Papers of the Gordon families of Buthlaw and Cairness

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

GB 231 MS 1160 and GB 231 MS 2757 Family and estate papers concerning the affairs of the Gordons of Buthlaw, Newtyle and Cairness, Aberdeenshire, dating from the mid-seventeenth century until the death of Charles Thomas Gordon, 4th laird of Cairness, in 1938. The collection comprises estate and family papers, accounts, correspondence, legal documents, plans, rentals, account books, ledgers, volumes of estate memoranda or genealogical notes, game books and letter books. Accounts, plans and correspondence relating to the building, furnishing and decoration of Cairness House, 1773 - 1890, include Designs for Cairness, by J. Playfair, 1790 - 1793, and additional loose plans, sketches and drawings of Cairness House and grounds by Playfair and others, 1790 and n.d.. Papers relating to the Loch of Strathbeg, 1862 - 1929, are of interest for the insight which they provide into the running and administration of the Victorian shooting estate. They contain details of fishing and other game rights in and around the loch, together with records relating to water management, observation of wildfowl and game, and details of trout caught, game shot, etc. Papers relating to the establishment of a light railway between Fraserburgh and the fishing village of St. Combs, c 1858 - 1911 and 1918 - 1937, contain general information on the expansion of the railway network in North East Scotland at this time, and details of its effect on the inhabitants and the development of the village of St Combs.

A large portion of the collection comprises personal papers of Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841), relating principally to his involvement in the Greek cause. These include nearly 800 letters in English, French, Greek and Italian, and papers relating to the publication of his History of the Greek Revolution, 2 vols. (London and Edinburgh, 1832). Principal correspondents represented in his papers include Captain Edward Blaquiere, London and Greece; John Bowring, MP, London; Mary Burnett, Aberdeen and Crathes; General Count H. F[rederic] du Bourg [Dubourg-Butler], Paris; Colonel Charles Fabvier, Greece; Charles Gibbon, Aberdeen; William H. Humphreys, officer, Greece and England; Dr Koutzofskis, Paris; Alexandros Mavrokordatos [Mavrocordato], Greece; Rev. James Robertson, Cairness, Zante and Greece; Henry Robertson, merchant, Greece. There are also collections of transcriptions made in the eighteenth century from manuscript or printed sources, by, or for, John Gordon (1715 - 1755), 6th laird of Buthlaw, Professor of Civil Law at Edinburgh University, author and antiquarian, who was also probably responsible for the collection of a number of printed items relating to national, local or legal affairs.

A further small, but significant, section of the collection contains records relating to the Gordon and Barclay estates in Jamaica, in particular, their estate of Georgia, 1727 - 1899. This includes correspondence dealing with legal, administrative, business, financial, and trading matters, including accounts, reports on crops, lists of slaves, general news of events and weather, and some 1789 Jamaican publications. There are also 19th c estate plans and a diary kept by Charles T. Gordon, when visiting his estate in 1887.

GB 231 MS 3193 This collection supplements, and in some instances, duplicates, the Gordon family papers deposited in GB 231 MS 1160. It records the role of Edmonds and Ledingham, solicitors, Aberdeen, who acted as factors for the Cairness estate, particularly whilst the family were away from their Northeast estate. The deposit comprises trust papers of Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841), 1849; trust papers of James Wilkinson Gordon, 1871 - 1902; accounts and correspondence re. financial position of Theodore J. Gordon, son of James Wilkinson Gordon, 1886 - 1899; papers re. Jamaican estates, 1876 - 1894; business accounts and other financial papers of Edmonds and Ledingham in their role as factors for the Cairness estate, 1881 - 1913; rentals of Cairness estate, 1868 - 1892 and 1902 - 1918; leases for properties on Cairness estate, 1871 - 1917; correspondence files re. Cairness estate business, 1859 - 1918; files re. management, maintenance, leasing, and general administration of individual farms and crofts on Cairness estate, c 1849 -1921; papers re. building work on Rathen manse, 1915 - 1919; plans of Cairness Estate, 1760 and 1785; misc. insurance policies on Cairness estate, buildings and contents, 1880 - 1910; papers re. sale of Cairness estate, 1920; papers re. improvements to Great Ness House, Shrewsbury, 1899 - 1902; correspondence re. proposed lease of property at 50 King Street, Edinburgh, 1908; and papers re. Fraserburgh and St Combs Light Railway, including draft Light Railways Act, 1896 - 1903.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Gordons of Buthlaw were descended from a cadet of the family of James Gordon, the first laird of Lesmoir, and from Thomas Gordon of Broadland. Intermarriage with the family of Barclay of Peterhead, when 2 brothers, John and Thomas Gordon, married their cousins, Mary and Jean Barclay, daughters of John Barclay and Anne Gordon, led to legal complications in the inheritance of property both in Scotland and in Jamaica, where both families were in business. After the death of Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841), 8th laird of Buthlaw, and 2nd laird of Cairness, the estate of Cairness and property in Jamaica, passed to his son, James Wilkinson Gordon and his descendants; while the lands of Buthlaw were inherited by descendants of the aunts of Thomas Gordon.

