House of Gordon Facts
Did you know that our Chief is called “Coileach an taobh tuath” (say Kull-ach an too-eve too ah)? In English it means Cock of the North.
When Mary of Guise reigned as regent she visited the Gordon Chief. She was shocked at how much wealth and power he and the Clan had and commented “I think this Cock of the North should have his wings clipped.” The Gordon clansmen took Cock of the North as a nickname for their chief ever since! Our current Chief is Granville Charles Gomer Gordon, 13th Marquis of Huntly. You may even get the chance to meet him at the games!
Did you know the House of Gordon is unique among the Scottish Clans! Beginning in the borders, Clan Gordon had both lowland and highland branches and foreign branches too!
Why do the Gordon’s call themselves a House instead of Clan?
The term clan is mostly associated with the highlands. Since there are branches of the Gordon clan in the highlands, lowlands and since the 17th century Russia, Spain, American and beyond it was felt that clan didn’t really describe us! There is also a royal connection, so House it is! Of course Clan Gordon is also correct.
Did you know each clan has a nickname that describes how the other clans saw them?
The Gordons are known as the “Gey Gordons”. Gey is a gaelic word which means overwhelming! Gordon clansmen and women were known (and still are) for their zest for life! They go at everything full throttle and bowl everyone and everything over! If they are going to party they party the hardest. If they are going to fight they will fight to the death. If they are given a task they move all obstacles out of the way to accomplish their task! Do you live up to your Gordon ancestors and live life full throttle?
What is up with the Rock Ivy?
The Gordon clansmen wore a piece of rock ivy on their bonnet or pinned to their clothes to identify them as Gordons! It is called a plant badge and each clan had a plant that was identified with them. When you come to the Gordon Tent you will often see ivy displayed! Ivy is a particularly good plant badge as it is hearty and grows just about anywhere. It is tenacious and clings to rocks, buildings, trees — whatever is around. It will overwhelm other plants too, and its meaning is traditionally eternal fidelity — very much like the meaning of BYDAND! So it is very much like a Gordon who are known for being overwhelming in all things!
How were the Gordon’s able to control large parts of Scotland?
Having land in the lowlands as well as highlands and the verge of the highlands, they were able to maintain a cavalry unit called the Gordon Horse. This made us unique among the highland clans and helped the Gordons to control large parts of the north of Scotland!
Did you know that there are over 157 branches of the Gordon clan? The three main cadet branches are Haddo, Esslemont, Lochinvar.
Were you aware that Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun was known as the Wizard of Gordonstoun? He was really a very well educated man who pursued his studies in mathematics and chemistry! But the local people were suspicious of him and afraid of the weird experiments he conducted. They thought he was a wizard! All kinds of rumors and legends were spun around him including that he had sold his soul to the devil unknowingly and built a round square (courtyard and stables for his horses) to confuse the devil. Actually he was a brave warrior for the Gordons as well as a very smart man!
The photo to the left is a fantasy painting of Sir Robert Gordon as the Wizard of Gordonstoun by Eric Meissner
His home is now the Gordonstoun School where the Prince of Wales went to school. It is organized into houses which compete against each other and may have been the inspiration for J. K. Rowling’s Hogwarts!
What are the Gordon Highlanders?
The Gordon Highlanders (100th later renumbered the 92nd) were raised by Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon with the help of his wife and daughters. George, Marquis of Huntly (later the 5th Duke) was the first Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment which was authorized by the Duke to wear his new Gordon tartan (now known as Gordon modern) and the Marquis’ emblem as their capbadge. The history of the regiment is tied to the history of the clan, and all Gordon Highlanders and their families can be members of the House of Gordon. The House of Gordon USA is a friend of the Gordon Highlander Museum (we make regular donations to the museum to help support it.)
The regiment was amalgamated with the Queen’s Own to form the Highlanders just after their 200th Anniversary. Prince Charles was their last Colonel- in- Chief and continues his association with the regiment as the Royal Patron for the Gordon Highlanders Museum.
The Gordon Highlanders have a proud history and were the most highly decorated regiment in the British Army. Winston Churchill called them “undoubtedly the finest regiment in the world.”
Pictured above left is an oil painting of the Duchess in the Regimental colors in her efforts to help raise recruits for the new regiment. Pictured above right are Drum Major J. Harper and Piper Major Stuart D. Samsun, the last of the 92nd in 1994. Stuart went on to hold the position of Pipe Major of the Highlanders, and later the Director of the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming.
Did you know that the Aboyne Highland Games is the annual Gathering of Clan Gordon?
During the era of the Clan system in the Highlands it was the custom of the chiefs to summon their clansmen to periodical gatherings for hunting, the practice of military exercises and the transaction of clan business. Modern day games began after the lift on the ban of all things Scottish and became popular during Queen Victoria’s reign. The Aboyne Games began in 1867 and have continued without a break, except for two world wars, ever since. The Marquis of Huntly is it’s patron and his standard flies overhead on the green while the Gordon banner is carried onto the field at the opening ceremony!
The Marquis of Huntly, his son the Earl of Aboyne, and his grandson Lord Gordon of Strathavon & Glenlivet open the Aboyne Highland Games August 2011!