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The Spanish Gordons and Huntly.

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Beldorney Castle

1. The Gordons of Wardhouse and Spain.

Beldorney was the original home of the Wardhouse Gordons. In 1762 they inherited Wardhouse and in 1777 they sold Beldorney. Links with Spain had been forged before the family left Beldorney, but during the Wardhouse years they became, and still are known as, 'the Spanish Gordons'.

The Beldorney Estate lies in the beautiful valley of the Deveron in the parish of Glass, about seven miles west of Huntly. The first Gordon of Beldorney was George, son of Adam Dean of Caithness, who was the 3rd son of the 1st Earl of Huntly; Adam died in 1528. George 1st Laird of Beldorney, got a charter of the lands in 1560; the castle was built while he was laird - a Z-plan mansion with a massive circular tower at the south-east and a square tower at the north-west. He was succeeded by his elder son Alexander 2nd Laird of Beldorney in 1578, then Alexander's eldest son George 3rd Laird of Beldorney in 1627; Alexander's second son Alexander of Killihuntly (Badenoch) was known as 'Sandy Mor', the ancestor of the later lairds of Beldorney and the Gordons of Wardhouse.

From 1633, the Gordons of Beldorney appear to have been in financial difficulties, wadsetting the lands and retaining only the superiority and designation. George Gordon 4th Laird in 1638, John the 5th Laird and his son John the 6th Laird, whose three sons went abroad and did not return, were all in financial difficulties, and yet during this time the north wing of Beldorney was added.

Alexander of Killihuntly had a son, James of Camdell (near Tomintoul) and Tillisoul (now part of the town of Huntly); James's son Alexander was a cousin of John, the 6th Laird of Beldorney and in 1700 he inherited or purchased the estate, becoming the 7th Laird.

Alexander Gordon 7th Laird of Beldorney, married Sileas daughter of Archibald MacDonell of Keppoch sometime in the 1680s; she was a gifted poet, writing in Gaelic. Their sons were George, James, Gilleasbuig, Ian and Alasdair and probably three daughters Mairi, Katerine and Anna.

Alexander Gordon is said to have been buried at Mortlach, Dufftown. Sileas' place of interment is not known, but it is thought that their daughter Anna was buried without a gravestone, in the walled enclosure at Wallakirk.

The churchyard of Wallakirk lies a few hundred yards below Beldorney, in a most beautiful peaceful setting beside the River Deveron. St Walloch, sent out from Whithorn, is believed to have founded the first church on this site in the late 7th century. If anything remains of the pre-Reformation church, it may be a part of the chancel incorporated into the enclosure at the centre of the graveyard. Certainly a part of an early font lies there.

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The original Plaque at Wallakirk

The only Gordon stone today in the enclosure is the central one of three, of their grand-daughter, and reads :-

 

The body of Kathrine

Gordon second Daughter

to James Gordon

late of Beldorney who

died in Banff the third

of March 1793 in the 61

Years of her Age.

 

Alexander and Sileas' son James Gordon became 8th Laird of Beldorney and Camdell, selling the latter in 1721. Through James' marriage with Mary Gordon daughter of John Gordon 3rd Laird of Law in Kennethmont, the later Gordons of Beldorney inherited Wardhouse. Mary Gordon's father John Gordon, purchased Kildrummy in 1731 and Wardhouse a little later, thus becoming 1st Laird of Wardhouse and Kildrummy.. Wardhouse's ownership previous to this can be traced back through Farquharsons of Wardhouse and Invercauld to the old family of Leslie. John Gordon's son Arthur became 2nd Laird of Wardhouse and Kildrummy, John Gordon's daughter Mary marrying James Gordon 8th Laird of Beldorney. William the son of John Gordon's second marriage, was dead before the death of Arthur in 1760.

It is not known when Arthur Gordon inherited Wardhouse and Kildrummy, but possibly at the time of his father's entail, dated 1740. Before his death in 1760 Arthur must have completed a dwelling house at Wardhouse, because the Secretary of State's Listing of Wardhouse describes it as 'Dated "(A)RTHUR'S SEAT BUILT IN THE YEAR 1757 AND 17"(?)' and this stone can be seen high up on the central part of the present ruined building.

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Wardhouse as a ruin

Arthur's only child Catharine became 3rd of Wardhouse and Kildrummy. She married the Hon. Captain G. Sempill and died in 1762 leaving no male issue, so under her grandfather John Gordon's entail Wardhouse and Kildrummy went to the male descendant of Mary and James Gordon of Beldorney, Alexander, who became 10th Laird of Beldorney and 4th Laird of Wardhouse and Kildrummy.

