Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter III - Earldom and Earls
GEORGE, FOURTH MARQUIS OF HUNTLY, AND FIRST DUKE OF
GORDONHIS EARLY LIFEMARRIAGECREATED DUKE OF GORDONAPPOINTED GOVERNOR
OF EDINBURGH CASTLE REVOLUTION OF 1688.SURRENDER OF THE CASTLE.
AFTER the death of Lewis, third Marquis of Huntly, the
interests and affairs of the family devolved on his younger brother, Lord
Charles Gordon. He acted with remarkable judgment and tact during the
period of Cromwells government of Scotland, which was an exceedingly
trying time for the Scottish nobles. In 1656, an intelligent and observant
Scottish clergyman wrote thus:"Our State is in
a very silent condition. Strong garrisons over all the land, and a great
army, both of horse and foot, for which there is no service at all. Our
nobleslying in prison, and under
forfeitures or debts, private or publicare for the most part either
broken or breaking."
3rd of September, 1658, Cromwell died. Shortly after, the Government of
the three Kingdoms fell into the hands of the leaders of the armies of the
Commonwealth, and they began a scramble for the summit of power; but
Olivers mantle had not descended upon any of them. General Monk was at
the head of the army in Scotland, and he was on intimate terms with
Charles, Lord Gordon. Monk collected his forces, and carefully prepared to
march into England. On the 2nd of December,
the landowners of Aberdeenshire met at Aberdeen, and
elected Lord Gordon as commissioner to confer with General Monk at
Berwick. He carried a letter from the barons and lairds of Aberdeenshire
to Monk, in which they declared their unanimous resolution to keep the
public peace. They also aided him with a sum of money.
Monk marched into England in the
beginning of 1660. After various moves, he declared in favour of a free
Parliament, which met in March, and resolved to recall the King. So
Charles II. entered London on the
of May, amid the shouts and applause of the people.
On the 13th of February, 1661, the
Marquis of Argyle was placed at the bar of Parliament, and accused of high
treason. He was found guilty, condemned, and executed at Edinburgh on the
The Gordon property was restored to
George, fourth Marquis of Huntly, who was still under age. His uncle,
Charles, Earl of Aboyne, had the management of the Huntly estatesa very
difficult and delicate task, owing to the late misfortunes of the family.
The young Marquis was naturally much under the influence of his mother,
and, in electing his curators, he disregarded the advice of his uncle.
Aboyne, however, managed to effect a general settlement of the family
affairs in 1665.
The Marquis travelled through a
considerable part of Europe, and completed his education abroad.
Afterwards he served in the French army, under Marshal Turenne; and also
in the armies of the Prince of Orange.
He returned home in 1674. In
November, 1676, he married Lady Elizabeth Howard, a daughter of the Duke
of Norfolk, by whom he had issue, a son and a daughter.
On the 1st of November, 1684,
Charles II. created him Duke of Gordon, with the power of regality over
his own lands and vassals: This title did not affect the Earldom and
Marquisate, or any other of the early titles of the family. In 1687 he was
invested with the Order of the Thistle.
He was appointed Governor of
Edinburgh Castle by Charles II.; and he held it at the Revolution of 1683
for James VII. In this crisis he acted with sound judgment and remarkable
Before the issue of the military
operations in England was decided, disturbances arose in Edinburgh. The
Roman Catholics were insulted on the streets; and placards were posted up
threatening the ministers of the Crown. The Earl of Perth, Lord
Chancellor, and head of the Privy Council, had been very servile to James
VII., and therefore became an object of hatred, and fled to his own
country seat. When at last it became clear that the Kings cause was
rapidly falling, crowds gathered on the streets, loud shouts was raised
for a free Parliament, and the tumult increased. A few troops attempted to
quell the mob, but they were soon overpowered. On Sunday, the 9th of
December, a great number of students, apprentices, and others appeared on
the streets; and, the Provost having refused to deliver to them the keys
of the ports, they then threatened to burn his house. They next proceeded
to the Market Cross, and proclaimed a reward of
sterling to anyone who should seize the Earl of Perth and bring him there
dead or alive.
The following day the Town Council
issued a proclamation prohibiting tumults on the streets, which was torn
to tatters as soon as it was read, and the officers and drummer prevented
from going through the town. All sorts of alarming rumours were rife. It
was reported that an army of Irish Catholics was on the eve of landing
upon the coast of Galloway, and some said it had landed. The people
dreaded a massacre: As the Council had dissolved, the army had been
marched into England, and there was an utter collapse of authority. The
Duke of Gordon, the Governor of the Castle, though pressed by the extreme
Jacobites to open fire upon the citizens of Edinburgh, firmly declined to
do this, unless he received an explicit command from James VII.
