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Welcome to the Scottish Gordon History wiki

This website is dedicated to providing as accurate information as possible on historic Gordon Castles, Lands, Estates, Battlefields and Peoples.

A note about the castles in this website:

Castles can range from giant fortress, to fortified house, to palaces. Originally when I began researching the castles of Clan Gordon I had no idea of the great number and variety I would find. I was also happily surprised at being able to find images of most of the castles, and in the case where a castle no longer stood; I have been able to find images of the surrounding land. When compiling the list of castles, I found many castles with claims to the Gordon Family, but in many instances could not verify the claims. All castles as listed have at least 2 solid sources to back up the claim. The pictures of the castles, as they now appear, in many cases would be unrecognizable to the Gordons that lived in them. Castles, like all buildings, undergo renovations, remodels, and demolitions. Keep in mind that what may exist today is nothing like it was originally.

Sept Clans

Adam, Adamson, Addie, Adie, Addison, Aiken, Aitchison, Atkin, Atkins, Atkinson, Badenoch, Barrie, Connor, Connon, Craig, Cromb, Crombie, Cullen, Culane, Darg, Darge, Dorward, Duff, Durward, Eadie, Eddie, Edie, Edison, Esslemont, Garden, Gardiner, Gardner, Garioch, Garrick, Garroick, Geddes, Gerrie, Harrison, Huntley, Huntly, Jessiman, Jopp, Jupp, Laing, Lang, Laurie, Lawrie, Leng, Ling, MacAdam, Mallett, Manteach, Marr, Maver, Meldrum, Mill, Mills, Milles, Miln, Milne, Milner, More, Morrice, Muir, Mylne, Steel, Teal, Tod, Todd, Troup.

Clan Gordon history at a Glance

In view of the existence of the Gourdons in France, the opinion of the Gordon family historians is that the first Gordon to come to Scotland, Adam, was of French origin may be accepted. He appears to have been one of the French and Norman knights visiting or attached to the Court of Edward the Confessor when Malcolm Canmore fled there for refuge after the seizure of the throne of Scotland by Maelbeatha (Macbeth) in the year 1040. Malcolm was well received by the Saxon king who entertained him for a number of years and assisted him to regain the throne in 1057 by support of a number of troops under the Earl of Northumbria. Adam accompanied this body, and from him come the Scottish Gordons described this work. The wild boar’s head appears on the Gordon arms because, legend says, the Adam Gordon saved Malcolm Canmore from an attacking boar. Adam was granted land in Long-Gordon in Berwickshire by Malcolm III, to which he gave his name, he and his descendants settled there for over three centuries. In 1093 Adam fought for Malcolm and died by his side.

Adam's great-great-grandson Richard, Baron of Gordon, granted land to the monks of St Mary at Kelso in 1150 and 1160, and in 1199 his kinsman Bertram de Gordoun killed Richard Coeur de Lion at Chalus (King Richard the Lion Hearted, of Robin Hood fame). Richard Gordon's son, Alexander, earned the gratitude of Alexander I by killing or capturing a group of traitors who had tried to murder the King. For this he received the lands of Stitchel in the Merse. His eldest son, William, died in the Crusades whilst leading the Scots contingent with St Louis IX of France in 1270. Alexander's second son, Adam, inherited the chiefship and the estates, passing them onto his son, also called Adam. It was he who won fame during the wars with Henry III of England by fighting a single combat against Prince Edward, later Edward I, Hammer of the Scots, which ended in a draw (Also known as Edward the Long Shanks, of Brave Heart fame).

His Grandson, also called Adam, started off as a supporter of Balliol and served under Edward I as Judiciary of Lothian in 1305, also taking a seat in the English council at Westminster. He later changed sides and joined Robert the Bruce. Robert the Bruce, was excommunicated, after he killed Comyn in a church, so in 1320 Adam of Gordon, was one of the Scots ambassadors who laid the Declaration of Arbroath before the Pope. He was rewarded by Bruce with a grant of the lordship of Strathbogie, forfeited by the Earl of Atholl. Thereafter, while retaining his lands in Berwickshire, the chief of the Gordon clan lived in Strathbogie, whose capital was, renamed Huntly by its new owners. Sir Adam was killed at Halidon Hill in 1333.

