Gordons of Manar:

family archives








1. The name of the property Badifurrow - Woodhill - Manar:


Originally Manar was called Badifurrow. William Ferguson had acquired it in 1655 from George Leslie and his son Patrick. In 1699 the estate of Badifurrow passed into the hands of a Forbes family. In 1742 the Forbes sold the estate to a relative by marriage, William Johnston. In 1796, when the estate was sold to Colonel Erskine Fraser, the name was changed to Woodhill. In 1808 Hugh Gordon bought the estate and renamed it Manar in commemoration of his residence near the Straits of Manar, where he had acquired a fortune. He built Manar House.


2. Recollections of Meeting the Gordon Sisters at Midmar Castle, by Colonel James Morrison, as published in 'The Leopard':


Now in my 88th year, I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed in Keith McLean's poem in the November issue of Leopard, on the problems of growing older. Another facet of ageing is that one dwells on past adventures in one's childhood - an impressionable time.

Shortly after the Great War, the Misses Anne and Alice Gordon, having purchased the house and precincts of Craigrannoch, Torphins, moved from Midmar Castle - an attractive, if uncomfortable pile. At Craigrannoch they retained a fairly high standard of upper-class Victoriana, dressing in long black gowns and maintaining a staff of cook, housemaid, tablemaid and gardener. They had a great interest in the Church, and made themselves responsible for the General Haig's yearly poppy collection.

A dozen boys and girls would be summoned to Craigrannoch for the distribution of tins and poppy boxes and for a delectable afternoon tea - scones, crumpets and cream cake, made by the magic hands of the resident cook. Miss Anne poured tea from beautiful silver teapots into Meissen teacups which, dispensed with a certain amount of vibration, caused our childish minds an element of mirth. I shall always remember with regret my youthful, cruel frivolity as my tremolo affects my tea-pouring ability now.

After tea, the poppy vendors would be ushered into the lounge to admire the trinkets and photographs stored in antique cabinets - a portion in a silver frame of what purported to be a piece of Bonny Prince Charlie's plaid etc.. But each year the picture of a handsome youth would be spoken of in reverential tones as, 'Our neveu (sic) Ensign Gordon who died carrying the colours at the Siege of Lucknow'.

Many years later, probably in 1988, I felt the urge to see where Anne and Alice Gordon had been buried. This was an overgrown, dilapidated and roofless chapel in a field near the house of Manar where I think the autocratic ladies had been born. To my astonishment, that beautiful, sunny afternoon did I not only discover the two graves but also in the old chapel, a granite slab with the inscription: 'Sacred to the memory of Ensign Gordon who died carrying the colours at the Siege of Lucknow.' A young Scottish soldier long forgotten - but not by me.

My brother, John, way back in 1933 was pursuing a course in French/German at the University of Aberdeen and had to spend the statutory year abroad in France and Germany. He was summoned to Craigrannoch and treated to afternoon tea by the two ladies, in the course of which he was addressed by Miss Anne thus:

"Now, John, when going on a journey every traveller should have in his pocket a knife, a piece of string and a shilling and in addition, carry with him a Holy Bible."

These necessities were duly presented to him, the Sainte Bible containing a rather interesting leaflet copied from an inscription from the Catacombs of Domitillo

John felt a certain degree of consternation when Miss Anne pronounced her cautionary advice: 'You must always remember, John, that French women are quite different from the British women.'

Vive la difference!

Col. James D. Morrison, Monaltrie, 4 Pinefield, Inchmarlo, Banchory, AB31 4AF


Midmar Castle in 1908 when the Gordon sisters and their mother were living there

A letter sent from the Gordons at Midmar Castle to Arthur Fraser, who had married Mary Gordon

(daughter of James Gordon of Manar) and emigrated to Canada. Letter in possession of Barbara (Gordon) Dundas


3. Relatives who died on active service:


Those who fell on active service:

Hugh Gordon, son of Gordon of Manar, died of sunstroke at the Siege of Lucknow in India in 1857.

Colonel Charles Macdowell Skene – murdered at Manipur in India during an uprising in 1891.

Captain Sandy Gordon (Gordon Highlanders) was killed in 1944 by a Japanese sniper at Pinwe in Burma in WWII.

Major Arthur Ion Fraser DSO, with (9th Hodson’s Horse) was killed in action in France in 1917.

