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Gordon




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Surname:  Gordon
Branch:  Gordon
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  The Gordons are one of the great families of the north-east of Scotland, and their surnames has many suggested meanings, although the family originally were almost certainly of Anglo-Norman descent. There is also a tale which makes the first of the family the saviour of a Scottish king, in this case from a wild boar. This is said to explain the boards' heads which appear on the Gordon arms.




Motto:  Bydand, Remaining.
Arms:  Quarterly, 1st, Azure, three boars' heads couped Or, armed Proper langued Gules (Gordon); 2nd, Or, three lion's heads erased Gules langued Azure (Lordship of Badenoch); 3rd, Or, three crescents within a Royal Tressure Gules (Seton); 4th, Azure, three fraises Argent (Fraser).
Crest:  Issuant from a crest coronet Or a Stag's head (affrontee) Proper attired with 10 tines Or.
Supporters:  (on a compartment embellished with rock ivy) Two deerhounds Argent, collared Gules, the collars charged with three buckles Or.
Badge:  A stag's head (affrontee) issuant from a crest coronet Or as in the Crest, all within a chaplet of rock ivy Proper ensigned with the coronet of a Marquess.
Plant:  Rock Ivy.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.




The Gordons are an ancient and distinguished family, originally from Normandy, where their ancestors are said to have had large possessions. From the great antiquity of the race, many fabulous accounts have been given of the descent of the Gordons. Some derive them from a city of Macedonia, called Gordonia, whence they went to Gaul; others find their origin in Spain, Flanders, &C. Some writers suppose Bertrand de Gourden who, in 1199, wounded Richard the Lion-heart mortally with an arrow before the castle of Chalus in the Limoges, to have been the great ancestor of the Gordons, but there does not seem to be any other foundation for such a conjecture than that there was a manor in Normandy called Gourden. It is probable that the first persons of the name in this island came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. According to Chalmers, the founder of this great family came from England in the reign of David the First (1124-53), and obtained from that prince the lands of Gordon (anciently Gordun, or Gordyn, from, as Chalmers supposes, the Gaelic Gordin, "on the hill"). He left two sons, Richard, and Adam, who, though the younger son, had a portion of the territory of Gordon, with the lands of Fanys on the southern side of it.

The elder son, Richard de Gordon, granted, between 1150 and 1160, certain lands to the monks of Kelso, and died in 1200. His son, Sir Thomas de Gordon. confirmed by charter these donations, and his son and successor, also named Thomas, made additional grants to the same monks, as well as to the religious of Coldstream. He died in 1285, without male issue, and his only daughter, Alicia, marrying her cousin Adam de Gordon, the son of Adam, younger brother of Richard above mentioned, the two branches of the family this became united.

His grandson, Sir Adam de Gordon, Lord of Gordon, one of the most eminent men of his time, was the progenitor of most of the great families of the name in Scotland. In reward for his faithful services, Bruce granted to him and his heirs the noble lordship of Strathbolgie (now Strathbogie), in Aberdeenshire, then in the Crown, by the forfeiture of David de Strathbogie, Earl of Athole, which grant was afterwards confirmed to his family by several charters under the great seal. Sir Adam fixed his residence there, and gave these lands and lordship the name of Huntly, from a village of that name in the western extremity of Gordon parish, in the Merse, the site of which is now said to be marked only by a solitary tree. From their northern domain, the family afterwards acquire the titles of Lord, Earl, and Marquis of Huntly, and the latter is now their chief title. Sir Adam was slain, fighting bravely in the vanguard of the Scotch army at the battle of Halidonhill, July 12, 1333. By Annabella, his wife, supposed to have been a daughter of David de Strathbolgie above mentioned, he had four sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Sir Alexander, succeeded him. The second son, William, was ancestor of the Viscounts of Kenmure.

Sir John Gordon, his great-grandson, got a new charter from King Robert the Second of the lands of Strathbogie, dated 13th June 1376. He was slain at the battle of Otterbourne in 1388. His son, Sir Adam, lord of Gordon, fell at the battle of Homildon, 14th September 1402. By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Keith, great mareschal of Scotland, he had an only child, Elizabeth Gordon, who succeeded to the whole family estates, and having married Alexander Seton, second son of Sir William Seton of Seton, ancestor of the Earls of Winton, that gentleman was styled lord of Gordon and Huntly. He left two sons, the younger of whom became ancestor of the Setons of Meldrum.

Alexander, the elder, was, in 1449, created Earl of Huntly, with limitation to his heirs male, by Elizabeth Crichton, his third wife, they being obliged to bear the name and arms of Gordon. George, the sixth earl, was created Marquis of Huntly, by King James, in 1599. George, the fourth marquis, was made Duke of Gordon in 1684. George, fifth duke, died without issue on 28th Mary 1836. At his death the title of Duke of Gordon became extinct, as well as tha of Earl of Norwich in th British peerage, and the Marquisate of Huntly devolved on George Earl of Aboyne, descended from Charles, fourth son of George, second Marquis of Huntly, while the Duke of Richmond and Lennox, son of his eldest sister, succeeded to Gordon castle, Banffshire, and other estates in Aberdeenshire and Inverness-shire.

The clan Gordon was at one period of the most powerful and numerous in the north. Although the chiefs were not originally of Celtic origin, as already shown, they yet gave their name to the clan, the distinctive badge of which was the rock ivy. The clan feuds and battles were frequent, especially with the Mackintoshes, the Camerons, the Murrays and the Forbes.

The Duke of Gordon, who was the chief of the clan, was usually styled "The Cock of the North". His most ancient title was the "Gudeman of the Bog", from the Bog-of-Gight, a morass in the parish of Bellie, Banffshire, in the centre of which the former stronghold of this family was placed, and which forms the site of Gordon castle, considered the most magnificent edifice in the north of Scotland. The Marquis of Huntly is now the chief of the clan Gordon. Of the name Gordon, there are many ancient families belonging to Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and the north of Scotland.

Name Variations:  Adam, Adams, Adamson, Addie, Addison, Adie, Aiken, Aitchison, Aitken, Atkin, Atkins, Atkinson, Barrie, Connon, Craig, Cromb, Crombie, Cullen, Darg, Darge, Dorward, Duff, Durward, Eadie, Eddie, Edie, Edison, Esslemont, Gardiner, Gardner, Garioch, Garrick, Garriock, Geddes, Gerrie, Gordon, Huntly, Jessiman, Jopp, Jupp, Laing, Lang, Laurie, Lawrie, Leng, Marr, Maver, Mavor, Meldrum, Mill, Mills, Miln, Milne, Milnes, Moir, More, Morrick, Morris, Muir, Mylne, Tod, Todd, Troup.

References:
One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.


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