Maclarens, Birtwistles and Many Other Families

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  • ID: I03699
  • Name: George Gordon , 2nd Earl of Huntly
  • Sex: M
  • Death: 8 JUN 1501
  • Event: 1 Source See Stirnet Genealogy at
  • Note:
    George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly (before 1455 Stirling Castle, June 8, 1501) was Chancellor of Scotland from 1498-1501. He married Elizabeth Dunbar, widowed Countess of Moray, on 20 May 1445. There were no children from the marriage, and the two were married for only a short time before he obtained a divorce in order to marry Princess Annabella (born c. 1433), Annabella of Scotland the daughter of King James I. The couple had at least one daughter, though some sources list them as having as many as six children. The Earl obtained an annulment, on 24 July 1471, on the basis of Annabella of Scotland's relationship with George's first wife, Elizabeth Dunbar (consanguinity). He then married his mistress, Elizabeth Hay, on 12 May 1476.

    Gordon fought on the King's side against the Douglases during the Douglas rebellion and helped secure a defeat at the Battle of Brechin.

    The 2nd Earl completed the building work that his father begun in constructing Huntly Castle.

    Note Annabella Stewart, Princess of Scotland previously shown as mother of most of 2nd Earl's children.
    Below from
    Doug Hickling

    "I suggest a major revision...""for George (2nd Earl of Huntly) Gordon because the authorities show scant reason for attributing more than one child to the earl's marriage to Annabella Stewart.

    According to SP 6:528-531, Ferrerius, the early Gordon historian who lived with a member of the family during the mid-1500s (see SP 4:533), was of the opinion that Elizabeth Hay was the mother of all of the future second earl's sons and that only Isabel was a daughter of Princess Annabella.

    The SP article says that the future earl married Annabella before 10 March 1459-60, but, after six years of marriage and no male children, Huntly directed his affections toward Elizabeth Hay. In a writ dated 12 May 1466, the future earl "swore on the Gospels that he would have no 'actual delen' with the lady until he could have her to wife lawfully." This writ is among the Slains charters transmitted by the Earl of Erroll to the General Register House, but it does not seem to have been published.
    The SP article on Hay, Earl of Erroll, at 3:565, cites this writ as a contract for the marriage of Elizabeth Hay to George, Lord Gordon.

    The SP article at 4:529 says that, because John Riddell (1785-1862) inadvertently quoted the date of this writ as 12 May 1476 instead of 12 May 1466, much confusion was caused among subsequent scholars as it postponed the date of the earl's marriage to Elizabeth to 1476 or later, making Ferrerius's statements that she was the mother of the earl's sons appear to be chronologically impossible.

    The 19th century authorities, such as Alexander Sinclair's 1871 article in THE HERALD AND GENEALOGIST, volume 6: 595-597, cited in CP 6: 677, note a, quotes a marriage contract between John, Earl of Atholl and George Gordon, second earl of Huntly dated 14 October 1474. The contract provided "Alexander, son and apparent heir to the said George is to marry and have to wife, as soon as he arrives to lawful age, Joan, daughter of the said John, and failing of the said Alexander, Adam the son of the said George, and so forth from son to son lawfully gotten, or for to be gotten by the said George, etc.." Sinclair argued that, since, as he thought erroneously, the earl did not marry Elizabeth Hay until 1476, two years after the date of the contract, all of the second earl's sons were by Annabella. Sinclair concluded not only that Elizabeth had had no children at all by Huntly, but also that Ferrerius "who is seldom mistaken" was wrong in making all three sons Elizabeth's offspring.

    At 4:529, the SP article notes that Huntly's divorce from Annabella was pronounced at
    Aberdeen on 24 July 1471, granted on the ground that Elizabeth Dunbar, his first wife, was related in the fourth degree of consanguinity to Annabella. Earl George moved almost immediately to marry Elizabeth Hay, the banns being published on 4, 11, and 18 August 1471 at the church at Fyvie. At page 529, note 2, the same article states that, based upon the marriage date of 1471, Ferrerius's statement is "now seen to be correct that she was the mother of the Earl's sons." SP concludes that Elizabeth Hay was the mother of the earl's sons and of some of the daughters, but, based upon Ferrerius, shows only Isabel to have been Annabella's daughter.
    In its entry for Alexander, third Earl of Huntly, at 4:531, SP explains that the fact that Alexander was sitting in Parliament in 1485 and as one of the Lords of the Articles would tend to support the view that Annabella was the earl's mother. On the other hand, SP seems to have found even more compelling evidence that Elizabeth Hay was Alexander's mother based upon (1) a charter of 21 February 1504-5 to Elizabeth, Countess of Huntly, in which "she is distinctly referred to as 'mother' of Alexander, Earl of Huntly," and (2) at the earl's request, on 4 July 1492, the divorce of Lady Annabella and the publication in 1471 of the banns of his father and Elizabeth Hay were recorded in the Consistorial Court of Aberdeen, "a proceeding he would hardly have taken had he been the son of the Princess."