John Forbes Gordon, killed in fighting in New Guinea, in 1942 in WWII.

William Marsden was killed in WWII at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942.

Squadron Leader Alexander Lumsden Franks was killed in air combat at Dunkirk in 1940 (his brother John Gerald Franks was also in the RAF and rose to be Air Vice-Marshall after the War).

Major Carlos Barron Lumsden (Highland Light Infantry) was killed in action in WWI in 1916.

Carlos Gerald Lumsden (son of the above) was killed in action in 1942 in WWII.

Alexander Cran (Gordon Highlanders) died in WWI in France in 1918.

Lt-Colonel John Gordon (Royal Scots) died from wounds sustained in fighting at Fort Erie in Canada in 1814.

2nd Lt. Cosmo George Gordon (Northants Regiment) died in September 1914 in Picardy, France in WWI, aged 20.


4. Extract from "Epitaphs and Inscriptions" by John A. Henderson (printed in 1907):


"A tablestone has at the top the representation of an angel, while at the foot figures of a skull, cross bones, and hourglass are given, together with the scroll "Memento Mori." The inscription is - Here lyes John Gordon, sometime farmer in Drwmferg, who dy'd July 21, 1759, aged 51 years, lafwl husband to Elisabeth Gordon. John Gordon is believed to have been a grandson of Alexander Gordon, fifth laird of Birkenburn, his parents being Peter Gordon, in Haddoch of Cabrach, and his wife, Bessie Gordon. He was some time in Auchmair, and subsequently in Drumfergue. He was a keen Jacobite, and was "out" in the '45. In consequence he was treated with great rigour, which undermined his system, and he died at the age of 51. According to the late Mr Jervise and Captain Wimberley, he was the father of Lieut. Colonel John Gordon, of the 92nd Highlanders, who died at Coynachie 27th March, 1827, aged 75, and whose widow - Elisabeth Soutar - died at Aberdeen 23rd April, 1842, aged 82. Their eldest son William Gordon, M.D., one of the Judges of the Supreme Court and member of H.M. Council of the island of Jamaica - who married twice and left a family - died at Elgin 26th January, 1838, aged 52. John, the other son, was a General in the Royal Engineers. He died at Culdrain in 1861, and was buried at Drumblade. He was twice married - first, to a daughter of Rev. Dr. Skene Ogilvy, Minister of Old Machar; and, secondly, to Jane, daughter of Andrew Macpherson, Gibston, Huntly. Of their family, William was a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, and died unmarried in 1875; while Cosmo George was Lietenant-Colonel in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, and was afterwards in Culdrain."


5. The attempt of Hugh Gordon of Manar to buy his "paternal acres" (the Birkenburn estates). This extract is from 'The House of Gordon' edited by John Malcolm Bulloch:


John Stuart, IX. of Birkenburn, was born December 14, 1764 ; and he sold the Birkenburn estate in 1824. He wrote a letter, dated Birkenburn, February 19, 1824, to Hugh Gordon of Manar, intimating to him that he had received an offer for the property of £7,000, and that he expected it would be increased to guineas : a sum which he was not at liberty to refuse. William Leslie of Warthill in a letter to Hugh Gordon, Elgin, March 17, 1845, says that Stuart offered to sell the estate of Birkenburn to Hugh Gordon of Manar who was willing to give £1,000 above any other offer. Leslie accompanied Manar, by appointment, to Birkenburn when the estate was advertised, only to find that John Stuart had sold it to Lord Seafield for £10,000. Leslie never "saw Manar so chagrined " for he was "prepared to give £12,000, at least, before allowing what he considered his paternal acres to go into other hands". John Stuart died in 1837, unmarried and the Lesmoir baronetcy became vacant.


6. The Succession to the Baronetcy of Lesmoir, as outlined in 'The House of Gordon' edited by John Malcolm Bulloch:


The desire to establish a connection between Peter Gordon in Haddoch and the house of Birkenburn would seem to have been set in motion by the attempt made in 1841 and renewed in 1887 of the family of Lieut.-Col. Herbert Spencer Compton Gordon to claim the baronetcy of Lesmoir, which had become extinct or dormant exactly two years previously. It may be remembered that these Gordons advertised in The Times of November 9, 1841, for a missing pedigree. In the same year the Rev. George Gordon, minister of Glenrinnes (died 1863), who was connected in a very roundabout way with the Haddoch Gordons, began on his own account (for he was immensely interested in the genea- logy of his house) to make investigations into the origin of the Haddoch family. He applied in particular with some success to William Ronald, schoolmaster in the Cabrach ("an extraordinary fellow"), and he inter- viewed several collateral branches of the family.

