From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

George Gordon, Marquess of Huntly - 24th April 1601.



The career of GEORGE, first MARQUESS OF HUNTLY, was perhaps as varied and romantic as that of any of his noble contemporaries. He was the only Son of GEORGE, fifth EARL OF HUNTLY, and LADY ANNE HAMILTON, daughter of the GOVERNOR ARRAN, was born in 1562, and succeeded to the Earldom on the death of his father, in 1576. For many years after the Reformation the hopes of the Romanist party were centred upon the HUNTLY family; and they were ever in the front when any great movement was on foot for the restoration of the old form of religion. The attitude of the MARQUESS himself towards the contending religious factions must have puzzled them both. It is thus detailed in the note to SPALDING'S Memorialls of the Trubbles in Scotland: -

"In 1588 he gave in his adherence to the Reformed Establishment, and subscribed the Confession; but in his intercepted letters to the Spanish King he says that 'the whole had been extorted from him against his conscience.' In 1597 his Lordship was again reconciled to the Kirk, with much public solemnity, signed the Confession of Faith, and partook of the Sacrament. His fidelity, however, was wholly feigned, and did not last long. In 1607 Mr GEORGE GLADSTANES, minister at St Andrews [son of HERBERT GLADSTANES, burgess of Dundee, page 27], was appointed by the General Assembly to remain with the MARQUESS OF HUNTLY 'for ane quarter or ane half year, to the effect by his travels and labours, the said noble lord and his family might be informit in the Word of Truth.' . . . In 1606 he was accused of giving encouragement to the Roman Catholics, and thereby occasioning a great defection from the reformed opinions, and in 1608 he was excommunicated. In 1616 he was absolved from excommunication by the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, and afterwards by the General Assembly, which met at Aberdeen in that year. There is, however, no doubt that during his whole life he was a warm adherent of the ancient religion." (Trubbles of the Kirk in Scotland. Spalding Club Edition, Vol I., p74)

To trace the career of this nobleman through all its vicissitudes would be to detail the history of his time. The darkest incident in his life was his concern in the slaughter of "the bonny EARL OF MORAY in 1592, which gave rise to a protracted feud between the GORDONS and the STEWARTS. It is curious to find that though at the date of the entry of the MARQUESS as Burgess he must have taken the oath abjuriner Romanism, yet within two weeks afterwards four of his servants were tried by the Privy Council for attending "the late Mass within the Burgh of Edinburgh," and two of them were condemned to banishment for life. Despite the dangers which had threatened him, he survived till June, 1636, experiencing strange alternations of kingly favour and disgrace. In the last year of his life he was suspected of intercommuning with rebels and broken men in the North, and was ordered into confinement in Edinburgh Castle, where he was imprisoned in an unlighted room, and subjected to much privation. Out of compassion for his age and weakness, he was afterwards permitted to live in "his own lodging, near to His Majesty's palace of Holyrood House, with liberty to walk within one of the gardens or walks within the precincts of the said palace, but no further;" but at length, when he had become almost powerless through infirmity, he was suffered to depart from Edinburgh, and to return home to Strathbogie Castle. His last journey is thus described by SPALDING:

"The Marquess fynding himself becum waiker and waiker, desyrit to be at home, and upon the day of Junij wes careit from his lodging in the Cannaget in ane wand bed within his chareot (his deir ladie still in his company) to Dundy, and is lodgit in Robert Murray's houss, a burges, and tavern of the toun, bot now his hour is com, forder he michte not go. His seiknes increisis moir. and moir, resoluis to die, declairis his mynd befoir his ladie and sic freindis as he had thair in perfect maner; recommendis his soull to God, and upone thretteint of Junij depairtit this lyf, a Romane Catholik, in the samen lodging, now being about the aige of thrie scoir fourtein yeiris, to the gryt greif of his matchless freindis and loyall ladie, who with her husband had leivit togidder many yeiris, both in prosperitic and adversitie.

This michtie Marquess was of ane gryte spirit, for in time of trubles he wes of invincibill courage, and boldlie bure down all his enemcis triompheantlie. He wes never inclynit to warr nor trubbill him self, bot by the pryde and insolencie of his kin wes diuerss tymes drawin in trubbill, quhilk he boir throw valiantlie. . . . A weill set nichtbour in his merchis, deposit rather to give nor tak ane foot of ground wrangouslie. He wes hard say he never drew his sword in his awin querrell. In his youth a prodigall spender; in his elder aige moir wyse and worldlie; yit never comptit for cost in materis of credit and honour. A gryt housholder, a terror to his enemeis, whome with his prydeful kin he ever held under gryte feir, subiectioun, and obediens. In all his barganes just and aefauld, and never hard for his trew debt. He was michtellie invyit by the Kirk for his religion, and by vtheris for his grytness, and had thairby muche trubble. His maister King James lovit him deirlie, and he wes a good and loyall subiect Ynto him induring the King's liftyme. . . . The Marquess freindis convenis in murning weid, and vpone the 25 of Junij liftis his corps fra Dundy. His kist coverit with anc blak talfata, and in ane horss litter is brocht to the Chappell of Strathbogy, his ladie still with the corps, whill he wes brocht thair; syne with ane wofull hairt she went to the Bog."

The body was afterwards buried with Romish pomp and ceremony in the Huntly Aisle within the College Kirk of Elgin.
The MARQUESS Was married, in 1588, to LADY HENRIETTA STEWART, eldest daughter of Esme, DUKE OF LENNOX, and left a numerous family. The MARCHIONESS, who had shared his varied fortunes for nearly fifty years, removed to France after his death, and died at Lyons on 2nd September, 1642. His eldest son, GEORGE, second MARQUESS OF HUNTLY, Was a devoted adherent of CHARLES 1, and was beheaded by the Presbyterian party in 1649. The line of the first MARQUESS was continued unbroken till the death of the eighth MARQUESS OF HUNTLY and fifth DUKE OF GORDON, in 1836, when the Marquessate devolved upon the descendant of the EARL OF ABOYNE, grandson of the first MARQUESS. His present representative is CHARLES GORDON, eleventh. MARQUESS OF HUNTLY.

On the day of the enrolment of the MARQUESS OF HUNTLY, the following names were inscribed upon the Burgess Roll by his request. Though several of these persons were historical characters, it has not been thought necessary to give extended notices of them:

" WILLIAM GORDON of Geicht; GEORGE GORDON, Apparent of Geicht; JAMES GORDON, Apparent of Lesmore; ALEXANDER MURRAY Of Cowbairdie; ANDREW HERING of Litill Blair; WILLIAM STEWART Of Seatoun; JAMES GRAY, fewar of Schives; ADAM DUFF, Apparent of Tullynesle; JAMES GORDON in Rainy; JOHN GORDON, Son Of JOHN GORDON of Newton; JOHN CHALMER in Drumbolg; JOHN GORDON, Son of JOHN GORDON Of Carneburro; ADAM GORDON, Son Of JOHN GORDON of Carneburro; ADAM GORDON, son of GEORGE GORDON Of CRIChIE; WILLIAM BORTHWICK, son of the Laird of Brigamh (sic); ALEX. GORDON, son of ALEX. GORDON of Lesmoir."