John Hepburn (soldier)

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Sir John Hepburn's plaque, Toul Cathedral

Sir John Hepburn (c. 1598 – 8 July 1636) was a Scottish soldier who fought in wars in continental Europe.

He was a son of George Hepburn of Athelstaneford, near the town of Haddington. He served in the Thirty Years' War, entering into the service of Gustavus Adolphus in 1623 and in 1625 was appointed colonel of the Scottish regiment of Gustavus Adolphus' army. He fought in the Polish wars of his Swedish master, and just before the Battle of Breitenfeld was put in command of the "Green" brigade of the army. The troops under Hepburn's command played a decisive role in the battle, and he remained with the king, becoming a trusted lieutenant. However, Hepburn was a devout Roman Catholic, and reputedly a jibe about his religion from Gustavus Adolphus encouraged him to leave the service of the Swedish king.

He then entered the service of France, successfully raising 2,000 men in Scotland for the French army. This number was supplemented by the addition of the historic Scottish archer bodyguard of the French kings, the Garde Écossaise, and later by the addition of Hepburn's former Swedish regiment, which was brought into the service of France by Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar in 1635. This body of men laid the foundations of the modern Royal Scots regiment of the British army.

Hepburn took part in campaigns in Alsace and Lorraine between 1634 and 1636. Shortly after his regiment was supplemented by the troops who had fought for him under the Swedish banner.

Hepburn was killed during the siege of Saverne, and his body was buried at Toul Cathedral.

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