Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Gordon 4th Duke of Gordon’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Jane Gordon Duchess of Gordon
1748 or 1749 – 14 April 1812


Jane Gordon

Jane Gordon Duchess of Gordon was the fourth child of Sir William Maxwell, 3rd Baronet of Monreith, and his wife Magdalene Blair. She was born at Myrton Castle the now ruined castle a short distance from the present seat of the family, Monreith House, which was not built until fifty years later.

Her father has been depicted as a drunk who allowed his family to exist in poverty in Edinburgh while he sold most of his 30,000-acre (12,000 ha) estate to make ends meet. In Edinburgh Jane lived together with her mother and her two sisters in a rented second-floor flat in Hyndford’s Close near Royal Mile. As for the family living in an Edinburgh apartment, that would have been normal at that time. Titled Scottish land owning families often rented apartments in Edinburgh so their girls could receive further education, be launched on Edinburgh Society, and attend the balls. This is exactly what happened when Lady Maxwell moved there in 1760 with her three daughters: Catherine, 13; Jane, 11; and Eglantine, 9, the future Lady Wallace of Craigie.

The Monreith Maxwells would have been considered a respectable family in that era. They were closely related to the Maxwells at Caerlaverock, Earls of Nithsdale who in the 17th Century had been considered one of the most powerful families in Scotland. And their grandmother was the daughter of the 9th Earl of Eglinton, head of the great Ayrshire land owning family and distinguished Member of Parliament.

Jane had a nasty accident as a 14 year-old when playing in the High Street in Edinburgh. She somehow got a finger of her right hand jammed in the wheel of a cart which moved away and tore her finger off. There is at Monreith House a letter written, left handed, by her after the accident explaining how it happened. After this, whenever possible, she wore gloves in which a wooden finger replaced the one missing. One of these wooden fingers is still at Monreith House. In later life she used to explain the loss of the finger by saying it was a coaching accident.

When Jane reached 16, she was so strikingly beautiful that a song was written about her: “Bonnie Jennie of Monreith, the Flower of Galloway”. That was also when she fell in love for the first and probably only time. The object of her affections was a young officer who was probably a Fraser, a relative of Lord Lovat. Soon after they met, he left with his regiment, probably to go to America, and word later reached her that he had died.

On 28 October 1767 Jane married the 24-year-old Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon. The young Duke lived in the Gordon townhouse almost opposite the Maxwells, and he had inherited a considerable fortune and the title at the age of nine.

It was while they were on honeymoon at the Fordyce’s country seat, Ayton in Berwickshire, that she received a note from her former love, the young Fraser, very much alive, asking her to marry him. She is said to have read the note and fainted. However, she kept in touch with the young Fraser.

For the next 20 years, the Duke and Duchess lived at Gordon Castle in Morayshire which Jane’s husband enlarged to be one of the largest homes in Scotland—with a facade 600 feet long and an 84 foot high central tower. Part of the town of Fochabers had to be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere tomake room for the extensions. However, years later most of the enlargements were dismantled again.

At Gordon Castle, Jane organised parties, planted trees, and took a keen interest in farming. She was a great enthusiast for local dancing and fiddle and pipe music. She is credited with establishing the Strathspey as a dance form.

The couple had seven children. Her first son, George, Marquess of Huntly, the later George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon was born in 1770. The Duke also had an illegitimate son at about the same time, also called George, by a Mrs. Christie. Jane used to refer to “my George and the Duke’s George”.

Jane entertained on an increasingly lavish scale, with as many as 100 sitting down to dinner and guests staying for three months in the Castle. And in the 1780s, the Duchess started entertaining in Edinburgh, quickly becoming the leading hostess. Jane was the sole arbitress of fashion in Edinburgh. Horace Walpole called her the “Empress of fashion”. She regularly gave soirée evenings where up and coming artists were asked to entertain. It was in her drawing room that Robert Burns first read his poetry to Edinburgh society, and she became his chief sponsor, purchasing all his early published works.

In 1787 the Duke and the Duchess of Gordon moved to London. They first rented a house on Downing Street from Lord Sheffield, then one in Pall Mall from the Marquess of Buckingham, and finally one in St. James’s Square. And Jane continued her party-giving habit, but with a distinctly Scottish flavour. She made everyone dance Scottish dances. King George III adored her, and she supported the King, so she was allowed to promote her Scottish heritage more than others would have dared. She gave a ball at which she and the Duchess of York dressed in tartan when it was officially banned, and she arranged for the King to inspect troops dressed in tartan in Hyde Park.

