William Davidson of Curriehill

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Sir William Davidson of Curriehill and his son Charles; portrait by Abraham van den Tempel (1664)

Sir William Davidson, 1st Baronet of Curriehill (Dundee, 1614/5 – Edinburgh, c. 1689) was a Scottish tradesman in Amsterdam, an agent and a spy for the King and a member of his Privy Council.


Nothing is known about his youth and ancestors, but he settled in Holland after 1640 and traded in the Baltic region. In 1645 he married Geertruid Schuring and stated that he was 29. In 1648 he appointed Anthony van Leeuwenhoek as an assistant.[1] Van Leeuwenhoek stayed six years in his service.[2] Davidson lived and worked in Warmoesstraat, close to the Oude Kerk.

During the English Civil War he choose the side of the Stuarts. In 1652 his wife died. He remarried Geertruid van Dueren who died in 1658. In those years he was living on Nieuwe Waalseiland, close to the harbour and selling wine in Stockholm.

In May 1660 he went to see Charles II in the Hague on his way to England.[3] In July 1660 Mary Stuart lived in his house on Herengracht, to settle an agreement with the Amsterdam burgomasters on the education of her grandson William III of Orange, only ten years old. In February he had married Elisabeth Klenck,[4] a sister of Johannes Klencke, who presented at an unknown occasion the Klencke Atlas to the King.

In 1662 he was appointed as the King's agent in Amsterdam; he was already knighted as a baronet by Charles II of England and in 1661 as the conservator of the staple in Veere.[5] In 1664, during the Second Dutch War he moved to Hamburg. In 1666 he was involved in a salt company in Denmark, together with Cort Adeler.

In 1670 he was allowed to start mining for copper in Klaebu, south of Trondheim. His note from King Kristian IV of Denmark was given to him October 14. 1670. The date is in references from letters send to and from the king Kristian IV of Denmark. He started Ulrichsdal Mining Company, and build a melting-cabin at Hyttefossen in Klaebu. There are still rest of his building there. He also mined after iron at Mostadmark in Malvik east of Trondheim. The rest of buildings are still there. He became broke and owed the king a lot of money, and suddenly he was gone from Trondheim. But his history still lives, and so do his buildings.

In 1666 he sold his ironworks in Drontheim to his brother-in-law Coenraad van Klenck, as well as his part in the salt company. In 1667 he lived in Edinburgh. Davidson intermediated between Charles II and Johan de Witt.

In 1668 he tried to move the staple from Veere, a Dutch town with a large Scottish population to Dordrecht.[6][7] In 1668 he became Lord of Curriehill. In 1671 he resigned from his post and around 1672 he was involved in the tobacco trade on Virginia.

In an unknown year, but after 1678, when he made his will in Amsterdam,[8] he settled in Scotland. Four children Bernard (1648-), Elisabeth (1651-), Catharina Geertrui (1663-), Agnes (1666-) inherited; Catharina his Indonesian silver, and the portraits of his parents-in-law. Not much is known about his cabinet of curiosities and lacquerware cupboard and boxes.[9]


  1. ^ "Overview: The Curious Observer - Lens on Leeuwenhoek".
  2. ^ Seters, W. H. van (1 October 1951). "Antoni van Leeuwenhoek in Amsterdam". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 9 (1): 36–45. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1951.0002 – via rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org.
  3. ^ Lower, W. (1660) A Relation In Form of Journal, Of The Voyage and Residence Which the most Excellent and most Mighty Prince Charles the II King of Great Britain, etc. hath made in Holland, from the 25th of May, to the 2nd of June 1660.
  4. ^ City Archives Amsterdam
  5. ^ Network North: Scottish kin, commercial and covert association in Northern ... by Steve Murdoc [1]
  6. ^ Vaderlandsche historie, Delen 13-16 by Jan Wagenaar [2]
  7. ^ National Galleries Scotland
  8. ^ Amsterdam City Archives 5075, NA 2633 on 5 July 1678
  9. ^ E. Bergvelt en R. Kistemaker (red.), De wereld binnen handbereik. Nederlandse kunst- en rariteitenverzamelingen, 1585-1735, Zwolle en Amsterdam, 1992, pp. 247, 317-318.

Aarsskrift 1982. "Gruvedrift i Vassfjellet" by Erling Bøhle. Klaebu historielag. http://klabuhistorielag.no/Aarsskrift/AargangPDF/1982.pdf