Sir William Davidson, tradesman in Amsterdam

Sir William Davidson, 1st Baronet of Curriehill (Dundee, 1614/5 – Edinburgh, 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 argreement with the Amsterdam burgomasters on the education of her son William II 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 1660 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 saltcompany in Denmark, together with Cort Adeler. 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. Davidson intermediated between Charles II and Johan de Witt. In the year after his third wife died.

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. Then he moved to Dordrecht.

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]



E. Bergvelt en R. Kistemaker (red.), De wereld binnen handbereik. Nederlandse kunst- en rariteitenverzamelingen, 1585-1735, Zwolle en Amsterdam, 1992, pp. 247, 317-318.