Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gordon, George (d.1502?)

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GORDON, GEORGE, second Earl of Huntly (d. 1502?), lord high chancellor of Scotland, was the eldest son of Alexander de Seton, lord of Gordon, and first earl of Huntly, by his third wife, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of William, lord Crichton, lord high chancellor of Scotland. The father, after receiving a grant of Strathbogie and other lands, and being in 1449 created Earl of Huntly, defeated the Earl of Crawford at Brechin, 18 May 1452. By his second marriage he had a son, Sir Alexander, ancestor of the Setons of Touch, but the succession to the earldom of Huntly was settled by charter on the issue of the third marriage, who took the surname of Gordon. George, the eldest son by this marriage, succeeded to the earldom and the bulk of the estates on the death of his father, 13 July 1470. In 1484 he was one of the commissioners for a treaty of peace with England. Along with the Earls of Atholl and Crawford he mustered a strong force in 1487, and joined the standard of James III against the insurgent nobles. In the following year he and the Earl of Crawford were appointed lords justiciary north of the Forth. He suggested the conference with the nobles at Blackness, but his attempts at a reconciliation failed, and, not approving of the king's obstinacy, he retired to his estates. Tytler represents Huntly as leading, along with Atholl, the advance division of the royal army at the battle of Sauchieburn, but he was only on the march southward when the battle took place. The probability, moreover, is that he intended to assist not the father, but the son, for on the accession of James IV immediately afterwards he was sworn a privy councillor, and empowered to exercise justice in the north and suppress all disorders. On 13 May 1491 he was appointed king's lieutenant north of the Esk, until the king should reach the age of twenty-five. In connection with a scheme for bringing the highland regions more directly under legal control, Huntly was appointed in 1492 with other commissioners to drive out ‘broken men’ from forfeited estates, and let them for five yeare to ‘true men.’ On 4 March 1498 he was appointed lord high chancellor (Reg. Mag. Sig. i. 2389). He was superseded in this office in 1501 by George, duke of Orkney. Apparently on this account he is represented by the historian of the house of Gordon, who states that he was buried in the chancel of the abbey church of Cambuskenneth, as dying on 8 June 1501, but he was alive on 11 July 1502 (ib.2656), and died some time between that date and 30 Jan. 1502-3 (ib. 2689). Although the fact is omitted in the usual books of reference, Huntly was married to Elizabeth Dunbar, countess of Moray, but was divorced from her judicio ecclesie (Riddell, Law of Scottish Peerages, i. 527). By this marriage he had no issue. On 10 March 1459 he was married to the Princess Annabella, daughter of James I, who was not the widow of the Earl of Angus as stated in the peerages, but had been rejected by Louis, count of Geneva, afterwards Duke of Savoy, after, in 1455, she had gone as his betrothed wife to France (Riddell, Tracts, Legal and Historical, p. 82). The Princess Annabella was on 24 July 1471 divorced from Huntly, on the ground that he had been previously married to Elizabeth Dunbar, and was therefore within the forbidden degrees of affinity, through the descent of his first wife from Marjory, countess of Moray, sister of Robert III (Riddell, Law of Scottish Peerages, i. 527). A marriage was fixed to take place between Huntly and Lady Elizabeth Hay, daughter of William, earl of Erroll, on the 18th of the following August, but it was not solemnised till 12 May 1476. By this marriage he is stated to have had no issue, but by his marriage with the Princess Annabella to have had four sons and six daughters. The eldest son, Alexander [q. v.], succeeded to the peerage; the second son, Adam, lord of Aboyne, married Elizabeth, countess of Sutherland, and in her right became Earl of Sutherland; from the third son, Sir William, ancestor of the Gordons of Gight, the mother of Lord Byron was descended; and the fourth son, James Gordon of Letterfourie, was admiral of the fleet in 1513. The eldest daughter, Katherine, married Perkin Warbeck, and, after residing at the court of England, where she was styled the ‘White Rose,’ married Sir Matthew Cradock, ancestor of the earls of Pembroke.

[Crawfurd's Officers of State, pp. 55-8; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 644-5; William Gordon's House of Gordon; Register of the Great Seal of Scotland; John Riddell's Legal Tracts; John Riddell's Inquiry into the Law and Practice of Scottish Peerages; Donald Gregory's Western Highlands.]

T. F. H.