    CP 6:676-677, says that the identity of the mother of Alexander Gordon, 3rd Earl of Huntly, is "very doubtful," and generally quotes from the SP article discussed above. CP accepts 24 July 1471 as the date of the divorce of Annabella and the second earl and agrees that George Gordon, the second earl, remarried in 1471, shortly after his divorce. At the carryover note on p. 677, CP says that Annabella apparently obtained a divorce from the second earl because of his "carnal copulation" with Elizabeth Hay. This raises, without resolving, the issue of whether each party obtained a divorce against the other.

    One could conclude that the earl's marital intimacy with Annabella had already ended by 12 May 1466 when he had entered into a contract to marry Elizabeth Hay, even though he promised his wife on the Gospels that he would not have "actual delen" with Elizabeth until he was free to marry her. Alexander Gordon, 3rd Earl Huntly, may well have been born to Elizabeth Hay in 1466 or earlier, a birth which was legitimated by her subsequent marriage to Huntly following the publication of banns. Alexander's subsequent insistence on recording his father's divorce from Annabella and of the publication of the banns leading up to his father's marriage to Elizabeth may have been intended to show Alexander's legitimacy. Further, had Alexander been born by 1466, his attendance in Parliament in 1485 would not seem unduly premature.

    Brian Tompsett agrees with SP that the second earl married Annabella before 10 March 1459-60. On his sheet for Gordon, George of Huntly 2nd, Tompsett lists all four of the earl's sons and two of his daughters as children of Annabella. He agrees that the earl and Elizabeth Hay were married in August 1471 and assigns three daughters to this marriage. His note cites CP 6:677, but that article mentioned above says only that the identity of the third earl's mother is "very doubtful," and says nothing at all about the identity of the mother of the earl's other children. Tompsett also sets forth somewhat contradictory information on his sheet for Stuart, Annabella (Jean) where he lists ten children: 5 sons--one of whom seems to appear twice--and 5 daughters.

    Stirnet under "Gordon02" states in its introduction that the Gordon family may have falsely claimed descent from Annabella because of the prestige that resulted from a royal descent, but recognizes that the second earl's divorce from Annabella may have been related to the absence of male children. Stirnet..." (at "adopts the article appearing in the 1934 edition of BURKE'S PEERAGE, apparently also accepting 1476, instead of 1471, as the date of the earl's marriage to Elizabeth Hay.

    Whatever may have been BURKE'S position with regard to the mother of the earl's children in 1934, the current 106th edition of BURKE'S PEERAGE & BARONETAGE, at 1480, shows the second earl's three wives and his marriage to Elizabeth Hay in August 1471, but it declines to identify the mother of any of the earl's four sons and three daughters listed in the article.
    Probably the last and most authoritative word on Annabella's children as the
    Countess of Huntly belongs to Alison Weir in BRITAIN'S ROYAL FAMILIES, at 232. She regards Isabel as the only probable child of Annabella's marriage to the earl. She says that "Annabella was also possibly, but improbably," the mother of Janet, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Agnes. Weir shows no sons resulting from this marriage, and says that it is "highly improbable" that Alexander, 3rd Earl of Huntly, was her son. Obviously, if Alexander was not Annabella's child, then neither were the younger sons and daughters. Without mentioning him, Weir seems generally to agree with Ferrerius in identifying Annabella's children by the second earl. My own view is that, had Riddell not erroneously copied the date of the 1466 writ as 1476 or had Elizabeth Hay been the royal princess instead of Annabella, the Gordon family historians would have continued to follow Ferrerius.

    I note that of the 70 gedcoms available through Rootsweb, 63 of them accept Annabella as the mother of the 3rd earl and only seven hold out for Elizabeth Hay, so you have a lot of company, although I suspect that much of the support for Annabella is due to her royal connections. I also think that very few of these gedcom owners have done any research on the matter, and, like the Gordon/Huntly family, are happy to endorse a descent from King James I."
    Douglas Hickling
    516 Blair Avenue
    Piedmont CA 94611
    (August 2003)

    SP = Scots Peerage
    CP = The Complete Peerage by G E Cokyane

    Father: Alexander Seton , 1st Earl of Huntly
    Mother: Elizabeth Crichton

    Marriage 1 Elizabeth Dunbar , of Moray b: ABT 1424
    • Married: 20 MAY 1444

    Marriage 2 Annabella Stewart , Princess of Scotland b: ABT 1440
    • Married: BEF 10 MAR 1458/59
    1. Has Children Isabella Gordon

    Marriage 3 Elizabeth Hay , of Erroll
    • Married: 18 AUG 1471
    1. Has Children Alexander Gordon , 3rd Earl of Huntly b: 1471
    2. Has No Children Catherine Gordon
    3. Has Children Agnes Gordon , of Huntly
    4. Has No Children Eleanore Gordon
    5. Has No Children Janet Gordon , of Huntly
    6. Has Children Adam Gordon , Lord Aboyne
    7. Has Children James (Sir) Gordon , Admiral,1st of Letterfourie
    8. Has Children Elizabeth Gordon , of Huntly
    9. Has No Children Mary Gordon , of Huntly
    10. Has No Children Agnes Gordon
    11. Has Children William (Sir) Gordon , of Schivas & of Gight b: ABT 1450

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