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EARLY CAREER, C. 1588-1600

It is difficult to determine when Sir William Brog began his career in the Scots-Dutch brigade. He was commissioned as sergeant major under Col. Bartholomew Balfour in 1588 and succeeded Captain David Trail's company on 31 March 1590. He was present at the attack of Maastricht in March 1594. He, along with Captain Egger and four Dutch captains were ordered to make an amphibious assault on the suburb of Wyck. However, after some confusion, they heard that the guard in the town had been doubled and the captains decided to call off the attack, Brog insisting he would not "lead his men to certain butchery," (Ferugson, 28). 

Brog was apparently implicated in some plot allegedly being hatched in the Scottish regiment with the intention to "injure the condition of the land." Very little seemed to come of this, aside from the possibility of the Scottish companies beign divided up in the garrisons. Colonel Balfour, as well as Brog and Captains Murray, Dalachy, Prop, Egger, and Waddel were all offered to be discharged, but clearly neither Brog nor Balfour did. 

In 1595, Brog was specially appointed as sergeant-major to an auxilliary force under Justinus van Nassau to relieve Cambrai in a joint effort with Henry IV of France. Brog was also present at the siege of Bommel in 1599 and took a Spanish captain prisoner on an assault on its trenches. Sergeant-Major Brog, along with Colonel Edmond [SSNE 8019], and Captains Caddel [SSNE 8005], Henderson, and Kerr, was one of the few survivors surviving officers after Nieuwpoort in July 1600, in which seven out of twelve Scottish captains were killed leading up to the siege. It was perhaps during this era that Colonel Brog "took a Spanish general in the field at the head of his army," as reported by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, (The Jewel, p. 99).

In 1599, Brog was recommended by King James VI and on 3 June 1600, Brog petitioned for the position of lieutenant-colonel in Col. Edmond's regiment. This, he insisted, was solely for honor, "without other pay," (Ferguson, 183). This was agreed to by Edmond and the government and by 29 December 1600 Brog was given 600 guilders outright and a salary of 100 guilders per month. 


Lieutenant-Colonel Brog was present at the siege of Ostend between 1601-1604. A particularly grim anecdote is recorded by Ferguson in relation to the first months of the siege:

"When the gallant Comte de Chatillon, son of the great Coligny, standing on the top of the Sandhill on 10th September, along with Colonel Van der Noot, Colonel Uchtenbrook, and Brogh... [Chatillon] had the top of his head carried off by a cannon-ball, the fragments of his skull wounded Colonel Brogh in the face," (Ferguson, 33). 

In August 1604, Brog and Adolphe van Gelder received instructions on the abandoning of the city. On 22 September 1604, the Scottish and English troops formed the rear-guard, "and were the last to leave the ground so long and obstinately defended," (Ferguson, 34). 


Sir William Brog took the colonelcy of the old regiment after the death of its former commander, Sir William Edmond. His salary was raised to 400 guilders/month and he retained command of his company until his death in 1636. From 1609-1618 his company numbered 150 men with a salary of £2014. In 1621 Brog and Colonel Robert Henderson [SSNE 4975] petitioned for their companies to be increased to 200 men (as it had been in 1607). This appears to have been accepted and the salary was raised to £2612. Brog appears to have been falsely reported dead in 1623. 

In 1617, Brog was requested to resign from the brigade so that the Earl of Buccleuch [SSNE 5009] (whose father, Lord Buccleuch [SSNE 5010] had been colonel of the second regiment from 1603-1612) could assume the colonelcy in reparation for debts owed to his father before his death. Perhaps the Earl also assumed he would take command of his father's regiment in 1612 after the Lord's death, but was instead passed up for the far more experienced Sir Robert Henderson [SSNE 4975]. King James evidently believed Brog to be "pretty well up in years; and that he should retire from war." The issue continued until at least 1622, when on September 30 Frederick V of the Palatinate wrote to Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia that "Colonel Brog will leave his regiment most reluctantly; but still it needs to be reformed," (Akkerman, 400-401). Brog, of course, did not give up his regiment, and thus the third regiment was born in 1629.

