Dr John Gordon

1755 - 1825


Owner of Cross's Pen, Government Mountain and Little Angels estates in St Catherine, Jamaica, but also apparently of further estates, including Barbican. Deceased by 1826.

  1. John Gordon was born on the farm of Westfolds in the parish of Glass in Aberdeenshire in 1755. He was the son of a farmer named George Gordon (d.1773) and his wife Isabel McInnes. He entered Marischal College in Aberdeen in 1773 and graduated in 1777 with a Master of Arts degree. He likely studied at King’s College in Aberdeen or Glasgow University for his medical degree. He joined the Royal Navy as a ship’s surgeon and served on HMS Perseus until late 1783 when he asked the Admiralty for two years leave to settle in Jamaica.

  2. Reportedly, in his will, made in 1822, John Gordon ordered his [unspecified] estates in Jamaica to be sold and the proceeds to be divided between his nephew Alexander Gordon of Nassau, the children of his sister Bell, the children of his sister Betty and the youngest daughter of Rev. John Gordon, minister of Duffus. His sister Isobel Gordon married James Wilson; their known children were Elspet (1777-), George (1779-), Isobel (1786-), Marjory (1788-), Mary (1789-) and John (1792-), all baptised in Clatt, Aberdeenshire. His sister Elizabeth married James Gauld; their children were James (1780-), Isobel (1784-), George (1788-), John (1790-) and Harry (1793-), the eldest two bapised in Glass, the next two in Cairnie and the fifth in Auchindoir and Kearn, Aberdeenshire. The youngest daughter of Rev. John Gordon of Duffus was Katherine Forbes Asher nee Gordon (1799-1880).

These beneficiaries' details differ from those found in Old Parish Registers of births. These records suggest seventeen beneficiaries in total: Alexander Gordon (merchant in Nassau and Dr John Gordon's nephew by his brother, James Gordon); Katherine Asher (wife of Reverend William Asher, minister of Inveravon Parish, Banffshire, and daughter of Reverend John Gordon, minister of Duffus Parish, Moray); the eight children of John Gordon’s sister Isobel (Bell) Wilson, of Bankhead, Clatt, Aberdeenshire (George Wilson, farmer at Dunscroft, Gartly, Aberdeenshire; James Wilson, farmer at Netherton of Knockespock, Clatt, Aberdeenshire; William Wilson, farmer at Auchindellan, Clatt, Aberdeenshire; Marjory Booth, née Wilson, farmer’s widow, lived at Netherton of Knockespock, Clatt, Aberdeenshire; Mary Wilson, unmarried, lived at Netherton of Knockespock, Clatt, Aberdeenshire; Reverend John Wilson, minister of the parish of Premnay, Aberdeenshire; Hannah Runcie, née Wilson, farmer’s wife, Greenlaw, Alvah, Banffshire; Harry Wilson, farmer at Bankhead, Clatt, Aberdeenshire); and the seven children of Dr John Gordon’s sister Elizabeth (Betty) Gauld, of Bomakelloch, Botriphnie, Banffshire (Isobel Peterkin, nee Gauld, wife of James Peterkin, farmer at Raemore, Deskford, Banffshire; Mary Gauld, nee Gauld, wife of James Gauld, farmer at Glenbeg, Mortlach, Banffshire; George Gauld, farmer at Bomakelloch, Botriphnie, Banffshire; John Gauld, farmer at Bomakelloch, Botriphnie, Banffshire; Anne George, nee Gauld, wife of James George, farmer at Mains of Drummuir, Botriphnie, Banffshire; Janet Carmichael, nee Gauld, wife of Alexander Carmichael, farmer at Mains of Davidston, Cairnie, Aberdeenshire; Margaret Duncan, nee Gauld, wife of John Duncan, farmer at Easter Corrie, Botriphnie, Banffshire).

  1. 1[st December 1825] At Kingston Jamaica where he had resided for more than 40 years, [death of] John Gordon M.D. a native of Aberdeenshire, in the 70th year of his age.'

  2. An account of this man's family that appeared in Scottish Notes & Queries is unreliable: it gives him as the only son of George Gordon in Balnacraig, Glass, Aberdeenshire, and Isobel McInnes of Botriphnie: "The son, James [sic], was a doctor in Jamaica, where he made some money. He returned to Scotland, and died there [sic], leaving his money between the two sisters whose marriages had pleased him. These sisters were Isobel who married James Wilson in Bankhead, Clatt, and ______who married ________Gauld in Bowmakelloch, Botriphnie. The other two sisters are said to have married Harry Forbes in Nether Wheedlemont and Peterkin... James Wilson and Isobel Gordon were my husband's great-grandparents. They had twelve children."

