GEORGE, FIFTH DUKE OF GORDON —APPOINTED LORD-LIEUTENANT
OF ABEEDEENSHIRE—H15 DEATH—THE DUCHESS OF GORDON—RETURN TO HUNTLY LODGE
— HER DEATH— DUKES OF RICHMOND AND GORDON AS
THE Fifth Duke of Gordon attained the rank of full
General in the army. He was also Colonel of the Scots Fusilier Guards. In
1820 he received the honour of the Grand Cross of the Bath.
In 1813 he married Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress
of Alexander Brodie of Arnhall. Shortly afterwards he settled at Huntly
Lodge—a modern mansion which stands on a fine elevated site, near the edge
of the forest of Binn, about a quarter of a mile from the old Castle of
Strathbogie, and on the opposite side of the river Deveron. In this
mansion the Marquis and Marchioness of Huntly resided for fourteen years.
During this period they became much respected and beloved by the people of
Huntly and the surrounding district.
On the death of his father, in 1827, he became fifth
Duke of Gordon, and Earl of Norwich. The Duke and his Duchess then removed
from Huntly Lodge to Gordon Castle. He was appointed Keeper of the Great
Seal of Scotland, Governor of the Castle of Edinburgh, and Lord Lieutenant
The Duke discharged all the functions and duties of his
high position with unaffected dignity, friendliness, and hospitality. He
was an exceedingly genial gentleman, and was implicitly trusted and
universally respected. He was a very kind and considerate landlord and won
the gratitude of all classes.
He died on the 28th of May, 1836, at the age of 66. His
death was deeply regretted over the north of Scotland. Indeed, there was
much heartfelt grief when the last male representative of the Dukes of
Gordon departed. Having left no issue by his Duchess, who survived him,
the title of Duke of Gordon and Earl of Norwich became dormant. But all
the Gordon estates of the Dukedom were inherited by Charles, fifth Duke of
Richmond, a grandson of Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon, who then assumed
the surname and the arms of Gordon.
After the death of the last Duke of Gordon (of the male
line), his widow, the Duchess of Gordon, returned to Huntly Lodge, the
residence associated with the early period of her married life. There the
Duchess lived a remarkably unaffected, charitable, and Christian life; and
she was much respected and beloved by all classes in the locality.
Shortly after the death of her husband, the Duchess
resolved to erect a memorial to his memory and her own in the place where
they had spent many happy days, amongst a community warmly and deeply
attached to them. Her sentiment and conception assumed the form of an
institution which would confer benefit on the people of Huntly and the
surrounding district. Accordingly, to realise this she
built and endowed "The Gordon Schools," a chaste and characteristic
building, standing at the north end of the town. It consists of a central
clock-tower with an archway in it, through which runs the avenue to the
old castle and to Huntly Lodge, and a school and teachers’ houses on each
side. Busts in marble of the Duke and Duchess are placed in niches on
either side, within the archway. On the outer and reverse sides are placed
the following inscription:-
Gordon Schools, erected in memory
of George, fifth Duke of Gordon, by
Founded 1839—Opened 1841.
These memorials of George, fifth Duke of Gordon, and his widow, Elizabeth,
Duchess of Gordon, are placed here in testimony of the
respect and affection of an attached tenantry and a faithful
The Duchess of Gordon in the later years of her life
took much interest in religious movements. For a number of years a series
of large religious meetings were annually held at Huntly, in which the
Duchess manifested a special and warm interest. She died in 1862.
The fifth Duke of Richmond died in 1860, and was
succeeded by his son, Charles Henry Gordon Lennox, Duke of Lennox, Earl of
Darnley, Baron of Torbelton, Duke of Richmond and Gordon, &c. He was born
in 1818, and educated at Oxford. In 1841 he was
elected member of Parliament for West Sussex, and continued to represent
this constituency till 1860. He was appointed Lord Chancellor of the
University at Aberdeen in 1861.
On the suggestion of the late Lord Beaconsfield, he was
created Duke of Gordon, on the 13th of January,
Having made some reference in preceding sections to the
fourth and fifth Dukes of Gordon as landlords, it seems right to state
some facts and circumstances which came within my
own recollection and observation. In the glen of
Clunymore, in the parish of Mortlach, Banffshire, there are five crofts on
the territory of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, which the original
occupiers reclaimed from moorland and moss. These crofts had been
given off in the time of the fourth and fifth Dukes of
Gordon. Fifty-six years ago the cultivated portions of these crofts ran
from about six to fifteen acres; and the rents of them varied from 10s to
£1. Strange to say, the one with the largest extent of arable land was the
lowest rent—10s. Although the cultivated land of these crofts has since
been much increased, the rents are the same now as they were years ago;
the Dukes of Richmond and Gordon have never raised the rents, nor in any
way disturbed the successive tenants.
About the year 1841 a large
number of the farms on the Huntly and Gordon estates of the Duke of
Richmond were relet. At that time it was resolved that a number of small
farms adjacent to each other should be formed into one large farm. In such
circumstances the usual way of proceeding is to warn the tenants to
remove, and if they decline, to evict them. In this
instance, however, the procedure was different It was thus:—the tenants
whose farms were to be annexed to make a large farm, were informed of what
was intended to be done, and if they could not find
suitable farms on some of the other estates of the Duke, or elsewhere, or
if they still wished to remain, then they were permitted to reside in the
dwelling-house of the farm, with their kailyard—rent-free and five pounds
a year for the remainder of their life. As might have been expected, a
considerable number of old tenants gladly accepted this kind and generous
arrangement. Not a single tenant was evicted.
When a boy, I have sat at the fireside of one of these
who accepted the above arrangement—a hale and hearty old man, in the
parish of Mortlach, Banffshire. His small farm was one of five which were
annexed to Keithmore. His house stood on a bank on the south side of the
Water of Fiddich, near the bridge which there spans this beautiful stream,
a little below the Militown of Auchindoun.
Having concluded the eventful history of the Earls and
Marquises of Huntly, and the Dukes of Gordon, of the lineal male line, the
Aboyne Peerage has yet to be treated. On the death of the fifth Duke of
Gordon, the fifth Earl of Aboyne became Marquis of Huntly.