Hepburn, Sir John
HEPBURN, SIR JOHN (c. 1598-1636), Scottish soldier in the Thirty Years' War, was a son of George Hepburn of Athelstaneford near Haddington. In 1620 and in the following years he served in Bohemia, on the lower Rhine and in the Netherlands, and in 1623 he entered the service of Gustavus Adolphus, who, two years later, appointed him colonel of a Scottish regiment of his army. He took part with his regiment in Gustavus's Polish wars, and in 1631, a few months before the battle of Breitenfeld he was placed in command of the " Scots " or " Green " brigade of the Swedish army. At Breitenfeld it was Hepburn's brigade which delivered the decisive stroke, and after this he remained with the king, who placed the fullest reliance on his skill and courage, until the battle of the Alte Veste near Nuremberg. He then entered the French service, and raised two thousand men in Scotland for the French army, to which force was added in France the historic Scottish archer bodyguard of the French kings. The existing Royal Scots (Lothian) regiment (late 1st Foot) represents in the British army of to-day Hepburn's French regiment, and indirectly, through the amalgamation referred to, the Scottish contingent of the Hundred Years,' War. Hepburn's claim to the right of the line of battle was bitterly resented by the senior French regiments. Shortly after this, in 1633, Hepburn was under a marechal de camp, and he took part in the campaigns in Alsace and Lorraine (1634-36). In 1635 Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, on entering the French service, brought with him Hepburn's former Swedish regiment, which was at once amalgamated with the French " regiment d'Hebron," the latter thus attaining the unusual strength of 8300 men. Sir John Hepburn was killed shortly afterwards during the siege of Saverne (Zabern) on the 8th of July 1636. He was buried in Toul cathedral. With his friend Sir Robert Monro, Hepburn was the foremost of the Scottish soldiers of fortune who bore so conspicuous a part in the Thirty Years' War. He was a sincere Roman Catholic. It is stated that he left Gustavuc owing to a jest about his religion, and at any rate he found in the French service, in which he ended his days, the opportunity of reconciling his beliefs with the desire of military glory which had led him into the Swedish army, and with the patriotic feeling which had first brought him out to the wars to fight for the Stuart princess, Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia.
See James Grant, Memoirs of Sir John Hepburn.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)