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Gordon, Robert (1665-1732) (DNB00)


GORDON, ROBERT (1665–1732), founder of Robert Gordon's Hospital, now Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen, was a son of Arthur Gordon, advocate, Edinburgh, and grandson of Robert Gordon (1580-1661) [q. v.] of Straloch. After travelling for some time on the continent, Gordon settled at Danzig, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits; having acquired some wealth he returned to Scotland, and about 1720 took up his abode in Aberdeen. He is said to have been a man of very penurious habits, though of gentlemanly appearance and demeanour, and some pitiful anecdotes of his miserly ways have been handed down. In his settlement, following the example of George Heriot [q. v.] of Edinburgh, the founder of Heriot's Hospital, he conveyed his property, which amounted to 10,300l., to the town council and four of the ministers of Aberdeen as trustees 'to be employed in founding and supporting a hospital for educating indigent children.' At his death in 1732 this legacy became available; a hospital was completed in 1737, at a cost of 3,300l., and the fund was left to accumulate till 1750, when the hospital was opened with thirty boys. A subsequent bequest by Alexander Simpson of Collyhill in 1834 increased greatly the resources of the charity; two wings were added to the building and forty boys to the beneficiaries. Between 1750 and 1880, 2,100 boys passed through the hospital.

The management of the charity was for a long time somewhat rigid and artificial, and though some improvements were effected from time to time, it did not undergo any material change till, under the Commission on Endowed Institutions (Scotland), a substantially new constitution was given to it. A provisional order was issued, dated 10 June 1881, with the sanction of the old governors, the object of which was to extend the usefulness of the hospital funds by converting the buildings to some extent into day schools, which should be mainly devoted to the higher branches of a commercial education; by reducing the number of foundationers and boarding them out in families; by admitting day scholars; by instituting competitive bursaries for higher education; by establishing evening classes, and by carrying promising boys on to the university. The order obtained the sanction of parliament and became the new constitution. In the day schools its objects are now prosecuted under a threefold division of classes—commercial, engineering, and classical. Under the charge of Dr. Ogilvie, head-master, the college rapidly rose to a high degree of prosperity. The number of boys receiving education at the college is about a thousand, and the entire number of students 1,250.

[Kennedy's Annals of Aberdeen; Smith's New Hist. of Aberdeenshire; Chambers's Eminent Scotsmen ; Anderson's Scottish Nation ; Provisional Order or Scheme for the Future Administration of Robert Gordon's Hospital in Aberdeen ; Prospectus and Prize List of Robert Gordon's College, Session 1888-9; Robert Gordon, his Hospital and his College (by Alexander Walker), privately printed, 1886.]

W. G. B.