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Kay's Edinburgh Portraits
The Marquis of Huntly, afterwards Duke of Gordon


This Print represents the Marquis of Huntly, when about the age of twenty-one. He was born at Edinburgh on the 1st of February, 1770. His first entry on public life was by adopting the profession of arms, and in being appointed Captain of an independent company of Highlanders raised by himself in 1790, and with which he joined the 42nd regiment, or Royal Highlanders, the following year. Shortly afterwards, the regiment remained nearly a twelvemonth in Edinburgh Castle, during which period Kay embraced the opportunity of etching the "Highland Chieftain." The daring exploit—a race on horseback, from the Abbey Strand, at the foot of the Canongate, to the Castle-gate—betwixt the Marquis and another sporting nobleman, still alive, which occurred about this period, will be remembered by many of the inhabitants of Edinburgh.

In 1792, he entered the 3rd regiment of Foot Guards as Captain-Lieutenant. In 1793, when orders were issued by his Majesty to embody seven regiments of Scottish Fencibles, the Duke of Gordon not only raised the Gordon Fencibles, but the Marquis made an offer to furnish a regiment for more extended service. Early in 179-4, he accordingly received authority for this purpose, and so much did the family enter into the spirit of constitutional loyalty, that besides the Marquis, both the Duke and Duchess of Gordon "recruited in their own person." The result of such canvassing was soon manifest; in the course of three months the requisite numbers were completed, and the corps embodied at Aberdeen on the 24th June. As a matter of course the Marquis was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant.

The first movement of the "Gordon Highlanders" was to England, where they joined the camp at Nettley Common, in Southampton-shire, and were entered in the list of regular troops as the 100th regiment. They were soon afterwards despatched for the Mediterranean, where the Marquis accompanied them, and where they remained for several years. Leaving his regiment at Gibraltar, his lordship embarked on board a packet at Corunna, on his passage home; but, after having been three days at sea, the vessel was taken by a French privateer, and the Marquis was plundered of every thing valuable: he was then placed on board a Swedish ship, in which he arrived at Falmouth in September, 1796.

The "Gordon Highlanders" returned to Britain in 1798, but in consequence of the disturbances then breaking out in Ireland, they were immediately hurried off there. The Marquis directly followed, resumed the command, and was actively employed with the regiment until tranquillity was restored. Notwithstanding the irksome and disagreeable nature of a soldier's duty connected with civil commotion, the conduct of the " Gordon Highlanders" in Ireland was highly exemplary; so much so, that on leaving the county of Wexford, in which district they had been principally employed, an address was presented by the magistrates and inhabitants to the Marquis, in which, after paying a marked compliment to the orderly conduct of the men, they stated that " peace and order were established, rapine had disappeared, confidence in the Government was restored, and the happiest cordiality subsisted since his regiment came among them."

In the expedition to the Helder in 1799, the "Gordon Highlanders," whose number a short time previously had been changed to the 92nd, with the Marquis at their head, formed part of General Moore's brigade, and although not engaged in repelling the first attack of the enemy, bore a distinguished part in the great action at Bergen on the '2nd October, in which the Marquis was severely wounded. So entirely did the conduct of the regiment on this occasion give satisfaction to General Moore, "that when he was made a Knight of the Bath, and obtained a grant of supporters for his armorial bearings, he took a soldier of the Gordon Highlanders, in full uniform, as one of these supporters, and a lion as the other."

The Marquis had obtained the rank of Colonel in the Army in 1796—that of Major-General in 1801, and was placed on the North British Staff as such from 1803 till 1806, when he was appointed Colonel of the 42nd, or Eoyal Highland Eegimeut. At the general election of that year he was chosen Member of Parliament for Eye, in Suffolk; but he only remained a short time in the Commons, having been, on the change of Ministry which soon followed, summoned by writ to the House of Peers, by the title of Baron Gordon of Huntly, in the county of Gloucester. In 1808, he was raised to the rank of Lieutenant-General in the Army; and the same year, on the resignation of his father the Duke of" Gordon, the Marquis was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Aberdeen.

In the unfortunate "Walcheren Expedition," undertaken in 1809, under the late Earl of Chatham, the Marquis commanded the fourth division. The object of this armament, which had been fitted out on a very extensive scale, was the destruction of the fleet and arsenal at Antwerp, but except in the bombardment of Flushing, the expedition entirely failed of success.

With the Walcheren expedition closed the foreign military career of the Marquis of Huntly. His subsequent life was distinguished by a patriotic and active zeal in whatever tended to the honour or advantage of his native country. He was long a member, and frequently President of the Highland Society, an association which has done so much to improve the agriculture and condition of the peasantry of Scotland. As a mark of distinction, in 1813, the Marquis was appointed General of the ancient body denominated the Royal Archers of Scotland, or King's Body Guard. Of the Celtic Society, he was also an equally honoured member; and, in short, in all patriotic or national associations, he was found to yield enthusiastic co-operation.

On the death of his lordship's father in 1827, he succeeded to the dukedom of Gordon in Scotland, and the earldom of Norwich in England ; and in the still more extended sphere of influence thus opened to him, the spirit which had animated the Marquis continued to be manifested in the Duke. The great improvements which lie effected on his extensive estates—the exquisite taste displayed in laying out the grounds and ornamenting the lawns around the princely Castle of Gordon—together with his successful exertions in improving the breed of Highland cattle, and promoting agriculture, are well-known instances of the Duke's untiring zeal and perseverance.

