GRAHAM, CHARLES [SSNE 8442]
Sir Charles Graham was a Scottish nobleman and officer who served in the Scots-Dutch Brigade in the Dutch Republic. Graham first appears in the Dutch commission lists as an adjutant on 23rd October 1673. He served under the command of Colonel Henry Graham [SSNE 4967] in the first, ‘Old’, regiment of the Brigade. Graham’s career as an officer began during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-1678) and he rose through the ranks at a steady pace. On 10th May 1675, he was promoted to the rank of captain-lieutenant and would have participated in the Siege of Maastricht, June-August 1676, and the Battle of Saint-Denis, 14th August 1678. By 1680, Colonel Hugh Mackay of Scourie [SSNE 5005] succeeded as the first regiment’s commander, after Colonel Henry Graham was slain, and commissioned Charles Graham as a captain. When King James VII & II succeeded to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1685 he faced an armed insurrection led by James Scott, first Duke of Monmouth. The Scots-Dutch Brigade was recalled by James VII and Graham arrived in England as part of Mackay’s regiment. The Scots-Dutch regiments would not participate in the suppression of the uprising directly but remained in London for much of that year before returning to the Republic.
Although relations between the Stuart dynasty and the Dutch Republic had stabilised following the 1674 Treaty of Westminster, James VII’s increasingly close relations with France caused a great deal of tension between the Three Kingdoms and the Republic. James issued another recall to his subjects in mid-1688 in which he ordered the immediate return of his Scottish and English regiments from the Dutch Republic. The Dutch States General, conscious of the need to retain veteran troops due to these the increasing likelihood of war with France, refused to recognise the legality of the recall. Rank-and-file soldiers were not allowed to leave the Netherlands. Officers, on the other hand, were afforded the freedom of choice. Graham was one of 180 of these officers (out of 240 in total) that refused to obey James’ recall and instead chose to remain under the command of Prince Willem Henrik of Orange (soon-to-be King William II & III). Graham had been promoted to Major in Mackay’s regiment and was a part of the vanguard of the Dutch army which landed in England on 5th November 1688. This military intervention precipitated the so-called ‘Glorious’ Revolution of 1688 which caused James and his family to flee into exile in France. The Scots Brigade played a key role in the operation and Scots-Dutch regiments were garrisoned around London as part of the occupying army from 23rd December 1688. It is notable that the Scottish and English regiments in Dutch service were the only British formations allowed to remain in the city as their officers had demonstrated their loyalty by refusing to return for James.
In 1689, Graham was, alongside his Scots-Dutch comrades, subsequently dispatched to Scotland. Prince William issued orders, on 7th March 1689, for the Scots Brigade to return to their home country to protect that ‘kingdome and our interest’. The Brigade arrived in Scotland as a new Scottish civil war broke out following the deposition of King James by majority vote in the Convention of Estates. The Highland War or First Jacobite Rising (1689-1691) would last three years and the Scots-Dutch Brigade would play a key role in the conflict, which formed a part of the pan-European Nine Years’ War (1688-1697). Although the formation was severely diminished, with only 1,100 men, the Scots-Dutch regiments acted as a corps of super-auxiliaries for William’s Scottish supporters. The veteran officers provided vital military expertise as well as a loyal body of soldiers for the new regime to coalesce their forces around. The presence of the Scots-Dutch Brigade enabled these supporters to consolidate their political seizure of power via the Convention. Moreover, the Scots-Dutch officers like Graham would be heavily involved in the efforts to rapidly re-establish the Scottish standing army which had been disbanded in the previous year. For example, the commander of the Scots-Dutch Brigade, Major-General Hugh Mackay, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of William’s forces in Scotland. This allowed the Scottish Williamite regime to meet the challenge of the rapidly assembled Scottish Jacobite Army, composed of Highland clans sympathetic to the exiled monarch.
