Rev. John Forbes

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John Forbes

Birthplace: Kingswell, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Death: Died in Delft, Rhynland (Present Zuid-Holland), Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden
Immediate Family:

Son of William Forbes of Corse and Elizabeth Strachan
Husband of Christian Barclay of Mathers
Father of Col. Arthur Forbes; Patrick Forbes, Bishop of Caithness; Col. John Forbes, Jr.; Rev. James Forbes of Abercorn; Margaret Forbes and 3 others
Brother of Patrick Forbes, 1st Bishop of Edinburgh; Sir William Forbes of Menie and Craigevar, Kt.; Sir Arthur Forbes, 1st Baronet Forbes of Longford; Alexander Forbes; James Forbes and 6 others

Occupation: Reverend
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rev. John Forbes

Rev. John Forbes, third son of Patrick, was born 1568 in Alford, Aberdeenshire, and died 1634 in Aberdeen. He was minister at Alford and later at Delft, Holland. He was banished from Scotland for his religious opinions. He married Christian Barclay of Mathers and they had several sons: one becoming a Colonel in the Swedish service and another becoming a Bishop.

John earned his degree in 1583 at University of St. Andrews and was ordained a minister of Alford in 1593. He was received by King James of England in 1605 and granted favor for the church. In July 1605 he was appointed head of the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. King James, however, concluded that the Presbyterian church was becoming too strong from his Episcopalian viewpoint and issued an order banning future assemblies.

Nineteen preachers felt a firm stand should be taken and met with Rev. Forbes, Moderator. They declined to appear before a privy council and Forbes and five others were imprisoned, tried for high treason, found guilty by a packed jury and banished from the king's domain.

The exlies sailed from Leith to Bordeaux 7 November 1606. On reaching France, Forbes visited Boyd of Trochrig at Saumer and then went on to Sedan. He traveled for some years visiting reformed churches and universities.

In 1611, he was settled as pastor of a British congregation at Middleburg, Holland. Soon after he was offered a release from banishment on terms he did not accept. In 1616 he was in London where King James promised to revoke his sentence of exile but never did.

After a ten year ministry at Middleburg he became pastor of the British Church at Delft, Holland, twelve miles from the Pilgrim church at Leyden. By 1628, Charles I began to interfere with English and Scottish churches in Holland and Forbes was ultimately removed as pastor. In later years he became bishop in the Episcopal Church much to the dismay of his Presbyterian brethren. He died in 1634, aged about 66.

He married Christian, daughter of Barclay of Mavers.

Their sons Arthur and John were colonels in the Dutch service. Son Patrick became Bishop of Caithness, and son James became minister of Abecorn. All three daughters married in Scotland.

Many of the 35,000 forced out of England in these times by religious intolerance left Holland because their children were becoming more Dutch than English. Many of Pilgrims from Leyden left for this reason. It is natural to suppose that the immigrant John Po(r)bes knew the Pilgrims of the area who had not left in 1620 with the first group. At any rate he apparently came to America with the last of Rev. Robinson's flock in 1636.

Having acquired a soft Dutch accent during his nearly 25 years in Holland it can be assumed that the English recorders of Plymouth would record the name as Vobes or Ffobes as they heard it.

Family traditions recorded in the earlier days and the reversion of many of the descendents to the name Forbes bear out this story. While history has recorded the fortunes of his brothers, John seems to have been missed in the available records. This tie is circumstantial and cannot be accepted as proven.

The coat of Arms with the motto "Grace Me Guide", the three boars heads, and crested with a deers head with ten tynes, is the Lord Forbes coat of arms and was verified several times in the years 1900 to 1952, with old parchment copies viewed which may have been drawn in the 1700's. It has had wide acceptance as the proper family arms by those in America for many years and appears in several branches of the family which are unknown to each other in this day.

(Reference Dictionary of National Biography pg 401 and History of Scotland by Andrew Lang, Vol II, pg 481-488). (53).

(Copied From The Fobes Family in America the Descendants of John Fobes, Author: Lawrence Fobes:

Call Number: CS71.F62x:Descendants of John Fobes, an immigrant in 1636 to Duxbury, MA Very interesting facts about family and towns. Includes over 3000 names. )

From Darryl Lundy's Peerage page on John Forbes:

John Forbes [1]

  • M, #413280
  • Last Edited=24 Sep 2010

John Forbes is the son of William Forbes of Corse and Elizabeth Strachan.[2]

He married Christian Barclay, daughter of unknown Barclay of Mathers.[1]

At Delft, The Netherlands.[1]

He was the Minister Alford at Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, but was deprived for Presbyterianism.[1]

Children of John Forbes and Christian Barclay

  • 1. Arthur Forbes [2]
  • 2. Patrick Forbes [2]


  • 1. [S37] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 1454. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.
  • 2. [S37] Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.
view all 14

Rev. John Forbes's Timeline

Kingswell, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Age 28
Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Age 42
Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Age 42
Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Age 44
Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Age 46
Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Age 51
Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
March 28, 1635
Age 67
Delft, Rhynland (Present Zuid-Holland), Holland, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden
October 26, 1959
Age 67