It was in the Pall Mall house that she held her greatest parties. Close to Parliament in Westminster, she kept open house for the Tories. Pitt, the Prime Minister, and Dundas, the Lord Advocate were frequent visitors. And it was during this time that she arranged a truce between the King and his eldest son, the Prince Regent, whose had run up enormous debts. She arranged for his debts to be met, and this enabled the construction of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton to be continued.

In 1793, the French Revolutionary Government declared war on Great Britain. At that time the British army was short of recruits, since the military service was not very popular among the young men. As a consequence the Government asked Jane’s husband, the Duke of Gordon, to raise another regiment. The outcome of this was a bet between Jane and the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. Jane bet with the Prince Regent that she could raise more men than he, meaning the Government. Although 45 by then, she was still extremely attractive. Her recruiting technique was, to say the least, unusual. She wore a military uniform and a large black feathered hat (highland bonnet), touring Scotland to organise reels. Anyone who joined the reel joined the army and received the King’s shilling, the recruiting payment, from between the Duchess’ lips by kissing her. This was how the Gordon Highlanders were founded. Her total was 940 men. On 24 June 1794, the newly embodied regiment paraded for the first time at Aberdeen. The regiment existed until 1994.

In 1799, Jane became depressed and ill. Her eldest son, George, the later George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon, had gone off to the wars, and she wrote in a letter to a friend: “Oh where and oh where has my highland laddie gone?” Her second son, Alexander (1785–1808), died at 23, and her husband had moved his mistress, Jane Christie, into Gordon Castle and built a small house on the Spey, called Kinrara, for his estranged wife. Jane lived there for the next six years, continuing her entertaining and partying.

Having enjoyed life as a Duchess, Jane was determined to get her daughters well married, and she set out securing suitable husbands for them. In 1802, after the Peace of Amiens, she took her younger daughter, Georgiana (1781–1853), to Paris with a view to marrying her to the son of the Empress Joséphine, Eugène de Beauharnais. This would not have been popular so soon after hostilities, but nothing came of it. A short time later, Georgiana was reputed to be friendly, if not engaged, to Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, but he died before they could marry. Jane then arranged a meeting with the Duke’s younger brother John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford who had inherited the title and recently been widowed with several children. All went as planned, and he soon married his late brother’s fiancée on 23 June 1803 in London. Georgiana had ten children by the Duke, and she followed in her mother’s partying footsteps, entertaining frequently in her Bedford home, Woburn Abbey. The Duchess of Bedford was a great patroness of the arts, and had a long standing relationship with the painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.

Jane then turned to finding a husband for Charlotte (1768–1842), the eldest daughter. She plotted to have her marry William Pitt, the Prime Minister, but her plan failed when Pitt’s close friend, Lord Henry Dundas, took an interest in Charlotte. Neither potential husband worked out, and Charlotte later married on 9 September 1789 at Gordon Castle Colonel Charles Lennox, the future 4th Duke of Richmond.

General Cornwallis had returned to England from his disastrous command of the British troops during the American Revolution to be, rather surprisingly, treated as a hero and created a Marquess. Having fought with Jane’s brother at Plessey in India as well as in the American war, he would have been a friend of Jane’s. So his eldest son, Lord Brome, was therefore considered suitable for Louisa (1776–1850), the fourth daughter. Cornwallis refused to approve the marriage, however, citing madness in the Gordon family. The Duchess allayed his fears by swearing that there was “not one drop of Gordon blood” in this particular daughter. The marriage then proceeded on 17 April 1795 in London. History does not relate who Louisa’s natural father was, but it is thought to have been Captain Fraser, her early love from Edinburgh.

Susan (1774–1828), the third daughter, married on 7 October 1793 in Edinburgh to William Montagu, 5th Duke of Manchester, and Madeleine (1772–1847), the second daughter, married firstly on 2 April 1789 in London to Sir Robert Sinclair, 7th Baronet. On 25 November 1805 she married secondly at Kimbolton Castle to Charles Fysche Palmer.

Jane’s own marriage had been more of less an arrangement from the beginning. The return from the dead of her lover during the honeymoon was an inauspicious start. The Duke having an illegitimate son by Jane Christie at the same time as his heir was born was an unfortunate sequence, to be followed by the birth of her illegitimate daughter a few years later. The Duke openly kept his mistress at Gordon Castle while the Duchess seems to have preferred assignations with her lover on the windswept moors.