During the early stages of the conflict there would be a scramble to place key fortifications under the control of officers and soldiers loyal to this new Scottish regime. The Scots-Dutch officers would form a critical part of this endeavour as they were entrusted due to their longstanding service to the Dutch Republic and the Prince of Orange. On 18th July 1689, Charles Graham was commissioned as Lieutenant-Governor of Stirling Castle, serving under Charles Erskine, fifth Earl of Mar. Although Mar had left Scotland for Bath, pleading ill health, he remained the heritable governor of Stirling; a position his ancestors had held since 1566. Mar’s reluctance to declare himself for the new regime, alongside his prolonged absence and the presence of former soldiers of Colonel Thomas Buchan’s regiment of foot in the area, led to fears that the garrison would side with the Jacobites. In response, Major-General Mackay sent a letter to Mar pleading that he allow ‘a guard of fiftie [sic] men, with a captain’ to be ‘dayly [sic] relieved into the Castle’. Mar accepted and this secured control of Stirling for the Williamite government in the early stages of the conflict. In Mar’s absence, Graham was now, as lieutenant-governor, the de facto commander of Stirling Castle. The significance of this coup was noted by Mackay who attributed the strategy as having secured ‘that first post of the Kingdom… by fair means, without giving offence or suspicion to the Earle’.
Graham’s remit was quickly expanded beyond the confines of the castle as the Scottish Privy Council empowered him to exert authority over ‘all inferior officers and soldiers’ encamped in and around the town of Stirling. This was significant as the ‘Parks of Stirling’ alongside the town itself played host to a significant portion of the Scottish Williamite army. During the Highland War Stirling was vital for the Williamite regime due to its strategic geographical position and the presence of a magazine of weapons, ammunition, and supplies within the castle. A contemporaneous pamphlet regarding the infamous battle of Killiecrankie, 27th July 1689, notes that Graham was not present as he was ordered to remain at his post in Stirling. It is likely that Graham was engaged in overseeing the recruitment and training of new Scots-Dutch battalions during this time – the Brigade used their time in Scotland to replenish their ranks to the full strength of 3,000 men.
Yet again, Graham rose through the ranks during this period as he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of Mackay’s regiment following the death of the post’s previous holder, James Mackay, at Killiecrankie. Graham was to serve in Scotland until December 1690 when the regiment, alongside Colonel George Ramsay’s second regiment, was redeployed to the Dutch Republic. In the following year, 1st April 1691, Graham was promoted to Brigade-Major of the English and Scottish regiments serving there. By September, Graham had succeeded Ramsay as commander of the second regiment of the Scots-Dutch Brigade. Graham was wounded commanding his regiment at the infamous Battle of Steenkerque, 3rd August 1692, where the ‘Royal Confederate Army’ suffered a crushing defeat with particularly high casualties amongst the Scottish and English regiments.
He served in the campaigns of 1693 and 1694 but his service record remains unclear until the following year when he was sent to form part of the garrison at Diksmuide in the Spanish Netherlands. The Siege of Diksmuide, 25th-28th July 1695, would become infamous as the Danish Major-General Johan Ellenberg would assent to surrender the strategically crucial town to a besieging French army. Graham was a key player during the negotiations as he personally met with the French commander Charles de Montsaulnin, the Comte de Montal. Montal demanded the garrison surrender themselves as prisoners of war. Ellenberg and six of the seven senior officers, including Graham, signed the agreement to fully surrender. Graham and his fellow officers appear to have panicked due to the rapidity with which the French had dug their entrenchments and the advantageous position of their artillery batteries. The full garrison was marched to Ypres where they were imprisoned.
The swiftness of the surrender at Diksmuide infuriated William and this was apparent when he wrote, in a letter dated 1st August 1695,
‘You may easily conceive my mortification, not at the loss of these two trifling posts, on which I had calculated, but for the dastardly and precipitate manner in which they surrendered, and their [sic] not having employed the enemy so long as they ought to have done’.
