Robert & William Strang and the story of Lang Strang in Forfar
Two brothers of the provost in Forfar Alexander Strang went to Sweden, were they became merchants. Their names was Robert and William Strang. All three of them were sons of David Strang and Grizell Cramond in Forfar. William appears in the records as early as in 1633, when a "Wilhelm Strang" is said to be the servant of a fellow scotsman "Jöran Gerdner", (George Gardner?) and after that as a merchant. The records doesn't show if Robert Strang arrived together with his brother, but at least he was in Stockholm in the late 1640s.
William Strang got married to Margret Pattillo, but were the marriage took place isn't known. They had eight children together, according to the testamente from 1670.
William and Robert had sent two bells to their church in Forfar. The bells were given the names "six o'clock" and "eight o'clock", but Robert wanted to give an even larger bell to the Kirk. That bell is known today as "Lang Strang". Robert hired the Royal cannon manufacturer Gerhard Meyer to make the bell. Meyer was highly skilled in his profession and apart from cannons he also made several church bells. In 1651 Robert Strang died before the bell had been made, so in honour of his brother, William took it upon himself to make sure that the church bell was delivered to their hometown.
Meyer did a beautiful job on the bell. It was made of brass and quite big, 3 feet by four, and was given decorations as well as texts. Under the coat of arms it reads:
“THIS BELL IS PERFECTED AND AUGMENTED BY WILLIAM STRANG AND HIS WYFE MARGRET PATTILLO IN STOCKHOLM. ANNO 1656.”
On the east side it reads:
“FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND LOWE HE DID BEARE TO HIS NATIWE TOUNE HATHE VMQ’ ROBERT STRANG FRIELY GIFFTED THIS BELL TO THE CHURCHE OF THE BURGHE OF FORFAR, WHO DECEASED IN THE LORD IN STOCKHOLM THE 21 DAY OF APRILL. ANNO 1651.”
Biblical texts exists on top and on the bottom of the bell:
“GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO ET IN TERRA PAX HOMINIBUS BONA VOLUNTAS. ANNO 1656.”
“LAETATUS SUM IN HIS QUAE DICTA SUNT MIHI IN DOMUM DOMINI. IBIMUS STANTES ERANT PEDES NOSTRI IN ATRIIS TUIS JERUSALEM.”
The maker of the bell was of course mentioned:
“ME FECIT GEROT MEYER. 1656.”
The Lang Strang also has a coat of arms above William Strang and his wife Margret Pattillo. A chevron, with three mascles, ensigned on the top with a cross. In the crest there's five banners or flags.
The shield looks the same as the seal of Robert Strang, portitioner of Kilrenny, from 1579. He's supposed to have belonged to the family of Strang of Balcaskie. The latter family often had a cross on top, unlike the Strang of Pitcorthie.
But there's also another figure in the form of Hans or Jahannes Strang, who was a "cavalry master" and married to Carin Bagge af Berga. He had an identical shield and crest as on the bell in Forfar.
In 1657 William Strang was ready to send the bell across the sea. The ship had the fitting name of "Grace of God" and had arrived to Stockholm from Dundee on 2 of jun 1657. The skippers name was James Paterson and he took both the bell and a letter from William on the journey back to Dundee on the 2 august the same year.
Williams letter reads:
"f for his most weightie and louing friends the provost bailyes and counsell of the burghe of forfar this in hand of skipper whom god preserve Richt worthie and loving friends
yeurs of the II Juny last with skipper James paterson resawed And according to your desyre and comission I hawe shippit in with the said skipper, the bell my umqull brother Robert Strang did dedicate to your burghe, hoping it shall please you weill, I pray the Lord you may resawe it in safety. And offer safe delywerie yair of, it will please you pay the skipper has fraigt for it, And as you wishe I shuld have conwelled a pairt thereof; for buying a clocke thairto, whiche I did not think fitting bot that it shuld have rather bene augmented as I --- shed --- I have also done And as for the buying of a clocke I hope ther will be some amongst you who will follow my umquill brother effter through his good example; Also I would entreat my worthie freends the provost bailies & counsell of the toune, that they would have goode inspection in the distribution of the poor moneyes yearlie so that it be distributed only to the poor of the toune and to no other acording to my umquill brothers intention & meaning. Whiche I hope you will due, leaving behind you a good example to your successors to follow effter in all tyme coming for whiche the Lord will bless you and yours the better, Not forder, bot my thankfull remembrances of dewlie to you all for --- former shewne courtesies to me for whiche I shall remane.
Stockholm II August
Your loving freend
Pay the skipper his reassonable fraight for I behowed to giff him 2 bells for his ship and house use befor he would grant to take it in".
On arrival there was a great turmoil due to that the Dundonians couldn't believe that such a bell was meant for Forfar. The arguments escalated to a brawl in which the clapper was thrown into the river. The magistrate in Dundee refused to let the city of Forfar until the Forfarians was forced to buy all the land the bell was transported over to the city limits. This road is today called Forfar Loan.
In Forfar everyone got dressed up for the arrival of the new bell, and the Lang Strang was hung next to the two other bells. Since then its tones has travelled across the land of Forfar for all major events of the town.
Back in Sweden, William Strang continued to work as a merchant, as did many of his children. He died before 1665 and hes wife Margret Pattillo took over the business until she also passed on a few years later.
His house in Stockholm was divided up and sold. It was situated on Skeppsbron in Stockholm. William Strang had by the time of his death become a wealthy man, and that wealth also ensured the future of his children.