Jane Gordon

(Jane Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon)

c.1749 - 1812

Leading figure of Georgian Society, noted for entertaining on a grand scale. Gordon was most-likely born in Edinburgh, the daughter of Sir William Maxwell of Monreith (c.1712-71). She was brought up at the family's Edinburgh home in Hyndford's Close and at their country seat, Myrton Castle in Dumfries & Galloway. She had a reputation as a wild child, who is said to have ridden down the Royal Mile on the back of a pig while fetching water from a nearby pump. Gordon grew into a beautiful lady, noted for her wit and energy, marrying Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon (1743 - 1827), in Edinburgh. The Duchess became a leading figure of Edinburgh and London society, entertaining lavishly at Gordon Castle, their homes on Pall Mall in London and George Square in Edinburgh, and later at Kinrara.

In 1794, wearing an ostentatious hat and bearing the King's shilling in her teeth, the Duchess helped to recruit soldiers for her husband's new regiment, the Gordon Highlanders. Her social circle included King George III (1738 - 1820), his son the Prince of Wales (who later became George IV), Prime Minister William Pitt (1759 - 1806), Henry Dundas (1742 - 1811) and Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696 - 1792), and she was a patron of the poet Robert Burns (1759-96).

Despite giving rise to seven children, although perhaps not all fathered by her husband, her marriage proved unhappy and by 1805 the couple lived apart. Gordon died in London but was buried at Kinrara, the grave marked by the substantial Duchess of Gordon's Monument, erected grudgingly by her husband. This monument features a lengthy inscription recording the details of her children, of whom she was exceptionally proud, and the good marriages she had arranged for her five daughters, whose husbands included three dukes and a marquess.

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