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American History

I was born and raised in small town in New Jersey, USA, called Millburn:  a Scottish usage, as our local oral history tells us.  The oldest information known to local historical records tells us that, in May of 1749, a Sir Robert Gordon owned about 1500 acres (about 3700 hectares) of land immediately surrounding the location of the home in which I grew up.  By 1764 the ownership of Sir Robert's land had been divided among a dozen or so smaller landowners, some of whom were the direct ancestors of neighbors and schoolmates of mine.  In the 1764 map there is a home attributed to an "Old Squire", and another one to a "Squire".

I visited your website, Electric Scotland, to learn more about Clan Sutherland:  in particular, about Sir Robert Gordon (1696-1772), 4th Baronet of Letterfourie, Sutherland, MP for Caithness (1715-1722), of the Baronetage of Nova Scotia; and his son, Sir Robert Gordon (circa 1738-1776), 5th Baronet.  Electric Scotland offers three fascinating alternative accounts of the history of Clan Sutherland, which, though they differ in certain details, give a fairly consistent reckoning of the events in the time period of greatest interest to me.  It appears that the mid-eighteenth century was a critical period for the Clan. Perhaps by coincidence, and perhaps not, the best information that I have found suggests that one or more baronets of  of Clan Sutherland might have owned land that became, two centuries later, the New Jersey neighborhood in which I lived the first 18 years of my life.  Perhaps the Baronets sought to diversify their holdings in an uncertain time, by investing in the New World?

Could you direct me to any further information about the 4th and 5th Baronets of Letterfourie?  Do you know anything of these gentlemen?  If it could be determined that either or both of the Baronets had owned land in what was then known as the New Ark Mountain Purchase -- now called Short Hills, a neighborhood of MIllburn, New Jersey -- it would be an exciting and important addition to the history of the area.  I have attached the oldest known archival map of the area, dating from 1764, and also a tentative map -- a work-in-progress by Charles McGrath, an accomplished amateur historian -- that incorporates earlier data. "Squire" appears in the northwest part of the archival map from 1764.  The reference to Sir Robert appears in the second map, in yellow, just below and slightly left of center; somewhat to the north is an area called "Squiertown"; most of the roads in the latter map are modern references that did not exist in the 18th century.   I grew up on White Oak Ridge Road, acknowledged to be by far the oldest thoroughfare for miles around.

Many thanks for your kind attention to my message.  I hope to hear from you at your convenience.

Best regards

Marc Maderazzo

[Note: Since this morning I have received, from a genealogist in New Jersey, an historical document that refers to a property survey conducted by "a Mr. Gordon of Gordonston in Scotland", in early 1749. The words practically jumped off the page!  On the basis of this new document it seems almost certain that "Mr. Gordon of Gordonston" and "Sir Robert Gordon" are indeed either the 4th or the 5th Baronet of Letterfourie.  It is also of interest that a nearby New Jersey community, Scotch Plains, was settled in November 1685 by a Thomas Gordon.  It is an historical fact that a Sir Thomas Gordon became Third Baronet of Earlston, Kirkcudbright, in 1685.  As a physicist, I tend to view serial coincidences as suggesting the possibility of causal relationships; it will be a pleasure to try to suss out those relationships.]

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