James Gordon 8th Laird of Beldorney, had remained faithful to the Catholic Faith; it was reported in 1732 that he was a Papist and that priests met in his house. His sons were John, born 1723; Cosmo, who went to Jamaica; Arthur, born 1731, educated at the Benedictine monastery at Ratisbon and spent most of his life at Cadiz; Charles, born 1737, at Ratisbon in 1748, became a priest and lived in Holland; George, born 1725 lost at sea, and Alexander, who died on the coast of Africa. The daughters were Elizabeth, born 1724, who married William Forbes of Aberdeen and had children; Katherine (see above); Anna, born 1731, died about 1814 and Helena Maria, born 1733 and died an infant.

In the walled enclosure at Wallakirk, there is a handsome slab gravestone in memory of Thomas Brockie, a convert, ordained priest at Ratisbon in 1731, who worked most of his life as missionary in the Cabrach and died there in 1759. He must have been closely involved in the lives of the Gordons and would have met the Catholics of the neighbourhood at Beldorney when celebrating Mass in the secret chapel there. After Thomas Brockie's death, his mission station was filled by John Geddes, later Bishop Geddes; perhaps it was at Beldorney that the friendship between John Geddes and Arthur Gordon was begun, continued in Spain and lasted throughout their lives.

John succeeded as 9th Laird of Beldorney in 1740. He and his wife Margaret 2nd daughter of Patrick Smythe, a younger son of Patrick Smythe of Braco and Methven, were ardent Jacobites, John being in the service of Prince Charles. After Culloden he remained in hiding at Beldorney and despite soldiers searching through the castle, he was never found.

John Gordon's family were Alexander Maria, born 1748; Charles Edward, born 1750; James Arthur, born 1759; Elizabeth Patricia, born 1747 who married John Macdonald of Glenaladale, and died in childbirth aged 18; Christina Maria, born 1751, married George Irvine of Boyndlie and had no children. She died at Wardhouse in 1833 and was buried at Wallakirk. In 1835 John Maclachlan, parish priest at Huntly was asked by Margaret Gordon of Wardhouse to arrange for the erection of a stone above her grave, but if this was ever done, it has disappeared. Three daughters, Frances Margaret, born 1754, Anne Clementina, born 1757 and Katherine, born 1756, did not marry.

John 9th Laird of Beldorney died in 1760. His eldest son Alexander Maria had become a Protestant and joined the British army. Eventually after a turbulent career, he was charged with spying in French ports and in 1769 at the age of 21, he was executed. Between the years 1760 and 1769 he was 10th Laird of Beldorney and 4th of Wardhouse and Kildrummy. His brother Charles Edward, also became a Protestant; his brother Alexander had done this in order to give him entry into the British army, so Charles Edward's outward conformity to the Protestant faith would have been to secure the inheritance of the three estates, which if he had remained Catholic, could have been contested by the nearest Protestant heir.

Charles Edward was 11th Laird of Beldorney and 5th of Wardhouse and Kildrummy. He was educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen and went on to do naval service for the Honourable East India Company and later in his life was in the Northern Fencibles. He married twice; his first wife was Charlotte Boyd the daughter of the Hon. Charles Boyd, a son of the 4th Earl of Kilmarnock. Their children were John David, born 1774, Jane Antoinette, born 1775 who married Captain John MacDonell of the Keppoch family, and Francis Margaret, born 1778, who died unmarried at Wardhouse in 1845 and was buried beside her father in Kennethmont graveyard. Charles Edward's second wife was Katherine Mercer a daughter of Major James Mercer of Auchnacant. The children from this second marriage were James Alexander, born 1782, who became a famous admiral; Sylvester, born 1785, who was killed in Ceylon in 1803 aged 18; Charles Edward, born 1786, was a Colonel in the Royal Artillery; Robert, born 1788, died at Wardhouse in 1794 and was buried at Kennethmont. Maria Rosara, born 1783, married Rev. Thomas Birch; Katharine Anne Charlotte, born 1791, married in Spain, in 1837, Peter Castelli and died at Jerez de la Frontera, and Margaret Eliza Jemima, born 1794, died in 1881 and was buried at Kennethmont.

Charles Edward began the building of Wardhouse in 1773 and during his lifetime, it was called 'Gordonhall'. It is in the parish of Kennethmont, four miles from Insch and ten from Huntly. The mansion house is magnificently situated, sheltered to the north by the hills of Wardhouse and Knockandy and enjoying marvellous vistas to the south, from the hills of Bennachie in the east to the Tap o' Noth in the west.

