The Robert Gordon (born abt 1784-1854) of the Seton-Gordon branch of Scotland in America - DNA and conventional research







Research update (October, 2005)

In July, we had a breakthrough discovery through the Gordon DNA project. In 1408, Elizabeth Gordon married Alexander Seton and this new branch became known as the “Seton Gordon Line” - this is the same line from which the Dukes of Gordon, the Earls of Huntly and the current Marquis of Huntly descend. Through DNA testing, we now also know this is the line from which our ancestor Robert Gordon (born abt 1784 - 1854) of Warren County, Tennessee descends, but there is still a gap between him and ancestors in Scotland.

The closest line we have determined is the Croughly Gordons of Banff, Scotland. They are close cousins of the Cluny Gordons and closest cousins to the ducal line of Gordons, through the second son (Alexander Gordon of Strathavon b. abt 1477) of the third Earl of Huntly (Alexander Gordon).

Our ancestor that came to America most likely descends from the Croughly or Cluny Gordons because most Seton Gordons descending from the 3rd Earl of Huntly are well-documented and covered by numerous notible researchers, such as John M. Bulloch and Edward Gordon of Cairnfield, while the Gordons of Cluny and Croughly were highly regarded military families that often fought in battles overseas. Therefore, making it more difficult to follow them through the generations.



Current Research:

Methodology for current research into the origin of our progenitor Robert Gordon has a two-thronged approach. Both approaches involve a combination of traditional paper-based research and the more scientifically-based DNA testing.

Approach ‘A’ – America back to Scotland
The first approach focuses on working back from our oldest documented ancestor in colonial America Robert Gordon (1784/5 - 1854). Allied families offer clues since they may have followed similar migration patterns. Possible family names of interest in 1700s Tennessee, Madison Co. KY and North Carolina include: Black, Byars/Byers, Durley, Elam, Glascock, Harris, Hopkins, Kersey, Menny, Pace, Paris, Rogers, Robertson/Robinson, Romjue, Stockstill, Vaughn / Vaughan, Ward, Walling and Wilcher.

Approach ‘B’ – Scotland to America
With the advent of DNA testing, and since testing already shows a connection to the Seton Gordons, we now have a second approach that begins with tracing descendants of Elizabeth Gordon and Alexander Seton in the early 1400s. Alexander assumed the Gordon name when he wed Elizabeth Gordon in 1408. Therefore, Gordon descendants of Elizabeth’s cousins “Jock” and “Tam” would have different Y-DNA, as has already been established. “Jock” and “Tam” would have shared the same DNA as Elizabeth’s grandfather Sir Adam Gordon.

Although there are numerous Seton Gordon lines, we are fortunate in that the other Gordons descending from “Jock” and “Tam” were even more prolific throughout colonial America, Australia and back home in Britain, confusing modern Gordon researchers even that much more. Out of the 70+ Gordons already participating in the Gordon DNA Project, only one branch has been discovered in America, while over 15 distinct lines have been found for the “Jock and Tam” lines, most originating from the lowlands of Scotland and immigrating to Virginia in the 1700s.

In contrast, research to date, suggests there may have been only about 4 Gordons from the Seton Gordon lines that came to America before the 1780s, including 1) a Robert Gordon of Cluny, who came to East Jersey Colony in the late-1600s, 2) several Cluny Gordons that came to Nova Scotia, Canada in the 1600s, seeking business opportunity, 3) Gov. Patrick Gordon of Pennsylvania and of the Cluny Gordons in the 1720s, 4) possibly a Rev. William Gordon that documented the Revolutionary War in interviews with then President George Washington in the 1770s and 1780s.