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About James Gordon

General Notes:

James Gordon was the youngest son of his father, George Gordon. He was ancestor of the Gordons of Letterfourie Baronets. George Gordon gave Letterfourie to his youngest son, James Gordon. James' mother, Lady Elizabeth Hay Countess of Huntly, was a fourth cousin of King James IV of Scotland seen below, who founded the Scottish Navy. At about 30 years of age James became Commander of the Scots fleet in 1513. James Gordon was most likely given the post of Admiral not because he was a skilful sailor or a great leader but rather because he and his family were in favour with the King, or even to make sure they did not become hostile to the King and try to oppose him. In Scottish history the King or Queen always had to make sure that the nobles were on their side.

 Research Notes:


Letterfourie is situated some 3 miles south of the Moray Firth coastline. Letterfourie, in Gaelic meaning 'the slope of the hill where the springs are', was part of the Earldom of Enzie, which passed, by marriage, in 1476 from the Hays, who were Earls of Errol, to the Earls of Huntly, when George Gordon, the second Earl of Huntly, married Elizabeth Hay, daughter of the first Earl of Errol.

George Gordon gave Letterfourie to his youngest son, James Gordon, who later became Admiral of Scotland in 1513.


There is some disagreement in the sources about whether James Gordon's mother was Annabella Stewart daughter of King James I, or Elizabeth Hay. Since the title and lands of Letterfourie passed to the Gordons through Elizabeth Hay's marriage, it seems more likely that she was the mother of James, and this is what is shown here.


The pride of the fledgling Scots Fleet founded by King James IV of Scotland was a warship called the Michael. King James, realising that building a fleet that could provide Scotland with a strong maritime presence, founded two new dockyards for the purpose and built thirty eight ships. When she was launched in 1511 she was the largest in Europe, two hundred and forty feet in length and weighing a thousand tons, so her nickname was the "Great Michael". She had twice the original displacement of the Tudor ship 'Mary Rose' built a few years earlier. Recently a model of the ship was made and photographed at Newhaven Primary School Edinburgh, and another photo of the model exists of it on display in Buntisland Kirk, Fife. The Michael was built at Newhaven. She is believed to have had Mons Meg, now in Edinburgh Castle, among her guns. She flew the Red Ensign, the flag of the Scots Fleet.

1 2

James married Janet BUTTER, daughter of Henry BUTTER Laird of Gormack, Perthshire and Unknown. (Janet BUTTER was born about 1505.)

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From Darryl Lundy's Peerage page on James Gordon:

James Gordon[1]

  • M, #329428
  • Last Edited=25 Apr 2011
  • Consanguinity Index=0.01%

James Gordon is the son of George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly and Lady Elizabeth Hay.[1] He was ancestor of the Gordons of Letterfourie Baronets.[1]

He gained the rank of commander in 1513 in the service of the Scots Fleet.[1]


  • 1. [S37] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 2, page 2011. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.

From the English Wkipedia page for the Gordon Baronets:

Gordon of Letterfourie, Sutherland (1625)

The creation of Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun, 4th son of the Alexander Gordon, 12th Earl of Sutherland, to the Baronetage of Nova Scotia was the first such in that Baronetage, and until the line failed in 1908 were the premier baronets in Scotland.[1]

Gordon of Gourdonstoun

  • Sir Robert Gordon, 1st Baronet (1580- 1656), MP for Invernesshire
  • Sir Ludovick Gordon, 2nd Baronet (1624 - c 1685), MP for Elgin & Forresshire
  • Sir Robert Gordon, 3rd Baronet FRS (1647 - 1704), MP for Sutherland
  • Sir Robert Gordon, 4th Baronet (1696 - 1772), MP for Caithness 1715-1722
  • Sir Robert Gordon, 5th Baronet (c 1738 - 1776)
  • Sir William Gordon, 6th Baronet (d. 1795)

Gordon of Letterfourie

  • Alexander Gordon of Letterfourie (1715 - 1797), never assumed title, dormant until 1806[2]
  • Sir James Gordon, 8th Baronet (1779 - 1843)
  • Sir William Gordon, 9th Baronet (1803 - 1861)
  • Sir Robert Glendonwyn Gordon, 10th Baronet (1824 - 1908)
  • baronetcy dormant 24 Mar 1908


  • 1. ^ Cokayne, vol ii, p277
  • 2. ^ Cokayne, vol ii, p.279


Cokayne. Complete Baronetage. V vols. Exeter, 1902.

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