The Magnificent Gordons


Mark K. Brown

In the annals of the Wold Newton families, there is one family which has not yet recieved the attention it deserves. This would be that ancient and noble lineage: the Gordons. The family originates in Berwickshire, but Sir Adam of Gordon was granted the castle of Strathbogie, in Aberdeenshire by Robert the Bruce. The Gordons were powerful and very involved in British politics over the centuries. Among the famous members of the clan are George Gordon, Lord Byron, the notorious poet, and General Charles Gordon of Khartoum, the hero of Africa. One branch of the Gordons who lent their blood to the Wold Newton families is the line stemming from the above Lord Byron, a line described by noted genealogist Philip Jose Farmer which includes Lord John Roxton, Richard Wentworth, and Mack Bolan. Here I am concerned with a different line, descended from Orion Gordon, who has been described as "a printer and intelligence operative for the crown," and Dorothy Blake, of Boston. We pick up the trail a few generations after Orion and Dorothy.

Charles Gordon (born 1786) married his distant cousin, Antonia Drummond. Antonia was the daughter of sir Hugh Drummond, baronet, and Georgia Dewhurst. Charles' father was a descendant of Orion Gordon. His mother was a Glenmore, descended from Robert Glenmore, Earl of Dalbright. Robert had two sons, Robert II (who followed his father as Earl), and Edward. Edward went to Germany and then Sweden, ca. 1631. Among his many children, his first son remained in Sweden and became the ancestor of the mother of Matt Helm, the American assassin whose memoirs have been edited by Donald Hamilton. Robert II was the ancestor of Charles Gordon, and of Sir Hugh Drummond's mother.

Sir Hugh and his bride had been among those present when a meteorite fell to earth in the village of Wold Newton in 1795. Georgia had been pregnant at the time, and gave birth, several months later, to a son, John. John Drummond married Oread Butler. Farmer describes Oread as "of that distinguished family of Charleston, South Carolina." This is not entirely accurate. Although her grandfather had been a hero of the Revolutionary war, Oread's father had been a loyalist and had moved back to Britain when the Colonies won their freedom. Oread's brother, Nathaniel was the ancestor of the noted British composer, Christopher "Kit" Butler, who figures in Colin Wilson's novels, The Glass Cage and The Black Room. John and Oread's descendants have been described at some length by Farmer in both Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, and include Sir Richard Hannay, Bulldog Drummond, and John Drummond Clayton, known as Korak.

In 1797, Sir Hugh and Georgia had a daughter, Antonia, named after Georgia's brother, Anthony Dewhurst, a member of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Antonia married Charles Gordon, a man ten years her senior, and gave birth to, firstly, James Gordon. James was a successful military man. He married a niece of the Earl of Burlesdon. His son, Richard, followed in his footsteps. He married a Victoria Smiley in 1873. Their oldest son, Stanley, emigrated to the United States, where he made a small fortune delivering merchandise to the then rather new department stores. Stanley married Caroline Jones of Connecticut, and their son David became an inventor of some note, earning a good deal of money from several patents. His son, Raymond, born in 1911, became well known as a fencer and polo player at Yale, earning the nickname "Flash," for his speed. Shortly after his graduation, Flash disappeared during the so-called "Rogue Planet" crisis of 1935.

David's third child, Alan, had a son in 1937. Bruce Gordon became a noteworthy physicist.

Stanley Gordon's younger brother, John, became an agent of the British Secret Service, serving his country from Egypt to China. John learned his trade working under Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and later worked alongside the American agent James Schuyler Grim. In the mid 1920s, John Gordon became aware of that evil mastermind known as Kathulos, or Skull-Face. His war on Kathulos is related in several stories by Robert E. Howard.

The second son of Charles Gordon and his wife, Antonia, was named Hugh. Hugh moved to the United States and married Francesca Cooke, a descendant of Henry Burlingame, and a distant relative of the Gordons. They had four children, the oldest of whom was Evelyn Gordon. Evelyn married Erica Dale. Evelyn was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg, leaving behind two children, Richard and Eliza.

