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George Gordon, Marquis of Huntly

(b. Dec. 26, 1751, London, England – d. Nov. 1, 1793, Newgate Prison, Newgate Street, City of London )

Gender: M

George Gordon (1751-1793) was the youngest son of Cosmo Gordon, 3rd Duke of Gordon. He entered the Royal Navy at the age of twelve and spent nine years in the service, during which time he campaigned for an improvement in the living conditions of sailors. In 1774 he became MP for Ludgershall, a pocket borough. On entering parliament, he became an outspoken critic of the government’s policy in North America and a supporter of American independence. In 1779 he set up the Protestant Association, with the aim of securing the repeal of the Papists Act of 1778, which had restored limited civil rights to Roman Catholics. On 2nd June 1780 he led a crowd of around 50,000 people from St George’s Fields to the Houses of Parliament to present a petition against Catholic emancipation. When the crowd reached Westminster, it began to riot, and over the next few days its members pillaged the houses of Catholics, destroyed Catholic chapels, set fire to Newgate prison and attacked the Bank of England. The army was brought in to restore order, resulting in the death or injury of around 450 people. Gordon was charged with high treason, but acquitted thanks to a passionate defence by his cousin Thomas Erskine. In 1786 he was excommunicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the following year converted to Judaism. Facing a defamation suit, he escaped to the Netherlands, but on returning to England was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in Newgate, where he died of typhoid fever.

Also known as:

  • 6th Baron Byron
  • George Gordon
  • Lord Gordon

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Please note that all dates and location information are provisional, initially taken from the library and archive catalogues. As our section editors continue to work through the material we will update our database and the changes will be reflected across the edition.