The links between Scotland and the countries lying along the southern shores of the Baltic can be traced back as far as the Medieval period when Scottish knights accompanied the Teutonic knights on their Baltic Crusade against the heathen Letts. Since then, various economic links encouraged merchants to settle in the main seaports, such as Danzig alias Gdansk. The main period of Scottish settlement, however, occurred from around 1560 to about 1650.
For much of the period, religious liberty in Poland attracted immigrants who had been subject to persecution in their homelands. Many of the Scots who settled initially along the shores of the Baltic had arrived as soldiers of fortune recruited to fight for and against the armies of Poland, Russia, and Sweden. Choosing to remain in Poland, these veterans later settled on lands given for service rendered, or as itinerant cramers or pedlars. During the 17th century, there was hardly a locality in Poland that did not contain some Scots. By the 1640s it was reckoned that there were approximately 30,000 Scots resident in Poland–one of the greatest concentrations of Scots in continental Europe. By the middle of the 17th century, the appeal of Poland and the Baltic lands began to wane for Scottish emigrants, who were discouraged by the Cossack and other wars, and encouraged by opportunities to the west–initially in Ireland and later in America. To illustrate the nature of Scottish emigration, consider the following entry:
On 19 March 1631, James Nairn and Thomas Begg, merchants in Edinburgh, entered into a charter party with William Williamson, master of the Gift of God to take a cargo of coal from Leith to Konigsberg, Danzig, or other Baltic port, there to purchase lint, hards [ie coarse linen flax], pack goods, et cetera, and return to Leith. [NRS.AC7.4]
This volume marks the fourth in a series. It is based on numerous primary and second sources found in the British Isles and continental Europe, including the Aberdeen City Archives, the Dundee Shipping Lists, the Danish Archives (Copenhagen), and The Scottish Community in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 1630-1750, by Michael Broun Ayre.