The Forbes Family in Sweden and Finland

Updated: Jan 12, 2019

By Björn Bentzer


The many branches of the Scottish family of Forbes were represented in the troops of Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus by no less than some 40 members. Several interesting members of the family had visited Sweden.


The Calvinist theologian John Forbes (c. 1570-1634), after being exiled by James VI, was invited in 1608 to Sweden, where Charles IX was strongly interested in Calvinism. At the King’s order there was arranged in Upsala a disputation between Forbes and Swedish Lutherans. The latter emerged victorious, and the phrase "Ad haec Forbesius nihil" has since remained a common cliché in Sweden. Forbes left Sweden in 1610, after the King had been forced to abandon his attempts to bring the two Protestant doctrines closer to each other.


The first Forbes in Swedish military service appears to have been Henry Forbes of Tolquon, who fell at Kirkholm in Russia in 1605. His eldest son, Jakob Forbes, was the first of the Swedish family Forbes of Lund. The younger son, Peter Forbes, became a paymaster of the army.


In the early 17th century they emigrated to Finland (Finland being a part of Sweden until 1917), via Mecklenburg, one Ernald Forbes of Corsindae, whose two sons, Arvid and Mattias, were introduced into the Swedish House of Nobility in 1638. Arvid Forbus, perhaps the most famous member of Forbes, was born 1598 at Ånäs in Finland, was a Swedish military General. Forbus distinguished himself during the Thirty Years War, where he earned himself from privilege to Lieutenant Colonel in 1630. He later became Colonel for a recruited regiment, and distinguished himself much during Duke Bernhard of Saxony-Weimar's command, especially at Rheinfelden in 1638.


He was then sent on assignment to Sweden and stayed within the country, in 1641 he became overcommandant in Western Pomerania, 1646 Major General and 1648 Pomeranian Deputy Governor. He was appointed in 1650 to the Council of War and in 1653 to the National Council. During the Danish War of 1657–1658, he organized Southern Sweden's military service, and in 1658 was appointed General. In 1638 he was raised and in 1652 he was elevated to a Baron on, among other locations, Kumo Estate.

Forbus was married to Margareta Boije af Gennäs a daughter's daughter of Hans Larsson Björnram from the Bure Family. Their daughter Sophia Juliana married Axel Julius De la Gardie.


Arvid died in 1665 in Stettin, Poland.


For more information, see the chapter De Forbin And Swedish Forbeses in House of Forbes.

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