Perhaps Charles Edward incorporated Arthur's 1750s building into his handsome Palladian mansion, or more likely, he saved the 'Arthur's Seat' inscription from the old building and replaced it in a central position on Gordonhall, using the stones from Arthur's Seat, which are thought to have come from the old castle of Wardhouse, a mile to the east; the decorative stone work, used so handsomely on the building, is of slatey ashlar possibly from the hills on the estate. The house, not completed until 1815, consists of a two-storey and full basement centre block with a pedimented centre raised above the wallhead; single-storey quadrants link the centre block to two-storey wings. The perfect symmetry of the building was spoiled at a later date by an extension added to the east wing.

During the last twenty years of his life he concentrated on improving the estate, draining the low lying ground and planting mixed woodlands of oak, beech and some conifers. On the Kildrummy estate, the family used 'Gordon Lodge', a much smaller, traditional building, useful as an overflow from Gordonhall and for shooting parties. In 1901, after the estate of Kildrummy had been sold, the lodge was moved, stone by stone to Ardhuncart and faithfully re-erected there.

Charles Edward Gordon sold the estate of Beldorney in 1777 to Thomas Buchan of Auchmacoy, so ending a 216 year connection with those lands. He died at Wardhouse in 1832 and was buried at Kennethmont.

Before leaving Charles Edward's generation and considering the next one, the lives of his uncle Arthur, Robert, the son of his uncle Cosmo, and James Arthur his own brother should be looked at, as all three had already settled in Spain.

It is not known when Arthur Gordon went out to Spain. He settled in Cadiz, at first a merchant in the small British community there, then he started up the successful sherry business. Some of his letters to John Geddes have survived at the Scottish Catholic Archives and at the Scots College, Valladolid, and in these one can pick out information about the family and also how close his friendship was with John Geddes who was Principal of the Scots College at Valladolid from 1771 to 1780. Arthur Gordon's letters start in 1784 and from them one learns that he was married to a Spanish lady, that his brother Cosmo's son Robert was learning the wine trade and wine coopering, that his nephew James was at Jerez de la Frontera and they formed a company in 1784. Geddes helped Arthur to become a naturalised Spanish citizen, which made his position easier when relations were strained between Britain and Spain. He returned frequently to Britain on business, in 1794 meeting Bishop Hay in London to arrange a bequest to the Scottish mission.

He was clearly the patriarch of the Spanish Gordons, receiving members of the family from Scotland and looking after them. He had no children so must have been delighted to have the care of his nephew Charles Edward's oldest son John David, when he was sent out to learn the sherry business. Arthur's letter of 1788 to John Geddes in Edinburgh states:- 'I have wrote to our friend Mr Cameron, that I flatter myself of having my G. nephew Jacky Gordon of Wardhouse sent out to me and I have desired he may be sent to Valladolid to be there the time requisite for his instruction in our principles. Who knows, but those who come after you or me will hear Mass again at Gordonhall?' Arthur died at Cadiz in 1815.

Robert was the son of Cosmo Gordon who had gone out to Jamaica from Beldorney. He married a Miss Campbell and their son Robert, 1763-1802, learned the sherry business from Arthur and his cousin James. In 1787 he was at Gordonhall after attending an aunt's funeral at Banff - it was April, very cold and snowy, but in his letter to John Geddes he writes:-'I have prayers on Sundays and holidays in Huntly'. He was combining business with the pleasures of being with his Wardhouse family, for he was planning to meet business connections at Edinburgh. He married Laetitia Rudyerd and their children were Robert Henry John Huntly and Maria Rosaria Ann Arthur.

James Arthur was born in 1759, remained faithful to the Catholic faith, and chose to join his uncle and cousin in Spain to learn the sherry trade. When he and Arthur became partners, James lived at Jerez de la Frontera at the heart of the sherry making and Arthur at the business and exporting end at Cadiz. He married in 1786, Rosa Archimbaud and had five children. James also was frequently on business in Britain and the family spent many holidays at Gordonhall, as did his son Jacobo Pedro and his wife Carlotta Villaverde and their family. James died in 1824; his descendants today run the family firm of Gonzalez Byass.

It is really from this point that the Spanish/Scottish connection of the family is firmly established, with their obvious love of Wardhouse as their summer home and as an offshoot of that, the family's interest in and support of the Catholic church at Huntly.

