House of Gordon


The first documented effort to enforce a uniformity of tartan worn throughout an entire clan was in 1618, when Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun wrote to Murry of Pulrossie requesting that he bring the plaids worn by his men into “harmony with that of his other septs”. It was a Red Gordon!

In 1793, Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon commissioned three patterns based on the Government tartan (Black Watch) from William Forsythe of Huntly. He chose the version with the single yellow over check for himself and his new regiment, and subsequently offered the double and triple tram line versions to the two main Cadet Branches of the Family. Contrary to popular belief, the regiment which first wore the Gordon Modern was not the Gordon Highlanders.  It was the Gordon Fencibles raised in 1793! The Gordon Highlanders, who made the tartan famous around the world, were raised in 1794!

Sir William Gordon
Sir William Gordon of Fyvie proudly wore a Gordon Red Tartan for his portrait in 1766.
Portrait by Pompeo Batoni (1766) hangs at Fyvie Castle.
Gordon Red Tartan
Gordon Red
Source Tartan Society TS1955, MacKinlay
Thread Count: A12, G12, R18, K12, R18, B18, W4, C16, W4, K32, A12, W4, B32, W4, G36
Gordon Modern tartan
Gordon Modern (Regimental)  
Source Tartan Society ts214 from Duke of Gordon 1793 (Forsythe of Huntly).
From three patterns based on the Black Watch by Forsythe at the commission of the Duke, the Duke chose the single yellow over check and offered the double and triple tram lines to other family heads.
Thread count: B24, K4, B4, K4, B4, K24, G24, Y4, G24, K24, B24, K4, B4
Gordon Dress Tartan
Gordon Dress
Source Tartan Society ts1782, W & A K Johnston.
Oldest of the Dress Gordons, this sett is based on the usual Gordon or 92nd regimental
Thread Count: W4, B2,W24, B4, W4, K16, B16, K4, B4, K4, B16, K16, G16, K2, Y4, K2, G16, K16, W4, B4, W24, B2, W4
Gordon Old/Muted Tartan
Gordon Old/Muted
Same as the Gordon Modern, but in the pre-aniline dye colors. The tartan is sometimes referred to as muted. (This is the tartan the Chief wears!)
Thread count: B24, K4, B4, K4, B4, K24, G24, Y4, G24, K24, B24, K4, B4
Gordon Red Muted
Gordon Red Muted
Same as above but in the pre-aniline dye colors.
Thread Count: A12, G12, R18, K12, R18, B18,W4, C16, W4, K32, A12, W4, B32, W4, G36
Variation Tartan of Gordon Red and Old Huntly
Variation of Gordon Red/ Old Huntly
Source Tartan Society TS641 It is documented in a letter from a David Rodgers of Forfar addressed to Messrs Wilson of Bannockburn dated July 25th 1796.
Thread Count: B28, W2, G16, W2, DG32, A12, W2, B28, W2, G28, A12, G12, R16, DG12, R16, DG2
Gordon Ancient Tartan
Gordon Old Ancient
This is the three tram line version of the tartan commissioned of Forsythe of Huntly by the4th Duke of Gordon in 1793. (See Gordon of Esselmont below.)
Thread Count: K8, B46, K46, G44, Y6, G6, Y12
Gordon of Abergeldie
Gordon of Abergeldie
Source Tartan Society ts955 This sett was reconstructed from a scarf in a painting of Rachael Gordon, hanging in Abergeldie Castle, painted by Alexander in 1723. The count and colour description was taken by the Lord Lyon in 1953.
Thread Count: G36, Y2, LP12, K2, W2, R40
Gordon Weathered Tartan
Gordon Weathered
Believe it or not this is the same sett as the Gordon Modern! When the wearing of tartan was outlawed after the 1745 Rebellion, many people buried their tartans. They were in many cases dug up when the ban was lifted. This tartan is woven in colors that simulate what the Gordon Modern/Regimental would have looked like after being buried for 50 years.
Gordon of Esselmont Tartan
Gordon of Esselmont
Source Tartan Society ts1064. 
Previously listed as Gordon Ancient, Captain Wolrige-Gordon of Esslemont in recent research found that the Duke of Gordon applied to Forsythe of Huntly to provide kilts for his troops. He chose the single stripe and called in the Heads of the families to choose from the others. Esslemont took the three stripe version.
Thread Count: K8, P46,K46, G44, Y6, G6, Y12

Below are several District Tartans associated with the House of Gordon.

Marchioness of Huntly/Huntly District
**Originally in Wilsons’ pattern books of 1819 as Marchioness of Huntly the clan questions the District source designation of this tartan.
Source: Tartan Society ts853, ‘Old and Rare Scottish Tartans’ was published in 1893 by DW Stewart. The Huntly district tartan is known to have been worn at the time of the ’45 rebellion by Brodies, Forbes’, Gordons, MacRaes, Munros and Rosses which gives a strong indication of the greater antiquity of the ‘District’ setts.
Thread Count: G16, R4, G16, R24, B2, R2, B4, R2, B2, R24, B2, R2, B4, R2, B2, R24, W2, R6, Y2,B24, R6, B24, Y2, R6, W2, R24, G4, R6, G4, R24, G16, R4, G16
Aberdeen District Tartan
Aberdeen District
Source Tartan Society ts1801, First documentary evidence is contained in a purchase order, addressed to Wilson’s, from Scott and Anderson, dated 20th June 1794.
Thread Count: W4, LG8, K32, W4, P12, A8, W4, A8, P12, W4, P6, R16, LR6, W4, LR6, R16, P6, W4, K24, LG8, K24, W4, P6, R16, LR6, W4, LR6, R16, P6, W4, A20, W4, R12, LR6, W2, LR6, R12, W4, LG8, K32, W4, R46, LR6, W4
Gordon Huntly Commemorative Tartan
Gordon Huntly
Source: The Tartan Society ts2624, Claire Donaldson for House of Edgar (Woollens) Ltd. Chosen by the local people of Huntly from a number of trial designs for a tartan to celebrate the Gordon Millennium Gathering held there in August 2000.
Thread Count: R4, MB6, FB24, K22, MG22, Y4
(Sometimes called Huntly 2000.)
Roxburgh District Tartan
Roxburgh District Tartan
Source Tartan Society ts500
Thread Count: B4, R2, G32, B16, W2, B2, W2, B32
Recorded in 1952 from a sample labelled ‘Roxburgh’ by Dr Phil Smith Jr.
Roxburgh Red Tartan
Roxburgh Red
Source Tartan Society ts140
Thread Count: B6, DG52, B6, R6, B40, R6, B6, R52, DG10, W6
Roxburgh Red Muted Tartan
Roxburgh Red Muted
Source Tartan Society ts140
Thread Count: B6, DG52, B6, R6, B40, R6, B6, R52, DG10, W6

ROXBURGH DISTRICT: Roxburgh district’s connection with the Gordon’s goes back to before 1130 AD when a charter was recorded by Adam de Gordun granting lands to the monks in Kelso.