I AM INDEBTED TO THE LATE CORMAC GORDON OF DUBLIN, HIS SON CORMAC IN CO. WICKLOW, AND DAVID HEGARTY IN DUBLIN FOR SHARING THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR GORDON FAMILY HISTORY.
It is believed John Gordon was born in Scotland. The family was Catholic. According to family lore, he came to Ireland as a horseman with the army of King James II (of England and Ireland) and VII (of Scotland), who was Catholic. However, this does not tie in with John's date of birth as provided by the family (c.1750, which appears reasonable) because James II was in Ireland from 1689 until 1690. Perhaps it was John's father or grandfather who came from Scotland with King James's army.
According to another family source, the Gordons were brought to Roscommon from Scotland by Baron de Freyne of Frenchpark, the date of their arrival and the reason they were brought over being unknown. What is certain is that our Gordons were Catholic, unlike most of the Gordons of Northern Ireland who, for the most part, are descended from Scots who had come to Ireland during the Plantation of the 17th century.
To further complicate matters, in Connaught, according to M. O Droighneáin and M. A. O Murchú in 'An Sloinnteoir Gaeilge agus an tAinmeoir' (1991), 'Gordon' is an anglicisation of the Irish surnames 'Mag Muirneacháin' and 'Mórbhoirneach'. So perhaps our Gordon family was native Irish rather than Scottish, but this does not tie in with the belief held by generations of our Gordons that their particular family originated in Scotland. Any information which would help solve this mystery would be much appreciated.
If John or his ancestors did come from Scotland it appears likely they came from Aberdeenshire, with which Gordons of the Catholic faith are associated.
Whether or not John had Scottish connections, another family source tells us that in the 1780s John moved with his wife and sons to Kilgarriff from Roscommon town where he had worked as an ostler (tending to horses at an inn or stables) and farrier (blacksmith). He did well enough financially in Roscommon to purchase a farm in Kilgarriff.
Gordon researchers may be interested in the following entries in the 1749 Elphin census (from www.leitrim-roscommon.com) which show there were three Gordon families (all Catholic) living in Tibohine at the time of the census (although there is nothing to indicate any connection to our Gordon family):
1. A. Gordon lived in the townland of Clooncagh with his wife and one child under the age of 14.
2. M. Gordon lived in the townland of Aghalour with his wife and four children over 14.
3. J. Gordon lived in the townland of Aghalour with his wife and two children under 14.
Researchers of the Gordon family may also like to know of another Gordon family from Co. Roscommon to whom I am unable at the moment to find a connection with our own Gordons: Edward (Ned) J. Gordon from Minnesota tells me that his grandfather William J. Gordon was born on 30 June 1852 and died 17 August 1928. He emigrated from Co. Roscommon to Davenport, Iowa in 1873 where he lived for the rest of his life. He owned a blacksmiths and foundry shop in Davenport and in 1881 he married Ellen Elizabeth Layden. They had eight children:
Mary Katherine, born about 1882, died 26 November 1940
Winifred, born 3 September 1882, died 1890
Thomas John, born 25 March 1886, died 1889
Loretta Ellen, born 17 Aug 1890, died 30 December 1974
William Alan, born 31 May 1892, died 21 June 1959
John Francis, born 4 September 1897, died 7 June 1982
Edward Joseph, born 19 March 1900, died 3 December 1976
Lourdes Bernard, born 3 September 1906, died 17 October 1951.
Edward Joseph was Ned's father and he married Margaret Anne Peifer in 1933. They lived in St. Paul, Minnesota where Edward Joseph worked as a publisher. Their children were Edward (Ned) John and Richard Alan (born 23 May 1938, died 10 June 2006). Ned married Eileen Julia Raidl and they have five children: Edward John (father of Genevieve Converse and William Francis), Josephine Ellen Gordon Gilpatrick, Stephen William, Mary Eileen Gordon Kellogg (mother of Zachary Darwin) and Julia Margarethe. Richard (1938-2006), a medical doctor, married Lori Powell and they had two sons, Michael and John.
Another Roscommon-born Gordon crops up in the 1871 census of England. James Gordon, a labourer, was born about 1804 and was living in Whiston, Lancashire at the time of the census. I learned of James though a great-great-great-granddaughter of his who was also able to tell me that James was Catholic and had three childen with Martha Wright (née Worthington): Martha (who died at the age of 11), Winifred and James. James senior died in 1883. His daughter Winifred married John McDonagh and went to live with him back in his native Co. Galway.