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Location Information
Name Ardoch
Owner vanished
NGR NH 71067 64259
Lon. & Lat. 57.653227,-4.152416
Council Highland
Parish Resolis
Nearby Castles Invergordon
Year built 16th c.
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The Gordons of Ardoch are a cadet branch of the Gordon family. Different manuscripts mention a 16th c. Ardoch Castle within the area of Ardoch. The Two Countesses of Kellie mention Ardoch Castle "which is situated upon a tall rock overlooking the sea." Ardoch itself sits on Udale Bay, but no such rock is within the area, and no monuments or ruins point to an Ardoch Castle. Nearby is the recently renovated estate of Poyntzfield, which dates from 1757, is locally said to occupy the site of an earlier house; portions of two late 17th-century dormer window-pediments are preserved in the garden, and may be the what is left of Ardoch Castle.

Nearby is the ruins of St. Michael's Kirk, or Kirkmichael. Within the Cemetary at Kirkmichael is the enclosures for the families of Gordon of Ardoch and other Gordons. Directly across Udale bay is the town of Invergordon, and close by Kirkmichael is Gordon's Mill.

Two Countesses of Kellie

On this day, in the year 1781, Mr. Methven Erskine, a cadet of the Kellie family, married at Edinburgh Joanna, daughter of the deceased Adam Gordon, of Ardoch, in Aberdeenshire. A brother of the gentleman, named Thomas, had, ten years before, married Anne, another daughter of Mr. Gordon. These gentlemen were in the position of merchants, and there were at one time seventeen persons between them and the family titles; yet they lived to become, in succession, Earls of Kellie, being the last who enjoyed that peerage, separately from any other.

It was by a series of very singular circumstances, hitherto unnarrated, that these two marriages came about. The facts were thus related to the writer in 1845, by a lady then upwards of ninety years of age, who had had opportunities of becoming well acquainted with all the particulars.

At Ardoch Castle—which is situated upon a tall rock overlooking the sea—the proprietor, Mr. Gordon, was one evening, a little after the middle of the last century, alarmed by the firing of a gun, evidently from a vessel in distress near shore. A storm was raging, and he had every reason to fear that the vessel was about to be dashed against that iron-bound coast. Hastening down to the beach with lights and ropes, he and his servants looked in vain for the distressed vessel. Its fate was already accomplished, as the floating spars but too plainly shewed; but they looked in vain for any, dead or alive, who might have come from the wreck. At length they found a sort of crib which had been rudely cast ashore, containing, strange to say, a still live infant. The little creature, whose singular fate it had been to survive where so many stronger people perished, was carefully taken to the house and nursed. It proved to be a female child, evidently from its wrappings the offspring of persons of no mean condition, but with nothing about it to afford a trace as to who these were.

Mr. Gordon made some attempts to find the relatives of this foundling, but without effect. Hoping that she in time might be claimed, he caused her to be brought up along with his own daughters, and treated in all respects as one of them. The personal graces and amiable character of the child in time made him feel towards her as if she had actually stood in that relation to him. When she had attained to womanhood, a storm similar to that already spoken of occurred. An alarm-gun was fired, and Mr. Gordon, as was his wont, hurried down to the beach, but this time to receive a ship-wrecked party, whom he immediately conducted to his house, and treated with his characteristic kindness. Amongst them was one gentleman-passenger, whom he took into his own parlour, and entertained at supper. After a comfortable night spent in the castle, this stranger was surprised at breakfast by the entrance of a troop of blooming young ladies, the daughters of his host, as he understood, but one of whom attracted his attention in a special manner. 'Is this young lady your daughter too?' he inquired of Mr. Gordon. 'No,' replied his host; 'but she is as dear to me as if she were.' And he then related her story. The stranger listened with increasing emotion, and at the close of the narration, said he had reason to believe that the young lady was his own niece. He then related the circumstances of a sister's return from India, corresponding to the time of the shipwreck, and explained how it might happen that Mr. Gordon's inquiries for her relations had failed. 'She is now,' said he, an orphan; but, if I am not mistaken in my supposition, she is entitled to a handsome provision which her father bequeathed to her in the hope of her yet being found.'

Ere long, sufficient evidence was afforded to make it certain that the gentleman had really, by the strange accident of the shipwreck, found his long missing niece. It became necessary, of course, that she should pass under his care, and leave Ardoch—a bitter necessity to her, as it inferred a parting with so many friends dear to her. To mitigate the anguish of this separation, it was arranged that one of her so-called sisters, the Misses Gordon, should accompany her. Their destination was Gottenburg, where the uncle had long been settled as a merchant. Here closes all that was romantic in the history of the foundling, but there was to be a sequel of that nature in favour of Mr. Gordon's children. Amongst the Scotch merchants settled in the Swedish port, was Mr. Thomas Erskine, a younger son of a younger brother of Sir William Erskine of Cambo, in Fife, an offshoot of the family of the Earl of Kellie. To him was Miss Anne Gordon of Ardoch married in 1771. A younger brother, named Methven, who had pursued merchandise in Bengal, ten years later, married a sister of Miss Gordon, as has been stated. No one then dreamed that these gentlemen would ever come near to the peerage of their family; but in 1797 the baronet of Cambo became Earl of Kellie, and two years later, the title lighted on the shoulders of the husband of Anne Gordon. In short, these two daughters of Mr. Gordon of Ardoch, became, in succession, Countesses of Kellie in consequence of the incident of the shipwrecked foundling, whom their father's humanity had rescued from the waves, and for whom an owner had so unexpectedly been found.


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