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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Gordon, Lord George (1751 — 93)

Born in London, 3rd and youngest son of Cosmo George Gordon, Duke of Gordon. He was educated at Eton and entered the navy, but resigned shortly before the outbreak of the American War because the then head of the Admiralty, Lord Sandwich, would not promise him a commission. In 1774, he threatened to oppose General Fraser, who was standing for Inverness-shire, so Fraser bought him the pocket borough of Ludgershall. In 1779, Lord George organised and headed the Protestant Association, formed to have the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 repealed. On 2nd June 1780, he led a mob which marched on Parliament, carrying a monster petition. The mob destroyed Roman Catholic chapels, pillaged the homes of Catholics, set fire to Newgate, and attacked the Bank of England. Before the riots were quelled, 450 people had been killed. Gordon was tried for high treason, but thanks largely to the skill of Henry Erskine, was acquitted, on the ground that his intentions had not been treasonable.

When Burns was in Edinburgh in 1786, interest had revived in Lord George, because of his refusal to come forward as a witness in court over an ecclesiastical dispute in which he had become involved, and his subsequent excommunication for contempt of court, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following year, he was convicted for writing a pamphlet which reflected on the laws and criminal justice in Britain, and for publishing a libel against Marie Antoinette, and the French Ambassador in London. He fled to Holland to escape imprisonment, but on French representations was ordered to return to England, where he was put into Newgate prison, there he lived in considerable style, and ultimately died.

Burns made passing reference to Lord George's anti-popery campaign in a letter to James Dalrymple of Orangefield dated February 1787.

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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