Try as I might, I have been so far unable to ascertain the maiden name of Richard's wife, Delores, but I do know that the couple had at least two children, John and Cyril. It is evident that the two brothers were close, as Cyril's son was named John, and John's grandson was named after Cyril. Cyril's son, John, was born in 1920. He grew up to be an accountant clerk for an insurance office in New York City. During the second world war, John served as a bomber pilot in the Pacific, flying a large number of successful missions, deep into Japanese territory. After the war was over, John returned to his career in insurance, but had a tremendous difficulty adjusting to peacetime after spending so many hours living on the edge and was constantly restless. This period of his life came to an end in 1946, when, according to his account, he was contacted mentally by Zarth Arn, a scientist from 200,000 years in the future. John Gordon claimed that he had switched bodies with Zarth Arn, and become embroiled in the political intrigues and warfare of that far-off time. Upon being returned to his own time, he related his adventures to Edmond Hamilton, who edited them for publication. The story appeared as The Star Kings in 1949.

Cyril's brother, John, married one Joan Roark and moved to Ohio, where he bought land. His son, George, married Heather Goodwin. George and Heather's son, the above mentioned Evelyn Cyril, was born in 1940. George joined the army and served in both World War II and the Korean War, where he was wounded during the Inchon March. In the years following his return from Korea, George's health deteriorated, and eventually he died. Although his family believed that his death was the result of his wounds, the government disagreed and refused to pay full benefits. Evelyn joined the military himself, in the hopes of earning the money for medical school, and became one of the first "military advisors" in the conflict in Southeast Asia. When slashed in the face by an enemy guerrilla during hand to hand combat, Evelyn gained the nickname "Scar," and was discharged. While bumming around Europe, he was selected by Star Balsamo (claimed to be the niece of Cagliostro) to be her champion. His tale was related by Robert Heinlein in Glory Road and The Number of the Beast.

Richard Gordon's sister, Eliza, married one Calvin Rogers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their oldest son, Joseph, married a woman named Sarah, and moved to Brooklyn. Calvin and Eliza's second son, Anthony, was born in 1898, and enlisted in the Army Air Service at the outbreak of the First World War. He fought in the skies over France for eighteen months. After the war ended, Anthony returned to the U.S. Taking up work as a surveyor for the American Radioactive Gas Corporation, he periodically visited his older brother in New York, where he enthralled Joseph's son with war stories and tales of patriotic valor. These stories were very influential in shaping the sickly young Steven's world outlook. On Dec. 15, 1927, while exploring an abandoned coal mine near Wyoming Valley, PA, Anthony was apparently buried in a cave-in. His body was never found, although Philip Francis Nowlan wrote a book purporting to be the memoirs of Anthony Rogers' life in the world of 2419 A.D., 492 years after his death.

The loss of his beloved uncle, coming shortly after the death of his father, Joseph, cemented the patriotic fervor in young Steve Rogers (his mother died a few years later). When it seemed inevitable that America would join the European War in 1941, he attempted to enlist in the army. His sickly youth had left him weak and underdeveloped and he was rejected as unfit for military service. However, he was eventually able to serve his country in a greater capacity, as a volunteer for Project: Rebirth, the experiment that turned him into the living symbol of his country, Captain America.

The Evelyn Gordon who died at Gettysburg had a brother, Artemus. I have been able to learn little about his life, excepting the fact that he was part of the Secret Service, and apparently served with the exceptional agent, Jim West. Shortly after his time with West, he retired and settled down in Chicago to have a family. His oldest son, Walter, married one of the Blythes of Prince Edward Island, and had a son, James W. Gordon. James was born on Jan.5, 1900 in Chicago. When he was a small child, his father and uncle Clifford made an unsuccessful attempt to start a business together. They failed miserably and lost everything they had. Walter found good work in New York and moved his family there.