The undoubted descendants of Peter also began to take an interest in the question, for some of them had got on in the world. In particular, Gordon of Manar had begun to make investigations as early as 1810, and had expressed a strong desire to purchase the estate of Birkenburn, for he considered it his " paternal acres ". John Stuart of Birkenburn had as early as 1824 written to Manar on the subject, considering Manar was a " distant relative of his own ". So he " thought it proper to send him the plan and valuation by the maill," requesting " their early return by the same vehicle ". The Gordons of Coynachie who had made their mark in the army, had also gone the length of borrowing family papers from the Stuarts, who took no interest in pedigree hunt- ing. Again, Dr. John Stuart, secretary of the Spalding Club, who was descended from Peter's son, John Gordon in Drumfergue, made several inquiries, with the view (we learn incidentally) of writing a history of the Gordons — a task not to be undertaken until sixty years later by the Club's successor. Among others who joined the hunt was William Leslie of Warthill, who was considered " as good as an old almanack among the antiquarians " ; while James Simpson, Keith, lent valuable aid. Last of all, the various investigations were co-ordinated in 1845 by Hugh William Gordon of The Knoll, Elgin, who had an eye on the baronetcy of Lesmoir, which was actually assumed by his son Hugh (by advertisement in The Times) in 1870. He did not prove his case, but fortunately many of the letters on the subject were preserved and are now in the possession of his son, Mr. Hugh Gordon of Purulia, Chota Nagpur, Lower Bengal.

The point to be proved was the tradition that Peter in Haddoch was the younger brother of William Gordon, the last male Gordon laird of Birkenburn ; but all that has been proved by these investigations — undertaken a hundred years after Peter's death — is that Peter had five sons : (1) Alexander, in Haddoch, whose male issue seems to be ex- tinct ; (2) James, in Old Merdrum, the ancestor of the Gordons of The Knoll, Elgin, and of the Gordons of Manar ; (3) George, in Auchmair and Balnacraig, whose male issue is extinct ; (4) John, in Drumfergue, represented by the Gordons of Coynachie and Culdrain ; (5) Peter, unmarried. But the origin of Peter, the father of these five sons, has not yet been established by documentary evidence. The tradition gains some validity from the fact that it has been handed down through several generations, and it was on foot before the Lesmoir baronetcy vanished. The difficulty of proof lies in the fact that the group had no landed estates (round which records usually centre), and the early Cabrach registers are missing.

PETER GORDON IN HADDOCH. Peter Gordon is claimed as the youngest son of Alexander Gordon, V. of Birkenburn (died 1709), and brother of the last male laird of Birkenburn, namely, William, who was succeeded by his daughter Magdalen, the wife of Rev. John Stuart. The lands of Birkenburn are in the parish of Keith, Banffshire. Haddoch is in the Cabrach, Aberdeenshire, almost twenty miles due south. How did a son of the laird of Birkenburn come to migrate to such a back-of-beyond ? A very specious reason was given to the Rev. George Gordon of Glenrinnes in 1845, when he interviewed James Malcolm, the nonagenarian black- smith at Haughs of Glass, who had married a grand-daughter of Peter. Malcolm declared that the sixth and last male Gordon of Birkenburn had a younger brother who lived with him. They were " nae weel doin','' and at last, as if anticipating complete disaster, the one said to the other : " We maun sinner" (separate). So Peter packed up his traps and set out for the Cabrach, where he became a merchant, and founded the big family dealt with in this section. The Poll Book mentions a Peter Gordon, merchant in Kirkton of Cabrach, which is less that a mile from Haddoch.

