GORDON, the name of a Scottish family, no fewer than 157 main branches of which are traced by the family historians. A laird of Gorden, in Berwickshire, near the English border, is said to have fallen in the battle of the Standard (1138). The families of the two sons ascribed to him by tradition, Richard Gordon of Gordon and Adam Gordon of Huntly, were united by the marriage of their great-grandchildren Alicia and Sir Adam, whose grandson Sir Adam (killed at Halidon Hill, 1333) at first took the English side in the Scottish struggle for independence, and is the first member of the family definitely to emerge into history. He was justiciar of Scotland in 1310, but after Bannockburn he attached himself to Robert Bruce, who granted him in 1318 the lordship of Strathbogie in Aberdeenshire, to which Gordon gave the name of Huntly from a village on the Gordon estate in Berwickshire. He had two sons, Adam and William. The younger son, laird of Stitchel in Roxburghshire, was the ancestor of William de Gordon of Stitchel and Lochinvar, founder of the Galloway branch of the family represented in the Scottish peerage by the dormant viscounty of Kenmure (q.v.), created in 1633; most of the Irish and Virginian Gordons are offshoots of this stock. The elder son, Adam, inherited the Gordon-Huntly estates. He had two grandsons, Sir John (d. 1394) and Sir Adam (slain at Homildon Hill, 1403). Sir John had two illegitimate sons, Jock of Scurdargue, the ancestor of the earls of Aberdeen, and Tarn of Ruthven. From these two stocks most of the northern Gordon families are derived. Sir Adam's daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, married Sir Alexander Seton, and with her husband was confirmed in 1408 in the possession of the barony of Gordon and Huntly in Berwickshire and of the Gordon lands in Aberdeen. The SetonGordons are their descendants. Their son Alexander was created earl of Huntly (see HUNTLY, EARLS AND MARQUESSES of), probably in 1445; and his heirs became dukes of Gordon, George Gordon (c. 1650-1716), 4th marquess of Huntly, being created duke of Gordon in 1684. He had been educated in a French Catholic seminary, and served in the French army in the campaigns of 1673 to 1675. Under James II. he was made keeper of Edinburgh Castle on account of his religion, but he refused to support James's efforts to impose Roman Catholicism on his subjects. He offered little active resistance when the castle was besieged by William III.'s forces. After his submission he was more than once imprisoned on suspicion of Jacobite leanings, and was ordered by George I. to reside on parole in Edinburgh. For some time before his death he was separated from his wife Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the 6th duke of Norfolk. His son Alexander, and duke of Gordon (c. 1678-1728), joined the Old Pretender, but gained the royal pardon after the surrender of Gordon Castle in 1716. Of his children by his wife Henrietta Mordaunt, second daughter of Charles Mordaunt, earl of Peterborough, Cosmo George (c. 1720-1752) succeeded as 3rd duke; Lord Lewis Gordon (d. 1754) took an active part in the Jacobite rising of 1745; and General Lord Adam Gordon (c. 1726-1801) became commander of the forces in Scotland in 1782, and governor of Edinburgh Castle in 1786. Lord George Gordon (g.v.) was a younger son of the 3rd duke.
The title, with the earldom of Norwich and the barony of Gordon Huntly, became extinct on the death of George, 5th duke (1770-1836), a distinguished soldier who raised the corps now known as the 2nd battalion of the Gordon Highlanders. The marquessate of Huntly passed to his cousin and heir-male, George, 5th earl of Aboyne. Lady Charlotte Gordon, sister of and co-heiress with the 5th duke, married Charles Lennox, 4th duke of Richmond, whose son took the name of Gordon-Lennox. The dukedom of Gordon was revived in 1876 in favour of the 6th duke of Richmond, who thenceforward was styled duke of Richmond and Gordon. Adam Gordon of Aboyne (d. 1537) took the courtesy title of earl of Sutherland in right of his wife Elizabeth, countess of Sutherland in her own right, sister of the 9th earl. The lawless and turbulent Gordons of Gight were the maternal ancestors of Lord Byron.
Among the many soldiers of fortune bearing the name of Gordon was Colonel John Gordon, one of the murderers of Wallenstein. Patrick Gordon (1635-1699) was born at Auchleuchries in Aberdeenshire, entered the service of Charles X. of Sweden in 1651 and served against the Poles. He changed sides more than once before he found his way to Moscow in 1661 and took service under the tsar Alexis. He became general in 1687; in 1688 he helped to secure Peter the Great's ascendancy; and later he crushed the revolt of the Streltzi. His diary was published in German (3 vols., 1849-1853, Moscow and St Petersburg), and selections from the English original by the Spalding Club (Aberdeen, 1859).
The Gordons fill a considerable place in Scottish legend and ballad. " Captain Car," or" Edom (Adam) of Gordon" describes an incident in the struggle between the Forbeses and Gordons in Aberdeenshire in 1571; " The Duke of Gordon's Daughter " has apparently no foundation in fact, though " Geordie " of the ballad is sometimes said to have been George, 4th earl of Huntly; " The Fire of Frendraught " goes back to a feud (1630) between James Crichton of Frendraught and William Gordon of Rothiemay; the " Gallant Gordons Gay " figure in " Chevy Chase "; William Gordon of Earlston, the Covenanter, appears in " Bothwell Bridge " etc.
See William Gordon (of old Aberdeen), The History of the Ancient, Noble, and Illustrious House of Gordon (2 vols., Edinburgh, 1726- 1727), of which A Concise History of the . . . House of Gordon, by C. A. Gordon (Aberdeen, 1754) is iittle more than an abridgment; The Records of Aboyne, 1230-^1081, edited by Charles, nth marquess of Huntly, etc. (New Spalding Club, Aberdeen, 1894); The Gordon Book, ed. J. M. Bulloch (1902); The House of Gordon, ed. J. M. Bulloch (Aberdeen, vol. i., 1903) ; and Mr Bulloch's The First Duke of Gordon (1909).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)