The arms of James Gordon of Cádiz

The Gordons in Spain.

    Arthur Gordon was born in Beldorney, Aberdeen, in 1729, the fourth of eleven children of James Gordon, lord of Beldorney and Kildrummy, and of Mary Gordon, lady of Wardhouse and of Law.
    As a result of the religious wars of the time and the final Scottish defeat by the English at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Arthur Gordon fled his country and took refuge in Jerez in 1754 aged 25. Shortly after his arrival he married Rosario Morrow but they only had one son who died in his infancy.
    He conducted several import-export businesses with good fortune but he soon abandoned them to dedicate all his efforts to the wine business. He started out by buying several small wineries but then built his own in 1787 and built a residence for himself next door in a place known as "Las Atarazanas". This house, located in Plaza de San Andrés, Jerez, was the residence of Pedro N. González Gordon, Marquis de Torresoto de Briviesca, until his death in 1967 and now belongs to his heirs.

House built in 1787 by Arthur Gordon for his residence at the place known as Atarazanas. The winery was located just behind the residence and was entered from a side street. The house itself was later known as "Las Atarazanas".

    Arthur Gordon introduced many scientific, practical and commercial innovations in the wine business. He created a wide network of agents and distributors which soon become very powerful. The fast expansion of his business required the need for good and trusted help. He, therefore, called from Scotland his nephew Robert, born in Jamaica, son of his brother Cosmo, and his nephew James Arthur, son of his other brother John. They both came to Jerez and resided in the Atarazanas' house while their uncle lived in Cádiz from where he managed the business and contracted the shipping.
    At the end of 1794, Arthur Gordon, having become very rich, retired from the business which he left to his two nephews, James Arthur and Robert, who then formed a new partnership under the name "Gordon & Co." in which the were joined by Charles Gordon, brother of Robert, and by John David Gordon Boyd (1774-1850). In this new phase the business continued to expand and they owned wineries in Jerez and Puerto de Santa María.

    In 1809 Lord Byron came to Jerez to visit his relative James Arthur Gordon Smythe, head of the Gordon family in Spain, who hosted him at his house at the Atarazanas. From Jerez Lord Byron continued his journey on horseback to Cádiz where he met the old Arthur Gordon, who had started the wine business and also another distant relative of his, Sir William Duff Gordon, who had inherited a wine business from his uncle Sir James Duff in Puerto de Santa María. Sir James Duff had also been British Consul in Cádiz.
    The French invasion of Spain in 1808 created problems for the Gordons in Spain. The French persecuted the Gordons on account of their nationality as well as for their having hosted the British general Lord Wellington when he passed through Jerez. James Arthur Gordon Smythe tried to placate the enmity of the French occupiers towards his name, family and business by becoming part of the commission set up to organize the festivities in honor of Joseph Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon, who had appointed him King of Spain) when he visited Jerez in 1811.
    Wardhouse Mansion, in Scotland, was built by Arthur Gordon in 1757. At his death it passed to his nephew Arthur Gordon and shortly after to Charles Edward Gordon (1750-1832), brother of Alexander. On the death of Charles Edward Gordon in 1832 the estate passed to his eldest son, who had spent most of his adult life in Spain - the third generation member of the family to do so. From then on the lairds of Wardhouse were Spanish Scots who spent varying lengths of time at Wardhouse. Charles Edward’s grandson Pedro Carlos, "The Mad Laird", built the farmhouse and even a bullring.
    Despite the Gordon family living much of the time in Spain, Wardhouse flourished in the 19th century, being used as a sort of Balmoral, and as a home for various unmarried aunts and cousins. The Granary was used for large entertainments. Carlos Pedro, the Laird who spent most of the year in Scotland, gave a grand dinner and ball at New Year 1873.
    John David Gordon Boyd (1774-1850) lived and married in Spain and inherited the Wardhouse estate in Scotland at age 60. From then on the estate would be owned by the Spanish branch of the Gordons who would live mostly in Spain but visit Wardhouse often. The estate passed to John's son Pedro Carlos Gordon (1806-1857), "the mad laird". Then Juan José Gordon who had no children so the estate went to his uncle, younger brother of Pedro Carlos. It then skipped a generation and went to Rafael Carlos Gordon (1873-1932), Conde de Mirasol, who was a close friend of the king of Spain. In 1906, king Alfonso XIII, having survived an assassination attempt on his wedding day, spent his honeymoon at Wardhouse. But the fall of the Spanish monarchy in 1931 led to the fall of his friend Rafael Carlos Gordon, who arrived at Wardhouse destitute, having left his Countess and son in Spain. He died a few months later. In 1952 the estate was sold and ravaged.

I have prepared a family tree which shows the Gordons who moved from Scotland to Spain and many of their ancestors and descendants. Click here.
    This page has some photos and information about places in Scotland related to the Gordons of Spain.

Sources: Two undated (1970s?) newspaper articles by Rodrigo de Molina published in Jerez and the following web pages,

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Last updated 2003, December 1
Please email me additions and corrections.