Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Rutherford's correspondents - 10. William Gordon of Earlston (1614-1679)

 William Gordon of Earlston (1614-1679), his father was GORDON, ALEXANDER (1587–1654), of Earlston, covenanter, who was the eldest son of John Gordon of Airds and Earlston. His great grandfather.Alexander Gordon of Airds (1479-1580), was one of the first to introduce the principles of the reformation into Galloway. He read Wycliffe's New Testament to his tenants and others in the wood of Airds. He had a family, it is said, of eleven sons and nine daughters. He yoked ten of his sons to the plough on Christmas day, made the youngest his driver, and himself guided the share, by which means he avoided the confiscation of his cattle for profaning the feast.
Te father, Alexander,Gordon in 1623 was indicted before the justiciary court for usurping the king's authority by apprehending and detaining a man in his private prison for three hours. 
Father Alexander Gordon married in 1612 Elizabeth, daughter of John Gordon of Murefad, afterwards of Pennynghame, and he, his wife, and their eldest son were all esteemed correspondents of Samuel Rutherford during his confinement at Aberdeen in 1636 and 1637. Several letters to them are printed in ‘Rutherford's Letters.’ Gordon was required by the Bishop of Galloway to present an episcopalian curate to the parish of which he was patron, but declined to do so, and for his refusal was cited before the court of commission, fined five hundred merks, and ordered to ward himself at Montrose. Gordon was chosen by the barons of Galloway their representative in parliament, and was member of that body from 1641 to 1649. He was also as an elder a member of the general assembly of the church of Scotland in 1641, and was a prominent member of the committees of war, and for raising forces and taxes in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright. In 1641 he was appointed on a parliamentary commission for the further examination of the Marquis of Montrose and others on trial with Montrose, the screening of whom from certain charges he warmly opposed. He stoutly repudiated the claims of Charles I to Ecclesiastical supremacy. In conversing about Gordon with the Earl of Galloway, Charles jocularly dubbed him ‘Earl of Earlston,’ and Gordon was sometimes popularly so styled. The king wished him to become one of the Nova Scotia baronets, but Gordon declined to purchase such an honour with money.
He was also appointed on parliamentary commissions for the plantation of churches and raising of taxes, but on both of these, by an ordinance of parliament in July 1644, he was replaced by James McDowell of Garthland, because ‘that Alexander Gordonne of Erlestoun is so infirme that he cannot attend the service.’ He was stricken with palsy for some time before he died, which greatly disabled him, but he continued in parliament, until 1649, and in that year was nominated for a military command in connection with the operations then intended against the Commonwealth of England. As one of the interested heritors he took an active part in the erection of the parish of Carsphairn, Kirkcudbrightshire, in 1644.
Gordon died in 1654, and a contemporary, John Livingstone, who knew him well, says he was ‘a man of great spirit, but much subdued by inward exercise, and who attained the most rare experiences of downcasting and uplifting’ (‘Memorable Characteristics’ printed in Select Biographies, Wodrow Soc., i. 343). Of his marriage there was issue three sons and one daughter. The eldest son, John, predeceased him on 29 Oct. 1645, and the second son, William (1614-1679) [q. v.], whose son Alexander, also a covenanter, succeeded as Laird of Earlston.  William Gordon of Earlston, the correspondent of Samuel Rutherford was on his way to join the Covenanters at Bothwell Bridge when he was shot by a gang of English dragoons and flung into a ditch.Annalsofpersecut02aikmuoft raw 0141c

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