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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter III - Earldom and Earls of Huntly
Section XVI


GEORGE, FIRST DUKE OF GORDON—HIS DEATH—MARQUIS OF HUNTLY, SECOND DUKE OF GORDON, JOINED MAR’S RISING— HIS DEATH—COSMO-GEORGE, THIRD DUKE OF GORDON— LORD LEWIS JOINED THE RISING OF 1745—BALLAD TO HIS MEMORY.

SHORTLY after his submission to the new Government, the Duke went to Flanders. In 1691 he visited the court of James VII., but being somewhat coldly received by this personage, he retired to Switzerland. The Duke was arrested there, and conveyed to Scotland. During the reign of King William he was suspected of being a secret supporter of the exiled King, and consequently he was repeatedly imprisoned.

When George I. ascended the throne on the 1st of August, 1714, the Duke of Gordon was ordered to be confined to the city of Edinburgh on parole. He died at Leith on the 7th of December, 1716.

He was succeeded by his only son, Alexander, Marquis of Huntly, and second Duke of Gordon. In 1706 he married Lady Henrietta Mordaunt, a daughter of the famous general, Charles, Earl of Peterborough and Mordaunt, and had issue.

In his father’s lifetime he travelled abroad, and visited some of the Courts of Europe. He was on intimate terms of friendship with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosmo III. A fine bust of this Duke of Tuscany, which he presented to Alexander, Marquis of Huntly, is still preserved amongst the treasures in Gordon Castle.

It appears that he was a Jacobite. When Marquis of Huntly in his father’s lifetime he was present at the great Jacobite meeting in Braemar on the 26th of August, 1715. Afterwards he joined Mar’s army at Perth, and commanded a body of cavalry. He was present at the battle of Sheriffmuir. But shortly after this event he returned north; and in April, 1716, he surrendered to the Government. He was conveyed to Edinburgh, and imprisoned in the castle for a time. No further proceedings, however, were instituted against him.

The second Duke of Gordon was a very kind-hearted man. He had the character of being a good landlord, and friendly and obliging to his neighbours. He died from an attack of inflammation on the 22nd of November, 1728.

By his Duchess, Lady Henrietta, he had four sons and seven daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Cosmo-George, third Duke of Gordon, who received the name Cosmo owing to the friendly relations of his father with the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was born in 1719; and in 1741 he married Catherine, a daughter of William, second Earl of Aberdeen, and had issue.

Lord Lewis Gordon had a remarkable career, of which some account will be presented in the sequel.

Lord Adam Gordon entered the army and rose to the rank of general. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Scotland. On the second of September, 1767, he married Jane, a daughter of John Drummond, Esq., and widow of James, second Duke of Athole. He died in 1801.

Lady Anne married William, second Earl of Aberdeen, and had issue. Lady Catherine married Francis, Earl of Wemyss.

The third Duke of Gordon was an accomplished gentleman. He studied law in the University of Leyden. He was elected one of the Representative Peers of Scotland; and was created a Knight of the order of the Thistle.

Lord Lewis Gordon had been an officer in the navy. He was a very fine-looking young man, with a remarkable mild and characteristic expression of intelligence in his face. His countenance also betokened warm feeling and earnestness. He joined the rising of 1745, and entered into it with the utmost zeal and enthusiasm. He endeavoured to persuade his brother, the Duke of Gordon, to join the rising but in this he failed; the Duke declined to join Prince Charles, or to contribute anything to the Jacobite exchequer. Nevertheless the example and energy of Lord Lewis induced many of the Duke’s tenantry to join the rising.

Lord Lewis was appointed Lord Lieutenant of the counties of Aberdeen and Banff, and Governor of the city of Aberdeen; and he then appointed William Moir of Lonmay to be deputy-lieutenant and governor of the city of Aberdeen. Thus Lord Lewis was empowered to hold the counties of Aberdeen and Banff, and the city of Aberdeen, to collect taxes and to raise men. Accordingly, the provost and town council were ordered "to make payment to us or to William Moir, our deputy-governor of the town, for the service of His Royal Highness, before the 12th of December, 1745, of the sum of £2847 16s, being the amount of His Majesty’s subsidy, free of all charges, payable out of the town of Aberdeen, from Martimas, 1744, to Martimas, 1745, as appears from the taxation book." The citizens had to pay this sum under the penalty of military execution. The city also had to equip its proportion of armed men—one man for each £100 of valued rent, or pay a sum of £5 in lieu of each man, under the penalty of military execution. For this demand the authorities made an arrangement with Moir, the deputy-governor of the town, to pay £1000.