In his early life, Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841) served in the British, Russian and Hanoverian Army, and travelled extensively abroad. Throughout the Greek War of Independence (1821 - 1828) he offered his unwavering support to the Greeks, both from Scotland and through active participation on two separate occasions (1821 and 1826 - 1827). After the war, he divided his time between Greece, where he served in the army and reached the rank of major-general, and Scotland, where he wrote his History of the Greek Revolution, 2 vols. (London, and Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1832).

Genealogical information regarding the family is contained in W. Temple, The Thanage of Fermartyn (Aberdeen: Wyllie, 1894), pp 272 - 275; and J.M. Bulloch, The House of Gordon (Aberdeen: New Spalding Club, 1903 - 1907) vol. 2, pp 261 - 262; vol. 3, pp 81 - 81, 315, 466 - 467, etc. J.M. Bulloch's extensive collection of Gordoniana, deposited in the University, which was drawn upon by Edward Gordon of Cairnfield for his manuscript Book of the Gordons (known as the Gordon of Cairnfield manuscript: GB 231 MS 1164), contains further details.

Arrangement

GB 231 MS 1160

1/1 - 90.Collection of legal writs and other papers relating to the Scottish estates and families of the Gordons of Buthlaw, Newtyle and Cairness, until the death of Charles Gordon (1749 - 1796), 7th laird of Buthlaw and 1st of Cairness;

2/1 - 25. rentals, factors' accounts and miscellaneous receipts concerning the Scottish estates of the Gordons of Buthlaw and Cairness, and their Barclay relatives, 1740 - 1796 (many are complementary to the legal MSS, correspondence and account books of the same period);

3/1 - 17. volumes, notebooks, ledgers, etc. containing accounts, rentals, copies of memoranda concerning the Scottish estates and affairs of the Gordons of Buthlaw and Cairness up to the death of Charles Gordon of Buthlaw and Cairness (d 1796), or his widow, Christian Forbes, 1740 - 1800;

4/1 - 81. correspondence by, or relating to, the families of Gordon of Buthlaw and Cairness, the Barclays, and others, their agents or factors, other than letters from or to Jamaica, 1703 - 1799;

5/1 - 25. correspondence and other papers concerning estates of Gordons and Barclays in the island of Jamaica before acquisition of the estate of Georgia there, 1727 - 1777;

6/1 - 86. correspondence and other papers concerning the estate of Georgia, Jamaica, purchased or acquired by Charles Gordon of Buthlaw and regarding the winding up of affairs of relatives in the island, 1778 - 1779;

7/1 - 21. volumes, plans and other papers concerning the estate of Georgia, Jamaica, belonging to General Thomas Gordon or his descendants, 1800 - 1899;

8/1 - 69. legal papers relating to the Aberdeenshire estates of Thomas Gordon, James Wilkinson Gordon and Charles Thomas Gordon, of Cairness, 1800 - 1934;

9/1 - 22. Cairness rentals and factors' accounts, 1833 - 1937;

10/1 - 30. general accounts and related papers concerning Cairness estate, 1800 - 1938;

11/1 - 57. correspondence, papers and plans relating to the Loch of Strathbeg and surrounding area, wild fowl observed, lists of game shot, trout caught, etc., 1862 - 1929 and n.d.;

12/1 - 48. papers, plans, correspondence and notes concerning the establishment of railways in North East Aberdeenshire (particularly the Fraserburgh and St Combs Light Railway), and to the inhabitants and development of the village of St Combs, c 1858 - 1911, 1918 - 1937, and n.d.;

13/1 - 20. estate and building plans and sketches, with specifications of work to be undertaken on Cairness estate, and plans of arable holdings accompanying printed prospectus for sale of estate, c 1776 - 1931;

14/1 - 33. Cairness estate and farm account books, ledgers and game books, 1855 - 1938;

