Sir John Hurry (Urry), d.1650

Scottish mercenary famous for changing sides several times during the civil wars and finally executed by the Covenanters for supporting the Marquis of Montrose.

John Hurry (or Urry) was born in Aberdeenshire and gained military experience in Germany and Flanders. He returned to Scotland in 1639 to serve in the Bishops' Wars and was appointed a lieutenant-colonel in the Army of the Covenant. In October 1641, Hurry was approached by Royalist conspirators to join the plot known as "The Incident" against the Marquis of Hamilton and the Earls of Argyll and Lanark. Hurry declined to join and revealed details to Alexander Leslie, which resulted in the failure of the conspiracy.

When the English Civil War broke out in 1642, Hurry joined the Parliamentarian army. He was with Sir William Waller at the siege of Portsmouth, then fought with distinction at Edgehill and Brentford under the Earl of Essex. Early in 1643, Hurry was nominated for the rank of major of horse under the Earl of Bedford. He did not consider this a high enough rank and in April 1643, Hurry deserted Parliament and joined the King's army at Oxford. He gave information on Parliamentarian positions and rode with Prince Rupert in the raid that culminated in the action at Chalgrove Field and the death of John Hampden. Hurry was knighted on his return to Oxford. He then led a detachment of Royalist cavalry which swept around the rear of Essex's army and plundered West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, causing alarm in London.

In 1644, Hurry accompanied Rupert on the York March as colonel of a regiment of horse and fought at Marston Moor. After the Royalist defeat, Hurry thought that the King's cause was lost and fled to Sir William Waller's army. Although the Committee for Both Kingdoms initially ordered his arrest, Hurry was allowed to rejoin the Parliamentarian army in October 1644.

In February 1645, Hurry transferred back to the Army of the Covenant with the rank of major-general and colonel of dragoons. He went as second-in-command to Lieutenant-General William Baillie when he marched into Scotland against the Marquis of Montrose. Baillie and Hurry had fought on opposite sides at Marston Moor and disliked one another. Hurry captured Aberdeen from the Royalists on 15 March 1645, but abandoned it the following day. His unsuccessful pursuit of Montrose after the sack of Dundee earned him further disdain from Baillie. When Baillie divided his forces, Hurry attempted to mount a surprise attack on Montrose but he was defeated at the battle of Auldearn in May 1645. Hurry himself fought courageously and was one of the last to leave the field. Shortly after this defeat, he resigned his commission on the grounds of ill-health.

During the Second and Third Civil Wars, Hurry went back to the Royalists. Against the orders of the Covenanter Committee of Estates, he marched with the Duke of Hamilton and the Engagers in August 1648, only to be taken prisoner at the battle of Preston. He succeeded in escaping to the continent.

In 1650, Hurry served as major-general to the Marquis of Montrose on his final campaign in Scotland. Wounded and captured by the Covenanters at the battle of Carbisdale, Hurry was beheaded at Edinburgh on 29 May 1650.


Edward M. Furgol, Sir John Urry, Oxford DNB, 2004

David Stevenson, Revolution & Counter-Revolution in Scotland 1644-51, 1977