• Founder of Scottish Church in Netherlands
  • Exiled from Scotland by English King James I
  • 7 Nov 1606 Sailed from Scotland to France


Rev. John Forbes was born 1568 in Craigievar, Corse, Aberdeenshire, Scotland to William Forbes, 4th Laird of Corse (1530-1614) and Elizabeth Strachan of Thornton (1544-1600) and died 28 March 1635 Keig, Aberdeenshire, Scotland of unspecified causes. He married Christian Barclay (1582-1640) 1603 in Mathers, Kincardine, Scotland.

John Forbes was a Scottish minister exiled by James VI and I. He founded a Church of Scotland in Middelburg in the Netherlands.[2] He was born about 1568, and was third son of William Forbes of Corse and Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Strachan of Thornton. He graduated M.A. at St Andrews in 1583, and was settled in Alford in 1593. In November 1602 the General Assembly chose him as one of those whom the King might select for nominating commissioners from the various Presbyteries to Parliament.

At Alford he came into conflict with the powerful sept of the Gordons, who were vigorous opponents of Protestantism, and when the Synods of Aberdeen and Moray excommunicated the Marquess of Huntly, and Huntly had appealed successfully to the Privy Council, Forbes was sent by these Synods to London to represent the case to King James. He was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of Aberdeen on 2 July 1605 contrary to the King's order. Of twelve Aberdeenshire ministers who were present ten afterwards admitted the illegal nature of the Assembly, but Forbes [and Charles Fearn, minister of Fraserburgh] having been summoned before the Privy Council, declined the Council's jurisdiction, on the ground that the Assembly had dealt wholly with spiritual matters. For this he was imprisoned at Blackness, tried for high treason, and banished the country.

On 7 November 1616 he sailed from Leith for Bordeaux, and after spending a time with Boyd of Trochrig at Saumur, he proceeded to Sedan. Much of his work thereafter consisted in visiting the Reformed Churches and Universities on the Continent, in which were many Scots students and professors. In 1611 he became minister of the English congregation at Middelburg, Holland, and soon after he was offered release from his sentence, but upon conditions he could not accept. In 1616 he came to London, where he had an interview with the King, who promised to annul his banishment — a promise which was not fulfilled. In 1621 he was minister at Delft, but the hatred of his former ministerial brethren, some of whom were now bishops, instigated Laud and the English Government to procure his dismissal, and this was carried out in 1628. He died in Holland in 1634.[3]

Marriage and Family

He was the third son of William Forbes of Corse, Aberdeenshire. an early adherent of the Protestant Reformation, and Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Strachan of Thornton. Patrick Forbes, the eldest son, became bishop of Aberdeen, William, the second, founded the family of Craigievar, and Arthur, the fourth, that of the Earls of Granard in Ireland.[4] He was held in much honour by the Reformed Churches abroad for his consistently faithful character, his eminent talents and learning, and, above all, for his sufferings in the cause of religion.[3]

He married Christian, daughter of George Barclay of Mathers. Two of his sons were colonels in the Dutch service, one of whom afterwards fought on the side of the covenanters.[4]

  1. John Forbes (1610-1661), colonel in the Dutch Service, later immigrated to Plymouth Colony, in America. Named changed to Fobes.
  2. Arthur, colonel in the Dutch Service ;
  3. Patrick, Bishop of Caithness ;
  4. James, minister of Abercorn ;
  5. Margaret (married Andrew Skene in Kirktown of Dyce) ;
  6. a daughter (married William, son of Alexander Forbes, Bishop of Aberdeen) ;
  7. Katherine (married John Oswald, minister of Prestonpans).[3]


Offspring of Rev. John Forbes and Christian Barclay (1582-1640)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Forbes (1610-1661) 14 June 1610 Muir of Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 10 July 1661 Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Constant Mitchell (1614-1661)
Arthur Forbes (c1611-1696)
Patrick Forbes (1612-1680)
James Forbes (c1613-)
Margaret Forbes (1614-1675)
Bathia Forbes (1615-1640)
Katherine Forbes (1617-1639)



See Also

Footnotes (including sources)