In January, 1689, the Prince of
Orange summoned a Convention of the Estates to meet at Edinburgh on the
14th of March. Preparations for this meeting were immediately commenced,
all parties were anxious to return members to decide the future position
of the nation. The Whigs secured a majority favourable to the Prince of
Orange, though a number of the Barons and all the Bishops still clung to
the cause of James VII. The Jacobites calculated on the support of the
Duke of Gordon, who commanded the castle, and on Viscount Dundee, whose
energy was well known and greatly feared, as they might attempt to
intimidate or disperse the Convention. The Parliament House was well
within the range of the guns of the Castle.
The Convention assembled at the
appointed time. Nine of the Bishops appeared, 42 Peers, 49 members for the
counties, and 50 for the burghs. The Bishop of Edinburgh opened the
proceedings, and prayed that God would assist them and restore King James.
The election of a President was then essayed. The supporters of James
proposed the Marquis of Athole; the Whigs proposed the Duke of Hamilton,
who was elected by a majority of 40. About 20 of the minority then
deserted the cause of King James, and joined the majority. On the 16th of
March a letter from the Prince of Orange was read, in which he expressed
his desire that the Convention would settle the religion and liberties of
the nation upon just grounds, and in harmony with the inclination of the
people and the public good. The same day, after some debate, a letter from
King James was read; but it contained nothing to raise the hopes of his
adherents. He offered to pardon those who returned to their allegiance
before the end of the month; while to others no mercy could be shown. His
adherents in the Convention were mortified, his enemies were vehement, and
the sitting closed in a scene of great excitement.
The Whigs had summoned the Duke of
Gordon to surrender the Castle of Edinburgh, but he refused. He might at
any moment, if he had thought fit, have opened a cannonade upon the
Parliament House or the citizens. It was known that the Jacobites would
not yield without a severe struggle, and might attempt some desperate
move. Viscount Dundee and Sir George Mackenzie complained that their lives
were in danger, alleging that the Covenanters had resolved to slay them,
and they appealed to the Duke of Hamilton for protection.
When the Convention met on the 18th
of March, tidings were brought into the House that Viscount Dundee was on
the Stirling road with a troop of dragoons, and that he had been seen
conferring with the Duke of Gordon at the Castle gate. This news threw the
members of the Convention into a state of intense alarm, and Hamilton, the
President, started to his feet and said"It is high time that we should
look to ourselves. The enemies of our religion and of our civil freedom
are mustering all around us; and we may well suspect that they have
accomplices even here. Lock the doors. Lay the keys on the table. Let no
one go out but those Lords and gentlemen whom we shall appoint to call the
citizens to arms. There are some good men from the west in Edinburgh, men
for whom I can answer." The majority of the members shouted assent, and
what the President proposed was immediately done. Lord Leven went out and
ordered the drums to be beat. The Covenanters promptly answered to the
call, and mustered in such numbers as overawed all the Jacobites in
Viscount Dundee, in his brief
interview with the Duke of Gordon at the gate of the Castle, had perhaps
intimated his intention to attempt a rising on behalf of James VII.,
though on leaving Edinburgh he retired to his country mansion of Dudhope,
in the vicinity of Dundee. He was summoned to appear in his place in
Parliament, but he declined. A warrant was then issued for his
apprehension, and the Earl of Leven, with 200 men, marched northward in
pursuit of him. But Dundee took to the mountains and glens, crossed the
Dee and entered the Duke of Gordons territory, and concerted his intended
After surmounting many difficulties,
and outgeneraling his opponents, his career was terminated in the moment
of victory on the field of Killiecrankie.
The Castle of Edinburgh was
completely invested by the force appointed to protect the Convention, and
all supplies of provisions for the garrison from the outside were cut off.
The Duke of Gordon, however, refrained from firing on the Convention or
the citizens of Edinburgh; yet held out until the store of provisions in
the castle became exhausted. At last, on the 13th of June, 1689, he
surrendered on honourable terms, and the garrison marched out of the
castle. Afterwards he printed an account of the siege of the castle in
French, for the information of the exiled court at St. Germains. He
proceeded to London and made his submission to King William.
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