Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gordon, Elizabeth

GORDON, ELIZABETH, Duchess of Gordon (1794–1864), was born in London on 20 June 1794. Her father, Alexander Brodie, was a younger son of Brodie of Brodie in the north of Scotland. Carefully educated, the heiress of great wealth, and possessed of a handsome figure and a bright, joyous disposition, she married on 11 Dec. 1813 George Gordon, marquis of Huntly, afterwards fifth duke of Gordon [q. v.] The marquis was twenty-five years older than herself. Her position gave her access to the best society, but revelations of unblushing vice in high quarters distressed her, and led her to study the Bible for solace under her grief. She became a most earnest believer, and after a time made a complete renunciation of the world. Becoming Duchess of Gordon in 1827, at the age of thirty-three, she deliberately began a life of earnest devotion. She became interested in schools, chapels, and other Christian undertakings among her own people, and when in 1836 the death of her husband, with whom she had lived in much affection, made her independent, her devotion became more intense than ever. Huntly Lodge, her residence, was situated in Strathbogie, one of the chief fields of the well-known conflict between the church and the civil courts previous to 1843, when the disruption of the church of Scotland occurred. The duchess was an episcopalian, but her sympathies were with those who were in conflict with the civil courts, though she was not disposed to identify herself with their movement. But in 1846 her view changed. Believing that the church of England was not constituted in accordance with the mind of the Lord, because it had no discipline, she left it after a long mental conflict, and joined the Free church of Scotland. The leaders of the Free church were her personal friends, and often visited her house and held religious meetings under her roof. She came to occupy among evangelical Christians in Scotland the position that in former years had been held the Countess of Leven and Viscountess Glenorchy. Her death took place somewhat suddenly at Huntly Lodge on 31 Jan. 1864, in her seventieth year.

[Burke's Peerage; Life and Letters of Elisabeth, last Duchess of Gordon, by the Rev. A. Moody Stuart, 2nd edit. London, 1865.]

W. G. B.