One would have expected Charles Edward's eldest son John David born in 1774, to have been educated at Aberdeen and prepared to inherit Gordonhall, but instead he was sent to Spain to his grand-uncle Arthur. During his education at the Scots College, Valladolid, he became a Catholic; he was fully involved in the sherry business, learning every aspect of the trade from Arthur, Robert and James. In 1805 he married Maria del Carmen Beigbeder and their children were Pedro Carlos his heir, born in 1806, Josefa, born 1810, Maria del Rosario, born 1812, who died in 1834 of cholera on the eve of her wedding, Carlos Pedro, born 1814, Jaime, born 1816, who also died of cholera in 1834, Juan Jose, born 1818, who died in 1843, Alejandro, born 1820 and Luis, born 1827.

John David was frequently at Gordonhall. He knew many of the clergy of the Lowland District; some he would have met while at Valladolid and others when visiting Gordonhall and the church at Huntly. From this letter of Bishop Paterson's of 1828, it is obvious that the Gordon family were held in high esteem:- 'I beg leave to recommend to you in a most particular manner John Gordon Esq junior of Wardhouse and Son. He is a great benefactor to the Mission of Scotland as I will explain to you at meeting. Any attention which you may have in your power to show him will particularly oblige'.

He must have had great affection for his Scottish home. In a letter of 1816, he writes:- 'Had the French not invaded this province I really believe that I should have been ere this in Scotland retired, but our property suffered very considerably, I do not tho dispair to have my wishes realised in a few years should it be God's will that I should retire with my family. I am now forty two years old and I must take my determination soon. I have been extremely lucky in having met in with an excellent religious wife, we live happy and have two boys and two girls'

It is clear from John David's letters that he was a deeply religious man with a strong sense of responsibility towards his family and to the struggling church at Huntly. Many of his letters up to 1834 are involved in the plans and financing of the new church of St Margaret at Huntly, a project his father Charles Edward was also interested in, raising money and offering stone for the building from his own quarry at Kildrummy. Of the 1600 spent on the building of St Margaret's Church, 1000 was given by John David Gordon. He knew two old north-east Catholic families - the Leslies of Fetternear, and Mr John Menzies of Pitfodels whom he met regularly at the County Club at Aberdeen. By 1832 his son Pedro was already involved in the family sherry business and two younger sons at school at Hinckley,visited their grandfather at Gordonhall.

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St Margaret's Church, Huntly

After his father's death in 1832, John David, now 6th Laird of Wardhouse and Kildrummy visited Scotland less frequently though his many relatives continued to spend their summers at Gordonhall; in 1833 Carlota Villaverde was there with her nephew Pedro Carlos. John David's half brother James Alexander was offered Gordonhall as a home for his family until 1840, and his sisters Frances and Margaret remained there after he left.

The rents from the estate were ploughed back into both Wardhouse and Kildrummy. The Home Farm was built between 1835 and 1845 and shows strong Spanish influence - a bullyard is set within a quadrangular courtyard, which is entered through a pedimented gateway; at the opposite side of the courtyard is a doocot tower. The granary or 'Barnes', a part of the surrounding buildings, was used for balls and dinners.

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The Pedimented Gateway to Wardhouse Home Farm

In 1843 John David wrote to Father Charles Gordon ('Priest Gordon' of Aberdeen) that his son Carlos had been at the Mass celebrating his 50 years in the priesthood and he was sending him a hogshead of sherry. In the same year the promised altar-piece for St Margaret's Church from John David arrived, entitled 'The Ascension'. This painting with the other six large canvases which came later, all with scenes from the life of Our Lord, are believed to be by the Spanish artist Romero y Lopez.

 

John David's wife died in 1840 and he in 1850. It is clear from his letters that he wished to imbue in his family a deep love of their Scottish home, and an awareness of their responsibilities to home and church.

Pedro Carlos 7th Laird of Wardhouse and Kildrummy was born in 1806 and educated in England. According to his father, Pedro Carlos had suffered a stroke at the age of three which paralysed his right thigh and leg. While in England, this was treated by a Dr Chishome and by the time he was fifteen he was almost cured. He also was trained in the family sherry business, which meant that his regular visits to Wardhouse were in the summer and autumn months. Pedro Carlos dropped the name 'Gordonhall' and reverted to 'Wardhouse'. He married in 1837 his second cousin Rosa Elena Prendergast and their children were Juan Jose, born 1837, Maria de les Mercedes, born 1842, Maria de la Consolacion, born 1849, and Maria de la Concepcion, born 1852. Pedro Carlos was nick-named locally 'the Mad Laird' mainly because of his unusually daring exploits on horseback.

In 1850 he wrote to Bishop Kyle to beg him to permit a chapel at Wardhouse; there was an oratory in the left wing of the house and it is this which Pedro Carlos turned into a private chapel. He also hoped that Bishop Kyle would send them a chaplain. In 1853 he wrote to the Bishop that fifteen of them went to Sunday Mass at Huntly, but Rosa and her maid were left at home; he asked the priest at St Margaret's to enlarge his pew.

