George Hamilton-Gordon was not only a hottie, he had a big heart. Upon visiting his Scottish estate of Haddo house in 1805 for the first time since childhood, he was stunned by the impoverished conditions surrounding his tenants. His father and grandfather had accrued large debts during their lifetimes and instead of squandering what little money he had, George invested his inheritance in agriculture and husbandry to improve the welfare of those under his protection. Impressive for a man who ascended to the earldom at age 17.
George also appeared to be a softie in the love department. At age 21 he married Lady Catherine Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of 1st Marquess of Abercorn. She died of tuberculosis in 1812, their heir and only son having died two years prior. Without issue, George did marry his widowed sister-in-law Harriet Douglas in 1815 at the insistence of his father-in-law. The marriage was a disaster. George remained in love with his previous wife and had a strong dislike for Harriet saying she was one of the stupidest persons he had ever met. Ouch! Harriet hated Haddo house, the Aberdeen ancestral seat, and was unkind to his daughters from his first marriage. By 1819 they were already living apart.
Marital difficulties aside, George’s life had its satisfactions. After the death of his parents, he appointed William Pitt the younger as his guardian, a relationship with evolved into a close friendship. As promissed by Pitt, he gained an English peerage in 1814, allowing him access to the House of Lords (Scottish peers did not have rights to a seat) and a secure, if ultimately rocky, future in politics. He was also a devoted father, a fellow of the Royal Society, a scholar with interest in archaeology and Greece from his Grand Tours days, and Prime Minister from 1852 to 1855.
For more on today’s handsome devil:
Haddo House – National Trust for Scotland