GORDON, Sir Robert, 4th Bt. (1696-1772), of Gordonstown, Moray.
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Family and Education
b. 1696, 1st s. of Sir Robert Gordon, 3rd Bt., M.P. [S], of Gordonstown by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Dunbar, 1st Bt., M.P. [S], of Hempriggs, Caithness. m. 26 Apr. 1734, Agnes, 1st da. of Sir William Maxwell, 4th Bt., of Calderwood, Lanark, 4s. 1da. suc. fa. Sept. or Oct. 1704.
The Gordons of Gordonstown, the premier baronets of Scotland, were descended from a younger son of the 12th Earl of Sutherland. Sir Robert Gordon’s mother married, secondly, James Sutherland, afterwards Dunbar, M.P. Caithness 1710-13, who was created a baronet in 1706 and succeeded to the estate of Hempriggs. Gordon’s sister married John Forbes of Culloden, the brother of Duncan Forbes, lord president of the court of session. In spite of being a minor he was brought into Parliament for Caithness in 1715 by John Sinclair of Ulbster, the hereditary sheriff. Though classed as a Whig, he joined the Earl of Mar during the Fifteen, when he was present at Sheriffmuir, described by the Master of Sinclair as ‘a young man of 19 years old, of great fire, courage and good sense, and with whom I choosed to take lodging in Perth’. After the battle he made his peace through the Duke of Argyll, by whose good offices he escaped all punishment.1 In 1719 he was listed as ‘against’ the peerage bill by Sunderland, and by Craggs as to be approached through Argyll, but no parliamentary votes of his have been recorded, nor did he stand again. He enjoyed considerable notoriety locally for cruelty to his tenants, it being alleged that on one occasion he imprisoned an old woman ‘for taking a head of a ling out of the midden’ because ‘it was good for curing the gout’.2 On the death of the 18th Earl of Sutherland in 1766 he claimed that earldom, with the estates, as heir male of the 12th Earl, but his claim was disallowed in 1771 by the House of Lords in favour of the heir of line. He died 8 Jan. 1772.