On July 15, 1810, the Rev. John Gordon, Cabrach, sent a copy of the inscription on a flat tombstone in memory of a Peter Gordon and his wife Bessie to Hugh Gordon of Manar, the grandson of Peter ; but it was even then partly illegible. The minister declared that Hugh Gordon's father, James in Old Merdrum, was buried beneath the stone, " though it does not bear his name ". Ronald tried his hand at deciphering the stone thirty-five years later, covering it with turf to get a clear reading. He made a certified copy of it on April 3, 1845 (now in the possession of Mr. Hugh Gordon) as follows : — Here lyes Bessie Gordon, spous to Peter Gordon, who dep 1 '. this life the 18 of Dec r ., 1728, and of age 50 years. Also here lyes Patrik Gordon in Haddoch who dep. this life 38 and of his age 6l years. Ronald says that the stone was a freestone slab 5 feet 4 inches by 2 feet, " lying flat on the ground immediately south of the tombstones on John Gordon, sometime in Drum- fergue, and his son, Lieut.-Col. John Gordon, late of the 92nd Regiment, which are placed the one over the other. The former part of the inscription [" Here lyes Bessie Gordon, spous to Peter Gordon, who dep r . this life the 18 of Dec r ., 1728, and of age 50 years "] is in tolerably good preservation ; but the latter part, recording the death of Peter Gordon (As deciphered by William Ronald in 1845 and now in possession of Mr. Hugh Gordon, Purulia, Chota Nagpur) which has been engraven in a smaller character and not so deeply cut, has been nearly obliterated, in a great measure by the feet of those passing over it or sitting on the other tombstone, which is a favourite lounging place before church time on Sundays. The first six lines occupy 12 inches, and the last four lines only 6 inches." The date of Peter's death fits in very well with the tradition that he was the youngest son of Alexander, V. of Birkenburn, whose eldest son Alexander entered King's College in 1670, probably at the age of 12. The stone is no longer to be found.

See also: the account of the claim in Nisbet's Heraldry: (and pictured below)

7. The Retention of the Gordon Burial Ground, the Chapel of Appolinaris at Polnair, and the walled Grove of trees around it:

In the Sale Brochure below, it can be clearly seen that a Reservation from Sale was placed on "the ground at Polinar, extending to 14 acres" and "containing the ruins of the Chapel of St Appolinaris, and the burying ground of the family of Gordon of Manar". All these grounds remain in the possession of the Gordons. They are a sacred place, regularly visited by the descendants of Hugh, James, and Henry Gordon of Manar.

When Manar was sold to Monica Stewart Sutherland in 1946 (ref: G.R.S. {Aberdeen} 25 May 1946, RS88/ Book 3036 Folio 177), in the plans attached to this document, and forming part of it, it can be plainly seen that the Polnair Burial Ground was excluded from the definition of the Estate property, even though all the surrounding land is included. In the subsequent transfer of the Estate to its present owners (recorded in: GRS{Aberdeen} on 4 November 1993, Fiche 2489 Folio 1) the Polnair Burial Ground did not form part of the new owner's estate, and could not, because it had never been the Sutherland's property in the first place. The current owners of the Manar Estate have confirmed this to me by email. In short, there is no evidence of the Gordon Burial Ground at Polnair ever having been sold, and this conforms with our family's expressed retention/reservation from sale of this family ground. While the site has some historic interest, and our family welcomes access for the local community and all well-wishing visitors, the plot itself, including the entirety of the walled grounds and the last remains and resting place of our family members remains the property of the Gordon family.

Application to the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland found no record of sale of the Polnair Burial Ground, the property sheets for the Manar estates having been searched.

Other property documents of interest include:

An Instrument of Sasine in favour of James Gordon of Manar, dated 20 August 1836 (recorded in the Particular Register of Sasines on 22-8-1836, and kept for the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardineshire at Aberdeen).

A plan of the Manar Estate in 1899 is also held at the Special Collections Library at Aberdeen University.


8. Details of the Manar Estate, according to 'The New Statistical Account of Scotland' (1845) Vol XII-Aberdeen: Parish of New Deer:

2883 acres, of which 664 are first quality arable, 1043 are second quality arable, 391 are pasture, 384 are moor, 280 are moss and moor, and 59 acres are wood. These lands brought in a rent of £1185 a year. Labourers pay was about £30 a year. Each year the Manar Estate produced on average 2188 quarters of oats, 650 bolls of potatoes, 190 acres of turnips, 5299 stones of hay, and 484 bushels of rye-grass. On the estate there were 82 horses, 468 cattle, and 60 sheep.


