Archibald was baptised in St Nicholas, Aberdeen on 26/Nov/1603.
Merchant burgess in Culross near Dunfermline. 1639-41 and 1644-5 M.P. for the Royal Burgh of Culross. In 1658 also called “former mayor in Scotland”.
Factor of Sir George Bruce of Carnock (c.1566-1643), the famous salt and coal mine owner in Culross. Archibald negotiated for him with the municipal council of Bremen, Germany in the spring and summer of 1634 concerning the delivery of salt (there was intensive trade between Scotland and Bremen in these times). The payment was to take place in Amsterdam in the end of August.
He also acted as manager for his “Cheefe” Sir James Mercer (son of Sir Lawrence Mercer, Archibald’s second cousin) as a letter to Lord Ogilvy shows which was probably written on 19 June 1633 (see below). As Sir George Bruce’s sister Christian became the step-mother of Sir James Mercer in 1622 it is likely that Archibald’s connection to Culross and the Bruce family derives from this relationship.
He is said to have been a favourite of King Charles I, and once, on a mission to Hamburg, he was decorated with a golden medal of honour.
As a royalist, he (like his brother Robert) emigrated to Bremen in 1649 or before, obviously due to his business contacts. In Bremen “he lived on his own means, which were pretty considerable, till his happy end in 1650, leaving a widow, a pious, godly matron, with three sons and three daughters”. The German sources know Archibald as Balthasar.
He was buried on Sankt Stephani churchyard, Bremen shortly before 03/May/1650. On this day the family paid the considerable sum of 22 Marks and 16 Groots for the funeral.
Born c.1610, being “of noble birth”. Perhaps she was a daughter or niece of James Kennedy of Kermucks who was hereditary constable of Aberdeen from 1592 until his death in 1607 and whose sister Margaret Kennedy secondly married Rev. Robert Mercer, minister of Ellon. James Kennedy married Elspet Forbes of Monymusk.
In the 1650s she loaned the amount of 1000 Thalers to the Scottish merchant William Grison in Hamburg which her son-in-law Friedrich Lucae reclaimed 18 years after her death. What is interesting is that the emigrant and royalist Alexander Bruce, later 2nd earl of Kincardine and son of Sir George Bruce of Carnock (see left), stayed with Grison in Hamburg in 1658 after having been in Bremen for one year. What is more, we know of Bruce’s activities on the continent in the late 1650s to raise money for Charles II. Maybe Elizabeth Mercer and William Grison were involved in such projects, too.
There was also another descendant of the Mercers of Aldie who had lived in Bremen since 1659: William Bonar of Rossie (1614-1674) who had been a Swedish officer in Germany and became governor of Vechta near Bremen. In the State Library of Bremen there exists a German funeral sermon on the occasion of William Bonar’s death which mentions that his great-grandfather John Bonar of Rossie had married “Margarethe Mersser”, daughter of Laurence Mercer of Aldie and Meikleour. So William Bonar’s father was a second cousin of Archibald Mercer.
Elizabeth was buried on Sankt Stephani churchyard, Bremen shortly before 09/Feb/1660.
Archibald and Elizabeth had six children:
- son Mercer (b:c.1635-40 possibly at Culross.)
- Helen Mercer (b:c.1635-40 possibly at Culross. d: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19/Aug/1688.)
- Thomas Mercer (bapt:26/Sep/1641 possibly at Culross.)
- son Mercer (bapt:Culross 08/Sep/1642.)
- Elizabeth Mercer (b:before 1644 possibly at Culross. d:Cassel, Hesse 04/Feb/1686.)
- Margaret Elizabeth Mercer (b:c.Sep/1644 possibly at Culross. Buried:08/Apr/ 1689 at Wanfried, Hesse.)
One of the sons was buried on Sankt Stephani churchyard, Bremen shortly before 08/Mar/1653. The others went to India and the Canary Islands. There was also a merchant named W(illiam?) Mercer who lived in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), East Prussia c.1700. He was one of 45 members of the Scottish Brotherhood or Nation at “Queenisbrig” who contributed to the restoration fund of the Marischal College in Aberdeen in 1701. It is unknown to which branch of the Mercer family this W(illiam) belongs.
More about Balthasar Mercer and his family can be found at www.kai-drewes.de/balthasar.mercer (external link)
The following letter which is held by the National Archives of Scotland (signature: GD 16/31/332) was probably written on Saturday, 19/Jun/1633 (old style), shortly before the Scottish coronation of Charles I. James Ogilvy (c. 1593-1666), 8th Lord Ogilvy since 1618 and Earl of Airlie since 1639 was a prominent royalist and lived at court in the 1630s. The transcription was made by Diane Baptie, Edinburgh:Addressed: ‘For My verie Noble Lord my Lord Ogilvie att his Lodging over against charing crosse London’Saturday 7 o clock eveningMy very Noble LordBeing verie Loth to hinder yo[u]r better, and more serious Imployments, am the rather imboldned to aquaint yo[u[r Lo[rdshipp] w[i]th my intents by Letter I am ingaged to two persons for the two discoveries I made known to you, I say to [e]ach, twelve pounds, the persons discovering att this, or former time, there due by usuall aggreement is the fourth part however I contrived it so, that on my conscienc, I must pay (because of my aggreement to them) so much wherfor sinc in neither I found or could be any irationalitie, cheating & a’faire way for both things, I presume to Intreat yo[u]r Lo[rdshi]pp I be no Loser; sinc I pretend no profitts, I have been forced to forbeare the causing make any apperrell for me; sinc that time of speaking to you (by reasone I ingaged for present mo[ne]y to them,) and I doe not resolve to be putt in prison for doeing off service of that nature; seing I can helpe it: what I was before that tyme, my Cheefe knowes by reason of my extraordinarie impostumation then on me, I was carelesse of my selfe but my foresaid (S[i]r James Merser) Cheefe has used harsh Language however for him & yo[u]r Lo[rdshi]pps cause if I were well stored of money (the Lord knowes) I should be Loser for the wholl, rather then insist further, but the aggreement was to pay all charges It cost me & this twentie four pounds sterling, & three pounds ster[ling] for searching of Registers books, advice, drinking & otherwise, is my present claime. I told my aquaintances & ingagements, of yo[u]r Lo[rdshi]pps unwillingness who offered me, my three pounds in hand & take there hazard of the full two hundred pounds, seing either of the two discoveries was not proposed to the king, according to condiscendenc, but I am not so base unlesse (above ordinarie) strained to it, If I could doe otherwise I should not have urged, & sinc I must (nor will) keep within dores for them, & have cloths, but doe not putt them on for feare of them Least they should esteeme my haveing money, I Intreat yo[u]r Lo[rdshi]pp would not force them on me, or I by my selfe, to make itt appears to be Legall my time being no further by them grabnted then Wedinsday next after the corronatione att w[hi]ch day I resolve to see yo[u]r Lo[rdshi]pp, my cheefe is so high that it hath disioyned us two & therefor shall speake no more of it to him & a farthing lesse or none I will not have but Leaving these to consideration I am
My verie Noble LordThe persons discovering Lawiers so I am &
may be free of all charges continue so long as it mayYo[u]r Lordshipps verie humble servant
(The Seal shows the Mercers’ coat of arms: A shield topped with a knight’s helmet with two large bird’s wings out of the crown of it. The shield is divided into three horizontal sections. In the first are three ‘+’s. In the mid section, three ‘o’s and the last section is blank. On either side of the shield there are what appear to be curling tendrils.)