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The Scottish Nation

KENMURE, Viscount of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conferred in 1633, on Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, descended from William de Gordon, second son of Sir Adam Gordon of Gordon, ancestor of the dukes of Gordon. This William de Gordon, (charter by Randolph, earl of Moray, confirmed by Robert I., in 1315), obtained from his father the barony of Stitchell in Roxburghshire, as also the lands of Glenkens, in the northern district of the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, comprehending Lochinvar, Kenmure, &c., which had previously belonged to the Baliols, the Douglases, and the Maxwells of Caerlaverock. They were acquired by his father from John de Maxwell in 1297. William Gordon appears to have been engaged against King David II., as a remission was granted May 9, 1354, by William, Lord Douglas, to William Gordon, and all his followers in Galloway, receiving them into the peace of the king. He died about 1370. The eldest of his four sons, Roger de Gordon of Stitchell, as one of the hostages for Archibald earl of Douglas, superior of Galloway, in 1408 got letters of safe-conduct to go into England for that purpose. He had two sons, Roger de Gordon, who died about 1442, and Adam Gordon of Holm, ancestor of the Gordons of Craig.

      Roger’s son, William de Gordon, designed of Stitchell and Lochinvar, the first of the family who settled in Galloway, died about 1450. From this period the family gradually acquired, by grant, purchase, or marriage, the greater part of the lands in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright. William de Gordon had four sons, and a daughter, married to Sir Thomas Maclellan of Bombie. Sir John, the eldest son, inherited the estates, and died about the end of 1512. Alexander, the second son, was ancestor of the Gordons of Aird, afterwards of Earlston, and from Roger, the youngest son, descended the Gordons of Craigo. With two daughters, Sir John had four sons. Sir Robert, his second son, was the eighth laird of Lochinvar. William, the third son, was ancestor of the Gordons of Culvennan, and those of Grange and Balmeg.

      Sir Alexander Gordon of Lochinvar, the eldest son, fell at the battle of Flodden, about a year after succeeding to the family estates. His only child, Janet Gordon, claimed her father’s lands, but after a long process before the lords of council, she was obliged to renounce her right to her uncle, Sir Robert, who obtained from her a charter of the lands and baronies of Kenmure, Lochinvar, &c., 10th May 1516. He had a grant of the clerkship of the stewartry of Kirkcudbright and sheriffdom of Wigton, for his life, with power to officiate by deputies, and died about 1520.

      His eldest son, Sir James Gordon of Lochinvar, had the appointment of king’s chamberlain for the lordship of Galloway, for five years, by writ, dated 16th March 1528, and by another writ, dated 13th April 1537, he was constituted governor of the town and castle of Dumbarton, and chamberlain of that lordship. With Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig, and thirty-seven others, he had in 1529, a remission for the slaughter of Thomas Maclellan of Bombie on the High Street of Edinburgh. In 1536, he was one of those selected to accompany King James V. on his matrimonial expedition to France. He fell at the battle of Pinkie, 10th September, 1547.

      His eldest son, Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, was in 1555 appointed justiciary of the lordship of Galloway. He was a steady adherent of Queen Mary, and incurred considerable danger in her cause. In 1567, however, he signed the bond of association in support of the young king, James VI. He had several sons, and his two grandsons by his fourth son, became third and fourth viscounts of Kenmure. The eldest son, Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, is described as having been one of the strongest and most active men of his time. As a border chieftain he distinguished himself both against the English and the men of Annandale, who, when the former drove away their cattle, were in the habit of supplying their losses by plundering, in their turn, their neighbours in Galloway. Having gone to court, he was appointed one of the gentlemen of the king’s bedchamber. At a tournament proclaimed by his majesty, Sir Robert Gordon was one of the three successful champions, to whom prizes were delivered by the princess Elizabeth, afterwards the unfortunate queen of Bohemia. He died in November 1628, leaving two sons and two daughters.

      The elder son, Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, when Charles I. conferred honours and titles on many of his principal Scottish subjects, to grace his coronation at Edinburgh, in 1633, was on 8th May that year created viscount of Kenmure and Lord Lochinvar, by patent, to him and his heirs male whatsoever, bearing the name and arms of Gordon. Of this nobleman a memoir is given above. Among other favours conferred upon him by that monarch was the charter, dated 15th January 1629, of a royal burgh, afterwards called New Galloway, within limits on his estate, where no houses had then been erected. He is celebrated for his intimacy with the famous presbyterian ministers John Welch and Samuel Rutherford, and for the tone of deep piety which marked the closing scenes of his life. His only son, John, second viscount of Kenmure, dying under age and unmarried, in August 1639, was succeeded by his cousin, John, son of James Gordon of Barncrosh and Buitle, fourth son of Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, justiciary of Galloway.

      John, third viscount, also died unmarried, in October 1643, aged 23, and was succeeded by his brother, Robert, fourth viscount, born in November 1622. He suffered many hardships on account of his attachment to the king’s cause, and was excepted out of Cromwell’s act of grace and pardon in 1654. At the Restoration he went to court, and married a lady there in 1661. The same year he returned to Scotland, and died at Greenlaw, without issue, in 1663, when the title devolved on the heir male, Alexander Gordon of Pennygame, fourth in descent from William Gordon of Pennygame, second son of Sir James Gordon of Lochinvar, the ninth of that family.

