Monumental Brass Society

John Gordon

Date of Brass:
1619
Place:
Salisbury Cathedral
County:
Wiltshire
Country:
Number:
Lost
Style:
Haydocke

Description

February 2022

 

The mural brass of John Gordon, Dean of Salisbury, is lost, probably disappearing during the drastic restoration of the cathedral by Wyatt in 1789. It was survived by a freestone ledger recording only:

D. Jo. Gordonus Scotus

Decanus Sarum

Qui obiit 3 Sept.

1619.

[Dr John Gordon, Scot, Dean of Salisbury, who died 3 September 1619.]

The ledger originally no doubt covered the dean’s burial in the choir, which his will requested be by his seat there, but it was presumably moved to the north-east transept in 1684 along with the brasses of Bishop Wyvill and Bishop Gest when the choir was repaved with white marble. The brass, once on the north wall of the choir, disappeared between 1774 and 1825. An accurate representation of it survives in the shape of an impression taken from the plate, now in the British Museum. There is an interesting comment by the curator that the impression was made by running the plate through a press.1 Consequently, the inscriptions appear in reverse. The impression was acquired by the museum in 1863, having come from a London firm of printsellers, and prior to that from a collector of rare prints, James Bindley, FSA (1737-1818). On the reverse of the impression are some medical records in ruled columns with headings.

Francis Price gave the following description and transcription of the brass.2

On the North Wall of the Choir is a Brass Plate, bearing the Figure of a Bishop, raised from his Tomb by two Angels, over him is a Cloud, under which — Dominus Elevatio mea — Ex. 17.

Me sophiam et linguas docuit per lustra quaterna Scotia Doctiloquis Inclyta terra viris,
Hinc septem lustris fausta me Gallia forte
Sub Reguni tectis auxit honore trium

Angligenum terrae me rex hinc inferit almÆ
Divitiisque augens speque metuq; levat
Det reliquo fidus caveÆ sim pastor ut Ævo
Christus sollicito qui bona tanta dedit
Ut Moses mansuetus erat doctusque per artes
AEgypti, fratrum dux miserisque Pater
Oeconomus fidus. linguis melioribus auctus.
Shibboleth exacte reddere promptus erat,
Vivus erat peregrinus, et idem mortuus hospes.
Sub tecto alterius nunc fruitur patria.

On the Deans Right Hand are two Books, on the one, entit. Biblia Chaldaica,

Græca, Biblia Vernaccula — on the other— Credentibus aperta.
Underneath in Capitals is the following Inscription.
Johannes Gordonius Scotus, Georgii Huntleæ Comitis ex fratre
Alexandro nepos, literas queis senectutem ornavit, didicit juvenis in
Patria, maturioris Ætatis industriam Reginæ Scotorum Mariæ in Anglia
addixit, fiduciaque virtutis ab ea in Galliam missus Carolo IX, Henrico III, et
Henrico IV. ex interioris Cubiculi familiaribus fuit.
Interea nobili fæmina ducta, Longormiæ Dominus factus est, sed Regum sapientis-
simus Jacobus, Angliæ Hæreditatem adiens, non passus est diutius hoc
lumine fraudari Britanniam, revocatum igitur et inter Sacellanos
relatum, fidei et vertutis præmio honoravit Salisburiensi Decanatu,
Multæ eruditionis corona ab Oxoniensi Academia sponte illi delata est
Doctorali laurea. Trieterricam Ecclesiarum suarum visitationem obiens, diem
quoque obiit sanctissime Leusone Dorcestriæ pago. III. Septemb. Ao. Dmi MDCXIX.
Æta. LXXV. Sacra; Functionis XVI. corpus hic in Choro jacet ante Decani Cathedram.

The first part of the inscription was divided into three areas on the brass, four lines each in two frames either side of the top, the final six on the lid of the chest. The wording in the two frames also occurs on a portrait of the dean made when he was aged 65. As on the brass, the eight lines are either side of his head. The whole fourteen-line Latin verse was the dean’s own composition.3 The inscription on the front of the chest is biographical. Price’s description omits mention of the skulls at either corner of the cover slab with their associated wording and the achievement of arms between them, nor does he mention that the angels represent burning Zeal and blind Faith.

