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Alexander Gordon


(4th Duke of Gordon)

1743 - 1827

Noble and song-writer. The eldest son of Cosmo-George, the 3rd Duke of Gordon (1719-52), who died young and thus his son succeeded to the title aged only nine years of age. He travelled abroad, visiting Italy in 1761. Like his father, Gordon was a loyalist and he raised several regiments for the government, most notably the Gordon Highlanders in 1794.

In 1767, he married Jane Maxwell, who was known as the 'beautiful Duchess of Gordon', but the marriage was unhappy. The Duchess predeceased him and he married his mistress in 1820, with whom he had already fathered children.

Gordon was appointed Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland and Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire. In 1761, he was elected one of the Representative Peers for Scotland and was created a Knight of the Order of the Thistle in 1775.

In 1784, Gordon was given appointments in the British Peerage (rather than the Scottish peerage, which recognised his Duchy); namely the title of Baron Gordon of Huntly and Earl of Norwich, the latter inherited through Lady Elizabeth Howard, his great-grandmother. In 1793, he was elected Lord Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen.

Gordon was the author of well-known songs such as Cauld Kail in Aberdeen and The Reel o' Bogie. He was admired by many, including the poet Robert Burns (1759-96), who visited Gordon Castle in 1787 and noted it to be a "fine palace, worthy of the noble, polite and generous proprietor".

Gordon lies buried at Elgin Cathedral, having served as Duke for 75 years.


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