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Welcome back to another thrilling instalment of our Unleash your inner tartan series. This time we are taking a closer look at Clan Gordon.
A bit of the backstory
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A recent wedding combining Gordon Clan Ancient, Modern and Weathered tartans[/caption]
Clan Gordon’s origins, like those of all ancient clans, are somewhat hard to trace. There are some that claim the origins of the clan lie in Macedonia, apparently there was once a town there called Gordonia. Others claim that the Gordons have roots in Spain or in Flanders, again this is hard to verify but there is evidence to suggest that a certain Bertrand de Gourden mortally wounded Richard the Lionheart with an arrow at Chalus in Limoges, France.
As for Gordons in the UK, we assume that they came over from Normandy with William the Conqueror where they were eventually given lands in the Scottish Borders under the reign of Malcolm Canmore. It seems that during these times, the Scottish Borders were ravaged by some form of monstrous beast, one source claims it was a wild boar but that isn’t very exciting so let us imagine something a little grander… a dragon or perhaps an ogre. Anyway, after slaying this dragon, ogre or, more likely, boar, the first of our eponymous clan was given lands in the Scottish Borders at Gordon from where the clan derived their name. There are still septs of the Gordons in the Borders, notably the Gordons of Earlston and of Lochinvar.
After a few centuries knocking about in the Borders, the Gordons were about to move up north. Sir Adam de Gordon, a loyal servant to Robert the Bruce, who was one of the men to deliver the Declaration of Arbroath to the papal court in Avignon. In recognition of his services, Robert the Bruce awarded Sir Adam lands in Strathbogie in Aberdeenshire, lands that covered some 120 square miles. The Gordons took up in these lands and gave them the name Huntly, after a town not far from Gordon in their original seat in the Scottish Borders. In 1599, George Gordon was named Marquis of Huntly, the oldest marquisate in Scotland and the second oldest in the UK. The Gordons gained considerable power and influence as the centuries continued to roll past, leading to the chief of the Gordons often being nicknamed ‘The Cock of the North.’
The current chief of the Clan is Granville Charles Gomer Gordon, 13th
Marquis of Huntly, Earl of Enzie, Lord Gordon of Badenoch, 18th
Earl of Huntly, 9th
Earl of aboyne, Lord Gordon of Strathhavon and Glenlivet and 5th
Baron Meldrum (you can breathe now!).
Gordons have made their name throughout the world in a variety of disciplines, let’s take a look at a few notable examples.
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Robert Jacob Gordon[/caption]
Robert Jacob Gordon – An 18th
century dutch explorer of Scottish ancestry who made more expeditions to South Africa than any other explorer. He named the Orange River, introduced Marino sheep to the Cape colony and discovered the remains of Bartolomeu Dias’s padrao (a stone cross erected by Portuguese explorers). He was also a noted linguist, speaking French, Dutch, English, Hottentot and Xhosa.
Robert Gordon – A 17th
century merchant and philanthropies who achieved great wealth in Northern Europe and the Baltic. Upon his return to his native Aberdeen, he used his vast wealth to found the building of a hospital for young boys in the local area which eventually split into two separate institutions, Robert Gordon’s College and The Robert Gordon University.
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George Gordon (Lord) Byron – The mad, bad and dangerous to know romantic poet, author of works such as Don Juan, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and She walks in Beauty. Always scandalous, Byron’s affairs shocked 19th
century Britain and eventually forced him out of the country. He resided in Italy and Greece, where he was to fight in the wars of independence and become a national hero there. My personal favourite story about Byron is that, while at Cambridge he was told he could not keep his dog in his rooms as they
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were expressly forbidden by the rules, in protest he brought in a bear as they were not mentioned in the rule book.
Alexander Gordon – Developer of Gordon’s London Dry Gin, the world’s highest selling brand of gin. Gordon opened his first distillery in London in 1769 to produce his Dry Gin, his recipe was popular with the Navy and therefore spread quickly throughout the world. The recipe for Gordon’s Gin has remained unchanged since 1769 and as a loyal drinker of the stuff I hope it doesn’t change any time soon! By the way, have you ever noticed the boar’s head on the lid of the bottle? That is a reference to the coat of arms for Clan Gordon.
Lastly a rundown of Gordons would be incomplete without a mention of Flash! The all American hero, immortalised by Queen in their now classic soundtrack for the 1980’s film by Mike Hodges. The film starred Sam J. Jones as Flash Gordon and featured everybody’s favourite polymath Brian Blessed.
That will do us for our brief introduction of Clan Gordon, we will try and keep you updated with interesting information related to the Clan as often as we can, but if you have any interesting Clan Gordon stories you are dying to share, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Furthermore, if this article has aroused your interest in Clan Gordon feel free to have a look at some of the exquisite Gordon tartan products
available in our store.
Until then, remember the words of Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon... "Gordon’s Alive!"