Gordon, Duke (DNB00)

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GORDON, DUKE (1739–1800), librarian, son of William Gordon, a weaver in the Potterrow, Edinburgh, was born on 20 May 1739. His father gave him his baptismal name from a clannish feeling for the Duke of Gordon. He was educated at a school in the Cowgate, under Andrew Waddel, translator of Buchanan's paraphrase of the Psalms. On 13 March 1753 he entered the Greek class in the Edinburgh University under Robert Hunter, and became a good scholar. During 1754 he was substitute teacher of the parish school of Tranent, Haddingtonshire, returning to the university on 4 March 1755. After completing his course he was tutor in the families of Captain John Dalrymple [q. v.], afterwards fifth earl of Stair, and of Alexander Boswell, lord Auchinleck [q. v.] James Robertson, D.D., professor of oriental languages, on being made university librarian (12 Jan. 1763), appointed Gordon his assistant. This office he retained under Andrew Dalzel [q. v.]. Robertson's successor. His salary till 1783 was only 15l., and never exceeded 35l.; he supported himself mainly by tuition. According to his biographer, he was a patient, sensitive scholar, not without sarcastic humour. He detected three of the six errors in the ‘immaculate’ Horace of 1744 [see Foulis, Robert]. On his retirement from duty he received (12 April 1800) the degree of M.A. He died unmarried on 30 Dec. 1800, and was buried in St. Cuthbert's churchyard, where a monument to his memory bears a long Latin inscription by Dalzel. He left 500l. to the Edinburgh Infirmary, and the reversion of house property of nearly the same value to the poor of St. Cuthbert's.

[Memoir by Dalzel in New Annual Register (for 1801), 1802, p. 47; also in Scots Magazine, 1802 (contains valuable particulars of Scottish university training); Cat. of Edinburgh Graduates, 1858, p. 215.]

A. G.