9. Origins of the Gordons:

The first Gordons listed on the family tree of the Gordons of Manar came to Britain in the mid-11th Century. The original Gordon was Adam Gordon, who was a Norman (in other words a Viking) living in Normandy where the Vikings had settled in Northern France. When King Duncan of Scotland was killed by Macbeth, Malcolm fled to the English court of Edward the Confessor, and from there summoned warriors from Normandy (including our ancestor). They then marched north and defeated and killed Macbeth (just like in the Shakespeare play). As a reward for his support, the new King Malcolm of Scotland granted Adam lands in Berwickshire in a district called Gordon, which he took as his title and family name. In later generations the Gordons moved to Aberdeenshire. But basically the Gordons originated in Scandinavia. This is in line with DNA sampling our family has undertaking (courtesy of Leslie Gordon and with thanks to Barbara Gordon Dundas) which shows the Gordon paternal line's observable genetic correspondence with Scandinavian/Viking DNA.


10. The Gordon DNA Project:

Through the Gordon DNA project, which tracks direct paternal descent, we have been able to confirm that our immediate family, and other descendants of the Gordons of Manar, are directly descended from the historic Gordon ancestors (who first came to Britain about 950 years ago). Leslie Gordon (grandson of Henry Gordon of Manar) agreed to undergo DNA testing. The results showed fascinating correlation with many other Gordon families around the world, with probability (99.5 to 100%) of historic descent beyond any rational margin of error. I'm grateful to my cousin Barbara Gordon (now Dundas) for arranging these tests, and for the support and encouragement given to her by Tei Gordon of the Project. This is how the testing proceeded:

In about 2013, Barbara Gordon (Dundas) of Perth, Western Australia, arranged patrilinear DNA testing of her father Leslie Gordon when he was 88 to explore the family's DNA and relationship to other Gordons. We wanted to confirm that he was the grandson of Henry Gordon of Manar, and to explore our descent further back in Gordon history. After the results had come through Tei Gordon of the DNA Project wrote to Barbara:

"Barbara, you have one of the most fascinating Gordon family histories. Thank you for sharing with me. I know the House of Gordon books well and even have three complete sets. The author Dr. John Malcolm Bulloch was not a Gordon and this is the reason his research is so respected. It was and still is considered the eminent genealogical resource for the Gordons. I did find your line in a couple of his other books as well.

I would have to say that your Y-DNA results do support Dr. Bulloch's research and your own family's research. Yes, you are certainly a "true" Gordon. The DNA appears to substantiate direct patrilinear descent from Jock Gordon of Scurdargue"

The DNA kit was number 286421 (see: ), and the 37 markers match perfectly with other Gordon kits - 87584, 97554, 129211, 131691, 145232, 262997. Unexpectedly, all these matching kits are from Gordons located in the United States. The implication is a shared paternal ancestor between 4 and 8 generations ago. Paternal descent likelihood from early Gordons is 100%.

It would be interesting to get a DNA test result from someone with direct male descent from Hugh Gordon of Manar, Australia, or Hugh Gordon of Strathbogie, NSW. The DNA has been stored, and the family is in the process of re-testing it with more markers to gain greater precision and specificity. There is an interesting but complicated paper on improving the interpretation of DNA relationships between samples, here.


11. Gordons of Manar in Australia:

While many of our immediate family (the grand-children and great-grand children of Henry Gordon of Manar) remain in Scotland and England, there are also hundreds of descendants in Australia, springing from the emigration of Hugh Gordon (younger son of Hugh Gordon of Manar) in the early Victorian period. They made a significant contribution to the life of the young nations there, settling around Braidwood in New South Wales, where a new Manar was built. Over 370 of these descendants are alive today and you can see pictures and more links and details on the page 'Australian Gordons.' The history of this branch of the Gordons of Manar has been brilliantly researched and documented by Mac Gordon and Simon Kelleher in "The Gordons of Manar in Australia: 150 years" (ISBN: 0646064851) published in 1991; and in constructing the overall family tree of the Gordons of Manar - - I am greatly indebted to them for their research. It is my intention to develop more detailed information of this large branch of the family and publish it here on this website, because we are all part of the Gordons of Manar - and I should be really delighted to hear from relatives of this branch, as I do from time to time. Especially for all news of new additions to the family.

