Patrick Gordon - Encyclopedia

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PATRICK GORDON (1635-1699), Russian general, was descended from a Scottish family of Aberdeenshire, who possessed the small estate of Auchleuchries, and were connected with the house of Haddo. He was born in 1635, and after completing his education at the parish schools of Cruden and Ellon, entered, in his fifteenth year, the Jesuit college at Braunsberg, Prussia; but, as "his humour could not endure such a still and strict way of living," he soon resolved to return home. He changed his mind, however, before re-embarking, and after journeying on foot in several parts of Germany, ultimately, in 1655, enlisted at Hamburg in the Swedish service. In the course of the next five years he served alternately with the Poles and Swedes as he was taken prisoner by either. In 1661, after further experience as a soldier of fortune, he took service in the Russian army under Alexis I., and in 1665 he was sent on a special mission to England. After his return he distinguished himself in several wars against the Turks and Tatars in southern Russia, and in recognition of his services he in 1678 was made major-general, in 1679 was appointed to the chief command at Kiev, and in 1683 was made lieutenant-general. He visited England in 1686, and in 1687 and 1689 took part as quartermaster-general in expeditions against the Crim Tatars in the Crimea, being made full general for his services, in spite of the denunciations of the Greek Church to which, as a heretic, he was exposed. On the breaking out of the revolution in Moscow in 1689, Gordon with the troops he commanded virtually decided events in favour of the tsar Peter I., and against the tsaritsa Sophia. He was therefore during the remainder of his life in high favour with the tsar, who confided to him the command of his capital during his absence from Russia, employed him in organizing his army according to the European system, and latterly raised him to the rank of general-in-chief. He died on the 29th of November 1699. The tsar, who had visited him frequently during his illness, was with him when he died, and with his own hands closed his eyes.

General Gordon left behind him a diary of his life, written in English. This is preserved in MS. in the archives of the Russian foreign office. A complete German translation, edited by Dr Maurice Possalt (Tagebuch des Generals Patrick Gordon) was published, the first volume at Moscow in 1849, the second at St Petersburg in 1851, and the third at St Petersburg in 1853; and Passages from the Diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries (1635-1699), was printed, under the editorship of Joseph Robertson, for the Spalding Club, Aberdeen, 1859.

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