Following their release, Ellenberg and his officers were court martialled at Ghent in October 1695. The Great Council of War judged that Diksmuide had been given up ‘without expecting any Assault, before any Breach made, Work taken, and very few Men kill’d… to the great prejudice of the King… and the Confederates’. On 4th November 1695, the Council sentenced Ellenberg to death for his ‘ignominious’ surrender. Ellenberg’s subordinates got off lightly by comparison with Graham ‘condemn’d to be cashier’d’. Afterwards, he appears to have been dishonourably discharged from military service in the Dutch Republic as command of the second Scots-Dutch regiment was passed on to Walter Philip Colyear, a fellow Scotsman and Brigade officer. It remains unclear what became of Sir Charles Graham following the conclusion of the Peace of Ryswick in 1697.
James Ferguson (ed.), Papers Illustrating the History of the Scots Brigade in the Service of the United Netherlands 1572-1782, Volume 1, 1572-1697 (Edinburgh, 1899), pp. 470-472, 479, 486-487, 509-510, 516, 574-575.
G.H. Jones, ‘The Recall of the British from the Dutch Service’ in The Historical Journal, Vol 25, No. 2 (June, 1982), pp. 423-435.
Tytler, Fraser, Urquhart, Adam & Hogg, James (eds.), Hugh Mackay, Memoirs of the War Carried on in Scotland and Ireland (Edinburgh, 1833), p. 5. Ibid., ‘Instructions to Mackay, 7th March 1689’, pp. 221-222.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [ODNB], Christoph v Ehrenstein, ‘Erskine, John, styled twenty-second or sixth earl of Mar and Jacobite duke of Mar (bap. 1675, d. 1732), Jacobite army officer, politician and architect.’
ODNB, Henry Summerson, ‘Erskine, John, seventeenth or first earl of Mar (d. 1572), magnate and regent of Scotland.’
Records of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1689/3/70, Commission to Major General MacKay to command the forces, 28th March 1689.
Henry Paton (ed.), Register of the Privy Council of Scotland [RPCS], Vol XIII, 27th March 1689, Letter from Col. Ramsay, p. 382. Ibid., Commission to Sir Charles Graham, 18th July 1689, p. 532.
National Records of Scotland, E7/5, Exchequer Records: Treasury Register, 1688-1689, ‘New Company Stirling Castle’, 13th April 1689, f. 15.
Edinburgh University Library Special Collections, Laing MSS.II.89, A True Account of the late Fight betwixt Genrall Major Mackay and the Viscount of Dundee on the plains of Gilliechrankie within the Country of Atholl (1689), f. 338.
J. Childs, Nine Years’ War and the British Army 1688-97: The operations in the Low Countries (Manchester, 1991), pp. 285-8, 348, 351.
William Coxe (ed.), Private and Original Correspondence of Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury, with King William, the Leaders of the Whig Party, and other distinguished statesmen (London, 1821), ‘The King to the Duke of Shrewsberry, 1st August 1695’, pp. 97-98.
H. Rhodes (ed.), The Present State of Europe: or, the Historical and Political Monthly Mercury, Giving an Account of all the Publick and Private Occurences, Civil, Ecclesiastical and Military, that are most Considerable in every Court: The Interests of Princes, their Pretensions, and Intrigues, &c. (London, 1695), ‘The Sentence pronounc’d by the Great Council of War, held at Gand [sic], by order of the King of England, from Octob [sic] 19th to the 4th of November, 1695’, pp. 444-445.
British History Online, Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 11, 1693-1697 (London, 1803), ‘Army Estimates’ 28th October 1696, pp. 569-572.
C. Dalton, English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714, Vol. IV, 1694-1702 (London, 1898), p. 6.
Roger B. Manning, An Apprenticeship in Arms: The Origins of the British Army 1585-1702 (Oxford, 2006), pp. 413-414.
G.S. Millen, The Scots-Dutch Brigade and the Highland War, 1689-1691 (University of Kent, 2022), pp. 89-95, 359-360.
This entry was kindly provided by Dr Graeme Millen.
- SCOTLAND, THE DUTCH REPUBLIC, THE SCOTS BRIGADE
- Arrived 1673-10-23, as ADJUTANT
- Departed 1695-11-04, as COLONEL
- Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY