Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/216

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Gordon
Gordon
210

GORDON, Sir JAMES WILLOUGHBY (1773–1851), baronet, general, born in 1773, was son of Captain Francis Grant, royal navy, who took the name of Gordon in 1768 (pursuant to the will of his maternal uncle, James Gordon, of Moor Place, Hertfordshire), by his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas, and sister of Sir Willoughby Aston, baronet. On 17 Oct. 1783 he was appointed to an ensigncy in the 66th foot, in which he became lieutenant in 1789, captain in 1795, and major in 1797. He served with his regiment in Ireland, the West Indies, and at Gibraltar; was present as a volunteer on board Lord Hood's fleet at Toulon in 1793, and witnessed the surrender of the French in Bantry Bay in 1796; and afterwards was with his regiment in San Domingo, in Jamaica, and North America. On 21 May 1801 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel in the 85th foot, and commanded the first battalion of that regiment at the first British occupation of Madeira in that year. In 1802 he was appointed an assistant quartermaster-general in the southern district, head-quarters Chatham. In 1804 he was brought into the 92nd foot as lieutenant-colonel, and appointed military secretary to the Duke of York, then commander-in-chief, in which capacity he was an important witness before the parliamentary committee of inquiry into military expenditure (Parl. Papers, Accounts and Papers, 1806–9), and in the Wardle inquiry [see Frederick Augustus, Duke of York]. He retained the post until the resignation of the Duke of York. While so employed he was appointed lieutenant-colonel commandant of the royal African corps in 1808, and became colonel in 1810. In 1811 Gordon, who, as he stated before a parliamentary committee, had held every staff appointment it was possible for him to hold, was appointed quartermaster-general of the army in the Peninsula, with which he served till he resigned the following year through ill-health (Gurwood, vi. 4, 6, 44, 258). On his return home he was appointed quartermaster-general at the Horse Guards, a post which he retained up to his death, after which it was abolished for a time, in accordance with the recommendation of a parliamentary committee. Gordon became a major-general in 1813; was transferred to the colonelcy of the 85th light infantry in 1816; was created a baronet in 1818; transferred to the colonelcy of the 23rd royal Welsh fusiliers in 1823; was made a lieutenant-general and G.C.H. in 1825; sworn in a privy councillor in 1830; G.C.B. in 1831; general in 1841. He was a F.R.S. and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society from its formation. He died at Chelsea on 4 Jan. 1851. Gordon married in 1805 Julia Lavinia, daughter of Richard Henry Alexander Bennet of Beckenham, Kent, and by her had a son and daughter. Gordon was author of ‘Military Transactions of the British Empire,’ 1803–7 (London, 1809, 4to), and a supplementary volume thereto, containing tables of the strength, distribution, &c. of the army during that period.

[Burke's Baronetage; Gurwood's Well. Desp. vol. vi.; Wellington's Suppl. Desp. vol. xi.; Gent. Mag. new ser. xxxv. 198.]

H. M. C.

GORDON, JANE, Duchess of Gordon (1749?–1812), wife of Alexander Gordon, fourth duke [q. v.], was second daughter of Sir William Maxwell, third baronet of Monreith, Wigtownshire, by his wife Magdalen Blair of Blair. She was born in Hyndford's Close, Edinburgh, where her mother occupied a large second-floor flat. Tradition represents her in girlhood as a boisterous young hoyden, one of whose pastimes it was, with her sister Betty, afterwards Lady Wallace of Craigie, to ride on the backs of the pigs turned out of a neighbouring wynd in the Edinburgh High Street. On 28 Oct. 1767 she was married to Alexander, duke of Gordon, at the house of her brother-in-law, Mr. Fordyce, in Argyle Street, Edinburgh. Two sons and five daughters were the result of the union. The duchess soon took the management of family affairs into her own hands, with an unscrupulous desire for family aggrandisement (Autobiog. Sketch, Preface). She possessed beauty —as may be seen in her portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1775, which has been often engraved—excellent business capacity, good nature, and ready wit, marred by singular coarseness of speech. Wraxall, who knew her well, says that while far inferior to the Duchess of Devonshire [see Cavendish, Georgiana] in grace and accomplishment, she possessed indomitable pertinacity, importunity, and unconventionality (Memoirs, iv. 457). She was a confidant of Pitt, and became sole arbitress of fashion in Edinburgh, while in London she formed a social centre of the tory party. At her house in Pall Mall, belonging to the Marquis of Buckingham, she received large gatherings of the hangers-on of the government during the last fourteen years of Pitt's first administration (1787-1801, vide Wraxall). She was regarded by her friends as successful beyond precedent in match-making, three out of her five daughters marrying dukes, and a fourth a marquis. Her eldest daughter, Lady Charlotte, was, Wraxall says, destined for Mr. Pitt, but the scheme was foiled by Dundas's jealousy; and she then