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Significant Scots
William Gordon

GORDON, WILLIAM, of Earlston, a zealous defender of the covenant, and this by inheritance as well as principle, being lineally descended from Mr Alexander Gordon, who entertained some of the followers of John Wickliffe, the first of the English reformers – reading to them, in their secret meetings in the wood of Airds, a New Testament translated into English, of which he had got possession.

As the subject of this notice, however, was – notwithstanding his zeal in the cause of the covenant, and his steady and warm friendship for those who adhered to it – himself a retired and peaceful man, little of any interest is left on record regarding him. And, excepting in one of the last sets of his life, he mingled little with the public transactions of the period in which he lived. So far, however, as his personal influence extended, he did not fail to exhibit, both fearlessly and openly, the religious sentiments which he entertained. He would give no lease of his lands to any one, whatever they might offer, but on condition of their keeping family worship; and he was in the habit of meeting his tenants at a place appointed, every Sunday, and proceeding with them to church. He had also acquired a reputation for his skill in solving cases of conscience, of which some curious enough instances are to be found in Wodrow’s Analecta, a manuscript work already more than once referred to in the present publication. His first public appearance, in connexion with the faith to which he was so zealously attached, occurred in the year 1663, soon after the restoration of Charles II. An Episcopal incumbent having been appointed by the bishop to the church of Dairy, to which Mr Gordon had a right of patronage, he resisted the appointment, on the twofold ground of its being contrary to the religious tenants of the congregation to admit an Episcopal minister, and an invalidation of his own private right as patron. For this contumacy he was charged to appear before the council; but not obeying the summons, he was soon after charged a second time, and accused of keeping conventicles and private meetings in his house, and ordered to forbear the same in time coming. Disobeying this also, as he had done the first, he was immediately after sentenced to banishment, and ordered to quit the kingdom within a month, and bound to live peaceably during that time, under a penalty of 10,000 pounds. Still disobeying, Gordon was now subjected to all the hardships and rigours of persecution. He was turned out of his house by a military force, and compelled to wander up and down the country like many others of his persecuted brethren. In the meantime the battle of Bothwell Bridge took place, and Gordon, unaware of the defeat of his friends, was hastening to join the ranks, when he was met, not far from the field of battle, by a party of English dragoons, by whom, on refusing to surrender, he was instantly killed. The troubles of the times preventing his friends from removing his body to the burial place of his family, he was interred in the church-yard of Glassford, where a pillar was afterwards erected to his memory.

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