Show ContentsGorden History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Gorden stretch back to a family in the Boernician tribe of ancient Scotland. They lived on the lands of Gordon, in the former county of Berwickshire, since ancient times. There is little doubt that bearers of Gorden came to Britiain with the Normans, and it is generally thought that they descend from the place named "Gourdon" in Saone-et-Loire, Normandy, but the oldest roots of the bearers of Gorden in Scotland may lie with the Boernician tribe of ancient Scotland. It is entirely possible that the Gorden surname was created from a pre-existing place name Gordon. It has been suggested that this place-name was originally derived from the Welsh (ancient Brithonic) words, gor and din, which mean "spacious" and "fort," and such, Gorden would be a type hereditary surname, known as a habitation name: one that is derived from a pre-exiting name for a town, village, parish, or farmstead.

Early Origins of the Gorden family

The surname Gorden was first found in Berwickshire an ancient county of Scotland, presently part of the Scottish Borders Council Area, located in the eastern part of the Borders Region of Scotland, where legend has it that they were granted lands by King Malcolm Ceanmore, successor to MacBeth, in 1057, thus placing bearers of the name in lowland Scotland, before the invasion of the Normans.

"The earliest known home of the Scots family was in Berwickshire, and here we find a place name Gordon, from which the surname may have been derived. There was also a distinguished family named Gurdon in Hampshire, England, with whom it has been suggested they were connected. It has been further suggested that the Gordons were cadets of the Swintons as the coats of arms borne by the two families are the same. " [1]

"According to some genealogists this name is derived from Gordonia, a town in Macedonia; according to others from a manor in Normandy-origins literally too "far-fetched," since the parish of Gordon, in Berwickshire, where we find the family located at an early date, is its true source. " [2]

"There is a nice little romance to the tune of making the founder of the family a certain Bertrand de Gourdon, who shot Richard the Lion-Hearted at Chaluz. According to history, this Gourdon was a common archer, who having been brought before the dying monarch was forgiven by him, and ordered to be liberated with a handsome present; but the Flemish general, who had no notion of such generosity, very coolly ordered him to be flayed alive. How, after such an operation, he could get into Scotland we are not told." [2]

The first Gordon on record was Richer de Gordum, lord of the Barony of Gordon in the Merse, who granted a piece of land and the church of St. Michael between the years 1150-1180, to the monks of Kelso. [1]

Adam Gordon acquired by Royal grant the lands of Coldstream on the River Tweed and his successors held these lands for many centuries.

Early History of the Gorden family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gorden research. Another 203 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1280, 1449, 1594, 1619, 1761, 1402, 1470, 1439, 1501, 1498, 1501, 1514, 1562, 1546, 1610, 1644, 1609, 1679, 1637, 1720, 1632, 1665, 1635, 1697, 1651, 1652, 1652 and are included under the topic Early Gorden History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gorden Spelling Variations

Spelling rules only evolved in the last few centuries with the invention of the printing press and the first dictionaries. Spelling variations are extremely common in names from before that period. Gorden has been spelled Gordon, Gordun, Gôrdon (Gaelic) and others.

Early Notables of the Gorden family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name during their early history was Sir Adam de Gordon, Lord of Gordon (died 1402), 14th-century Scottish baron; Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Huntly (died 1470) when he succeeded his father as Lord Gordon he began using his mother's family name of Gordon, was knighted in 1439 and was Lord of Badenoch, Gordon, Strathbogie & Cluny and his son George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly (died 1501) was a Scottish nobleman and Chancellor of Scotland from 1498-1501; George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly (1514-1562), Scottish nobleman, Lord High Chancellor in 1546 who led a revolt against Mary...
Another 129 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gorden Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gorden Ranking

In the United States, the name Gorden is the 10,498th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the Gorden family to Ireland

Some of the Gorden family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gorden migration to the United States +

After making their great crossing, many Boernician-Scottish families settled along the east coast of North America. When the War of Independence broke out, United Empire Loyalists moved north to Canada while the rest stayed to fight. The ancestors of many of these Scots still populate the continent. This century, through Clan societies and other Scottish organizations, they began to rediscover their collective national heritage. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gorden or a variant listed above:

Gorden Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edmond Gorden, aged 18, who landed in New England in 1635 [4]
  • George Gorden, who arrived in Virginia in 1649 [4]
  • Daniel Gorden, who landed in New England in 1651-1652 [4]
  • Dan Gorden, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1652 [4]
  • James Gorden, who arrived in America in 1652 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Gorden Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Alexander Gorden, who arrived in Maryland in 1716 [4]
Gorden Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Gorden, who arrived in South Carolina in 1810 [4]
  • Alen Gorden, aged 29, who landed in Maryland in 1812 [4]
  • John Gorden, aged 28, who landed in New York, NY in 1850 [4]
  • Michael Gorden, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [4]
  • Peter Gorden, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1886 [4]
Gorden Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • H Gorden, who landed in Mississippi in 1900 [4]

Canada Gorden migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gorden Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Danl Gorden, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749

Australia Gorden migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Gorden Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Gorden, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gorden (post 1700) +

  • William C. Gorden (1930-2020), American college football player and coach, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2008
  • Steve Van Gorden, American politician, Mayor of Zephyrhills, Florida, 2012 [6]
  • Charles Van Gorden, American politician, Representative from New York 36th District, 1934 [6]
  • Gorden Bond Kelley (1938-2015), American NFL football linebacker who played from 1960 to 1965
  • Gorden Fitzgerald Kaye (1941-2017), English BAFTA-nominated comic actor, best known for playing René Artois in the British TV comedy series 'Allo 'Allo!
  • Gorden James Tallis (b. 1973), Australian former professional rugby league footballer

The Gorden Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Bydand
Motto Translation: Remaining.

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CRESSY 1847. Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 8) . Retrieved from on Facebook