John Clement Gordon

Last updated

John Clement Gordon (1644–1726), originally just John Gordon, Bishop of Galloway, was born in Scotland on 1644 and was a member of the Gordon family of Coldwells, near Ellon in Buchan, Aberdeenshire.


Gordon became a chaplain in the Royal Navy and then royal chaplain "at New York in America", by which time he was a Doctor of Theology; [1] when, on a vacancy in the see of Galloway, a congé d'élire in his favour was issued on 3 December 1687. He was accordingly elected bishop on 4 February 1688 and consecrated at Glasgow by John Paterson, Archbishop of Glasgow. [2]

After the "Glorious Revolution", he followed James VII/II to Ireland and then to France, and while residing at Saint-Germain he read the liturgy of the Church of England to such English, Scottish and Irish Protestants as resorted to his lodgings. Subsequently, however, he was converted to Roman Catholicism by Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet. It appears that he was privately received into the Roman Church during his sojourn in France, though at a later period he made a public abjuration of Protestantism in Rome, before Cardinal Giuseppe Sacripanti, the cardinal protector of the Scottish nation. [2]

Abbazia di San Clemente a Casauria Abbazia di San Clemente a Casauria (56).JPG
Abbazia di San Clemente a Casauria

At his conditional baptism he took the additional name of the reigning pontiff, and ever afterwards signed himself "John Clement Gordon". The pope, wishing to confer some benefice pension on the new convert, caused the sacred congregation of the inquisition to institute an inquiry into the validity of Gordon's Anglican orders. After a long investigation his orders were treated as if they were null from the beginning. The decree of the inquisition to this effect was issued on 17 April 1704. After this Gordon received the sacrament of confirmation, and Pope Clement XI conferred on him the tonsure, giving him the benefice of the Abbey of San Clemente a Casauria, by reason of which Gordon commonly went by the name of the "Abate Clemente". It is observable that he never received other than minor orders in the Roman Catholic Church. [2]

Gordon died in Rome in 1726. He was resident in the Papal States when James VIII/III went there with his court in 1717. He is often thought to be the author of a controversial piece entitled Pax Vobis, or Gospel Liberty, but that attribution is now considered unlikely. [3] He was the last Bishop of Galloway in the Church of Scotland, episcopacy being abolished in the Scottish Church in 1689.



Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Gordon, John (1644-1726)". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Citations and notes
  1. Keith, Catalogue, p. 283.
  2. 1 2 3 Cooper, Thomas. "Gordon, John D.D.", A New Biographical Dictionary, Bell, 1873 PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain .
  3. Corp (rev.), "Gordon, John", ODNB.
  4. Article cites: Le Quien's Nullité des Ordinations Anglicanes, ii. 312, Append. p. lxviii; Francisque Michel's Les Écossais en France, ii. 274; Keith's Cat. of Scottish Bishops (Russel), p. 283; Tablet, 2 April 1853, p. 212; Estcourt's Question of Anglican Orders discussed, p. 156, Append. p. cxv; Lee's Validity of the Holy Orders of the Church of England.
Religious titles
Preceded by Bishop of Galloway
Succeeded by

Related Research Articles

Humphrey Prideaux

Humphrey Prideaux was a Cornish churchman and orientalist, Dean of Norwich from 1702. His sympathies inclined to Low Churchism in religion and to Whiggism in politics.

Nonjuring schism British church schisms after 1688

The Nonjuring schism refers to a split in the established churches of England, Scotland and Ireland, following the deposition and exile of James II and VII in the 1688 Glorious Revolution. As a condition of office, clergy were required to swear allegiance to the ruling monarch; for various reasons, some refused to take the oath to his successors William III and II and Mary II. These individuals were referred to as Non-juring, from the Latin verb iūrō, or jūrō, meaning "to swear an oath".

John Leyburn was an English Roman Catholic bishop who served as the Vicar Apostolic of England from 1685 to 1688 and then when it was divided served as the Vicar Apostolic of the London District from 1688 to 1702. He was not only a theologian, but also a mathematician, and an intimate friend of Descartes and Hobbes.

William Gordon was a 16th-century Scottish noble and prelate, the last of the pre-Reformation bishops of Aberdeen owing allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.

Michael Ellis was an English Benedictine monk who was a prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as the first Vicar Apostolic of the Western District of England and Wales, and subsequently Bishop of Segni in Italy.

Bishop James Aitken (1613–1687) was a 17th-century Scottish prelate.

Andrew Durie, bishop of Galloway and abbot of Melrose, was the son of John Durie of Durie in Fife, and brother to George Durie, abbot of Dunfermline and archdeacon of St. Andrews.

John Paterson (1604–1679) was the Bishop of Ross in Scotland.

Patrick Lindsay (1566–1644), bishop of Ross, archbishop of Glasgow, son of John Lindsay, and a cadet of the house of Lindsays of Edzell, Angus, was born in 1566, and studied at St Leonard's College, St Andrews, where he was laureated in 1587.

Thomas de Rossy O. F. M. was a late 14th century Scottish Franciscan friar, papal penitentiary, bishop and theologian. Of unknown, or at least unclear origin, he embarked on a religious career in his early years, entering the Franciscan Order, studying in England and at the University of Paris.

Elisaeus Adougan was a late 14th century and early 15th century Scottish cleric. His name has been said to have occurred for the first time in a papal letter datable to 25 November 1390, but this letter is simply a repetition of another addressed to him, dated 2 August that year; both letters address him as the rector of the parish church of Kirkmahoe, and authorise him to take up the position of provost of the Collegiate Church of Lincluden providing he resigned Kirkmahoe within a period of two years.

Adam de Lanark, O.P. was a 14th-century Scottish Dominican friar and prelate. Possibly from a Lanark burgess family, he was a Dominican and a priest by 1356, and by 1364 was styled Magister, indicating the completion of a long university education. He first appears in the sources, c. 1355/6 as a confessor of King David II of Scotland; he retained this royal position through the 1350s and into the 1360s; Adam received a number of English safe-conducts to visit King David, who for a time was a prisoner in England.

Thomas de Buittle [Butil, Butill, Butyll, Butyl, Bucyl] was a Scottish prelate, clerk and papal auditor active in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Probably originating in Galloway, Scotland, Thomas took a university career in canon law in England and France, before taking up service at the court of Avignon Pope Benedict XIII. He obtained a number of benefices in the meantime, including the position of Archdeacon of Galloway, and is the earliest known and probably first provost of the collegiate church of Maybole. The height of his career came however when the Pope provided him to the bishopric of Galloway, a position he held from 1415 until his death sometime between 1420 and 1422.

Gavin Hamilton, bishop of Galloway, was the second son of John Hamilton of Orbiston, Lanarkshire. The father, descended from Sir James Hamilton of Cadzow, fell at the battle of Langside, fighting for Mary, Queen of Scots.

William Couper (1568–1619) was a Bishop of Galloway in Scotland.

Andrew Lamb, was Bishop of Brechin and Bishop of Galloway.

Richard Sherlock (priest)

Richard Sherlock was a seventeenth-century English priest.

Lawrence Charteris (1625–1700) was an influential Scottish minister.

William Robertson (Irish priest)

William Robertson (1705–1783) was an Irish clergyman, known as a theological writer and schoolmaster. Theophilus Lindsey wrote of Robertson as "the father of unitarian nonconformity".

Keith Graham Riglin is an Anglican bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Having ministered from 1983 within Baptist and Reformed churches, he took holy orders in the Church of England in 2008. In January 2021 he was elected Bishop of Argyll and The Isles.