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"Spanish" Chapel at Wardhouse

A letter of 1855 anounced the arrival from Spain of Pedro Carlos, Rosa and their son Juan Jose, and in 1856 Juan Jose wrote to Bishop Kyle:- 'My Lord Her Catholic Majesty has lately bestowed upon our family marked proofs of the Royal distinctions. Among them I have been honoured with the knighthood of Malta. As I am aware of the friendship with which your Lordship takes interest in the Wardhouse family I have thought it a duty respectfully to acquaint your Lordship of this event. My Father, Mother & Sisters present their respectfull best regards and I have the honour to be My Lord your Lordship most obedient Servant John Joseph Gordon.

In 1857 Pedro Carlos died at Jerez of small pox. During his time the Catholic school at Huntly, which had opened in 1848, was struggling financially, though he supported it regularly and paid the salary of the master. After his death Rosa could not continue this support, which lead eventually to the closure of the school in 1861. The priest Terence McGuire expressed his disappointment to Bishop Kyle in a letter of 1858:- ..'Mr Jopp has received word from Spain that a Spanish coachman and two Spanish horses and a great quantity of luggage is on his way to Wardhouse, and that Johny and his mother were to leave Xeres for Wardhouse on last Saturday. It is said they bring much gold plate and altogether very valuable luggage. This will leave no excuse for curtailing or taking away their bounty to the school and me. Time will tell. The first thing is to pay up arrears. I will tell them the appeal I had to make to your Lordship and its conditions. The present news look well. There is at present at Wardhouse and has been for some time a butler, a cook, a house-keeper and two house-maids, doing nothing almost.'

Juan Jose 8th Laird of Wardhouse and Kildrummy married in 1860 his second cousin, Teresa, daughter of the Conde de Mirasol. In 1858 he had written to Bishop Kyle:- 'My Lord I have the honor of Announcing to your Lordship my intended marriage with Teresa de Mirasol. The lady being my second cousin a dispensation has been applied for to Rome. I have been told that it would greatly facilitate matters if I could get a dispensation from my own bishop, to show that there are no obstacles to my marriage in this part of the world. Trusting that your Lordship will grant me such dispensation, I remain My Lord, etc., John J. Gordon

How long Juan Jose and his bride lived at Wardhouse is not clear, though Rosa was looking for a 'very respectable trusty house-keeper' for them. His cousin Jose Maria Gordon relates in his book 'Chronicles of a Gay Gordon' that Juan Jose built a bull-fighting ring for the entertainment of his Spanish friends, imported bulls from Spain and held bull fights on Sunday afternoons, to the horror of his Presbyterian neighbours, but this may well be inaccurate. In 1866 he died in Spain, at Madrid. It is sad that nothing more is known about this couple. What caused his death at the age of 29 and what happened to his widow? They had no children and the title went to his uncle Carlos Pedro, the brother of Pedro Carlos.

Carlos Pedro Gordon 9th Laird of Wardhouse and Kildrummy, was 52 when he inherited. He also was in the family's wine trade at Jerez and acted as the British Vice-consul there. In 1867 he wrote from Wardhouse, stating that he had taken fourteen to church on Sunday and left some at home. With his wife, children, grand-children and servants they made up a considerable congregation and he hoped that Bishop Kyle might renew the old practice and allow some of the priests from Blairs to come out to Wardhouse on Saturdays and return on Mondays; with the advent of the railway, travel to Wardhouse Station was fast and simple from Aberdeen. He gave generously to St Margaret's Church and one of the first things he and his wife Elena did at Huntly was to get the Catholic school open again.

Terence McGuire, still parish priest at Huntly in 1867, in a letter to Bishop Kyle, described Carlos Pedro Gordon as 'a better man does not exist. He does all the good he can'. He was a J.P. and Deputy Lieutenant for Aberdeenshire, a K.M. and a Knight of St John of Jerusalem. Because Carlos Pedro lived more or less permanently at Wardhouse, he could become involved in the running of his estates and the improvements made to them. He was interested in the local community and took part in local events.