Young James Gordon made it into law school, but while there something happened which caused him to decide to pass up a law career and, upon his graduation in 1924, he become a police officer instead. He married maverick socialite, Barbara Lane (granddaughter of rancher & miner Hondo Lane) in 1927, but the marriage was short-lived. His rise in the force was meteoric. In 1934, James W. Gordon became the youngest police commissioner in New York history, earning the nickname "Wildcat." However, he often found his attempts at crimebusting stymied by bureaucratic red tape and, in 1935, inspired by the legendary heroes of times past, such as Zorro and the Lone Ranger stories of whom he had heard as child, as well as by rumors of newer nemeses of the underworld such as the Shadow, Commissioner Gordon created a masked crime-fighting identity of his own, the Whisperer.

In 1936, Gordon married his sweetheart of some years, Tiny Traeger. In 1938, the legendary Batman appeared on the scene. For some years, Gordon seemed to regard the Batman as a menace, but in 1941 or '42, he apparently decided that the Batman was doing a better job as a masked adventurer than the Whisperer. Gordon retired his alter ego, and began to accept and even work closely with the Batman.

Walter Gordon's brother, Clifford, was hit much harder by the failure of their business. He had two small sons, Matt, and Robert, to support, his wife's early death being one of the things which prompted Walter's suggestion that the two brothers combine their fortunes. Clifford and his sons were forced to take lodging in a poorer section of town, a locale Matt was never completely able to escape. Robert enlisted in the army when the States joined the hostilities in Europe in 1917, and was soon flying over France. He was wounded and taken to England to recuperate. While there, he met a nurse named Margaret Dundee, an Australian working in the hospital, and after the Armistice, they were married. The young couple honeymooned in Australia, visiting her parents. Robert rented an airplane and the two were flying over a range of mountains in the north central portion of the continent, when the craft went down, and for over twenty years, nothing was heard of them. In 1940, Alan Hunter, an American, was exploring the region known as Lost Land and discovered the answer to the mystery of the Gordon's fate. Both husband and wife had survived the crash. Margaret Gordon had been pregnant at the time, and a few months later had given birth to a healthy boy, named John. As a toddler, young John Gordon had trouble pronouncing his own name, and became known as "Jongor" as a result of his stumbling efforts. Even though life was difficult in Lost Land, which was one of those locations where there have been survivals from earlier ages (as described in the books Robert Moore Williams wrote about Hunter's expedition to Australia. Click here for more information.), Robert and Margaret Gordon managed to keep their family safe for nearly ten years. In 1931, both parents were killed by pterodactyls, leaving poor Jongor on his own until the arrival of Alan Hunter and his sister, Anne.

Matt Gordon married a woman named Rose and had two children, Charles and Norma. Young Charlie was born in 1926, and was mentally retarded. As an adult, he had an IQ of 68. On March 3, 1958, Charlie joined the research program of Professor Harold Nemur, who was working to increase intelligence. The project had spectacular, but unfortunately short-lived success, turning Charlie into a genius of previously unheard-of ability. However, by November of that year, Charlie had not only returned to his previous low IQ, but had died as a result of the experiment.

A third son of Charles Gordon and Antonia Drummond moved to Texas. He founded another line of the Gordon family. So far, my researches have uncovered little information about this branch. I do know that one scion of the line was Francis X. Gordon of El Paso. This famous gunman eventually travelled much of the orient, becoming well known in Iran and Afghanistan as El Borak. Several stories about him were written by Robert E. Howard.

I will be continuing my research and shall present the results as they come in.


Farmer, Philip Jose- Tarzan Alive

Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life

Hamilton, Edmond- The Star Kings, Warner, 1967

Heinlein, Robert A.-Glory Road, Avon, 1964.

Keyes, Daniel- Flowers For Algernon, Bantam, 1967.

L'Amour, Louis- Hondo, Fawcett, 1953.

McConnell, Arn-"The Case of Commissioner Gordon" (The Wold Atlas, 1974)

Moorehead, Alan-The White Nile, Dell, 1960.

Power, Dennis-"The Wold, Wold West" (Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe, 2000)

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All rights reserved. The text of this article is copyright 2000 by the author, Mark K. Brown. No copying or reproduction of this article or any portions thereof in any form whatsoever is permitted without prior written permission and consent of the author.