Who was'Papa Camlet?'
| My Family - 'Camlet John'
The Girnoc Farms
The yeoman Gordon families of the remote Girnoc Glen have clung to the tradition that they 'shared the blood' of their Abergeldie Laird. No proof has ever emerged to fully support this. The Gordon families were initially sparse in Deeside, but by the 18th century, they had, (quite remarkably) come to predominate. In terms of density, no glen was populated more with these Gordon families than Girnoc. So much so, that the folk of Deeside, in times of old, were to say of any difficult situation 'it's inextricable… inextricable as the sibness of the Gordons o' Girnoc!"
Human nature compels one to a challenge. Incredibly the Girnoc has challenged researchers for over 100 years. It all started with John Gordon of Crovie a man of unique and determined disposition. This John chronicled his family history at a time when family origins were simply irrelevant compared to the general hardships of life and in particular the permanent sadness of high infant loss.
In 1873 John Gordon of Crovie wrote his eponymous "Bovagli' Manuscript" in which he chronicled the history of his father's family. Donald Gordon his father was born at Tornouran in 1770 and was to become one of the first Gordon's to tenant Bovaglie farm, the glittering jewel of the Girnoc. The 'Bovagli Manuscript' was to trace back seven generations to the Gordon family of Hallhead.
Frustratingly John Gordon of Crovie did not trace back his maternal line. It is here that one first hits that 'inextricable sibness' for the mother of John of Crovie was also a Gordon: Elspet Gordon of Camlet.
The Bovagli' Manuscript does however confirm the siblings of Elspet Gordon (1785-1866) including a younger brother Peter Gordon (born at Camlet in March 1793) who was married to Margaret McPherson. This Peter Gordon was this writer's 4G Grandfather.
|Far too much time has been spent upon the frustrating maze between Camlet and Abergeldie: some apparently solid-clues have led down blind-alleys, and other clues have simply been inaccurate.
A major difficulty arises because the Crathie parish records were left mysteriously 'blank' between 1750-1763 inclusive and for the later period (between 1795 and 1825) no banns (marriages) were recorded.
So for the record the writer here outlines what has emerged so far...
|'Apparently Solid' Clues:
1) Mr John Gordon of Crovie, drew up a pedigree of the family, and Mr Charles Brown, 56 Dee Street, Aberdeen, lent his aid in completing it, to Dr John Malcolm Bulloch: Who stated: 'The family begins, so far as can be traced, with: JOHN GORDON, CAMLET, who is given (by Mr Gordon, Foulzie) as the son of "------ Gordon and Mary Leys."
2) The Mormon Baptismal Record - which was first dated 1872 this records the parents of 'Camlet John' as John Gordon of Crathienaird and his wife Isobel Shepherd.
3) 25th January 1700 - "Decreet after Letters of Suspension, William Erskine of Pittodrie, against John Gordon in Camelet and James Gordon of Daach as assignee" (Mackenzie Decreets, vol. 131.) Referred to by Dr J. M. Bulloch.
4) John Gordon in Camlet had (according to Dr Bulloch) a niece Kate Gordon, who
"...married ------ Fraser, and died at Dryley, or Tomnakeist, Glenmuick."
5) John Gordon, Loinveg, son of 'Camlet John' was recorded by Dr J.M. Bulloch as having married his "...second cousin Mary Downie, Ardoch."
6)John Gordon in Allanquoich died August 1782. He married Elspet McKenzie, who as his executrix gave up his inventory on the 1st of July 1783. There were owing to him debts due by Duncan Calder in Allanquoich, in a bill dated 16th March 1772; by John Gordon in Camlet, in a bill dated 21st of December 1781. His "stocking, corns, and cattle were valued at £10." The will was confirmed at Aberdeen, on the 19th of March 1784, Donald McKenzie in Allanquoich being the cautioner ("Aberdeen Commissariot")
1. Other Gordon's of Camlet: In the mid to late 18th century 'Camlet John' and his wife Euphemia McAndrew were but one tenant family of several Gordon families to populate the half-dozen or so households of Camlet farm. So from the old parish records we can identify:
i) Francis Gordon (married Margaret Gordon on the 12th September 1790)
ii) Joseph Gordon (married Rachel Tastard)
iii) Peter Gordon (married Janet Gordon of the 'Khantore family' before 1783)
iv) Janet Gordon (probably the Janet Gordon that married Donald McAndrew)
One could postulate that they were all siblings of 'Camlet John.' This writer is inclined to believe so but no documentary proof has so far emerged to properly confirm this. The circumstantial evidence, all taken together, is however compelling. So for the puposes of investigation this writer has taken these as 'Camlet Sibs,' the onus thus being placed to disprove.
There is a first-hand account on the Francis Gordon mentioned above, submitted in 1905:
Mr David Burnett Gordon, who served with the Grenadier Guards in the Crimea, writing to Dr J. M. Bulloch from 48 St Mary's Street, Edinburgh, 24th Sept 1905, said
"I was born at LONVEG, CRATHIE. My fathers name was Francis Gordon, farmer and cattle-dealer. My grandfather's name was Francis Gordon. He was farmer of the home farm of Abergeldie, for three nineteen years, previous to 1834, the year I was born."
