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Covenanter Stories – No8. William Gordon



Many of the Gordon family were acquainted with Samuel Rutherford, and were recipients of his letters.  One of these was William Gordon of Earlston.  He was the son of Alexander Gordon, another of the recipients of Rutherford’s correspondences, staunch Presbyterian and supporter of the Covenanter cause.  William Gordon, named in Rutherford’s letters as ‘Earlston the Younger,’ was a man well acquainted with suffering from youth.  He saw his father being fined heavily for his faith, and, having inherited the family estate in 1655, joined the ranks of the Covenanters himself.

Gordon’s first entanglement with the government occurred first in May 1663, when some of the King’s Council Commissioners wrote to him, informing him that the bishop had appointed a curate to the church at Dalry.  Since Gordon was a man of some influence in the area, he was required by this writ to present himself at the services and to encourage the local people to attend, thus ensuring the success of the new minister, one Mr George Henry.  The Commissioners knew that Gordon was a Presbyterian and would never follow the course of action required of him.  He wrote back to the Council the following day, 22nd May, declaring that to support a curate would be to do dishonour to God and to take away the liberty of His people.  On 24th November 1663 Gordon was summoned to appear in court on the charge of attending conventicles.  He was summoned again a second time, and sentenced to banishment for one month, after which he must live peaceably, or be fined £10,000, or imprisoned.

The Laird of Earlston paid no attention whatsoever to their threats.  In 1667 he was evicted from his family home, which was turned into a barracks, where a platoon of dragoons was based, and from where they plundered the homes of the Presbyterian worshippers.

In 1679 William Gordon went to Bothwell Bridge, where he took his place on the battlefield.  A party of Cavalry, who called on him to surrender, surrounded him but the brave Covenanter refused to yield to them.  Gordon was killed where he fought, and his body thrown in a ditch.  His body was taken several days later by friends and buried in Glassford Kirkyard.

From → Covenanters

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