By 1805, the marriage was officially over, and the couple reached a financial agreement whereby the Duchess would be given a new house, capital payments, and generous annual supplements. The Duke was by then in financial difficulties, however; he acknowledged his liability to the Duchess, but he did not pay all the monies legally due her.

Jane was reduced to living in hotels, and she became increasingly eccentric. She was involved in an acrimonious dispute with her estranged husband over money, and she died in 1812 at Poultney’s Hotel, Piccadilly, London, surrounded by her four daughters and surviving son. Her body was taken north to be buried at the old Celtic Chapel by the banks of the Spey at Kinrara. There her husband carried out her final wish and erected a monument to her on which were recorded the marriages of her children.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Charlotte Lennox Duchess of Richmond
20 September 1768 – 5 May 1842


Charlotte Lennox

Charlotte Lennox Duchess of Richmond was born at Gordon Castle, Lady Charlotte Gordon was the eldest child of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, and his wife Jane (née Maxwell). On 9 September 1789, she married Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond, 4th Duke of Lennox and 4th Duke of Aubigny.

In 1814, the family moved to Brussels, where the Duchess gave the ball at which the Duke of Wellington received confirmation that the Army of the North under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte had entered the territory of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands near Charleroi (in what is today Belgium). The Duchess and her family continued to live in Brussels until 1818, when her husband was appointed Governor General of British North America. The Duchess was widowed in 1819, and in 1836, she inherited the vast Gordon estates on the death of her brother, George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon, who had left no legitimate children. She died at the age of 73 in London on 5 May 1842.

The Duke and Duchess had seven sons and seven daughters:

  • Charles Gordon-Lennox, 5th Duke of Richmond (1791–1860).
  • Lady Mary Lennox (c. 1792 – 7 December 1847), married Sir Charles Fitzroy and had issue.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Lord John George Lennox (3 October 1793 – 10 November 1873), married Louisa Rodney and had issue.
  • Lady Sarah Lennox (c. 1794 – 8 September 1873), married Peregrine Maitland.
  • Lady Georgiana Lennox (30 September 1795 – 15 December 1891), married William FitzGerald-de Ros, 23rd Baron de Ros, and had issue.
  • Lord Henry Adam Lennox (6 September 1797 – 1812), fell overboard from HMS Blake and drowned.
  • Lord William Pitt Lennox (20 September 1799 – 18 February 1881), married first Mary Ann Paton and second Ellen Smith; had issue by the latter.
  • Lady Jane Lennox (c. 1800 – 27 March 1861), married Laurence Peel and had issue.
  • Captain Lord Frederick Lennox (24 January 1801 – 25 October 1829).
  • Lord Sussex Lennox (11 June 1802 – 12 April 1874), married Hon. Mary Lawless and had issue.
  • Lady Louisa Maddelena Lennox (2 October 1803 – 2 March 1900), married Rt. Hon. William Tighe, died without issue.
  • Lady Charlotte Lennox (c. 1804 – 20 August 1833), married Maurice Berkeley, 1st Baron FitzHardinge of Bristol, and had issue.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Arthur Lennox (2 October 1806 – 15 January 1864), married Adelaide Campbell and had issue.
  • Lady Sophia Georgiana Lennox (21 July 1809 – 17 January 1902), married Lord Thomas Cecil, died without issue.

And Coming on April 1st, 2015

Beaux Ballrooms and Battles anthology, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the victory at Waterloo in story.


Looks good, huh? The talented writer and digital artist, Aileen Fish created this.

It will be available digitally for $.99 and then after a short period of time sell for the regular price of $4.99

The Trade Paperback version will sell for $12.99


My story in the anthology is entitled: Not a Close Run Thing at All, which of course is a play on the famous misquote attributed to Arthur Wellesley, “a damn close-run thing” which really was “It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”

Samantha, Lady Worcester had thought love was over for her, much like the war should have been. The Bastille had fallen shortly after she had been born. Her entire life the French and their Revolution had affected her and all whom she knew. Even to having determined who she married, though her husband now had been dead and buried these eight years.

Yet now Robert Barnes, a major-general in command of one of Wellington’s brigades, had appeared before her, years since he had been forgotten and dismissed. The man she had once loved, but because he had only been a captain with no fortune, her father had shown him the door.

With a battle at hand, she could not let down the defenses that surrounded her heart. Could she?