Details of (William) Deuchar Gordon can be found on Wikipedia here: - Deuchar Gordon consolidated the Manar Estate of 26,000 acres in New South Wales. There is also plenty of information and pictures on this website, which you can find in the 'Gordons Today' section, of click on Hugh Gordon of Manar NSW, and follow the links in the family tree tables from there. I am very grateful to 'Mac' Gordon for many pictures and biographical details, and very much appreciate this collaboration, helping to connect the UK and Australian branches of the Manar family, and the histories of both Manars.


12. Frederick Hugh 'Ted' Gordon and the early days of the Australian Motor Industry:

To read about the fascinating story of 'Ted' Gordon, who founded Australian Motors, and also the whole background of the early days of motor car production, click here for an article by his grandson Simon Kelleher. 'Ted' was the son of Frederick Pascoe Gordon and the grandson of Hugh Gordon of Manar (New South Wales). 'Ted' Gordon has been called the Father of Australian Motoring, and in total it is believed his factory may have produced 1000 cars. The Aussie Six was a famous model and it appeared on an Australian stamp in 1984. Simon also describes his personal quest to retrieve and restore two of these, and how he drove one of the cars from Sydney to Melbourne in a rally to celebrate Australia's bicentenary.


13. Family Historians:

Family Historians have included:

Rev. George Gordon of Glenrinnes (1808-1863) wrote letters and initiated enquiries concerning the claim of the Gordons of Haddoch to the Baronetcy of Lesmoir. He interviewed an elderly schoolmaster in the Cabrach (where Peter was buried) and various members of the branches of the family, as well as a village blacksmith in his 90’s.

John Stuart (1813-1877) was a well-known genealogist and antiquarian who took an interest in the family history and local history in the Huntly/Strathbogie area. He was an early member, and editor, of ‘The Spalding Club’.

‘Mac’ Gordon has a very detailed knowledge of the descendants of Peter Gordon of Haddoch and has collected much information, as well as being joint editor/author of ‘The Gordons of Manar in Australia’ which is the foundational study of Hugh Gordon of Manar, New South Wales, and his many descendants.

Simon Kelleher was the other editor/author of the above-mentioned book, and in particular played a valuable task transcribing many of the letters sent from Australia to the Leslies of Warthill.

Susannah Clark edits a website called ‘’ which has sparked helpful contact with Gordon descendants, and also edits the family tree at ‘’.

Barbara (Gordon) Dundas of Perth, Western Australia, has been a tireless researcher for information and artefacts of the Gordons of Manar, and was instrumental in recovering the original Manar Bible and its records. With her help, her father Leslie Gordon contributed his DNA to the Gordon DNA project, as a direct male descendant going back through a male line for many centuries.

I have had an interest in family history since about 1967, when Henry Robert Gordon gave me his version of the family tree, and I basically found the opportunity from time to time to delve deeper over the following fifty years. The family tree has now grown to over 6000 rows of a spreadsheet and 50 columns. Many people have written to me over the years, with information, names and dates, photos, and stories.

It would be great if someone from the next generations would get involved, to maintain, preserve and develop our family's history for future generations. So if you read this and would like to get involved, you are very welcome! In addition, the family history and family tree may be of interest to younger people doing school projects, or just out of interest. No person is named on this site or on the family tree until they are at least 18. As a safeguarding principle, I only reply to adults, but at least the resource is available here if your children want to find out more about their families.

The classic work on Gordon History is 'The House of Gordon' by Bulloch, which was published in 1907. Although this website is about the descendants of Gordon of Manar, there are other descendants of Peter Gordon of Haddoch (Manar's grandfather) and some of these can be found on the family tree too - for example Major-General Robert Urquhart, who was Commanding Officer of the 1st Airborne Division at the Battle of Arnhem.

Basically, I am always delighted when family members get in touch, as I suppose I am a bit of a magpie, always keen on picking up pieces of information. You can contact me at: thecommunity (at) gmail (dot) com. I am a great-grandchild of Henry Gordon of Manar. My mother Barbara Gordon worked at Bletchley Park with her twin sister Sheila in the second world war. I was born a few years after. My own career has included work in the Prison Service as an Assistant Governor, 27 years as an English teacher, and late in life I re-trained as a registered nurse. My other interests have tended to be about writing, mountaineering, football, cooking, contemplation, family and friends.