He left two sons, Adam inherited the Huntly estate and William, the younger, inherited the lands of Stitchel and was ancestor of the Viscounts of Kenmure. He left two sons, but the line ended with a daughter, Elizabeth, who married the second son of Sir William Seton of Seton in 1408. Their son was made Earl of Huntly in 1445 and in 1451 received the former Cumming lands of Badenoch by James II, as well as grants to land in Inverness-shire and Moray. At this time the Scottish Crown was weak, with James II trying to undermine the Douglas clan, and the Gordons virtually ruled the northeast of Scotland as the Campbells did in the west. The Gordons stood on the king’s side, and with their men involved in the south of the country, the Earl of Moray, a relation and ally of the Douglases, took the opportunity to sack the Gordon lands, setting Huntly Castle ablaze. In 1452 Huntly earned more gratitude from the King. James had murdered the chief of clan Douglas at Stirling Castle, provoking a rebellion led by the Earls of Crawford and March. Huntly defeated the rebels at Brechin although two of his brothers were killed. James II was so grateful to Huntly that he gave his sister, the Lady Annabella, in marriage to Hunly's son, who inherited the Earldom in 1470.

In 1462 the burghers of Aberdeen entered into a "bond of manrent" with the 1st Earl of Huntly. As such, the Earl would protect the city in return for hospitality whenever he should visit, and a contribution to the Gordons' army when needed. The flat lands in Aberdeenshire meant that the Gordons could breed horses, enabling them to have a cavalry force, which was almost unheard of among highland clans. They also found the port a convenient passage to the continent, especially during the Reformation when their Catholicism alienated them from most of Scotland. With these advantages of position and resource it is not surprising that the Gordons played a greater part in the development of Scotland than any other Clan. The Gordons were exceptionally steadfast in loyalty to their Chief, particularly well organized and eager to fight. Their history is therefore national history. There were no internal disputes such as weakened so many clans.

From 1498 to 1500 the 2nd Earl of Huntly was Chancellor of Scotland, and his son Alexander, who inherited the title in 1502. Under the rule of King James II, the then Duke of Gordon was given the position of Governor of Edinburgh Castle. Alexander commanded one wing of the Scots army at Flodden. The Earl of Huntly, with many Gordons, fought at the Battle of Flodden for King James IV against the English army of King Henry the VIII. The Earl was one of the few nobles who survived. The King himself was slain as was one archbishop, two bishops and 13 Earls. A younger son of the 2nd Earl married the Sutherland heiress, so that the Gordons held that earldom as well. Their sister, Kady Catherine Gordon, had married Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the English Throne, in 1496. Warbeck claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, one of the young princes murdered by their Uncle in the Tower of London. In 1497 Catherine accompanied Warbeck to England when he raised a rebellion. The uprising was a failure and Warbeck was hanged at Tyburn on the 23rd November 1499. Catherine lived to marry three more times.