As her father’s hostess, she had travelled with him to Brussels where he served with the British delegation. Duty had taken her that night to the Duchess of Richmond’s ball. The last man she ever expected to see was Robert, who as a young captain of few prospects, had offered for her, only to be turned out by her father so that she could make an alliance with a much older, and better positioned (wealthy), aristocrat.Now, their forces were sure to engage Napoleon and the resurgent Grande Armée. Meeting Robert again just before he was to be pulled into such a horrific maelstrom surely was Fate’s cruelest trick ever. A fate her heart could not possibly withstand.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Duncan Gordon 5th Duke of Gordon
2 February 1770 – 28 May 1836


George Duncan Gordon

George Duncan Gordon 5th Duke of Gordon was born at Edinburgh on 2 February 1770, the eldest son of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon and his wife, the celebrated Jane Gordon, Duchess of Gordon, née Lady Jane Maxwell. He was educated at Eton. He became a professional soldier and rose to the rank of General. As Marquess of Huntly, he served with the Guards in Flanders from 1793–4. He raised the 92nd Highlanders and commanded the regiment in Spain, Corsica, Ireland and the Netherlands from 1795 to 1799, where he was badly wounded. He commanded a division in the Walcheren Expedition of 1809.

He was a freemason and was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland from 1792 to 1794. He was Member of Parliament for Eye from 1806 to 1807. On 11 April 1807, at the age of 37, he was summoned to the House of Lords in one of the minor peerages of his father (Baron Gordon of Huntley, co. Gloucester). He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1830, was Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland from 1828 to 1830 (a post that his father had held until 1827), and from 1827 to 1836 was Governor of Edinburgh Castle.

He married at Bath, on 11 December 1813, Elizabeth Brodie, who was twenty-four years his junior. Brodie was the daughter of Alexander Brodie of Arnhall in Kincardineshire. Elizabeth Grant described her thus:
His bride was young, and good, and rich, but neither clever nor handsome. She made him very happy and paid his most pressing debts, that is her father did, old Mr Brodie of the Burn, brother to Brodie of Brodie…He made a really large fortune; he gave with his daughter, his only child, £100,000 down, and left her more than another at his death. Really to her husband her large fortune was the least part of her value; she possessed upright principles, good sense, and she turned out a first-rate woman of business. In her later years she got into the cant of the Methodists.

However, at the time of his marriage and, in fact, until he inherited the Dukedom, George found himself in almost constant financial difficulties. He was referred to as “Lord Huntly now in the decline of his rackety life, overwhelmed with debts, sated with pleasure, tired of fashion, the last heir male of the Gordon line”. While his marriage remedied some of these problems, it did not supply the much sought-after heir.
Like his father, George acquired many of the positions which the Gordon family could expect almost as of right. These included the posts of Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, Chancellor of Marischal College, Aberdeen and Lord High Constable of Scotland. He held the latter post of Lord High Constable for the Coronation of King George the Fourth in 1820.

By the time of his succession to the dukedom, he had established a reputation as an extreme reactionary. He steadfastly opposed the Great Reform Bill and when the majority of Tory Peers opted to abstain, he remained one of the twenty-two “Stalwarts” who voted against the Third Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords on 4 June 1832.

Throughout much of this period, his wife served Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, wife of King William IV, at Court. Indeed, she was given the Queen’s Coronation robe, which is now to be found with many other Gordon memorabilia at Brodie Castle.

Nathaniel Parker Willis, the American journalist, has left us with an interesting account of life at Gordon Castle in the twilight years of the 5th Duke’s life. He described the “canonically fat porter” at the lodges who admitted him to a “rich private world peopled by ladies cantering sidesaddle on palfreys, ladies driving nowhere in particular in phaetons, gentlemen with guns, keepers with hounds and terrier at heel, and everywhere a profusion of fallow deer, hares and pheasants. At the castle a dozen lounging and powered menials.” Willis continued: “I never realised so forcibily the splendid results of wealth and primogeniture.” Just before dinner the Duke called at his room, “an affable white-haired gentleman of noble physiognomy, but singularly cordial address, wearing a broad red ribbon across his breast, and led him through files of servants to a dining room ablaze with gold plate.”

The Duke died at Belgrave Square on 28 May 1836, aged 66. The Dukedom of Gordon became extinct, but the Marquessate of Huntly (created in 1599) passed to his distant cousin the Earl of Aboyne. The Gordon estates passed to his nephew, Charles Lennox, 5th Duke of Richmond. The Gordon moveable property was left by the Duchess to the Brodies of Brodie.


Elizabeth Brodie, Duchess of Gordon

Elizabeth Brodie, the last Duchess of Gordon, retired to Huntly Castle Lodge, where she became even more fervently religious than she had been previously and conducted the rest of her life with good grace and Christian dignity until her own death on 31 January 1864, when the last trace of the original Dukedom of Gordon was also extinguished.