14. The Recollections of Kitty Lumsden:

For a delightful account of the memories of Catherine Lumsden, the orphan looked after by James Gordon at Manar in the 1850's and 60's, not mainly about Manar, but referencing James's wife and their daughters Anne and Alice, and evoking what life was like in those days, click here . A lot of the history and archives of the Gordons of Manar are quite male-related, focussing on men's careers and lives. So it is nice - in these recollections about Kitty Lumsden - to have an archive which records things from a female point of view. In addition, it underlines the familial link between the Gordons and the Lumsdens, which was formed through the marriage of Anne Gordon of Manar to Harry Lumsden of Clova, who were Kitty's parents; and the marriage of James Gordon of Manar to Harry Lumsden's sister Elizabeth Cruger Lumsden; and which continues to this day with the descendants (including the Franks family) of Kitty Lumsden.


15. The Recollections of Emmeline (Macarthur) Leslie:

For a charming account of the early days of pastoral settlement in Australia, the Recollections of Emmeline Leslie, which you can read here and here, present fascinating memories of that generation of Scottish adventurers and settlers who left their native land to try to make their fortunes. These included young Hugh Gordon of Manar and four Leslie brothers from the neighbouring Warthill estate of William Leslie. These young men, all friends, set off for the Far East and Australia in the 1830s. Three of them married into the well-established Macarthur family. The most adventurous young man - Patrick Leslie - married Catherine (Kate) Macarthur. Hugh Gordon married Mary Macarthur. And George Leslie married Emmeline Macarthur.

Late in her life, in 1909, Emmeline wrote down her recollections of those early days, and they provide a fascinating insight, from a female perspective, of those pioneer times. She recalls her early childhood, and life at her family home, 'The Vineyard' in Parramatta, as well as the adventures as a settler in the Darling Downs in what was to become Queensland.

16. The Manar Family Bible: (see its own archive page and pictures here )

The Manar Bible was purchased by Hugh Gordon in 1811 or shortly after, around the time that Manar had been built and he had married his wife, Elizabeth Forbes.

On the blank inside page at the front are written the details of Hugh Gordon of Manar's children. We know it is written by either Hugh or Elizabeth because one of the children is reported as being buried "in my mother's grave".

On the blank inside page at the back are written the details of James Gordon of Manar's children. This page has been written in three scripts, with the first script detailing James's children. A second script appears to have been added to report the exact date and time of the death of James's wife, Elizabeth Cruger (Lumsden) Gordon, who had moved with her two daughters Anne and Alice to Midmar Castle. A third script records the deaths of remaining children of James, written at a date in or after 1942.

Inside the Bible is a purple book mark, with a very simple piece of embroidery with the initials E.C.G. for Elizabeth Cruger Gordon. It was found on the pages of the last chapter of the Book of Ruth and the first chapter of the first Book of Samuel.

The Bible itself includes apocryphal books such as the Book of Susanna and the account of Bel and the Dragon. These were not typically part of the Protestant Bible and the Bible is more typical of a Catholic household (though we know that James Gordon was (at least publicly) a Protestant.

The Manar Bible was missing for years, but in 2017 Barbara (Dundas) Gordon, in an astonishing discovery, found out that the bible was being advertised for sale by a bookseller in Dorchester. Where it had been all these years is unknown. The Bible was purchased by Barbara and is now back in the family. It is leather-bound, in good condition, and it is a pleasure to know that it was part of our family's life all those year's ago at Manar.

There is also a Family Bible passed down through the generations from Hugh Gordon of Manar in New South Wales, who was given it by Leslie of Warthill. Hugh gave it to Lambert Skene, who handed it down to Hugh Hungerford Gordon, Hugh McLeod Gordon and presently it is in the possession of James (Jamie) William Gordon.

Hugh Gordon of Manar (NSW) in a letter to Mrs. Jane Leslie of Warthill, dated 11th May 1838, mentions this bible which Mr William Leslie had given to him before he left Scotland:

17. Other Properties owned by Gordon of Manar:

In the Ordnance Survey records of the 1860's, detailing the names and ownership of locations across Aberdeenshire, James Gordon of Manar is listed as owner of the following properties -

East Harlaw: An ordinary farmhouse with offices and garden attached, property of James Gordon Esq. of Manar.