It appears that James Chalmers, the printer, had issued the manifestoes of the leaders of the insurgent army for some time; and also printed sheets giving the details of the progress of the rebellion. At last, however, Chalmers deemed it necessary to leave the town, and owing to this, his house and premises were greatly damaged by the insurgents.

Events were rapidly running to a crisis. The march of Prince Charles upon London had failed, and his army was returning northward. But Lord Lewis Gordon continued to exert himself to the utmost on behalf of the Prince’s cause. He had a considerable body of armed men in Aberdeen and its neighbourhood. A force under the command of Macleod of Macleod was advancing for the relief of Aberdeen. Lord Lewis immediately mustered his men and marched to Inverurie, where he met Macleod on the 23rd of December, and completely defeated him. Four days after the action, Lord Lewis wrote the following letter to the vanquished chief:—

"Sir,—I received your letter by express last night, dated Castle Gordon the 24th. All the care in our power has been and shall be taken of your wounded men; and all the prisoners that were taken under their arms shall meet with all the civility in our power. But for Regent Chambers, Forbes of Echt, and Maitland of Pitrichie, who have acted the infamous part of spies and informers, and the two last especially, who have given a great deal of bad advice to a certain great man who shall be nameless, (the Duke of Gordon) it is neither consistent with my honour nor inclination to treat them as prisoners of war. I shall take care to order supplies to be given to all the prisoners who want them, and the wounded men are as well taken care of as our own. I shall send you a list of the prisoners and wounded, with any useless papers and letters as soon as possible; and any other thing that we can reasonably agree to shall be done with pleasure."

This letter needs no comment—it is complete in itself.

The Duke of Cumberland and his army entered Aberdeen on the 25th of February, 1746, and stayed till the 8th of April. During this time the Duke lived in the Guestrow, and held his levees in the Marischal College Buildings.

After the battle of Culloden, though it was reported at first that Lord Lewis Gordon was captured, he was one of those who escaped. Yet he endured much suffering in his efforts to keep out of the clutches of the emissaries of the Government—sometimes hiding in the secret recesses of Gordon Castle, the Castles of Strathbogie and Aboyne, or at other times finding refuge in the glens and forests of Birse and Braemar. At last, after many adventures and hairbreadth escapes, he got aboard a friendly vessel which carried him to France. But the hardship and suffering which he had endured brought on sickness, and almost broke his noble spirit.

He became very anxious to return home, and longed for the refreshing air of the hills and glens of his native land. From Sens, on the 3oth of November, 1751, he wrote to his brother, the Duke of Gordon, thus :— "My dear Lord Duke,—The very bad state of health I have been in for a year has given me a great inclination to return home. Since I had the happiness of seeing you in Paris I have been 16 or 17 times blooded for violent fevers, and now I am subject to violent cholicks and pains in the stomach. Neither dare I take any severe exercise for fear of having one of these terrible fevers; and I assure you that my constitution is become so tender that I am not fit to follow any public business. Now, my Lord Duke, I shall begin with humbly begging pardon of you for my foolish behaviour, which I beseech you to forget; and I hope, my dear brother, in consideration of my misfortune, and the melancholy state of my health, you will have the goodness to apply to His Majesty for leave to me to come home. I am not so ambitious as to think of the attainder being taken off, and all I want is just to live peaceably in Scotland without ever meddling with public affairs. I am ready to make all the submissions that His Majesty and the Ministry ask of anybody; and whatever your grace promises them in my name I assure you on honour and conscience I shall perform."

He again wrote to the Duke on the 17th of January, 1752, and restated, almost in the same words, his desire for leave to return home. But his touching letters never reached his brother the Duke—they were all intercepted by officials in the service of the British Government. The unhappy young man was not aware of this, and, not receiving any replies from his friends, he began to think they had forsaken him, while his friends in Scotland were amazed at his long silence. At last, worn out with sorrow and sickness, this noble-minded young man died at Martreuil in 1754. A Jacobite song was composed to his memory

"Oh! send Lewie Gordon hame,
And the lad I daurna name;
Though his back be at the wa’,
Here’s to him that’s far awa’.

Och hon; my Higlandman,
Och my bonny Highlandman;
Weel would I my true love ken,
Amang ten thousand Highlandmen.

Oh! to see his tartan trews,
Bonnet blue, and laigh-heel’d shoes;
Philabeg aboon his knee;
That’s the lad that I’ll gang wi’.
The princely youth of whom I sing
Is fitted for to be a king;
On his breast he wears a star
You’d tak’ him for the god of war."


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