John Gordon was one of five sons of Alexander Gordon, Bishop of Galloway. At the time of his birth in 1544, John was illegitimate. His father, yet to be made a bishop, was a Roman Catholic who converted to Protestantism around 1559, embracing the ideals of John Calvin, and then married John’s mother, Barbara Logy, legitimising John. He was said the be educated at St Leonard’s College, St Andrews. He then went to France, later telling the English ambassador in 1583 that he was sent there by Mary, Queen of Scots, with her financial support, to further his education. In March 1566/7 he was appointed a gentleman-in-waiting to Charles IX of France, remaining in post for two years before resigning. He was soon offering his services as a spy to both the Scottish and English Courts. He then went to England and entered the service of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, as a tutor. After Howard’s arrest in late 1569, he went to Scotland but returned after Howard’s release in 1571. He was given money by Mary, Queen of Scots, and left England hurriedly for France after Howard’s re-arrest. He stayed there until his kinsman (they were both grandsons of James IV), James VI of Scotland, ascended the throne of England in 1603. He had married a French heiress in 1576 and had seemed comfortable with being a Roman Catholic. However, he quickly penned the strongly Protestant A Panegyric of Congratulations of the Concord of the realmes of Great Britaine in Unitie of Religione and under one King, as the 1603 translation from French is entitled. He was quickly summoned by James, was ordained deacon and priest, and on 30 January 1603/4 mandated by James to be installed by the Cathedral Chapter as Dean of Salisbury. In June 1604, he, his second wife and children were naturalized by an Act passed by the House of Lords. In August 1605, he was made a Doctor of Divinity at Oxford. He seems to have wanted to be at Court whenever the King was at Whitehall, anxious to remain in favour with James and delegating his responsibilities at Salisbury to a sub-dean. There were also eight occasions when the King visited Salisbury. Dean Gordon made his will in September 1618. He attempted to leave his first wife’s properties in France to his second wife and his daughter Lucille and son-in-law, Sir Robert Gordon, despite the survival of his sons by his first wife, who were occupying those properties at the time of his death. According to French legal records, his sons, Armand Claude and Henry, saw themselves as their father’s heirs in regard to both his French and Scottish properties and seem to have been entirely unaware of his second marriage and his position as Dean of Salisbury. Sir Robert Gordon went to France and gained possession of one estate, which he then sold, but the others remained in the sons’ hands. Other requests in the dean’s will do not seem to have been carried out, with only the one work specified of all his books in his study on the day of his death finding its way to the cathedral library and the 40 left to the choristers never being paid. However he was buried where he requested before his seat in the choir and he did get a brass. Was this because he had himself requested it before his death from its designer and engraver, Richard Haydocke, who lived in the cathedral close?

Haydocke was a physician who was a Fellow of New College, Oxford, He had arrived in Salisbury early in 1605 to practise medicine but soon ran into trouble after pretending to preach in his sleep. Dean Gordon was asked to investigate and Haydocke was summoned to London, accompanied by a letter from the dean dated 13 April 1605. Haydocke confessed to the king and was allowed to return to his practice in Salisbury. Gordon’s brass is typical of Haydock’s work as an engraver of brasses, making much use of emblems and using a much finer engraving technique than any other contemporary work of this type. The design, with a figure of Gordon and a tomb-chest with an inscription on it, is similar to that of Henry Airay, died 1616, at Queen’s College, Oxford, and related to others like that of Robert Longe, died 1620, at Broughton Giffard, Wiltshire. Haydocke had learnt to engrave in order to illustrate his translation of Lomazzo’s Trattato dell’Arte, which he published in Oxford in 1598. The National Portrait Gallery possesses a number of impressions made from Haydocke’s surviving brasses. The dates of death on them are all around the same time as that of Dean Gordon. As they are mural brasses, they cannot be used as printing plates in situ, so it is likely that Haydock himself was responsible for the impressions being made before the plates were fixed in place. The use of the reverse of the impression for medical records may indicate that it passed from Haydocke to his son-in-law, the physician and anatomist Nathaniel Highmore (1613=85).

 

Text: © Jon Bayliss

Illustration: © The Trustees of the British Museum

1https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1863-0808-56

2Francis Price, A description of that admirable structure, the cathedral church of Salisbury: with the chapels, monuments, grave-stones, and their inscriptions (1774), 81f

3https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/english-school-17th-century-portrait-of-dr-john-g-537-c-c5dbe16652 gives translations of the lines on the portrait. Besides a photograph of whole the portrait, there is one of the first four lines.

