Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gordon, George (1770-1836)

GORDON, GEORGE, fifth Duke of Gordon (1770–1836), eldest son of the fourth duke [see Gordon, Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon, 1745-1827], was born in Edinburgh on 2 Feb. 1770. At the age of twenty. being then Marquis of Huntly, he entered as ensign in the 35th foot, of which his brother-in-law, Colonel Lennox, afterwards fourth duke of Richmond, was lieutenant-colonel. The year after (1791) he raised an independent company of foot, from which he exchanged to the 42nd highlanders, and commanded the grenadier company of that regiment until 1793, when he was appointed captain-lieutenant and lieutenant-colonel in the 3rd footguards. He accompanied his battalion to Flanders with the Duke of York's army, and was present at St. Amand, Famars, Lounoi, Dunkirk, the siege of Valenciennes, &c. On his return to Scotland, he raised a regiment of highlanders on the paternal estates, a task in which he was actively assisted by his father and mother, both of whom recruited personally. The duchess is said to have worn the regimental colours, and to have obtained recruits for her son by putting the shilling between her lips. The regiment was inspected at Aberdeen in 1794, and passed into the line as the 100th Gordon highlanders regiment of foot. Five years afterwards it was renumbered as the 92nd foot, under which name it became famous. It is now the 2nd Gordon highlanders. As lieutenant-colonel commandant, the Marquis of Huntly took his regiment out to Gibraltar. In September 1795 he embarked at Corunna for England, but three days later was taken by a French privateer, stripped of everything valuable, and put on board a Swedish vessel which landed him at Falmouth shortly afterwards. He afterwards rejoined his regiment, and served with it for about a year in Corsica. In 1796 he became colonel. In 1798 the regiment returned home from Gibraltar, and was employed in the county of Wexford during the Irish rebellion, and was conspicuous for its forbearance and high discipline. An address of thanks was presented to Lord Huntly as colonel by the magistrates and inhabitants when the regiment was about to leave. Huntly became a brigadier-general, accompanied the expedition to Holland in 1799, and was severely wounded by a musket-ball in the shoulder, in the desperate fight among the sandhills between Egmont and Bergen, while at the head of his regiment, which won the special approval of General, afterwards Sir John, Moore. The marquis became a major-general in 1801, was transferred to the colonelcy of the 42nd highlanders in 1806, became a lieutenant-general in 1808, and commanded a division of Lord Chatham's army in the Walcheren expedition of 1809.

In 1806 the Marquis of Huntly was returned to parliament for Eye; but on the change of ministry in 1807 he was called to the House of Lords in his father's English barony of Gordon. In politics he was a staunch conservative. He became general in 1819, and on the death of the Duke of Kent was transferred from the 42nd highlanders to the colonelcy of the 1st royal Scots (not 1st footguards, as stated in some biographies). He was made G.C.B. in 1820. He succeeded to the dukedom on the death of his father on 17 June 1827, when he was appointed keeper of the great seal of Scotland, and the year after governor of Edinburgh Castle. In 1834, on the death of the Duke of Gloucester, he was transferred to the colonelcy of the 3rd footguards, then known as the Scotch fusilier guards, and now the Scots guards. The duke died at his town residence in Belgrave Square on 28 May 1836, the cause of death being given as 'ossification of the trachea' and internal cancer. By order of the king his remains were escorted to Greenwich (for removal to Scotland) by his regiment of guards. The duke married, on 11 Dec. 1813, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Brodie of Arnhill [see Gordon, Elizabeth, Duchess of Gordon, 1774-1864], by whom he had no issue. The duke resided chiefly at Gordon Castle, Banffshire, where he exercised a princely hospitality. He was a most munificent donor to public charities, particularly the Scottish hospital, of which he was president. At the time of his death, he was also captain-general of the royal Scottish archers, chancellor of the Marischal College, Aberdeen, hereditary keeper of Inverness Castle, president of the Scottish corporation, and grand master of the Orangemen of Scotland. The duke dying without issue, and his only brother having predeceased him unmarried, the dukedom of Gordon became extinct, Gordon Castle with large estates passing to the Duke of Richmond, who took the name of Gordon in addition to Lennox. The dukedom of Gordon was revived in the present Duke of Richmond and Gordon (1876). The title of Marquis of Huntly descended to his kinsman, George Gordon, ninth marquis [q. v.]

[Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 319-20; Gent. Mag. new ser. vi. 93; Cannon's Hist. Rec. 92nd Highlanders, pp. 1-20, 127-8; Sir George Bell's Rough Notes of an old Soldier, ii. 39.]

H. M. C.