The Duke and Duchess of Gordon established Gordon Chapel (Scottish Episcopal Church) in Fochabers and it contains a memorial tablet to the 5th and last Duke.

The Duke had three illegitimate children: Charles Gordon, Susan Sordet, and Georgiana McCrae.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Montagu 5th Duke of Manchester
21 October 1771 – 18 March 1843


William Montagu

(Note picture is copyrighted by Oxford University Press)

William Montagu 5th Duke of Manchester was the eldest surviving son of George Montagu, 4th Duke of Manchester, and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Dashwood, 2nd Baronet. He was educated at Harrow and then served in the British Army, achieving the rank of colonel in 1794.

Manchester was Governor of Jamaica from 1808 to 1827, and prepared the colony for the emancipation of slaves. In 1815 he dealt with the aftermath of the destruction of Port Royal by fire and of the plantations by a hurricane. He showed great administrative ability during the panic which prevailed in the colony following an insurrection of slaves in Barbados, and by his personal influence pacified the Jamaica slaves. The colony gratefully voted him an addition to his personal establishment. In 1816 he risked his popularity with the planters by vigorously supporting a bill for the registry of slaves, in accordance with the recommendation of the imperial government.

In 1820 Manchester was thrown from his carriage and fractured his skull. The assembly voted 500 guineas to the surgeons who attended him. After recuperating in Europe, Manchester returned in 1822, and the last years of his administration were marked by the introduction of measures preparatory to the emancipation of the slaves, which the planters solidly resisted. The Jamaica government was called upon by the Colonial Office to abolish Sunday markets, to forbid the carrying of whips, and to exempt women from flogging. All these reforms were carried out with great difficulty. In 1824 there was a slave insurrection in the west of the island, and a plot was apparently discovered for the massacre of the white inhabitants in the north and east. The assembly rejected a bill allowing slaves to give evidence, but Manchester succeeded in securing a temporary measure to be in operation for five years. In this form, however, the law was vetoed by the home government, but before the imperial decision was known a conviction for murder was obtained by the evidence of slaves given under the temporary law. In the midst of the consequent confusion Manchester finally left Port Royal on 2 July 1827.

Soon after his return to England Manchester was appointed postmaster-general in the duke of Wellington’s ministry. He voted with his leader on Catholic emancipation, but against the Reform Bill in the House of Lords. He also voted for Lord Lyndhurst’s motion to postpone the disfranchisement clauses.

Manchester married Lady Susan, third daughter of Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, on 7 October 1793. They had eight children:

  • Lady Jane Montagu (1794–1815).
  • George Montagu, 6th Duke of Manchester (1799–1855).
  • Lord William Francis Montagu (1800–1842), married Emily, third daughter of James Du Pre.
  • Lady Georgiana Frederica Montagu (1803–1892), married Evan Baillie and had issue.
  • Lady Elizabeth Montagu, married Thomas Steele and had issue, including Thomas Montagu Steele
  • Lady Susan Montagu (c. 1801–1870), married George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale and had issue.
  • Lady Caroline Catherine Montagu (c. 1804–1892), married John Calcraft and had issue.
  • Lady Emily Montagu (1806–1827).

The Duchess of Manchester caused a social scandal when she eloped with one of her footmen. According to The Complete Peerage, “it is mentioned in the Memoirs of a Highland Lady, under date 1812, that ‘the Duchess had left home years before with one of her footmen.’ Lady Jerningham wrote, 6 September 1813: ‘the Duchess of Manchester is finally parted from her husband, her conduct becoming most notoriously bad.’

Having become a social outcast, she died at Eaton, Edinburgh, in August 1828, aged 54. Manchester survived her by fifteen years and died in Rome, Italy, in March 1843, aged 71. He was succeeded in the dukedom by his son, George.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Alexander Gordon 4th Duke of Gordon
18 June 1743 – 17 June 1827


Alexander Gordon

Alexander Gordon was born at Gordon Castle, Fochabers, on 18 June 1743, the eldest son of Cosmo Gordon, 3rd Duke of Gordon and his wife, Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Aberdeen. He was educated at Eton and also possibly at Harrow. He succeeded as 4th Duke of Gordon in 1752. His younger brother was Lord George Gordon who led the Gordon Riots.