Type

February 2022

 

The mural brass of John Gordon, Dean of Salisbury, is lost, probably disappearing during the drastic restoration of the cathedral by Wyatt in 1789. It was survived by a freestone ledger recording only:

D. Jo. Gordonus Scotus

Decanus Sarum

Qui obiit 3 Sept.

1619.

[Dr John Gordon, Scot, Dean of Salisbury, who died 3 September 1619.]

The ledger originally no doubt covered the dean’s burial in the choir, which his will requested be by his seat there, but it was presumably moved to the north-east transept in 1684 along with the brasses of Bishop Wyvill and Bishop Gest when the choir was repaved with white marble. The brass, once on the north wall of the choir, disappeared between 1774 and 1825. An accurate representation of it survives in the shape of an impression taken from the plate, now in the British Museum. There is an interesting comment by the curator that the impression was made by running the plate through a press.1 Consequently, the inscriptions appear in reverse. The impression was acquired by the museum in 1863, having come from a London firm of printsellers, and prior to that from a collector of rare prints, James Bindley, FSA (1737-1818). On the reverse of the impression are some medical records in ruled columns with headings.

Francis Price gave the following description and transcription of the brass.2

On the North Wall of the Choir is a Brass Plate, bearing the Figure of a Bishop, raised from his Tomb by two Angels, over him is a Cloud, under which — Dominus Elevatio mea — Ex. 17.

Me sophiam et linguas docuit per lustra quaterna Scotia Doctiloquis Inclyta terra viris,
Hinc septem lustris fausta me Gallia forte
Sub Reguni tectis auxit honore trium

Angligenum terrae me rex hinc inferit almÆ
Divitiisque augens speque metuq; levat
Det reliquo fidus caveÆ sim pastor ut Ævo
Christus sollicito qui bona tanta dedit
Ut Moses mansuetus erat doctusque per artes
AEgypti, fratrum dux miserisque Pater
Oeconomus fidus. linguis melioribus auctus.
Shibboleth exacte reddere promptus erat,
Vivus erat peregrinus, et idem mortuus hospes.
Sub tecto alterius nunc fruitur patria.

On the Deans Right Hand are two Books, on the one, entit. Biblia Chaldaica,

GrÆca, Biblia Vernaccula — on the other— Credentibus aperta.
Underneath in Capitals is the following Inscription.
Johannes Gordonius Scotus, Georgii HuntleÆ Comitis ex fratre
Alexandro nepos, literas queis senectutem ornavit, didicit juvenis in
Patria, maturioris Ætatis industriam ReginÆ Scotorum MariÆ in Anglia
addixit, fiduciaque virtutis ab ea in Galliam missus Carolo IX, Henrico III, et
Henrico IV. ex interioris Cubiculi familiaribus fuit.
Interea nobili fÆmina ducta, LongormiÆ Dominus factus est, sed Regum sapientis-
simus Jacobus, AngliÆ HÆreditatem adiens, non passus est diutius hoc
lumine fraudari Britanniam, revocatum igitur et inter Sacellanos
relatum, fidei et vertutis prÆmio honoravit Salisburiensi Decanatu,
MultÆ eruditionis corona ab Oxoniensi Academia sponte illi delata est
Doctorali laurea. Trieterricam Ecclesiarum suarum visitationem obiens, diem
quoque obiit sanctissime Leusone DorcestriÆ pago. III. Septemb. Ao. Dmi MDCXIX.
Æta. LXXV. Sacra; Functionis XVI. corpus hic in Choro jacet ante Decani Cathedram.

The first part of the inscription was divided into three areas on the brass, four lines each in two frames either side of the top, the final six on the lid of the chest. The wording in the two frames also occurs on a portrait of the dean made when he was aged 65. As on the brass, the eight lines are either side of his head. The whole fourteen-line Latin verse was the dean’s own composition.3 The inscription on the front of the chest is biographical. Price’s description omits mention of the skulls at either corner of the cover slab with their associated wording and the achievement of arms between them, nor does he mention that the angels represent burning Zeal and blind Faith.

