Now known as one of the great families of the north-east, the Gordons can trace their origins back to Normandy before arriving in Scotland sometime before the middle of the 12th century.
In fact, while legend has it the progenitor of the family saved the king from certain death at the hands of wild boar, the first recorded appearance of the Gordons comes during the reigns of Malcolm IV and William the Lion when Richard Gordon appears in numerous charters.
Thereafter, the family would slowly grow in stature as Sir Adam Gordon was one of the wardens of the marches in 1300, and in 1305 was appointed a commissioner to negotiate with Edward I of England over the disputed Scottish crown. Sir Adam would go on to be a staunch supporter of Robert the Bruce during the Scottish Wars of Independence and would be rewarded for his services with the lands of Strathbogie in the north-east, lands that would go on to become the clan’s spiritual home.
Originally called Strathbogie, the name of the area would be quickly changed to ‘Huntly’ – after lands owned by the family in Berwickshire. They would then quickly expand their influence in this region and would soon be promoted to the title of ‘Earls of Huntly’ during the following century.
After growing to dominate Huntly and the north-east, the clan would quickly make a series of powerful enemies – none more so than the Douglases – who would devastate Gordon lands and burn Huntly Castle while the Gordons were occupied fighting for the king. The clan would return to the region, however, and would defeat their great enemies, destroying their reputation in the process, as they asserted themselves as the strongest clan in the region.
A grand new castle would then rise from the ashes of the old structure at Huntly which would have rivalled any of the great seats of the realm and George, fourth Earl of Huntly, would become Chancellor of Scotland in 1547. Despite holding such great power, the family would pay no attention to the reformation of the mid 16th century and remained staunchly Catholic, however, they would battle against the monarchy during the 1550s and the Earl of Huntly would perish at Corrichie as he was leading his men against the royal army.
The Gordons would eventually make peace with the crown and were promoted to Marquesses of Huntly in 1599, before backing the Royalist cause during the civil war of the following century. During this conflict, the Marquess of Huntly would be captured in 1647 and taken to Edinburgh before being beheaded – although he was replaced by Lord Louis Gordon only two years later, with Louis being raised to the title of Duke of Gordon in 1684.
Later in history, the Gordons would fight on both sides of the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745 before the fifth Duke passed away without an heir in the second half of the 18th century. The Marquessate would then pass to a kinsmen, from who the present chief descends – Granville Gordon, 13th Marquess of Huntly.