15/1 - 48. letter books containing duplicate copies of letters written by Charles T. Gordon, his son, F.W. Gordon, or on their behalf, concerning personal, household or estate affairs at Cairness, local activities, etc., 1902 - 1937;

16/1 - 40. papers relating to the genealogies of the Gordon and Barclay families, notes and correspondence thereon, mainly by or to Charles T. Gordon, miscellaneous papers relating to Gordon portraits by Raeburn, army commissions of Charles Gordon and catalogues of library at Cairness, n.d., 18th c - 20th c;

17/ 1 - 38. printed papers, including conditions of lease or feu disposition, Cairness estate, c 1681 - 1794 and 1824 - 1896;

18/1 - 13. transcriptions and notes, mainly relating to summoning of parliaments or of extracts from works concerning legislation or Scottish and English public records and charters, probably made by or for John Gordon of Buthlaw (1715 - 1775), Professor of Civil Law at Edinburgh University, n.d. 18th c, with page proofs of articles by C.T. Gordon, for Douglas Scott's Peerage, c 1908;

19/1 - 10. personal papers of or relating to Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841) and his secretary, Rev. James Robertson, 1809 - 1836 and n.d., including journals, accounts and meteorological records; 20/1 - 783. correspondence in English, French, Greek and Italian, of, or addressed to, Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841), regarding commissions, decorations, memberships of societies, etc., 1800 - 1841;

21/1/ 1 - 62 - 21/ 2/ 1 - 13. Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841) material relating to the Greek cause (mostly in Greek), and later events in Greece, 1821 - 1837 (including contemporary military lists, plans and reports, eye-witness accounts, naval logs, etc., many of which were used by Gordon in his History of the Greek Revolution, 2 vols. (London and Edinburgh, 1832));

22/1 - 5. material relating to Thomas Gordon's (1788 - 1841) publications, including manuscript of his History of the Greek Revolution, pre-1820 - 1838; 23/1 - 32. accounts and other papers relating to the winding up of Thomas Gordon's estate, and to other family affairs, 1841 - 1872;

24/1 - 11. correspondence and related papers regarding enquiries about Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841) and information about him and later members of the family, 20th c; 25/1 - 8. additional material, including portraits, medals, etc. relating to the life and career of Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841), 19th c - 20th c;

26/1 - 3. publications referring to Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841) and other Philhellenes, 1918 - 1925;

28/ 1 - 6. Accounts, plans and correspondence relating to the building, furnishing and decoration of Cairness House, 1771 - 1890.

N.B. There is no section 27 - this was re-numbered when the papers of Thomas Gordon (GB 231 MS 1160/19 - 26) were re-listed in 1995.

GB 231 MS 3193 None observed

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

GB 231 MS 1160 deposited in the University in 1969, by Miss Marjory Violet Gordon. On her death in 1989, the papers became the property of Aberdeen University Library. Additional deposits received in 1986 (GB 231 MS 2757) and in 1991, subsumed into GB 231 MS 1160.GB 231 MS 1160 deposited in the University in 1969, by Miss Marjory Violet Gordon. On her death in 1989, the papers became the property of Aberdeen University Library. Additional deposits received in 1986 (GB 231 MS 2757) and in 1991, subsumed into GB 231 MS 1160.GB 231 MS 3193 deposited in the University in 1984, by Edmonds and Ledingham, Solicitors, Aberdeen.

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive lists available in the Reading Room, Historic Collections (e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk).

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Accruals

No accruals expected

Related Material

Papers of several other branches of the Gordon family in Aberdeenshire are deposited in the University. Very brief collection level descriptions are available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/

Correspondence of Thomas Gordon (1788-1841), c 1827 - 1840, is deposited in the British School at Athens (list available at National Register of Archives, ref. NRA 21070 Finlay)

Bibliography

Colin A. McLaren and Margaret A. Stephen, Estate and Family Papers of Gordon of Buthlaw and Cairness, 1642-1938 (MS 1160), Reports and surveys of archives in northern Scotland, Northern Scotland, 2 (1976-1977), 184-187.

Aglai Kasdagli, Exploring the papers of the Scottish Philhellene, Thomas Gordon (1788 - 1841) Cambridge Papers on Modern Greek, 3 (Kampos, 1995)

Aglai Kasdagli, Antapokriseis apo ti Gramvousa. Selides apo to archeio tou Thomas Gordon. Reports from Gramboussa: pages from Thomas Gordon's archives, Kretologica Grammata, 13, (1997)

Additional Information

This material is original