      Alexander, fifth viscount of Kenmure, visited the abdicated monarch, James VII., at St. Germains, but was not well treated there. He died in August 1698. His only son, William, sixth viscount, took an active part in the rebellion of 1715, and was the hero of the stirring ballad beginning,

                        “O Kenmure’s on and awa, Willie,
                              O Kenmure’s on and awa,
                        And Kenmure’s lord’s the bravest lord,
                              That ever Galloway saw.”

He had received a commission from the earl of Mar to raise the Jacobites in the south of Scotland, and first appeared in arms, at the head of 150 horse, on the 11th October, at Moffat, where he proclaimed the chevalier as James VIII. Next day he proceeded to Lochmaben, where he also proclaimed the Pretender. He advanced within two miles of Dumfries, but being informed that great preparations were made to receive him, he did not venture to enter the town, but for some days kept a body of rebel troops on Amisfield moor, ready for action, to the dismay of the loyal burgesses. He next marched to Ecclefechan, where he was joined by Sir Patrick Maxwell of Springkell, with fourteen horsemen, and thence to Langholm, and afterwards to Hawick, where he proclaimed the Chevalier. On the 17th October he marched to Jedburgh, and there also proclaimed him. He next intended to proceed to Kelso, for the same purpose, but learning that that town was well protected, he crossed the border, and joined the rebel army under Forster, in Northumberland. Returning with Forster’s forces and his own united, he took possession of Kelso, on the 22d October, and was joined there, the same afternoon, by a large party of Highlanders, under Brigadier Macintosh of Borlum. Of these troops Lord Kenmure had the command while in Scotland, although from his mild and gentle disposition and non-military experience, altogether unqualified for such a post. With the rebel forces he marched into England, and was present at the battle of Preston in Lancashire, on 13th November of the same year. On the defeat of the rebels and their surrender at discretion, he was conveyed a prisoner to the Tower of London. His trial for high treason took place before the House of Lords on 19th January 1716, when he pleaded guilty, and on 9th February, with the other rebel lords he received sentence of death, and his estates and titles were forfeited to the crown. On the morning of the 24th February, he was beheaded on Towerhill, after the earl of Derwentwater had undergone the same fate. He was attended on the scaffold by several friends and two clergymen of the Church of England, of which church he was a member. He displayed great firmness and resolution, and observed that he had so little thought of dying so soon that he had not provided a black suit; that he was sorry for this, as he might have died with more decency. He expressed his regret for pleading guilty to the charge of high treason, and prayed for “King James.” He presented the executioner with eight guineas, and on laying his head on the block, that functionary struck it off at two blows. Shortly after, a letter which he had written to the Chevalier was published, wherein he expressed his hope that the cause for which he died would flourish after his death, and maintained the title of “the person called the Pretender, whom he believed to be the true son of James the Second.”

      The widowed viscountess of Kenmure (Lady Mary Dalzell, only sister of the sixth earl of Carnwath, also forfeited in 1716) was a lady of great spirit, and like her family, warmly attached to the house of Stuart. It is said that it was by her importunities that her husband was led to engage in the enterprise, and the tradition of the Glenkens still records that, on the ominous morning when he left Kenmure castle, his charger, till then remarkable for its docility, thrice refused to allow him to mount. After his execution she hastened down to Scotland by herself, and reached Kenmure castle in time to secure the principal papers of her husband. When the estates were exposed for sale, she, with the assistance of some friends, was enabled to purchase them, and being an excellent manager, by the time her eldest son, Robert, came of age, she delivered them over to him, unencumbered, reserving only a small annuity to herself. He died, unmarried, 10th August, 1741, in his 28th year. His mother, the dowager viscountess, died at Terregles, 16th August, 1776, having survived her husband sixty-one years.

      John Gordon of Kenmure, the second but eldest surviving son, by courtesy eighth viscount, was an officer in the army, and died at Liverpool, 16th June 1769, aged 56. By his wife, Lady Frances Mackenzie, only daughter of the fifth earl of Seaforth, he had five sons and a daughter. The two youngest sons died unmarried. The others were, William Gordon of Kenmure, a captain in the first or royal Scots regiment of foot, by courtesy ninth viscount of Kenmure, who died at Minorca, 7th February 1772, unmarried; John, by courtesy tenth viscount; and Adam, an officer in the army, and afterwards collector of the customs at Portpatrick, who died 17th December 1806. The latter married Miss Davies, an English lady, and had five sons and a daughter. Four of his sons died unmarried. Adam, the second son, succeeded his uncle John, as eleventh viscount.

      John Gordon of Kenmure, the second but eldest surviving son of the eighth viscount, born in 1750, was a captain in the 17th foot, and in 1784 was chosen M.P. for the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, but vacated his seat two years afterwards. On 17th June 1784, he was restored by act of parliament to the forfeited honours of his family. He died, without issue, 21st September 1840, in his 91st year, and was succeeded by his nephew above mentioned, Adam, a lieutenant R.N. He was a midshipman of the Ajax in Sir Richard Calder’s action with the French fleet off Cape Finistere, in 1805, and at Trafalgar soon after. He served also in the Seahorse at the capture of a Turkish frigate in 1808, and at the taking of the islands of Pianosa and Zenuta. He also displayed great gallantry on the American lakes, during the war with the United States in 1813. He was 11th viscount in succession, but owing to the attainder of 1716, only the eighth in the enjoyment of the title. He died, without issue, in 1847, when the title became dormant.

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