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John Campbell Hamilton Gordon


(1st Marquis of Aberdeen and Temair)

1847 - 1934

Governor-General of Canada and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Born in Edinburgh and educated at St. Andrews and Oxford Universities, Gordon was the grandson of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, the British Prime Minister. The youngest son of the 5th Earl, Hamilton Gordon succeeded his older brother who had died as the result of an accident shortly after their father (1870), he took his seat in the House of Lords, becoming a close friend and supporter of Prime Minister William Gladstone. In 1877, Hamilton Gordon married the indomitable Ishbel Marjoribanks.

Following a world tour, the couple so enjoyed Canada that they bought a ranch in British Columbia (1891). Gordon was therefore very happy to be appointed Governor-General of Canada and was sworn in at Quebec City (1893). His tenure of this post (1893-98) included times of great cultural change in Canada; challenges he faced included the threatened separation of the French-speaking areas, the Yukon gold-rush and the implications of the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Both Aberdeen and his wife made lasting contributions to Canada; he transformed the role of Governor-General to become a champion of the individual citizen, a model adopted widely throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth thereafter, and helped define a new role for post-colonial Britain. Lady Aberdeen was responsible for establishing the Victorian Order of Nurses (1897), a pioneer of nursing the sick in their own homes which still plays an important role in Canada today. Hamilton Gordon had served briefly as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1886, but returned to the post in 1906. He demitted office in 1915 and the following year was created Marquis of Aberdeen and Temair.

The Aberdeens took an active interest in the running of their estate at Haddo. Referring to themselves as 'We Twa', they shared a profound sense of social responsibility which ensured an enduring concern for the welfare of their workers. He is buried at Haddo.


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