Christian V offered him money to enter Danish service in 1671 and both he and David took up the offer. Four years later, hostilities broke out between Denmark-Norway and Sweden. Surprisingly, given his military background and social status within Sweden, he was made colonel and chief of the Fyn cavalry. In 1675 he recruited a company of dragoons and became major general of the Danish horse. In 1676 his dragoon company was recalled to Copenhagen from where Duncan was sent with a mixed force to Halmstad to win the garrison, but the Swedish army under King Karl XI was victorious and Duncan and his wife were captured. He did not spend long in captivity and he was exchanged for Swedish prisoners in 1677. Thereafter he became inspector of cavalry on Sjaelland and Fyn. He actively sought the governorship of Fyn in December 1677 and according to some sources, he got it. However, he was not long in that position. In 1678 Duncan travelled to Norway to help defend it from the Swedes with a regiment of cavalry and some dragoons. At Wenersborg he attacked a Swedish force in their left flank, but he was repelled. He managed to report back to Gylldenløve that the Swedes had crossed the river in force and were still on the move. After this Gylldenløve split his forces into three, one section of which Duncan took command of. At Wener he captured a troop of Swedish cavalry for which he was able to extract a handsome ransom. After February 1679 he took part in the campaign against Sweden with his cavalry and also in charge of 1,500 infantry. They managed to greatly trouble the Swedes throughout July and August in what is known in Norway as Duncanskrig, particularly the destruction of Amål and Wermland. On his return to Christiania in November 1679, Duncan hosted a wedding in his house, but the identity of the bridal couple has not yet been established. The war finished soon after and Duncan returned to Denmark by about 1682 having requested to go in March and actually leaving Norway in July. In 1683 he received the honour of being made a 'white knight' [Knight of the Order of Dannebrog]. The following year he became commander of the Holstein army. Duncan presented himself at the Imperial Court without royal permission from the Danish king and was dismissed in 1685 with a pension for that reason. Duncan and his wife returned to Gothenburg in Sweden thereafter, although James died soon after their return and was buried in the city on 13 March 1686. Maria owned land near her town of birth, Gothenburg. She was buried there on 20 September 1721. 


Sources: G. Elgenstierna, Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, vol. 5, p.142; J. Sandberg, Kvinner gift med offiserer i den Norske Hær 1628-1814. Fra stabsfanejunker O. Ovenstads Militærbiografier (Oslo, 1961), p.35; J. N. M. Maclean, The Macleans of Sweden (Edinburgh, 1971), p.27; W. Berg, Samlingar till Göteborgs Christina Kyrkas böcker, (Gothenburg, 1890), vol.1, p.563. Female.

Service record

Arrived 1640-01-01
Departed 1671-12-31
Purpose MISC.
Arrived 1671-01-01
Departed 1685-12-31
Purpose MISC.
Arrived 1685-01-01
Departed 1721-12-31
Purpose MISC.