Select Gordon Surname Genealogy

Here are some Gordon stories and accounts over the years:

The Jock and Tam and Sir William Gordon Branches

The Jock and Tam Gordon branch is the oldest documented and largest branch of the Gordons, dating back to the Laird of Gordon who died in the Battle of Standard in 1138.  John (Jock) Gordon of Scurdargue was born in 1360 and Thomas (Tam) Gordon of Ruthven in 1362.

The line from the Laird of Gordon also went via Sir Adam de Gordon, who had ventured north to the Highlands in the 1320's, to his son Sir William who stayed behind in the Borders.  Sir William maintained the original Gordon seat there and was the progenitor of the Gordon houses of Kenmore and Lochinvar.

The Gordons and Mary, Queen of Scots

In 1550 Queen Mary, marching eastward through Huntly’s country, encountered him with her army on the slopes of Corrichie on Deeside.

The battle ended disastrously for the Gordons.  The Earl, a stout and full-blooded man, having been taken prisoner, was set upon a horse before his captor when he was suddenly seized with apoplexy and fell to the ground dead.  His body, produced in Parliament in a mean sackcloth dress, was condemned to forfeiture of his titles and estates.

His son, Sir John Gordon, was butchered by a bungling executioner at the Cross of Aberdeen, while Mary was compelled by her brother to look on at the horrid end of the man whom, it was said, she had once dearly loved.

At the same time George, the eldest surviving son, was sentenced in the barbarous fashion of the time to be hanged, drawn, and quartered and only escaped by the special clemency of the Queen.  She later appointed him Chancellor in 1565 and reversed the sentence of forfeiture against his house.

The Gay Gordons

The Gay Gordons is a nickname of the Gordon Highlanders, a British army regiment which distinguished itself at the Battle of Waterloo.  "Gay" here has the Scots meaning of "extraordinary," rather than its usual English meaning.

The Gay Gordons became in the 19th century a popular Scottish dance in which every couple dances the same steps, usually in a circle around the room.

There are two versions of this dance, both having the same formation.  Couples face anticlockwise round the room, with the lady on the gentleman's right.  Couples then join hands with each other, the lady puts both hands in the air at about head height and the man holds her left hand with his left hand in front of his chest and he holds her right hand with his right hand just to the right of her head, taking hold of her hand from behind.  This is known as the Gay Gordons hold.

The East Jersey Gordons

The East Jersey colony of America was an organized venture of the Lowland Scottish families.  The first settlement was in the area of the city of Perth Amboy.  It was a carefully planned settlement, with each of the various proprietors and fractioners being given plots of land according to their individual shares. 

The settlement included two Gordons.  Looking at a map, the Gordon lands near Aberdeen would be in the northern region of Scotland, generally considered as the Highlands.  However, Aberdeen is actually on the coastal plain of the country and was possibly more closely tied to the Lowland society and economy than to the Highlands.

Robert Gordon had three sons who traveled together to the East Jersey colony in 1681 - John, Thomas, and Charles.  Not much is known about John's fate.  But Thomas and Charles both secured land in Perth Amboy. Charles wrote enthusiastically to his cousin back in Scotland in 1685 as follows:

"Several thousand people are here already, and no want of good company, as in any place in the world.  I intend to follow planting myself, and if I had the small stock here I have in Scotland, with some more servants, I would not go home to Aberdeen for a Regency as was proffered me; neither do I intend it."

Thomas was the more prominent of the two brothers and started a line that has many descendants down to today.  Charles, on the other hand, died intestate in 1698, leaving behind only a few possessions.

Nathaniel Gordon and Family of Ireland and Massachusetts

Nathaniel Gordon left his home in county Tyrone with his wife and three children for Massachusetts in 1749.  They arrived first in Boston and later settled in Peterborough, Massachusetts.

John, his eldest son, was a brewer by trade and went into business in Boston in the 1750's with the great Samuel Adams. 

The other son Samuel was a farmer who settled in Peterborough (his place there was known as Gordon's farm).  He had met his wife Eleanor, also Scots Irish, in Boston where she had sought sanctuary after her father had been killed in Nova Scotia in the French wars and much of her family had been wiped out by smallpox.  Both Samuel and Eleanor were staunch Presbyterians.  Samuel lived onto 86, dying in Peterborough in 1818.

Ann Gordon and the Parramatta Female Factory

Gordonville on the upper Bellinger river in New South Wales likely had its origin in the history of one of the former colony of New South Wales’s most important early institutions - the second Parramatta Female Factory.   The Female Factory was the destination upon arrival of all convicted women transported to the colony not immediately assigned as servants upon arrival in Sydney.

Ann Gordon was its longest serving matron.  During the nine years she was in charge her name became synonymous with the Female Factory and in public sentiment reached almost mythic proportions.  GordonVille was one of over 30 descriptions that included her name - such as Mrs Gordon's villa, Mrs Gordon's country seat, Gordon's seminary, academy, Gordon's nunnery, Gordonized, Gordon's school for girls etc.

On the day prior to Ann Gordon taking up her appointment in 1827 the inmates rioted and the following day broke out of the factory and went on a rampage through Parramatta.  Another riot occurred in February 1831.  On this occasion it was reported Ann Gordon was seized by some inmates and had her hair cut.  The women again broke out and headed towards Parramatta, but were stopped by the police and soldiers before reaching the township. 

Ann Gordon had her critics.  Some wanted the matron to adopt a harsher regime and there were accusations against her husband Robert of misconduct with female inmates.  She was relieved of her position in 1836. 

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