GORDON, James of Comber, County Down, Ireland, Reverend Mr 1
- Born: About 1625
- Marriage (1): SIMPSON, Marie
- Died: After 1684 2
Another name for James was GORDOUNE, James, Mr.1
"The Rev. James Gordon, minister of Comber, Co. Down, was the son of Alexander Gordon of Salterhill, a fact borne out by the following entry in the Elgin Commissary Record :—
1649, Oct. 17.— On this date the following document was made out:— 'Be it kend me, Mr James Gordoune, minister at
Comber in Ireland, sone lauchfull to umqll. Alexander Gordoune of Salterhill: forasmeikle as in the contract of wedsett of the lands of Aikenheid of dait— 1640 yeires past betwixt James, Earle of Murray, and the said umqll. Alexander, provydit to me in fee the sume of 3000 merks for quhilk the said lands were impignorat: now for the love and favour quhihe I have to Alexander Gordon, sone lauchfull to the said umqll. Alexander and my laughful brother:
Witt ye me to have resigned 500 merks out of the said 3000 merks in favour of my said brother Alexander.'
The document was registered April 1, 1653."
"Like Captain George Gordon, the chaplain did not end his career in Ireland by fighting. According to the Montgomery MSS. (examined for Mr Armistead Gordon by Mr Philip Crossle, Newry), he became private chaplain to the widow of his colonel. Lord Montgomery, who died in 1642 and who had a house at Comber, and from this post he seems to have been appointed to be the first minister of the church at Comber; to which, according to Killen's 'Presbyterian Church in Ireland,' he was ordained by the Presbytery of Down, 'about the vear 1645. Mr Gordon was deposed for nonconformity in 1661, but afterwards conformed...' "
"1678, Oct. 9.-Sasine (30 Sept. 1678) to Mr James Gordone now in Ireland, eldest lawfull son to the deceist Alex. Gordon in Saterhill, his father, of the lands of Aikenhead and mylne of Kinneddor upon precept of clare constat to him as heir forsaid be Alex. Brodie of that ilk, superior of said lands, dated 6 Mav. 1678."
from The Gordons of Salterhill
In Christianity in Comber by Desmond Rainey:
"... in 1641 the Roman Catholics (in Ireland) rebelled. They felt aggrieved about the loss of their lands and the suppression of their religion. This was a bitter religious war and rumours would have reached Comber of great cruelty being meted out to the settlers in other places. Comber came under attack as the rebels approached from the Killinchy direction. But the settlers were victorious... A Scots army arrived in Ulster with the task of putting down the rebellion on behalf of the English, who were paying them. This was largely a Presbyterian army, and in 1642 they formed the first presbytery on Irish soil to provide for their spiritual needs. Applications were made by a number of parishes to be taken under the care of this presbytery, and Comber was one of them.
And so James Gordon came as a Presbyterian minister to Comber in 1645. Gordon was a Scotsman from Morayshire, born around 1620. He began as minister at St Mary's, as this was the only church in Comber. However, it is interesting that the congregation of 1st Comber dates its formation from Gordon's arrival. His position was helped by the widow of the 2nd Viscount Montgomery, the former Lady Jean Alexander, who had been a daughter of James I's Secretary of State for Scotland. She herself was a Presbyterian. But relations became strained in 1649 over the baptism of the 3rd Viscount's infant daughter. He had been brought up as a Presbyterian, but when he accepted a commission in the army of Charles II without telling the Kirk Session, he was condemned and changed to Episcopalianism. When Lady Jean sought to have her granddaughter baptised, permission was refused unless the Viscount would acknowledge his offence and repent, which he refused to do.
In 1657 James Gordon is reported as a preacher in salary with a dwelling house and 6 acres of land. Then in 1660 the exiled Charles II was restored to his throne. It was hoped he would support the Presbyterians as he had signed the Covenant. But in 1661 he brought back the bishops. Jeremy Taylor was appointed as Bishop of Down, and he gave ministers the option to either conform to the Anglican form of worship or be thrown out. Gordon was thrown out, and replaced by William Dowdall.
But there was trouble when Dowdall was attacked in the church, an incident reminiscent of one in 1637 when a riot broke out in St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. On that occasion Jenny Geddis famously threw a stool at the preacher. Dowdall merely had his robes pulled off. Once again, the culprits were mainly women, who were brought for trial to Downpatrick. Here one of them boasted "These are the hands that poo'd the white sark ower his heed".
Gordon had no church for the next ten years or so. But it seems he remained active. In 1663 Colonel Thomas Blood tried to seize Dublin Castle and murder the Lord Lieutenant. Gordon and a number of other ministers were accused of involvement in Blood's Plot, and arrested. No evidence could be found against most of these men, and after a few weeks they were given a choice to either leave the country or remain in prison. However, somehow Gordon was allowed to return to Comber, and it seems that he had Lady Montgomery to thank for that. He is mentioned as a tenant in Ballyhenry in the Mount Alexander Rent Roll of 1684." 1 2
James married Marie SIMPSON. (Marie SIMPSON was born about 1625.)