Carlos Pedro married in 1838 his second cousin, Elena Maria Prendergast, whose sister Rosa Elena had been the wife of his brother Pedro Carlos. Of his eleven children, all of whom would have known Wardhouse well, the following are of Scottish interest:-Carlos (Pedro), born 1844, was for some time a Lieutenant in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders; he often stayed at Gordon Lodge, Kildrummy while his father and the rest of the family were at Wardhouse. Rosa Maria Eduarda, born 1842, became a nun of the Community of St Katherine in Edinburgh, Maria Magdalena, born 1853, married Hugh Lumsden of Clova, and Ursula Maria, born 1859, married Frances Fairlie and lived at 'Beldorney' at Nairn. In 1897 Carlos Pedro died at Jerez at the age of 83, predeceased by his eldest son Carlos (Pedro).

Carlos (Pedro) married in 1871 his cousin Rosa Aristegui Countess de Mirasol, daughter of the late General Conde de Mirasol, and sister of Juan Jose's wife Teresa. She was appointed Lady in Waiting to Queen Maria Cristina. Their children were Carlos, born 1872 and died 1874, Rafael, born 1873 in the Royal Palace, and Pedro, born 1875. Carlos (Pedro) died in 1876, 21 years before his father, and the title passed to Rafael in 1897 on the death of his grandfather.

Rafael Gordon 10th Laird of Wardhouse sold the Kildrummy estate in 1898 to Mr James Ogston, to clear the family of death duties and also offered at auction family plate and the Jacobite Relics in the family's possession since 1745. He was a Knight of Gregory and a Knight of Calatrava, Secretary-General of the Spanish Red Cross and at one time Lord Mayor of Madrid. He resided mainly in Madrid, but came every year to Wardhouse to shoot over the moors. In 1924 he inherited the de Mirasol title, after the death of his mother who was the 4th to hold that title.

In 1899 Rafael married Maria Casanova San Miguel, daughter of the Marquis de Onteiro. Their children were Alfonso, born 1900, Maria Cristina, born 1902, who became a nun, Rosa Blanca, born 1904, Luis, born 1905, Maria Teresa, born 1907, and Carmen, born 1910.

Rafael was 12 years old when King Alfonso XIII was born; he became one of the young King's companions and later, one of his equerries. In 1906 Rafael invited King Alphonso and Queen Ena to spend part of their honeymoon at Wardhouse. In 1913 while on a visit to Scotland, he restored the enclosure at Wallakirk graveyard and set up a mural plaque which reads:-

 

GORDONS OF WARDHOUSE

QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND MOTHER OF OUR GOD

REMEMBER THAT WE BELONG TO THEE, PRESERVE AND

DEFEND US AS THY PROPERTY AND POSSESSION

 

RESTORED BY RAFAEL GORDON OF WARDHOUSE

1913

 

During the First World War, Mr and Mrs Hugh Gordon Lumsden (Maria Magdalena, daughter of Carlos Pedro Gordon) lived at Wardhouse. In 1931 when the King was deposed, Rafael Gordon's position at Madrid was no longer secure and in 1933 he returned to Wardhouse alone, his wife and family following by sea. He suffered a heart attack while visiting his aunt Ursula Fairlie at Nairn and died there. He was buried at Wallakirk, twenty years after he had restored the enclosure and the Huntly Express of the 11th of August gave a detailed account of the funeral attended by his widow, son and daughters. Mass was first celebrated early in the morning in the Wardhouse private chapel, then the Requiem Mass was 'impressively celebrated' in St Margaret's Church at Huntly, 'a church regularly attended by the Gordon family in years gone by. Afterwards the remains were conveyed to Wallakirk Churchyard, where they were interred in the family burial ground. Mgr Mulligan officiated and the body of mourners was augmented by the presence of tenants and estate workers from Wardhouse and Clova'.

Until the Second World War, Wardhouse was let for shooting. During the war years it was requisitioned by the Army and in 1952, the Estate was sold to James Cordiner, Aberdeen. In 1954 the House was stripped of everything saleable, and Charles Edward Gordon's magnificent trees were felled throughout the estate. Lady Leslie bought the House and Policies, perhaps in memory of the very early Leslie connection.

Ironically, the Secretary of State in 1971 gave the House a 'B'-listing, too late to give any protection to the empty, roofless shell. The present owners of the Home Farm bought the House and Policies in 1984. Since then they have encouraged the secondary growth from the old trees and the self-seeded birch and these have now 're-clothed' Wardhouse with at least an echo of its former beauty.

Wardhouse deserved a kinder fate.

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Wardhouse 2004 @Caroline Gilsenan (Manor House Gordons)

Gordon letters were read at the Scottish Catholic Archives, Edinburgh; Bulloch and Cairnfield MSS were studied at the Special Collections, University of Aberdeen.

