Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/169

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ture malefactors after they had been condemned to death, but the king responded by sending Gordon on 11 Sept. a reprieve till the second Friday of November. Gordon about this time made an ineffectual effort to escape. On 3 Nov. Charles extended the reprieve for a month, and a fortnight later again wrote ordering Gordon to be examined by torture. This command was immediately obeyed, but Gordon on being brought to the council chamber, 23 Nov., either ‘through fear or distraction, roared out like a bull, and cried and struck about him so that the hangman and his man durst scarce lay hands on him,’ and at last fell down in a swoon. On recovering he named several of the royalists as among the plotters, as some thought from madness or out of design. The Earl of Aberdeen, then chancellor, however, befriended him, and he was remitted to the care of the physicians. For greater quietness they sent him to the castle of Edinburgh. On 13 Dec. his case was again before the council, when, as it was thought that the execution of a man in a state of insanity would endanger his soul, he was reprieved until the last Friday of January 1684. His execution was once more deferred, and on 8 Aug. 1684 the privy council sent him to the Bass Rock, but brought him back to Edinburgh on the 22nd to confront him with Spence, and a resolution was taken by the council on this occasion ‘not to admit of his madness for an excuse, which they esteemed simulated.’ On the 30th he was caught in the act of making another attempt to escape from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. The council debated whether on account of this aggravation of his crime the day fixed for his execution, 4 Nov., should not be anticipated. But it being found that the breaking of prison was not an offence punishable by death, this could not legally be done; so on 20 Sept. they ordered him to be removed to the castle of Blackness.

Gordon's imprisonment in Blackness was voluntarily shared by his wife, and some of their children were born there. It continued until 5 June 1689, though on 16 Aug. 1687 he was recommended to the king for a remission by the Scottish council. His employment during his confinement consisted in wood-carving and the study of heraldry. Some of the carvings were illustrations of events of his own times and family history.

The Earlston estates were restored to Gordon after the revolution, and he and his family returned thither on leaving the castle of Blackness. But his losses were such that the estate had to be sold or heavily mortgaged. In February 1696 Gordon's wife died. Three covenant engagements into which she entered during her sojourn in Blackness Castle and her later life were printed after her death, entitled ‘Lady Earlston's Soliloquies.’ They have been reprinted by the Wodrow Society at the end of the first volume of ‘Select Biographies.’ She and her husband both corresponded with the covenanting preachers Renwick, Cargill, and Cameron, nine letters to them by the ministers named being printed in a collection of Renwick's ‘Letters.’ Gordon married in 1697, as his second wife, Marion, daughter of Alexander, viscount Kenmure.

In 1718 Gordon lost his younger brother, Sir William Gordon of Afton, who had distinguished himself in the Prussian army, had aided Monmouth, and had been made a Nova Scotia baronet, 29 July 1706, for his services to William III at the revolution. Sir William Gordon seems to have redeemed Earlston from a family who had purchased it, as he obtained personal sasine in these lands in 1712. He died without issue, and both his title and his estates of Afton passed to his elder brother.

Gordon died at Airds 11 Nov. 1726, and was buried in the churchyard of Dalry. By his first wife he had issue thirteen children, and by the second two. His son Sir Thomas succeeded, and the family still flourishes in Kirkcudbrightshire.

[Lord Fountainhalls Historical Notices of Scottish Affairs, 1661-8 (Bannatyne C'lub), i. 333-453, ii. 458-817; Decisions, pp. 238-300; McKerlie's Hist. of the Lands and their Owners in Galloway, iii. 423-30, iv. 77.]

H. P.

GORDON ALEXANDER, second Duke of Gordon (1678?–1728), son of George, first duke of Gordon [q. v.], and Lady Elizabeth Howard, eldest surviving daughter of the sixth Duke of Norfolk, was born about 1678. He was educated in the catholic faith and retained the family attachment to the Stuarts. On 31 Aug. 1715, on the eve of the rebellion, while he was yet Marquis of Huntly, an ‘Act for encouraging loyalty in Scotland’ received the royal assent. The design was to obtain security for the good behaviour of suspected persons, and summonses were issued to Huntly and others to repair to Edinburgh and give bail for their allegiance to the government, under pain of a year's imprisonment and other penalties. Huntly failed to appear, and proclaimed the Chevalier St. George at Gordon Castle. On 6 Oct., with three hundred horsemen and two thousand foot, he joined the Pretender's standard at Perth, and was at the battle of Sheriffmuir, after which he returned to his home at Gordon Castle. The Earl of Sutherland was employed during the winter in suppressing the rebellion in the