Aberdeen, George Hamilton (1784-1800)

Aberdeen, George Hamilton Gordon, Earl of, born at Edinburgh, 28th January 1784, was educated at Harrow; in 1801 succeeded to the earldom ; made a tour through Greece ; and took his M. A. from St John's College, Cambridge (1804). In 1806 he was elected a Scotch representative peer ; in 1813-14 was ambassador to Vienna ; and in 1828 became Foreign Secretary in the new Wellington ministry. The general principle which guided his policy was that of non-intervention, which, joined to his well-known sympathy with Metternich, exposed him to the suspicion of hostility to popular liberty. His gradual abandonment of high Tory principles was evinced by his support of the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and of the Catholic Emancipation Act. In 1841 he again became Foreign Secretary, his Chief services as such being the conclusion of the Chinese war, the Ashburton Treaty, and the Oregon Treaty. His Non-intrusion Act (1843) could not heal the Disruption of the Scottish Church, and was virtually repealed by the Act for the Abolition of Patronage, 1874. Like Peel, he was honestly converted to free-trade principles, and with Peel he resigned in 1846, immediately after the repeal of the Corn Laws. In 1852, on Lord Derby's resignation, he was selected as the fittest man to head a coalition ministry, which for some time was extremely popular. The vacillating policy displayed in the conduct of the Crimean war undermined its stability, and the gross mismanagement of the commissariat in the winter of 1854 filled up the measure of the popular discontent. Roebuck's motion, calling for inquiry, was carried by a strong majority; and on 1st February 1855, Lord Aberdeen resigned office. He died in London, December 13, 1800. See Life by his son, the Hon. Sir A. Gordon (1893). His grandson, George (1841-70), the sixth and 'Sailor Earl' of Aberdeen, was drowned on the voyage from Boston to Melbourne, when he was succeeded by his brother, John Campbell Hamilton Gordon (b. 1847), who was viceroy of Ireland in 1886 and 1905-15, in 1893-98 was governor of Canada, and in 1915 was made a marquess. In 1877 he married Ishbel-Maria Marjoribanks, youngest daughter of the first Lord Tweedmouth, who is interested in women-questions and the Irish peasantry, and wrote on Canada (1894) and tuberculosis (1908).
1. Chamber's Biographical Dictionary, Philadelphia, 1926, page 7.

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