On 4 November 1631, Colonels William Brog, Sir David Balfour, and George Coutts intervened on behalf of the widow of Reverend Andrew Hunter for a pension of 100 guilders. They promised that they would then provide support for their ministers without help from the state as long as "this widow, during the short time that apparently she still has to live, be provided with necessary support," (Ferguson, 438-439). Brog was again reported dead, along with English officers Vere, Morgan, Pakenham, and Carew, as well as Sir David Balfour [SSNE 8033] in some letters abroad. Albert Joachimi worked to dispel these rumors with the space of about a week (Ferguson, p. 444).

Sir William Brog actually died by 13 March 1636, ending a 30 year career as colonel and at least 48 years in the Brigade. He was suceeded by Sir James Sandilands [SSNE 4996] and command of his company went to Captain James Williamson. 


At the present moment, Colonel Brog's origins and family remain completely obscure. There are two leads that may one day lead to future discoveries: 1) a Captain William Brog [SSNE 8020] appears in Colonel William Brog's regiment from 1626-1635 and could be a possible relative, and 2) William Meldrum [SSNE 8100], 60 years of age and a resident of Edinburgh, obtained a license to pass to the Low Countries in 1621 and was reported to be a "kynsman" of Colonel Brog (TNA, E157/4, f. 43). 


His portrait in The Netherlands:


And another in the National Portrait Gallery, London. This portrait perhaps lends credence to the story of Chatillon's skull wounding Brog in the face:

See Ferguson, p. 87 for Brog's commission to Sergeant-Major in 1588. 

Act of Commission for Captain Brogh as Sergeant-Major over the said auxiliary:

The States-General of the United Netherlands. To all those, etc., whereas we, for the service of the King of France and of these Lands, have found it good and necessary to appoint a sergeant-major over the two regiments of infantry ordered to go to France to the relief of the town of Camerijck, under the conduct and command of the noble and trusty Jonker, Justinus van Nassau, Admiral of Zeeland, general of the said auxiliary, so for the good carrying out of this we have taken the person of William Brogh, captain of a company of Scots soldiers and sergeant-major of the Scots regiment, and believing his ability, valour, and experience to be certified, vouched, and assured, we have appointed and commissioned, and do hereby appoint and commission the foresaid Captain Brogh to be sergeant-major or Wachtmeester over the foresaid two regiments of infantry, giving him full power and authority to lead said force during its campaign in France, to take service of, and exercise the same, and to take the word of command concerning it from the said general, and to give it to the officers who shall be on duty in said expedition, to take the sharpest heed that among the soldiers good watch, ward, and war discipline shall be maintained, as well by day as by night. To listen to all complaints, and to report them to the authority whose business it is to attend to them that they may be seen to as is fitting ; and further, to do all that a good and faithful sergeant-major or Wachtmeester ought, and is in duty bound to do ; on a pay ofa hundred pounds of xl. great pieces per month (his ordinary pay of sergeantmajor special over the Scotch regiment therein included) to commence the first of October next. It is therefore ordained and commanded to all and sundry whom it may concern that they are to recognise, respect, and obey the foresaid Captain Brogh in his foresaid quality on pain of our displeasure inasmuch as we have found this to be essential to the service of the Land. So drawn up, etc., the 27th September 1595. (Ferguson, 94).



J. Ferguson, Papers Illustrating the History of the Scots Brigade in theservice of the United Netherlands, 1572-1697 (Edinburgh, 1899), p. xxxiv, xxxv, 28, 30, 31, 33, 34, 49, 54, 66, 69-74, 87, 94, 114, 179, 183, 184, 203, 221, 226-232, 250, 251, 285-284 302, 308, 312, 322, 330, 332, 335, 379, 380, 385-8, 439, 444.

Nadine Akkerman (ed.), The Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia (2 Vols, Oxford 2015), Vol. 1, pp. 400-401. No. 282, Frederick [in Sedan] to Elizabeth [in The Hague?], 30 September 1622.

Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, eds. RDS Jack and RJ Lyall, The Jewel (Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 99, 209.

TNA, E157/4: Register of Licenses to pass beyond the seas, 1621. f. 43.


This entry expanded by Mr Jack Abernethy.

Service record

Arrived 1588-06-12, as SERGEANT-MAJOR
Departed 1600-12-29, as LIEUTENANT-COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1600-01-01, as LIEUTENANT-COLONEL
Departed 1606-09-12, as COLONEL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
Arrived 1606-09-12, as COLONEL
Departed 1636-03-13, as DECEASED
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY