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George Gordon


(4th Earl of Huntly; Cock o' the North)

1514 - 1562

Noble, known as the Cock o' the North. Gordon served as Constable of Inverness Castle and was appointed Lord High Chancellor of Scotland in 1546 as a trusted supporter of Queen-Regent Mary of Lorraine (1515-60). In 1543, he had supported Cardinal Beaton (1494 - 1548) against James Hamilton, the 2nd Earl of Arran (1516-75). Gordon was granted the Earldom of Moray in 1548 but, in 1562, when he lost favour and this title was removed he led a revolt against Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87). His force was crushed at the Battle of Corrichie by Mary's half-brother James Stuart, the new Earl of Moray (1531-70). The corpulent Gordon collapsed under the weight of his armour and fell dead from his horse. His son, Sir John, and other members of his family were later executed at Aberdeen.

This was not quite the end of the Cock o' the North; his body was taken to Edinburgh where it was put on trial for treason. He was brought to the Scottish Parliament on 29th May 1563, where his coffin was opened and propped up so the Earl could hear the charges against him. Guilt was proven and the Gordon estates were forfeited. Huntly's body lay unburied in Holyrood Abbey for three years before being returned to Moray where it was interred at Elgin Cathedral.


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