Patrick Gordon

Patrick Gordon

Gordon, Patrick, 1635-99, Scottish soldier of fortune and Russian general, b. Scotland. After serving alternately on both sides in the war between Sweden and Poland (1655-60), he entered the Russian army (1661) and later became the devoted friend of the youthful czar Peter I (Peter the Great). The greatest service he rendered Peter was his aid (1689) in thwarting the coup by Peter's half sister, the regent Sophia Alekseyevna, who wished to become ruler in her own right. Excerpts from Gordon's diary were published in 1859.

Patrick Leopold Gordon (March 31, 1635November 29, 1699) was general of the Imperial Russian army, of Scottish origin. He was descended from a Scottish family of Aberdeenshire, holders of the small estate of Auchleuchries, who were connected with the house of Haddo.

After completing his education at the parish schools of Cruden and Ellon, he entered, at age fifteen, the Jesuit college at Braunsberg, East Prussia (then belonging to Poland); however, due to his character he did not tolerate well the strict and somber way of life at the school, and soon decided to return home. He changed his mind, however, before re-embarking on the journey back to Scotland, and after journeying on foot in several parts of what is today Germany, he ultimately enlisted at Hamburg in the military of Sweden in 1655.

In the course of the next five years he served alternately for Poland and Sweden as he was taken prisoner by both. In 1661, after further experience as a soldier of fortune, he took up service in the Russian army under Tsar Aleksei I, and in 1665 was sent on a special mission to Britain. After his return he distinguished himself in several wars against the Turkish and Tatar ethnic groups in southern Russia, and in recognition of his services he was made major-general in 1678, was appointed to the chief command at Kiev in 1679, and in 1683 was made lieutenant-general. He visited Britain in 1686, and in 1687 and 1689 took part as quartermaster general in expeditions against the Tatars in the Crimean region, being made full general for his services. On the breaking out of the revolution in Moscow in 1689, Gordon with the troops he commanded virtually decided events in favor of Tsar Peter I, and against the Regent, tsarevna Sophia Alekseyevna. He was therefore during the remainder of his life in high favor 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. 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 was preserved in manuscript form in the archives of the Imperial 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, at Aberdeen, Scotland, 1859.


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