John Gordon was one of five sons of Alexander Gordon, Bishop of Galloway. At the time of his birth in 1544, John was illegitimate. His father, yet to be made a bishop, was a Roman Catholic who converted to Protestantism around 1559, embracing the ideals of John Calvin, and then married John’s mother, Barbara Logy, legitimising John. He was said the be educated at St Leonard’s College, St Andrews. He then went to France, later telling the English ambassador in 1583 that he was sent there by Mary, Queen of Scots, with her financial support, to further his education. In March 1566/7 he was appointed a gentleman-in-waiting to Charles IX of France, remaining in post for two years before resigning. He was soon offering his services as a spy to both the Scottish and English Courts. He then went to England and entered the service of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, as a tutor. After Howard’s arrest in late 1569, he went to Scotland but returned after Howard’s release in 1571. He was given money by Mary, Queen of Scots, and left England hurriedly for France after Howard’s re-arrest. He stayed there until his kinsman (they were both grandsons of James IV), James VI of Scotland, ascended the throne of England in 1603. He had married a French heiress in 1576 and had seemed comfortable with being a Roman Catholic. However, he quickly penned the strongly Protestant A Panegyric of Congratulations of the Concord of the realmes of Great Britaine in Unitie of Religione and under one King, as the 1603 translation from French is entitled. He was quickly summoned by James, was ordained deacon and priest, and on 30 January 1603/4 mandated by James to be installed by the Cathedral Chapter as Dean of Salisbury. In June 1604, he, his second wife and children were naturalized by an Act passed by the House of Lords. In August 1605, he was made a Doctor of Divinity at Oxford. He seems to have wanted to be at Court whenever the King was at Whitehall, anxious to remain in favour with James and delegating his responsibilities at Salisbury to a sub-dean. There were also eight occasions when the King visited Salisbury. Dean Gordon made his will in September 1618. He attempted to leave his first wife’s properties in France to his second wife and his daughter Lucille and son-in-law, Sir Robert Gordon, despite the survival of his sons by his first wife, who were occupying those properties at the time of his death. According to French legal records, his sons, Armand Claude and Henry, saw themselves as their father’s heirs in regard to both his French and Scottish properties and seem to have been entirely unaware of his second marriage and his position as Dean of Salisbury. Sir Robert Gordon went to France and gained possession of one estate, which he then sold, but the others remained in the sons’ hands. Other requests in the dean’s will do not seem to have been carried out, with only the one work specified of all his books in his study on the day of his death finding its way to the cathedral library and the 40 left to the choristers never being paid. However he was buried where he requested before his seat in the choir and he did get a brass. Was this because he had himself requested it before his death from its designer and engraver, Richard Haydocke, who lived in the cathedral close?

Haydocke was a physician who was a Fellow of New College, Oxford, He had arrived in Salisbury early in 1605 to practise medicine but soon ran into trouble after pretending to preach in his sleep. Dean Gordon was asked to investigate and Haydocke was summoned to London, accompanied by a letter from the dean dated 13 April 1605. Haydocke confessed to the king and was allowed to return to his practice in Salisbury. Gordon’s brass is typical of Haydock’s work as an engraver of brasses, making much use of emblems and using a much finer engraving technique than any other contemporary work of this type. The design, with a figure of Gordon and a tomb-chest with an inscription on it, is similar to that of Henry Airay, died 1616, at Queen’s College, Oxford, and related to others like that of Robert Longe, died 1620, at Broughton Giffard, Wiltshire. Haydocke had learnt to engrave in order to illustrate his translation of Lomazzo’s Trattato dell’Arte, which he published in Oxford in 1598. The National Portrait Gallery possesses a number of impressions made from Haydocke’s surviving brasses. The dates of death on them are all around the same time as that of Dean Gordon. As they are mural brasses, they cannot be used as printing plates in situ, so it is likely that Haydock himself was responsible for the impressions being made before the plates were fixed in place. The use of the reverse of the impression for medical records may indicate that it passed from Haydocke to his son-in-law, the physician and anatomist Nathaniel Highmore (1613=85).

Copyright:

Text: Jon Bayliss

Illustration: The Trustees of the British Museum

 

2 Francis Price, A description of that admirable structure, the cathedral church of Salisbury: with the chapels, monuments, grave-stones, and their inscriptions (1774), 81f

3 https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/english-school-17th-century-portrait-of-dr-john-g-537-c-c5dbe16652 gives translations of the lines on the portrait. Besides a photograph of whole the portrait, there is one of the first four lines.

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