Alexander Gordon - Encyclopedia




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ALEXANDER GORDON (c. 1692 - c. 1754), Scottish antiquary, is believed to have been born in Aberdeen in 1692. He is the "Sandy Gordon" of Scott's Antiquary. Of his parentage and early history nothing is known. He appears to have distinguished himself in classics at Aberdeen University, and to have made a living at first by teaching languages and music. When still young he travelled abroad, probably in the capacity of tutor. He returned to Scotland previous to 1726, and devoted himself to antiquarian work. In 1726 appeared the Itinerarium Septentrionale, his greatest and best-known work. He was already the friend of Sir John Clerk, of Penicuik, better known as Baron Clerk (a baron of the exchequer); and the baron and Roger Gale (vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries) are the "two gentlemen, the honour of their age and country," whose letters were published, without their consent it appears, as an appendix to the Itinerarium. Subsequently Gordon was appointed secretary to the Society for the Encouragement of Learning, with an annual salary of X50. Resigning this post, or, as there seems reason for believing, being dismissed for carelessness in his accounts, he succeeded Dr Stukeley as secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, and also acted for a short time as secretary to the Egyptian Club, an association composed of gentlemen who had visited Egypt. In 1741 he accompanied James Glen (afterwards governor), to South Carolina. Through his influence Gordon, besides receiving a grant of land in South Carolina, became registrar of the province and justice of the peace, and filled several other offices. From his will, dated the 22nd of August 1754, it appears he had a son Alexander and a daughter Frances, to whom he bequeathed most of his property, among which were portraits of himself and of friends painted by his own hand.

See Sir Daniel Wilson, Alexander Gordon, the Antiquary; and his Papers in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, with Additional Notes and an Appendix of Original Letters by Dr David Laing (Proc. Soc. of Antiq. of Scot. x. 363-382).

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