He married, in 1813, Elizabeth, daughter of the late Alexander Brodie, Esq., of Arn-hall, but had no issue. His Grace died at London in June 1836, and with him the dukedom of Gordon and earldom of Norwich became extinct. The title of Marquis of Huntly, and some of the inferior dignities, devolved to his Grace's "heir-male whatsoever," the Earl of Aboyne. The estates passed by virtue of an entail to his nephew, the Duke of Richmond.

In the foregoing sketch, the character of the late Dnke of Gordon has been drawn chiefly from the events of his public career. His conduct in the social relations of domestic life will be best estimated by those—and there are many—who had an opportunity of personal intercourse. Although not present on the memorable event of the King's Visit to Scotland in 1822, his name was not forgotten by the Scottish muse on that occasion. In the "Highland Chieftains' Welcome," the Marquis is thus eulogised :—

"And Huntly, at once the delight and the glory,
The boast and the pride of the elans of the north;
Renowned, not more in warrior's story,
Than in home's happy circle, for true manly worth."

In the second part of "Carle now the King's come," by the late Sir Walter Scott, he is also familiarly alluded to:—

"Cock o' the North, my Huntly bra',
Where are you with my Forty-twa?
Oh! waes my heart that ye Ye awa'—
Carle now the King's come!"

The Marquis obtained the distinctive appellation of the "Cock o' the North," in allusion to his spirited conduct, as well as to the circumstance of his being the representative of an ancient and powerful family. Amid the occasional frolics of youth and the allurements of high life, however, the native goodness of his heart continued uncorrupted: he was an especial friend to the poor, and kind and affable to all. In reference to this feature in his character, the following pleasing anecdote is told:—A certain gentleman, " clothed with a little brief authority," was allowed by the Duke (the Marquis's father) a handsome sum annually for incidental charities. It was, however, strongly suspected that not one farthing of the money was expended among the poor. The rumour having reached Huntly's ears, he resolved upon an expedient to ascertain whether the general suspicions were well-founded. Having attired himself in the lowly guise of a beggar, he repaired to the house of the little great personage, and there assuming the "trembling steps" of three-score-and-ten, he knocked at the door and solicited alms. One of the menials ordered him to be gone, as no beggar was allowed access to the house. In well-feigned accents the mendicant pleaded his absolute necessity, and expressed his confidence that the master himself would not use him so. The master at length appeared with a stern countenance, and in spite of the beggar's tale of deep distress, threatened, if he did not instantly depart, to "hound the dogs at him." Thus thoroughly convinced that the charges were not without foundation, the Marquis took care to be present at the next annual settlement, when the usual debit—"to incidental charities"— appearing as formerly, be drew his pen through the entry, at the same time reminding the pretended almoner of his conduct to the beggar, and declaring that he would in future manage these charities himself. It is said that the Marquis was such an adept in the art of counterfeiting characters, that even his most intimate associates were occasionally made the dupes of his deceptions. Some of his exploits happening to become the topic of conversation on one occasion, a gentleman present took a bet with his lordship, that he for one would be proof against his art, let him assume whatever disguise he might. The wager was instantly accepted; and, in the course of a few days afterwards, the Marquis had himself rigged out in all the ragged paraphernalia of a veteran gaberlunzie—with budgets and wallets arranged in such a manner that even Edie Ochiltree might not have been ashamed of the personification. Thus equipped, he proceeded to the mansion of his friend, and having on his journey avoided neither " dub nor mire," he seemed the very picture of one of those sturdy mendicants of whom the country was prolific during last century. He met the lord of the manor in the avenue leading to the house, to whom he gave the obeisance due from a person of his assumed calling; and after gratifying his curiosity by answering a few inquiries, he was ordered by the gentleman to the hall, and there to "see what he could find fitting for a keen appetite." Huntly accordingly stalked into the hall, where he was served with an ample plate of cold meat and abundance of bread and beer; but he partook very sparingly, and in short enacted this part of his assumed character so indifferently as to call forth a remark from the housekeeper, that "to be a rachel-looking carle he bad a very gentle stomach." Having thus far succeeded without discovery, Huntly resolved to make a still bolder attempt on his friend's boasted discrimination. Quitting the house, he studiously crossed the path of the gentleman, and again made his obeisance. "Well, old boy," said the latter, with his wonted good humour, "how did you fare at the hall?" "Very so so, indeed," replied Huntly; " nothing but cold beef, sour bread, and stale beer." "You must truly be a saucy scoundrel! " exclaimed the gentleman, nettled by the arrogant reply. "Not exactly that," continued Huntly, "but I have never been accustomed to such low fare." Irritated beyond endurance by the provokingly cool impudence of the supposed mendicant, the gentleman threatened to have him caged, and actually called some of the domestics to lay hands upon him, when, like the Gudeman o' Bal-langeich (in one of his nocturnal adventures) he doffed his

"Duddie clouts—his meally bags an' a',"

and stood forward in his own proper person, to the utter amazement of the bystanders, and the conviction of his defeated friend, whose wrath was quickly changed to merriment.


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