5.The published notices of the sale of Gordon's estates in 1827 recorded those he then held. The Royal Gazette of Jamaica advertised the sale of:

‘St Andrew - Barbican and Somerset sugar estates with or without Collings Penn containing 890 acres, 300 of which are in cane, the remainder pasture and provision grounds. On these properties are separate sets of works in good repair, and they might be carried on as one or two estates. Attached are 174 male and 157 female Negroes among whom are several very valuable tradesmen. Also 130 head of horned stock, 13 mules and 3 horses. Also Iron River, 550 acres of land until lately worked as a sugar estate and might be carried on to advantage having copper stills, still worms, cisterns and water mill which with the buildings, which are of substantial materials, could be put into complete repair at little expense. St Catherine – Cross’s Pen, Little Angels and Spencer’s Pen 2282 acres with a new set of sugar works on Little Angels and 150 acres in cane. 93 male and 90 female negroes, 254 breeding stock, the remainder is guinea grass piece, common pasture and wood land. Spanish Town – 500ft of land at the coconut trees near the Arsenal.’

We are grateful to Dr Patrick Watt for his assistance in compiling this entry.


  1. National Records of Scotland [NRS], OPR/Births/199/10/13 Glass. Church of Scotland Old Parish Register, Parish of Glass (31 January 1758).

    J. M. Bulloch, House of Gordon (Aberdeen: New Spalding Club, 1907), p. 319.

P. J. Anderson and J. F. K. Johnstone (eds), Fasti Academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonensis: Selections from the Eecords of Marischal College and University, MDXCIII-MDCCCLX (Aberdeen: New Spalding Club, 1898), p. 346.

National Archives at Kew. ADM 106/1270/445 (‘Captain Davies to the Admiralty’, 15 December 1782) and ADM 106/1276/137 (‘Dr John Gordon to the Admiralty’, 18 November 1783).

  1. PROB 11/1753/30.

NRS, OPR/Births/180/10 Clatt; NRS, OPR/Births/199/10 Glass; NRS, OPR/Births/178/10 Cairnie. Searches on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.

  1. Scots Magazine, Vol. 97 (March 1826) p. 384.

  2. Scottish Notes and Queries 2nd Series Volume 4 July 1902- June 1903, ed. John Bulloch (Aberdeen, 1903), No. 254 'George Gordon in Balnacraig'.

  3. Royal Gazette of Jamaica (29 September 1827) p. 20.

Further Information


PROB 11/1753/30 - precis.

John Gordon of Kingston, Jamaica. Trustees to be William Rae Esquire, and John Biggar and James Simpson, merchants, all of Kingston, and Alexander Stewart, merchant of London.

Trustees to sell all my plantations in Jamaica and to divide the proceeds in equal shares between: Alexander Gordon, now or late of Nassau in New Providence, merchant, son of my late brother James Gordon deceased; all the children of my sister Bell, the wife of James Wilson of Scotland; all the children of my sister Berry, wife of James [Gave? Cave?] of Scotland; the youngest daughter of the Rev. John Gordon of [Duffers - sic - Duffus?) in Scotland.

Trustees to be executors.

Signed 25/06/1822.

Proved in London 28/03/1829 by Alexander Gordon the nephew.

Marischal College, Aberdeen (MA) [1773-1777 ]
Physician and planter

Associated Estates (18)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1820 [EA] - → Other

Purchaser of these enslaved people.

1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Previous owner
1809 [EA] - 1825 [LA] → Owner

Given inconsistently as Dr John Gordon and simply John Gordon: the association is cemented by the presence of the known executors (Rae, Bigger and Simpson) of Dr John Gordon after c. 1826.

1817 [EA] - 1817 [LA] → Owner
1811 [EA] - 1825 [LA] → Owner
1823 [EA] - 1825 [LA] → Owner
1811 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1829 [LA] → Previous owner
1809 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1829 [LA] → Previous owner
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Previous owner
1825 [EA] - 1825 [LA] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1827 [LA] → Previous owner
1817 [EA] - 1825 [EY] → Owner
1816 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1829 [LA] → Previous owner
1817 [EA] - 1825 [LA] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Previous owner

Relationships (7)

Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Testator → Legatee

Addresses (1)

Glass, Aberdeenshire, North-east Scotland, Scotland