Dorothea Gregory (1754-1830) was the eldest daughter of Dr John Gregory (Aberdeen, 3rd June 1724 – Edinburgh, 9th February 1773) and Elizabeth Forbes (c.1728- Aberdeen, 3rd October1761). Dr Gregory was Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society; they had three sons and three daughters. Elizabeth Montagu was the cousin of Elizabeth Forbes, and Dr Gregory enjoyed a long friendship with the Montagus, who stood as godparents to her younger sister. Dorothea was left motherless at the age of seven, and when she was seventeen her father was pleased to accept Montagu’s offer to take her as her companion, a role she fulfilled for ten years.
Montagu was extremely fond of Dorothea and became very dependent on her as a secretary, companion and fearless driver of her one-horse whiskey carriage. She took Dorothea on an extended visit to Paris in 1776 with her nephew Matthew Montagu and Elizabeth Carter’s nephew Montagu Pennington. Elizabeth Montagu developed a plan that Dorothea should marry Matthew (who was eight years her junior), and both of them would continue to live with her and remain under her control.
However, Dorothea had other ideas. In October 1782, on a visit to her family in Edinburgh, she became engaged to Revd. Archibald Alison (Edinburgh, 13th November 1757 – Edinburgh, 17th May 1839), a Scottish curate and writer with close connections to prominent Scottish intellectuals such as Dugald Stewart (1753–1828) and the physician Matthew Baillie (1761–1823).. Montagu was furious, and persuaded her to delay their marriage until Alison had obtained some preferment within the church, whilst making no attempt to assist him in doing so. She also insisted that Dorothea return to live with her in April 1783, which she did until the death of her sister-in-law gave her a reason to return to Edinburgh a year later.
William Pulteney (formerly William Johnstone) offered Alison a living, and when it proved impossible to carry out this intention, gave him £150 and a £150 annuity until he could get him some preferment. Dorothea married Archibald Alison on 19th June 1784 at a house owned by Pulteney in Sudborough, where he became curate. It was not until 1790 that Pulteney gave Alison the perpetual curacy of Kenley in Shropshire, followed by other appointments, which made him financially independent. In Alison published a book entitled Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste which was well-received, reprinted several times, and earned him a modest income and literary reputation.
The family returned to Edinburgh in 1800 when Alison was appointed as a minister of the Scottish Episcopalian Church in Edinburgh’s Cowgate. They had six children, and while their second daughter was given the middle name Montagu in honour of her former patron, their eldest daughter was named Henriette Laura after William Pulteney’s daughter, and their eldest son was named William Pulteney Alison; he became a well-known physician in Edinburgh, while his brother Archibald Alison became a lawyer and a historian, and ultimately a baronet.
Dorothea died at their home in Edinburgh in 1830, at the age of 74.
Also known as:
- Dorothea Gregory (née  Alison)
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Mentioned in 63 letters
Recipient of 4 letters
|Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Dorothea Gregory||0/1/1783||1840|
|Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Dorothea Gregory||0/0/0||3436|
|Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Dorothea Alison (Gregory)||0/0/1790||3876|
|Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Dorothea Alison (Gregory)||0/0/1790|