I was reminded of this story tonight, so wanted to throw a short version on my blog where it’s easier for me to find things. The inability to search through text stories on my Ancestry.com tree can be problematic at times. There is information here from the biography of my 10x great-grandfather Alexander Gordon from the book “Fifty New England colonists and five Virginia families” by Florence Black Weiland (1965). There is also information here from Alexander’s Wikipedia Entry, and a few other sources.
“The Gordon name is one of the most ancient in Great Britain and is now represented In the Peerage by the Earl of Aberdeen. The family is of Norman origin and dates back to very early times. In 1150 Richard de Gordon, Knight Baronet, granted to the Monks at Kelso, land at Gordon near Huntley Strather. Haddo House is the seat of the Earl of Aberdeen and is in the County of Aberdeenshire in the Highlands of Scotland.” – Weiland, p 105.
My 10x great-grandfather Alexander Gordon [an ancestor of my Nason, Cairns, and Forrest lines] was born in the Highlands of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1635. His family was loyal to the cause of the Stuarts, and Alexander became a soldier in the Scottish Army that supported the claim of King Charles II to the throne of England. He was taken a prisoner of war by Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Worchester on 3 Sept 1651. Other accounts claim he was captured at the battle of Dunbar exactly one year earlier. In either case, he was released to an American, Captain John Allen of Chartestown, Massachusetts, on the condition that he emigrate to America.
In 1651 Alexander was taken aboard the “Liberty”, commanded by the same Capt. John Allen, to Boston, Massachusetts and was held as a prisoner of war in the city of Watertown, Massachusetts. He stayed with John Cloyes, a boatswain, or mate, on the “Liberty” who lived in Cambridge on the road to Watertown at a place near the site of Cambridge Hospital today.
Accounts vary about what happened next. By some accounts Alexander signed an agreement on 25 April 1653 with Samuel Stratton of Watertown to be his apprentice for six years, and to learn the trade of farming. In other accounts he was sold by John Cloyes essentially as a slave to Mr. Stratton. In either case, it was unfortunately true that such “apprentices” were routinely abused by their masters for the purposes of keeping cheap labor. It is generally agreed that Alexander was mistreated by Mr. Stratton.
On 23 May 1655, a number of these apprentices, including Alexander, petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts for freedom, but their request was refused. On 3 Nov 1663, Alexander appealed again to the court in Massachusetts and was finally released from his contract. His six-year contract with Samuel Stratton ended on paper in 1659, but Alexander had been forced to work for ten years before he won his freedom.
Alexander and a number of other Scottish ex-prisoners-of-war made their way to New Hampshire. As early as 1660 Alexander Gordon was at Exeter, the town he helped found, where he was involved in lumbering. He had a saw mill located on Little River at a point about one mile West of Exeter Village.
In 1663 he married Mary, the daughter of mill-owner Nicholas Lisson and his wife Alice Jane Wise. Alexander and Mary had the following children:
Elizabeth b. 1664, Nicholas b 1666, Mary b. 1668, John b. 1670, James b. 1673, Alexander b. 1675
Thomas (20 Nov 1678 – 27 May 1761), my 9x great-grandfather married Elizabeth Harriman (1675 – 1720)
Daniel b, 1678
Alexander died on 15 Aug 1697 in Walleigh Falls, Rockingham, New Hampshire. Administration of his estate was granted to his son John Gordon on August 25, 1697.
More information on his life can be found in the following references:
- “History of the Town of Exeter, New Hampshire” 1888 by Charles H. Bell
- “Alexander Gordon and His Descendants” 1999 by Marion Otis
- “The Gordon family of Maine and New Hampshire” 1946 by Blanche Gordon Cobb.