Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter III - Earldom and Earls
GEORGE, SECOND MARQUIS OF HUNTLY—LORD
GORDON, VISCOUNT ABOYNE, AND LORD LEWIS—BATTLE OF AULDEARN— BATTLE OF
ALFORD—PROCEEDINGS OF HUNTLY—CAPTURED AND IMPRISONED—TRIED AND
EXECUTED—LEWIS, THIRD MARQUIS.
ON the 2nd of February, 1645,
Montrose completely defeated Argyle and all his clan at Inverlochy. He
then marched northward by Inverness, and when he reached Elgin, Lord
Gordon and his brother Lewis joined him, and Viscount Aboyne also joined
conquering hero. Montrose’s career will be detailed afterwards, and
only the battles in which the Gordons were engaged will be noticed here.
Montrose had reached the village of Auldearn on the
evening of the 8th of May, intending to follow Hurry (the Covenanting
general) the next day. But ere dawn on the morning of the 9th of May,
Hurry had fronted round, and hoped by a rapid march to surprise Montrose;
and, if an untoward incident had not occurred, it seems probable that he
would have accomplished his object; but the night was rainy and wetted the
powder in the muskets of Hurry’s soldiers, some of whom fired a volley to
clear their barrels. It so happened that Montrose’s sentinels heard the
sound of the firing, and thus gave him time to post his army in battle
array, which he did admirably. The battle raged with the utmost fury, and
was long and fiercely contested. Lord Gordon, Viscount Aboyne, and the
rest of the Gordons, fought bravely. The greater part of Hurry’s infantry
stood their ground with remarkable courage, and were slain on the field.
But Montrose had soon to contend against forces more
numerous than his own. General Baillie advanced from Athole northward,
crossed the Dee with 2000 men, and was joined in Strathbogie by Hurry with
100 horsemen, the remnant of the army defeated at Auldearn. Montrose’s
force was greatly diminished, and, being unable to fight, he marched up
the Valley of the Spey for safety. Baillie remained in the north and
ravaged Huntly’s lands.
After a time Montrose had again increased his force. He
marched in search of Baillie, and found him in a strong position at Keith.
Montrose did not venture to attack him, but marched southward, crossed the
Don, halted at Alford, and Baillie followed him. On the 2nd of July, 1645,
Montrose placed his men in battle array on an elevated position. Baillie
crossed the river and prepared for battle. Lord Gordon commanded the right
wing of Montrose’s army; Viscount Aboyne fought on the left; and Glengarry
led the centre, consisting of the Macdonalds and the Lochaber vassals of
Huntly. The battle began and raged furiously with no apparent success on
either side; at last Montrose brought up his reserve, and Lord Gordon
attacked the Covenanters in flank; and they were completely defeated. Lord
Gordon was slain, and many of the Gordons were wounded. A considerable
number of the Covenanters were killed.
At the battle of Kilsyth, on the 24th of August, many
of the Gordons fought under the command of Viscount Aboyne. Shortly after
this battle, Viscount Aboyne left Montrose, and returned to the north.
The Marquis of Huntly, returned from his retreat in
Strathnaver, was preparing to take the field, and led his men in person.
Huntly had an interview with Montrose at Bog of Gight, but the Marquis
declined to co-operate with him. Huntly proceeded to Aberdeen, and on
receiving tidings that General Middleton was advancing against him with a
large force, he marched up the valley of the Dee, and occupied the Castle
of Kinnord. But Middleton turned aside in pursuit of Montrose; and Huntly
then returned to Aberdeen. On the 14th of May, 1646, he defeated Colonel
Montgomery and captured 350 prisoners. Shortly after, the King sent orders
to Huntly and Montrose to lay down their arms.
Afterwards the King sent a secret message to the
Marquis requesting him to take the field, and holding out the hope that he
himself would join him. But their intentions were discovered. On the
approach of General David Leslie and General Middleton, the Marquis
retired to Badenoch. The Castle of Strathbogie was taken, and the other
strongholds of the Marquis were successively reduced. The Marquis himself
was pursued through Glenmoriston, Badenoch, and Lochaber, and had many
narrow escapes. Surrounded by a few faithful and brave men, he lived in
dens and sequestered spots. General Middleton lay at Strathbogie, whence
he sent out parties of troops to search for the Marquis. For some time he
had been lying concealed at the farmhouse of Dalnabo, three miles below
Inchroy, when his hiding place was discovered by the agents of the
Government. Towards the end of December, 1647, Colonel Menzies, with a
company of troops, at midnight surrounded Dalnabo. The Marquis had only
ten of his faithful retainers around him, yet they made a heroic stand to
protect their master against fearful odds. Six of them were killed and the
rest wounded before Huntly was made prisoner. When the news of his capture
spread, many of the Gordons and Grants rushed to the rescue. James Grant
of Carron placed himself at the head of 400 men, and declared that he
would rescue Huntly or die in the attempt. The Marquis thanked them for
their devotion, but commanded them not to make any such attempt; and then
said, "that now, almost worn out with grief and fatigue, he could no
longer live in dens and hills, and hoped that his enemies would not drive
things to the worst."