 

 

On August 1st 1933, suddenly at Nairn, Rafael Gordon (Count of Mirasol) of Wardhouse, Aberdeenshire, and of Madrid, Spain. R.I.P.- "Times"

The article by John Malcolm Bulloch, the historian published in November 1933 in the Scots Magazine titled 'Gay Gordons as Spaniards, the story of the Wardhouse Family', begins with the above dramatic text; from that time till today little has been done to investigate the number and location of the Spanish Gordons in Spain.

 

The Gordon-Spanish connection was forged in the 18th century by John David Gordon who settled at Jerez and with his Great-Uncle began to make a name in the sherry industry when a company was formed in 1784 at Jerez de la Frontera. Today this sherry link remains in the Gonzales Byass company.

John David Gordon donated 1000 of the 1600 needed to build St Margaret’s Church at Huntly in 1834 - the first post Reformation Catholic Church to be have a bell. Later seven large mural paintings were sent from Spain. After some research the origin of the paintings has been established as copies of works (estampas) in the style of Murillo painted by Jose Maria Romero Y Lopez an artist from Sevilla (1825-1870).

They are:-

The Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven

Jesus taken down from the Cross

The Agony in the Garden

The Child Jesus Talking to the Doctors in the Temple

Jesus Driving the Money-Lenders out of the Temple

The Birth of Jesus

The Visit of the Three Wise Men

The paintings were given by the Spanish Gordon Family that occupied Wardhouse when Pedro Carlos Gordon kindly gifted them to grace the beautiful building.

For many years from that time to 1933 the Spanish Connection with St Margaret's Church was fostered with many members of the Wardhouse Gordons and their guests attending the church regularly, supporting it and, later, the school as well. Indeed a large number of letters exist describing such things as their journeys to Wardhouse, their association with Scotland and the coldness in the Huntly church.

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The Gordons of Wardhouse at Beldorney   

Nairn where Rafael Died.

When Rafael died in 1933 he left the Gordon Sanchiz family with the title Conde de Mirasol and the Wardhouse name in their surname. The sad nature of events is increased by the fact that all that was left in the cemetery at Wallakirk is a simple wooden cross with no mention of Rafael save the plaque which he himself had erected in 1913 to comemmorate the burial of previous Spanish Gordons there .

The death of Rafael a former Mayor of Madrid and friend from childhood of the deposed King Alfonso was to sever the Spanish Gordon connection with Scotland for practical reasons because it coincided with the rise of Primo de Rivera, the Spanish Civil War and later the rise of General Franco. The Second World war and post war period led unfortunately to Wardhouse being sold.

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Three Generations of Wardhouse;

Alfonso, Conde de Mirasol,

Alfonso, Baron de Borriol

Rafael, Former Mayor of Madrid

 

The fulfillment of my quest for the Spanish Gordons took place at Gordon 2000 on Friday 4th August 2000 when seventeen Spanish Gordons directly related to the benefactors of St Margaret’s Church Huntly honoured us with their attendance at an organ recital in the church given by Mrs Judith Fellowes -Gordon and then at a sung Mass on the Sunday.

His Lordship Reverend Mario Conti, Bishop of Aberdeen welcomed the guests into the church which their ancestors had supported so long ago. More than one hundred and fifty people attended and later in the adjoining Hall, enjoyed sherry, shortbread and conversation with our Spanish guests.

The beauty of the music played on the Conacher Organ by Judith was overwhelming and Maria Isobel Gordon y Sanchiz, Marquesa de Pescara described the overall effect several times as "Preciosa" Maria Isobel, Maribel, is the sister of the present Conde de Mirasol, Alfonso Rafael Gordon Sanchiz and grand daughter of Rafael Gordon Sanchiz who had grown up with King Alfonso of Spain.

The atmosphere of the occasion and its historic nature were enhanced by the fact that looking down on us around the beautifully restored church were the seven paintings gifted by the ancestors of the Spanish guests. I was interested to learn later that Don Jose Maria Sanchiz y Gil, Marques de Pescara and husband of Maria Isobel Gordon Sanchiz has a Romero painting at his home in Padilla Madrid.

As senior representative of the direct relatives of the last laird of Wardhouse Maria Isobel was accompanied by her nephews Alfonso Carlos Gordon Sanchiz, Baron de Borriol and son of Alfonso Rafael Gordon Sanchiz, Conde de Mirasol, his brother Don Luis Gordon de Wardhouse y Sanchiz and his sister Dona Cristina.

The present Conde de Mirasol Don Alfonso Rafael Gordon Sanchiz y Wardhouse lives at Rute and his son Alfonso Carlos Gordon Sanchiz y Wardhouse, the Baron de Boriol lives and works in Seville. He married Dona Maria Dolores Cavello de los Cobos y Mancha, daughter of the Conde de Fuenteblanca and they expect their first child to be born in July 2001.