2. Glenmuick Churchyard: The Camlet stones (x2) are in a row of five and are co-located beside the Littlemill stones (x3). At the end of the row are the Abergeldie Memorials. Given that Glenmuick is a small churchyard this may reflect no more than simple coincidence. However one can say, with authority, that the burial practice for Camlet was VERY different for the neighbouring farm of Bovaglie. The Bovaglie memorials are all enshrined within Crathie Churchyard. This reflects the different origins of the two families: The Bovaglie Gordons are said to have descent from the Gordons of Hallhead; The Camlet Gordons (as previously stated) are rumoured to have descent from the Gordons of Abergeldie. Hence the speculation regarding the vital proximity of the gravestones.
Two other points are worth raising here:
Firstly: The stone raised by 'Camlet John' and his three sons (Joseph, John and Peter) to spouse and mother Euphemia McAndrew, sits head-to-head with a stone to Peter Gordon, 'Merchant in Kirriemuir' who died in June 1821 aged 22 years. The initial assumption was that this was the aforementioned Peter Gordon (son of 'Camlet John' and Euphemia McAndrew) - yet the dates were found not to fit. In fact this grave was of Peter Gordon son of Joseph Gordon and Rachel Tastard. This supports the suggestion that Joseph Gordon (who was married to Rachel Tastard) and 'Camlet John' were BROTHERS. It would also help explain (at least in part) why 'Camlet John' called his first-born son 'Joseph!'
Secondly: The Littlemill Gordons (at the foot of the Girnoc) appear to have close connections with Camlet and Abergeldie. Are they then related? There are additional reasons (see Camlet Birse connections) which help incline this writer to believe so.
3. 'The Minister of The Camlet' - who was this eponymous character rehearsed by Reverend Stirton in his Deeside tome 'Crathie and Braemar' - and might he be a clue to the underpinnings of the Camlet Gordons?
4. Camlet's Birse Branches - Several generations of the Camlet family travelled back up the Dee to the parish of Birse. Of those known about, three family groups can be identified:
i) Peter Gordon of Balnacraig (1793-mid1840's) - son of 'Camlet John'
ii) Jane Gordon/McDonald of Haugh of Sluie (1795-1871) - daughter of 'Camlet John'
iii) Francis Gordon (c1750-1839) - possibly a brother of 'Camlet John'
5. Camlet's Cortachy Branches - At least one Camlet family travelled over Capel Mounth by the Drovers Road to Clova Glen and Cortachy. The known family was that of Joseph Gordon who raised 4 children by his first wife Rachel Tastard, and 8 children by his second wife Margaret Stewart, all born at Bovaglie. However though 'in' Bovaglie it has been assumed that Joseph Gordon was in fact 'of' The Camlet. This writer strongly believes that this Joseph Gordon was a brother of 'Camlet John.'
6. Crathienaird and John Brown: Almost as persistent as the family-lore of 'Abergeldie' is the racial tradition that Camlet has true bonds with Crathienaird. Certainly, as rehearsed, the Mormons were confident enough to isolate the Crathienaird Gordon family as progenitors of Camlet.
But let us step back into the shadows - for several branches of the Girnoc Gordon descendents have revelled in the proud rehearsal that they were 'family of' John Brown, Queen Victoria's 'devoted and faithful' personal attendant.
7. Mary Leith of Abergeldie: When Jane Gordon (1795-1871) daughter of 'Camlet John' and her husband Donald McDonald (1792-1855) christened their second daughter, they named her after Mary Leith of Abergeldie. The Roman Catholic parish entry dated 4th December 1823 can be read as follows:
"Donald McDonald and Jane Gordon, Boat of Polcholak, a daughter Mary Leith, born 20th ult. Sponsors: Ipse and Miss Mary Leith, Abergeldie."
So it was that Mary Leith was godmother to a Camlet granddaughter. This indicates a close bond of some strength between Jane Gordon, her husband Donald and Abergeldie. We do not know if this reflects more upon Jane Gordon or her husband Donald.
Mary Leith was born in 1776, the daughter of the Laird of Glenkinndie. She came to Abergeldie through her sister Elizabeth Leith who in 1803 married Peter Gordon the 13th Laird of Abergeldie.
8. Naming patterns within the Camlet line have been relatively conspicuous and generally have followed the traditional Scottish pattern.
The eldest son after the paternal grandfather
The second son after the maternal grandfather
The third son after the father
The eldest daughter after the maternal grandmother
The second daughter after the paternal grandmother
The third daughter after the mother
Younger children would be named after earlier forebears but the pattern is less settled.
'Camlet John' named his eldest son Joseph, and his second daughter Margaret.
Is it possible then that by combining this with the statement of grandson 'John Gordon of Crovie' that the PARENTS of 'Camlet John' were:
…..Joseph Gordon and Margaret Leys?
Furthermore that this couple married and raised their children during the period (1750-1763) when, unfortunately, the parish record was 'blank'.
This writer cannot emphasize more however that to 'slavishly' follow naming-patterns can and often will, lead to erroneous conclusions. At best then this is a most circumspect theory!