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Significant Scots
Alexander Gordon


GORDON, ALEXANDER, author of various learned and useful antiquarian works, is one of the numerous subjects for the present publication, of whom nothing is known except their birth in Scotland, and their transactions in public life out of it. He was a well-educated man, possessing, what was not in his time common among the Scottish literati, an intimate knowledge of the Greek language. In early life, he travelled through France, and other parts of the continent, and spent some years in Italy. His first publication referred to the antiquities of his native country, which he seems to have explored with minute and pains-taking fidelity. The work appeared in 1726, under the title of "Itinerarium Septentrionale, or a Journey through most parts of the counties of Scotland, in two parts, with sixty-six copper-plates," folio: a supplement, published in 1732, was entitled, "Additions and Corrections to the Itinerarium Septentrionale, containing several dissertations on, and descriptions of Roman antiquities discovered in Scotland since publishing the said Itinerary." These were among the first efforts in what may be called pure-antiquities which were made in Scotland. The itinerary was considered so valuable a work, that it was translated into Latin, and published in Holland in 1731, (the Supplement included,) for the use of general scholars throughout Europe. In 1729, Mr Gordon published "The Lives of Pope Alexander VI. and his son Caesar Borgia, comprehending the wars in the reign of Charles VIII. and Lewis XII., kings of France, and the chief transactions and revolutions in Italy from 1492 to 1516, with an appendix of original pieces referred to in the work." This work was also in folio. In 1730, he published in octavo, "A Complete History of Ancient Amphitheatres, more particularly regarding the architecture of these buildings, and in particular that of Verona; by the marquis Scipio Maffei; translated from the Italian." In 1736, Mr Gordon was appointed secretary to the Society for the encouragement of learning, with an annual salary of fifty pounds; and also secretary to the Antiquarian Society: the former place he resigned in 1739, and the latter in 1741. About the same time, he officiated as secretary to the Egyptian Club, an association of learned individuals who had visited Egypt, comprising lord Sandwich, Dr Shaw, Dr Pococke, and others of nearly equal distinction. Mr Gordon published two other works—"An Essay towards explaining the hieroglyphical figures on the coffin of the ancient mummy belonging to captain William Lethieullier," 1737, and "Twenty-five plates of all the Egyptian mummies and other Egyptian antiquities in England," about 1739—both in folio.

Mr Gordon was destined, after doing so much to explain the antiquities of the old world, to the uncongenial fate of spending his last years in the new, where there are no ancient remains whatever. He was induced in 1741, to accompany governor Glen to Carolina in North America, where, besides a grant of land, he had several offices, particularly that of register of the province. He died about 1750, leaving a valuable estate to his family.


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