George Gordon, 1st Duke of Gordon


George Gordon, 1st Duke of Gordon

George Gordon, 1st Duke of Gordon KT PC (1649–December 7 1716), styled the Marquess of Huntly from 1661 to 1684, was a Scottish peer.

George Gordon, 4th Marquess of Huntly was born in 1649, the son of Lewis Gordon, 3rd Marquess of Huntly and Mary Grant. He was originally styled the Earl of Enzie until his succession as Marquess in December 1653, when he was around four years old. The young Marquess was educated at a Catholic seminary in France, following a tradition within the Huntly family. In 1673, when he was aged 24, he entered the French Army of Louis XIV and served under the famous Marshal de Turenne before returning to Scotland sometime around 1675.

In October of the following year, 1676, he married Lady Elizabeth Howard, the second daughter of Henry Howard, the 5th Duke of Norfolk. However, he was described by the historian Macky as someone "made for the company of ladies, but is covetous which extremely eclipses him." [Macky. "Characters." quoted in The Complete Peerage, Volume VI, p3, footnote (e).] The marriage was not wholly successful and the couple parted some years before his death.

On November 1st, 1684, George was advanced from Marquess of Huntly to be 1st Duke of Gordon. Following the accession of the Catholic James II in 1685, the Duke was made one of the Commissioners of Supply, Constable of Edinburgh Castle, a Commissioner of the Scottish Treasury and a founding Knight of the Order of the Thistle. The Duke owed these positions to his Catholicism and, around this time, he was described as being "a libertine and a fop, he is a Roman Catholic because he was bred so, but otherwise thinks very little of revealed religion." ["Ibid."]

Following the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of James II, the Duke held Edinburgh Castle against the Protestant Conventionists. However, he is remembered as being "vacilating in his defence" and eventually surrendered the Castle on June 14th, 1689. As a result of his actions in Edinburgh, he was received somewhat coldly by King James at his residence in exile, the Palace of St Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. On his return to Scotland he was confined on parole. Shortly after this, his Duchess left him and retired to a convent in Flanders. The Duke temporarily regained favour with the accession of Queen Anne in 1702 and was recognised by her as a Knight of the Thistle, when she revived the Order on December 31st, 1703. However, the Duke, being a true Gordon, could not stay out of trouble for very long. In March 1707, he was arrested along with other Jacobite Lords and was confined to Edinburgh Castle for being implicated in the aborted Jacobite invasion. For his long-suffering Duchess this was the final straw and she obtained a deed of separation from her husband.

The historian Macky, in his book "Characters", observed the Duke and said that "he hath a great many links, but they do not make a complete chain; is certainly a very fine gentleman and understands conversation and the belles lettres; is well bred. He is handsome and taller than the ordinary size; thin, dresses well; but is somewhat finical, resembling the French"." ["Ibid."]

The Duke died at Leith, on December 7th, 1716. The Duchess returned to Scotland after his death and resided at Abbey Hill in Edinburgh until her own death in July 1732. Like her husband she was buried in Elgin Cathedral.

His Grace had two children:

*Alexander Gordon, 2nd Duke of Gordon (c. 1678–1728)
*Lady Jane Gordon (c. 1691–1773), married James Drummond, 2nd Duke of Perth and had issue.


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