Colonel Menzies immediately conveyed the Marquis to
Blairfinde in Glenlivet, and thence to Strathbogie. He was carried under a
guard to Edinburgh, where he was imprisoned. When Charles I. heard of his
capture, he wrote to the Earl of Lanark, and requested him to make the
utmost effort to save the Marquis’s life. The Marquis was confined in
prison for 16 months. "During this time Argyle possessed himself of his
brother-in-law’s estate, and bought up all the comprisings which affected
it; took up his residence in the Gordon castles, levied the rents, and
left the Gordons to do as best they might." When in prison, the Marquis
heard of the execution of Charles I., and also of the death of his own
son, Viscount Aboyne.
The Marquis was brought to trial on the 16th of March,
1649, on a charge of treason. He was convicted, and sentenced to death. On
the 21st of March, the Committee of Estates ordered the Magistrates of
Edinburgh to receive the person of George Gordon, late Marquis of Huntly,
from the constable of the Castle of Edinburgh, and to cause the aforesaid
George to be brought to the place of execution, and there to see the
sentence of Parliament executed. In his last moments Huntly manifested
remarkable fortitude. He said to the people that he was going to die for
having employed some years of his life in the service of the King, his
master; that he was sorry he was not the first of his Majesty’s subjects
who had suffered for his cause, so glorious in itself that it sweetened to
him all the bitterness of death. He declared that he forgave those who had
voted for his death, although he would not admit that he had done anything
contrary to the law; and, after embracing some of his friends, submitted
his neck to the fatal instrument, at the Market Cross of Edinburgh, on the
22nd of March, 1649.
By Lady Ann Campbell the Marquis had five sons and five
daughters. The sons were—George, Lord Gordon, who fell at the battle of
Alford; James, Viscount Aboyne, who died at Paris in the beginning of
February, 1649; Lord Lewis, who became third Marquis; Charles, who was
afterwards created first Earl of Aboyne; Henry, who entered the service of
the King of Poland, and who died at Strathbogie.
The late Marquis was succeeded by his third son, Lewis,
third Marquis of Huntly. It is said that he was offered his father’s
estates if he satisfied the Church, but he declined to accept the family
possessions on such terms. Thus, they continued in the hands of Argyle,
who obtained from Parliament an order for the destruction of several of
the Gordon strongholds.
During these troublous times Lord Lewis Gordon had
sought refuge in a cave two miles from Castle Grant. When there his food
was carried to him by Mary Grant, a young lady of such beauty and
sympathy, that she obtained "possession of his soul against all the
bewitching allurements of home-bred and foreign beauties whatsoever."
This lady was a daughter of Sir John Grant of Freuchie, and Lewis Gordon
married her in November, 1644, and with her got 20,000 marks.
Lewis and his younger brother, Charles, continued to be
loyal supporters of the Royal cause, and their loyalty to Charles I!. was
rewarded. On the 27th of March, 1651, the attainder passed on Lewis
Gordon’s father was reversed, and he was restored to the Marquisate of
Huntly "with all the titles, honours, and dignities pertaining to his late
father, as if there had been no forfeiture." The titles were to descend to
him and his heirs male, whom failing to the next apparent heir male of his
On the 21st of August, 1651, the Marquis granted a
discharge to the Magistrates of Aberdeen for ten men fully armed and
equipped, as a part of the 90 men—the city’s porportion of the levy. The
Royalists were defeated at the battle of Worcester on the 3rd of
September, and Charles II. fled to the continent.
Huntly was very anxious to come to terms with Argyle
touching the family estates. Accordingly it was arranged that a meeting
should be held at Finlarg Castle, Huntly to be accompanied by eighty men
and Argyle by the same number. On the arrival of the Gordons at the
appointed castle, whose company of eighty men were mostly Highlandmen,
they found the whole district was in arms. Under these circumstances,
Huntly’s friends advised him to return home, and not enter into business;
but his escort was so surrounded by Argyle’s men, "that it was impossible
for him to recoil." Being thus constrained, at last Huntly entered upon
the treaty, and signed several papers and writs, "to the great prejudice
of his interest and family."— Miscellany of the Old Spalding Club, Vol.
IV., pp. 166,667.
The Marquis’s lot was cast in troublous times. In
September, 1653, he entered into negotiations with Colonel Morgan, one of
Cromwell’s officers, and agreed that the Lairds of Straloch and Lesmore
should become sureties for his keeping the peace. This led to reports
being circulated to his prejudice, which had reached the ears of Charles
II., who was then abroad. Huntly died in the end of the year 1653, leaving
a son, George, then a boy, who succeeded him, and subsequently was created
Duke of Gordon.
In 1655the late Marquis’s widow wrote to the
Marquis of Argyle, who then held the Gordon estates, requesting that she
might get her portion, or at least a suitable maintenance. He replied that
though her request was reasonable, it was not in his power to entertain
it, "for the burdens of that family and others are like to bring me in
great straits: for in truth I never yet had any annual rent paid in any
year I received most, and many years I wanted near altogether, partly in
your father-in-law’s default, and likewise in your husband’s. Yet, all
that shall never make me fall short in my duty to the family without my
own ruin; but yet these things disable me from doing many things which I
would willingly do if I were able."
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