George Hamilton-Gordon

(4th Earl of Aberdeen)

1784 - 1860

Politician and British Prime Minister. Born in Edinburgh, however while being schooled at Harrow, his parents died and William Pitt, the Prime Minister and Henry Dundas (1742 - 1811), 1st Viscount Melville, became his guardians.

Hamilton-Gordon negotiated a treaty with Austria to create an alliance against Napoleon and went on to negotiate the Treaty of Paris which represented the peace terms following Napoleon's defeat in 1814. He became Foreign Secretary in the Duke of Wellington's administration (1828-30), then Secretary for War under Sir Robert Peel (1834), returning as Foreign Secretary under Peel (1841-6). In this post, he established cordial relations with France and was involved in boundary disputes in the USA, establishing the Webster-Ashburton (1842) and Oregon (1846) treaties. He resigned with Peel over the controversial repeal of the corn-laws (1846).

Hamilton-Gordon became Prime Minister of a coalition government (1852) which enjoyed much initial popularity, but fell in 1855 following discontent over the Crimean War. Hamilton-Gordon bore limited responsibility for this debacle, the war having been promoted by others in his cabinet.

Gordon was one of very few Scots admitted to the Order of the Garter, and Queen Victoria allowed him to remain a member of the Order of the Thistle in addition, an unusual honour.

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