1902 Encyclopedia > Alexander Gordon

Alexander Gordon
Scottish antiquary
(c. 1692 - c. 1754)

ALEXANDER GORDON, the "Sandy Gordon "of Scott's Antiquary, is believed to have been a native of Aberdeen, and a graduate of either King's or Marischal College, but of his parentage and early history nothing is known. When still a young man he is said to have travelled abroad, probably in the capacity of tutor. He must, how-ever, have returned to Scotland previous to 1726, when, betaking himself to antiquarian pursuits, he made the acquaintance of, among others, Roger Gale, the first vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries. In the year just mentioned appeared the Itinerarium Septentrionale, his greatest and best known work. He was already the friend of Sir John Clerk, of Penicuick, better known as Baron Clerk, from his having been appointed one of the Barons of the Exchequer; and the Baron and Roger Gale 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 £50. Resigning this post 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 associa-tion composed of gentlemen who had visited Egypt. In 1741 he accompanied Governor Glen to South Carolina. No explanation has yet been given of the reasons which led to this step, or of the relations between the old "Roman" antiquary and his new patron. A hint, but nothing more, is afforded by the fact that in the list of subscribers to the Itinerarium we find the name of " James Glen of Longcroft, Esq." Through the influence probably of his friend, Gordon, besides receiving a grant of land in Carolina, was appointed registrar of the province, and justice of the peace, and filled several other offices. From his will, still in existence, dated 22d August 1754, we learn that 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.

Some additional particulars regarding Gordon and Ins works may be got from a communication to the Society of Antiquaries of Scot-land by Professor Daniel Wilson, LL. D., Toronto, printed in the Proceedings, with Additional Notes and an Appendix of Original Letters by the late Dr David Laing (Proc. Soc. of Antiq. of Scot., vol. x. pp. 363-382).

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