He was elected as a Scottish representative peer from 1767. He was appointed a Knight of the Thistle in 1775 and was created a Peer of Great Britain as Baron Gordon of Huntley, of Huntley in the County of Gloucester, and Earl of Norwich, in the County of Norfolk, in 1784. His new titles were not universally popular. He was thought to have taken designations to which he had no right.

He was Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland from 1794 to 1806 and from 1807 to 1827. Between 1793 and 1827, he was Chancellor of King’s College, Aberdeen. In addition, he was Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire until 1808. He received the Order of the Thistle from King George III on 11 January 1775. The Dictionary of National Biography described him thus: “At the time of his marriage the Duke was reputed one of the handsomest men of his day.”

He raised the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot in 1794 for the French Revolutionary Wars. He was responsible for establishing the new village of Fochabers as well as for Tomintoul and Portgordon in Banffshire. He is also credited as the founder of the Gordon Setter breed of dog, having popularised a 200-year-old breed during the 18th century and then formalised its breed standard in 1820.

He was an enthusiastic supporter and patron of the music of William Marshall, a Scottish fiddler and composer, and famous for his many strathspeys, who acted as steward of the Gordon household.

Gordon married firstly in 1767, at Ayton, Berwickshire, and again Mr Fordyce’s house in Argyll Street, Edinburgh, Jane, the daughter of Sir William Maxwell, 3rd Baronet of Monreith, by his wife, Magdalen, daughter of William Blair, of Blair, Ayrshire. Duchess Jane was born at Hyndford’s Close, Edinburgh in 1748, she was described by the diarist Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, as a celebrated beauty. From 1787 she was the social centre of the Tory party and was described in the Female Jockey Club of 1794, as possessing “an open ruddy countenance, quick in repartée, and no one excelling her in performing the honours of the table, her society is generally courted”. It went on to say that “The Duchess triumphs in a manly mien; Loud is her accent, and her phrase obscene.” She resided for some years in Edinburgh, but eventually refused to renew her residence at George Square, Edinburgh, because it was “a vile dull place”. The poet Erskine wrote the following lines to her;- “That is, quoth he, as if the Sun should say, A vile dark morning this – I will not rise to-day.”

The Duke and Duchess’s marriage was tempestuous from the start and neither made any particular effort to be faithful to the other. For some years before her death she was bitterly estranged from the Duke. While the Duchess resided in the centres of society, the Duke lived in retirement at Gordon Castle. Elizabeth Grant mentions “The great width of the Spey, the bridge at Fochabers, and the peep of the towers of Gordon Castle from amongst the cluster of trees that concealed the rest of the building….the Duke lived very disreputably in this solitude, for he was very little noticed, and, I believe, preferred seclusion.”

The Duchess is best remembered for placing the King’s Shilling between her teeth to help recruitment to the Gordon Highlanders which were founded by her husband. However, she also possessed a capacity for match-making which was unrivalled. Of her five daughters, three were married to Dukes, (Richmond, Manchester and Bedford) and one to a Marquess (Cornwallis).

The Duchess of Gordon died at Pulteney’s Hotel, Piccadilly, Middlesex, in 1812 and was buried at her beloved Kinrara near Aviemore. The Duke, married secondly, in 1820, Jane [or Jean] Christie, who was a native of Fochabers and was then aged about 40. The Duke had previously had four children by Christie. After their marriage she lived in great style not at the Castle but at a town house in Fochabers. She claimed that by residing at the Castle, which the Duke had rebuilt and enlarged considerably, none of his friends would visit him.

One of the Duke’s illegitimate sons, Colonel Charles Gordon, was given the property of Glasterim near Port Gordon. Curiously, Colonel Gordon had been a great favourite with the late Duchess. Elizabeth Grant described Colonel Gordon as “much beloved by Lord Huntly, whom he exceedingly resembled, and so might have done better for himself and all belonging to him, had not the Gordon brains been of the lightest with him.”

His second duchess died in 1824 while the Duke died suddenly at Mount Street, Berkeley Square, exactly three years later, and was buried in Elgin Cathedral. He was succeeded by his son George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon.

The Duke had a total of seven children by his first wife:

  • Lady Charlotte Gordon, married Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond
  • George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon
  • Lady Madelaine Gordon, married firstly Sir Robert Sinclair, 7th Baronet; married secondly Charles Fysche Palmer
  • Lady Susan Gordon, in Edinburgh William Montagu, 5th Duke of Manchester
  • Lady Louisa Gordon, married Charles Cornwallis, 2nd Marquess Cornwallis
  • Lady Georgiana Gordon, married John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford
  • Lord Alexander Gordon, served as an officer in the British Army, unmarried

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