top of page

Sir James Lumsden 
Military Commander



James Lumsden (1598–1660) was a Scottish soldier who served in the Swedish army of Gustavus Adolphus during the Thirty Years' War, and subsequently commanded Scottish Covenanter armies.


Sir JAMES (1598?–1660?), military commander, was son of Robert Lumsden of Airdrie in Fifeshire, and great-grandson of John Lumsden of Lumsden and Blanerne in Berwickshire. He entered the service of Gustavus Adolphus, and was ‘colonel to a regiment of Scots’ at the siege of Frankfort-on-the-Oder (3 April 1631). His exploits there were described by his fellow-soldier Monro (Monro, His Expeditions and Observations, London, 1637, pt. ii. p. 33), and in the ‘Swedish Intelligencer’ (London, 1632). According to the latter, the king called Sir John Hepburn [q.v.] and Lumsden to him before the assault on the town, and bade them remember their countrymen slain at New Brandenburg. ‘Lumsdell therefore with his regiment of English and Scots and Hebron with his High Dutchers press upon that sally-port, ever the enemy's bullets flying thick as hail. Lumsdell, with his drawn sword in his hand, cries, “Let's enter, my heart,” thrusting himself in among the thickest of them; his men follow as resolutely. … And by this time, the greater gate being broken open, Hebron and Lumsdell, entering with their men, made a most pitiful slaughter, and when any Imperialist cried Quarter, New Brandenburg cries the other, and knocks him down. … Here did Lumsdell take eighteen colours, yea such testimony showed he of his valour that the King after the battle bade him ask what he would and he would give it him.’ He distinguished himself also at Leipzig on 7 Sept. 1631 (Intelligencer, pt. ii. p. 13), and Monro relates that after the battle ‘His Majesty … holding me fast by the hand, calling to the Duke of Saxon[y], declared unto him what service our nation had done to his father and him, and the best last at Leipzig, commending in particular to the Duke Colonel Hepburn and Lumsdell’ (Monro, pt. ii. p. 75). When or where he was knighted is not known, but in 1635 ‘Sir James Lumsden’ was governor of Osnaburg (Sir James Turner, Memoirs, p. 8). In 1639 he accompanied David Leslie, ‘since Lord Newark,’ and Sir J. Turner from Germany to Sweden, to complain of some injustice done to the latter (ib. p. 12). Soon after this he must have returned to Scotland, where he married Christian Rutherford of Hunthill, and bought the lands of Innergellie in Fifeshire. On 5 Jan. 1644 he was ‘joined to the Committee of Estates that goes along with the army,’ which crossed the Tweed a fortnight later; and on 22 Feb., when the army marched from Newcastle to cross the Tyne below Hexham, ‘Sir James Lumsdaile, Major-General,’ was left with six regiments of foot and some troops of horse to watch Newcastle (Rushworth, vi. 614). In 1645 he was appointed governor of Newcastle. In 1649 he was appointed colonel of horse and foot for the shires of Fife and Kinross, and on 3 Sept. 1650 he was made prisoner at the battle of Dunbar. He was granted his liberty in September 1652. The year of his death is not known. On his house of Innergellie is his coat of arms, with ‘S[ir] J[ames] L[umsden] D[ame] C[hristian] R[utherford], 1650.’ Full-length portraits of Sir James and his wife are at Innergellie.

A brother Robert (d. 1651) also served under Gustavus Adolphus and in the civil war. He was governor of Dundee, and was killed when Monck stormed the place, 1 Sept. 1651. He is the ancestor of the present family of Sandys-Lumsdaine of Blanerne and Innergellie.

A second brother, William Lumsden (fl. 1651), who similarly served under Gustavus and in the civil war, is celebrated as ‘a valorous little captain’ by Monro (pt. i. p. 78). After his return in 1643 to Scotland he became major of the Merse regiment (Rushworth, vi. 604), and fought with it at Marston Moor on 2 July 1644. Spalding says: ‘None of our Scots army baid except three regiments, and under the Earl of Lyndsay, another under Schir David Leslie, and the third under Colonel Lumisden, who fought it out stoutlie’ (Troubles in Scotland, ii. 383). He was wounded and taken prisoner at Dunbar on 3 Sept. 1650. Cromwell in his despatch erroneously describes him as ‘mortally’ wounded. In the following December there is a supplication of Colonel William Lumsden ‘for pay of his arrears in respect of his present necessity, he being now prisoner’ (Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vi. 573). It is not known when he died.

the Comet.[5]

He developed the business James Lumsden & Son based at 20 Queen Street in Glasgow.[6] In 1840 he was living at 208 St Vincent Street.

In 1838 he was one of the founders of the Clydesdale Bank.[5] He served on Glasgow Town Council from 1833 and was elected Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1843 to 1846,[7] having previously been a Town councillor and baillie, and a commissioner of the City of Glasgow Police.[1] His most important achievement as Lord Provost was the crearion of the Glasgow School of Design.[8]

He retired in 1852 and died on 16 May 1856. He was buried in the churchyard of Glasgow Cathedral.


Having commanded a regiment of Scottish soldiers in Swedish service, and fought at the Battle of Lutzen as part of John Hepburn's Green Brigade.[1] Lumsden was made governor of Osnabrük in May 1634 which he held with his regiment until relieved by Field Marshal Alexander Leslie in 1636 against considerable odds.[2] Lumsden left the Swedish Army in 1639 like many Scottish officers and returned to Scotland. He commanded troops during the Bishop's Wars, and in 1644 he was Sergeant Major General of Foot in General Alexander Leslie's Covenanter Army which entered England to support the English Parliament during the First English Civil War. He played a major part in the Battle of Marston Moor, and though many of his own regiment were routed, he did much to regroup the remainder and rally the reserve battalions which helped secure victory for the allied forces of the parliaments.[3] Lumsden left an account of the battle, published anonymously[4]

Lumsden was subsequently Lieutenant General of Horse in the Covenanter Army which, now fighting for King Charles II, was defeated at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. He was captured, and released in 1652.


  1.  Steve Murdoch and Alexia Grosjean, Alexander Leslie and the Scottish Generals of the Thirty Years' War, 1618–1648 (London, 2014), pp.56–57.

  2. ^ Steve Murdoch and Alexia Grosjean, Alexander Leslie and the Scottish Generals of the Thirty Years' War, 1618–1648 (London, 2014), pp.71, 77.

  3. ^ Steve Murdoch and Alexia Grosjean, Alexander Leslie and the Scottish Generals of the Thirty Years' War, 1618–1648 (London, 2014), pp.128–134.

  4. ^ Anon. [Major General Sir James Lumsden], The Glorious and Miraculous Battell at York: This Letter being Directed to a Noble and Honourable Leaguer Lying at Yorke (Edinburgh, 1644). A manuscript copy of this letter (which identifies the author) and including an order of battle can be found at York Minster Archives, MS ADD 258. Lumsden's Report on Marston Moor

  5. "Lumsden, James" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

  6. Steve Murdoch and Alexia Grosjean, Alexander Leslie and the Scottish Generals of the Thirty Years' War, 1618–1648 (London, 2014).

bottom of page