Balhaggardy: A very large farmsteading with offices and garden attached; property of James Gordon Esq. Manar.

West Mains of Harlaw: A substantial farmsteading, with offices and garden attached; property of James Gordon Esq. Manar.

Harlaw House: A substantial dwellinghouse of two storeys, with garden etc. attached. This was originally the Free Church Manse, and the church stood not far from it, but it was not considered to be central enough, and was consequently removed to near Pitcaple. Property of James Gordon Esq. Manar.

Mid Harlaw: A good farmsteading with offices and garden attached; property of James Gordon Esq. Manar.

Wester Harlaw: A farmsteading with offices and garden attached; property of James Gordon Esq. Manar.

Mill of Inveramsey: A substantial farmsteading, with offices and garden attached. The Mill on this farm is adapted for grinding corn and barley. Motive power, water. property of James Gordon Esq. Manar.

Nether Blackhall: A farm house with offices and garden attached property of J. Gordon Esq. Manar House

Conglas: A very large farm house & steading with garden attached, property of James Gordon Esqr.

Woodhill: Originally a farm steading, the grounds formerly attached are now farmed by James Gordon of Manar House, the buildings being used as Cottar Houses for accomodating the proprietor's servants

Burnside: Formerly a Croft on the estate of Manar the grounds are farmed by the proprietor and the houses are used for the accomodation of his servants.

Polinar: An Antiquated looking farm steading with gardens etc. attached, it stands north of the ruins of an old Chapel, dedicated to St Apolinarius of which Polinar is a Corruption, the farm is rented by Mr. Low, and is the property of James Gordon Esq. Manar House

Dubston: A substantial farmsteading, with offices and garden attached; property of James Gordon, Esqr. Manar House.

Mains of Blackhall: A substantial farmsteading, with offices and garden attached; property of James Gordon Esqr. Manar House.

Manar House: An elegant and commodious Mansion house, Situated about an eighth of a mile on the north side of the River Don, property and residence of J. Gordon Esqr.

Home Farm: A Substantial farm Steading, with outhouses, etc. attached; it lays within the bounds of the house of Manar, and about half a mile due east of the said Mansion.

Waterside: A neat dwelling house one Storey and Slated the residence of the herdsman of the property of Manar and property of James Gordon Esq

Nether Blackhall: A farm house with offices and garden attached property of J. Gordon Esq. Manar House








Extract of the Last Will and Testament of Hugh Gordon of Manar, Aberdeenshire, April 1834 - to view the complete will click: here



Part of the Manar Estate, showing fishing pools



From the Manar sale brochure





Note the reservation from sale put on the Gordon Burial Ground (which can be seen: here )


People present at Manar at the 1841 census

People present at Manar in the 1851 census

People present at Manar in 1861 census, starting in bottom two rows and continued in next picture

People present at Manar in 1861 census - note the Fowler family, who 130 years later sent us valued family archives and photos

Henry Lumsden 1856 document - father of Elizabeth Cruger Gordon (nee Lumsden) who is mentioned below

James Gordon's wife Elizabeth - her father's will mentioning them both

Leter sent by Elizabeth Cruger (Lumsden) Gordon to James Fowler, her former employee, in 1910

Continuing pages of the letter from Elizabeth Gordon to James Fowler, 1910


Memorial plaque at the Residency Cemetery to those from the 90th Light Infantry who fell at Lucknow in 1858, including the 19-year-old Ensign Hugh Gordon

And a close-up shot: Hugh was killed by heat-stroke

The claim to the baronetcy of Lesmoir as reported in Nisbet's Heraldry

Site of the castle at Lesmoir (in trees to the left) which was captured and ransacked

after the estate supported Montrose and the Stuart kings in the Civil War in the 17th Century.

Extract from 'Scottish Notes and Queries' (2nd series Vol IV) ed John Bulloch, July 1902 to June 1903

My thanks to Barbara Gordon (pictured here with her husband Graeme Dundas)

for all her support and investigations into our family history.

My thanks also to the Fowler family for their archive pictures included on this site.

The Fowler family worked on the Manar Estate in the days of James Gordon of Manar.

Hugh Gordon of Manar, New South Wales, Australia

The Last Will and Testament of Hugh Gordon of Manar, NSW




email: thecommunity (at) gmail (dot) com