 

 

Seated across the aisle at the front sat another major branch of the Spanish Gordons -the Gonzalez- Gordon family.

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Manuel Maria Gonzalez Angel in Jerez

Don Mauricio Gonzalez-Gordon y Diez is the Marques de Bonanza and a past Chairman of the Gonzalez Byass company. He and his wife Milagro shared the event with us. Beside Mauricio sat Gabriel Guilermo Gonzalez-Gordon Gordon Gilbey and his wife Ani. Gabriel is an ebullient character and calls himself GV1 and "the cock of the south" because of his double Gordon connection.

The Gonzalez- Gordon’s grandmother was Maria Gordon who married Pedro Gonzalez Soto, in 1877 thereby linking the two names Gonzalez-Gordon. (See Family chart)

The Gonzalez Byass sherry company is the largest producer of sherry today and the link through sherry production to John David Gordon and his Great-Uncle Athur was complete. Gabriel Gonzales-Gordon Gilbey lives at Jerez and is active in the sherry trade internationally with Gonzales Byass. Mauricio Gonzales-Gordon Diez, the Marques de Bonanza also lives in Jerez.

 

On the Sunday Victor Ramos Catalina y Gordon attended the special sung Mass with his wife Carmen and family. Victor, a cousin of Mauricio and Gabriel, lives at Jerez and his daughter Myriam visited St Margaret’s Church and Wardhouse in 1999 later encouraging her sister Carmen, Frederic her husband and children to make the trip from St Cloud in France to attend.

 

As heads of their respective families these men can all claim a Spanish Gordon connection and their family trees all trace back to the earliest of the Spanish Gordons.

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A later contact in Spain allowed me to contact by letter Don Luis Gonzaga Gordon y Rivero, Marques de Irun, who is also related directly to John David Gordon of Wardhouse. However at this stage I have not been able to meet with his family in Puerta de Santa Maria and complete the research. (Family Tree 5)

Recent research has added several direct descendant to the "Spanish Gordons" with the result that several new family trees and photographs will be added shortly.

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Majorcan and Manor House Gordons with Bishop John Jukes

St Margaret's Huntly September 2004

 

A First Spanish Gordon Congress will be held in Madrid on 5th November 2004  

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Fernando Parias Merry (former Mayor of Sevilla)

shows his respect for Rafael(former Mayor of Madrid)

I

The Spanish Gordon connection with Huntly began for me one day casually looking up during Mass at one of the magnificent large paintings beside me and wondering who painted them and why they were in Huntly ? Ann and myself have found this project increasing exponentially so that the paintings became only the tip of the iceberg. The building of St Margaret’s, the Spanish Letters and Bulloch’s work created an absorbing research project contained in this booklet which we have both enjoyed and hope you do too.

 

The fact that there are so many families related to John David Gordon in Spain has forged a bond with the Gordons, Wardhouse and Huntly that I hope will continue in the future.

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Fernando with Rosie and Charlotte Gilsenan at Wardhouse

 

To all the Spanish Gordons: "Haste ye Back"

 

Appendix

References to the Gordon family and St Margaret’s Church in the 1800s.

 

Charles Gordon, [father of John David Gordon] Gordon Hall to Dr Kyle, Tombae, 29:9 1832

My Dear Bishop I have received the Plans of the Chapel to be built in Huntly from Mr Maclachlan I presume the Organ loft is to be above the loby [sic], the stair to which is marked in the plan. For which I thank you and all shall be forwarded to my son John immediately desiring him to make his observations, and return the whole to me as early as he can to enable you to begin the work in the Spring.

 

 

Terence Maguire to Bishop Kyle, 18 51843

My Lord, The painting of the Ascension so long expected from Mr Gordon of Wardhouse reached me last Saturday. It is, I think, a most excellent one. I have got it suspended by nails by the wall in the Chapel till I get it framed.

 

 

Catholic Directory 1868

The Catholics of Huntly are under a heavy debt of gratitude to the family of Wardhouse. The father of the present proprietor built our very handsome Chapel; his brother adorned it with very valuable paintings, and now he himself - a worthy representative of his predecessors, along with Mr Stewart - a descendant of one of the most ancient Catholic families of the country, have placed our School on an independent footing.

 

 

Catholic Directory 1872

A fine new Organ, built by Conacher & Co., of Huddersfield, has been quite lately erected in the Huntly Chapel. For this the Mission is mainly indebted to Mr Gordon of Wardhouse. A handsome subscription was received from Alex. Stewart, Esq., Huntly.