Alexander, 3rd Earl of Huntly, died in 1523 and was succeeded by his grandson, George. He was made Lieutenant of the North, and became Chancellor in 1547, gaining a grant to the earldom of Moray in 1548. Whilst visiting him at Huntly Castle, the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, called him "Cock o' the North", a term by which all Gordon chiefs were named from then on. Come the Reformation, Huntly resisted the change and quickly became known as leader of the Catholic party. This should have won favor with Mary, Queen of Scots, but her brother Lord James Stewart turned her against him and persuaded her to deprive him of the earldom of Moray and transfer it to himself. Shortly after, a dispute began between one of his sons and the clan Ogilvy, which resulted in estranging the Gordons even more from Queen Mary. His followers refused to surrender their castles at Inverness and Findlater to the Queen, and the Gordons were made outlaws. In 1562 Huntly rose in rebellion and on 28th October rode with 500 men to Corrichie, where 2,000 Royalists overran them. Although taken alive, Huntly died of apoplexy on the battlefield, and his son was beheaded before Mary (who by turn of fate, would be beheaded by Elizabeth I of England). His embalmed corpse was taken to Edinburgh several months later and publicly humiliated. Mary also married Lord Bothwell, after he divorced Jeanne Gordon. Lord Bothwell would die of insanity in a Danish prison, shortly before Mary was beheaded. Mary's son, would become King James VI of Scotland, and King James I of England, because Elizabeth left no heirs.

The 6th Earl angered the Mackintoshes by building a castle at Ruthven in Badenoch, whilst also quarrelling with clan Grant of Ballindalloch. The two clans united against Huntly and gained the support of the Earl of Moray, son-in-law of Huntly's grandfather's enemy. Huntly murdered the Earl of Moray in 1592, evoking pubic outrage. He was also accused of involvement in a Jesuit plot and so the Earl of Argyll took 10,000 men and marched against him and the Earl of Erroll, whose forces numbered less than 4,000. On the 4th of October 1594 Huntly met and destroyed Argyll's army at Glenlivet. Argyll lost over 500 men, including two cousins and Macneill of Barra, whilst Huntly lost only 14 men. Despite this victory, Huntly surrendered to James VI and was pardoned soon after. By 1599 he was created Marquis of Huntly and, shortly after, Lieutenant of the North.

His son George became 2nd Marquis in 1636 and followed Charles I during the wars of the Covenant. The Gordon Cavalry playing a major role in Montrose's ragged force of Highland infantry, and distinguished themselves at the battles of Auldearn and Alford, where the Gordon heir was killed. The followers of the 2nd Marquis of Huntly were known as the Gordon Horse, and it is believed that had Huntly's self-importance (see definition of Gey below) not impeded co-operation with Montrose, the war for Scottish independence may have had a different ending. As it was, Huntly was captured in 1647, beheaded after two years in jail. Shortly after Charles I was executed.

The Restoration brought with it a revival of the Gordon fortunes. Lord Charles Gordon, a younger son of the executed marquis, was made Earl of Aboyne in 1660, and the present Marquis is descended from him. Sir George Gordon of Haddo was made Earl of Aberdeen in 1682, and in 1684 the 4th marquis of Huntly became Duke of Gordon. During the Second Jacobite Rising of 1715, the Duke of Gordon was taken prisoner by the government, but his son, Lord Huntly, with Gordon of Glenbucket and General Gordon of Auchintoul, brought 500 horse and 2,500 infantry into the Jacobite army. William, Viscount of Kenmure, head of the border family of Gordon, was Jacobite commander in southern Scotland until he as defeated at Preston and executed on Tower Hill. The remaining Gordons remained staunch Jacobites, though the 3rd Duke was the first to be a Protestant. He took no part in the final Jacobite Rising in 1745, but his uncle, Lord Lewis Gordon, with Glenbucket and Gordon of Park, led the clan for Prince Charlie. They defeated a government force at Inverurie in December of that year, and fought at Culloden. Again they suffered only minor reprisals when the Rising as quashed.

In 1794, the 4th duchess of Gordon raised the 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders, choosing as its tartan that of the Black Watch, adding a yellow stripe for the Gey Gordons (Gey meaning overwhelming or self-important). The 92nd gained immortality by their famous charge at Waterloo, hanging onto the stirrups of the Scots Greys for greater impetus, they scattered the French to the cry of "Scotland forever".

The dukedom became extinct in 1836, but the Huntly marquisette passed to the Earls of Aboyne, along with chiefship of the clan. A new Duke of Gordon was created of the Duke of Richmond in 1876.


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