The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Earl of Aberdeen

Earl of Aberdeen

A small albumen print portrait of the Scottish peer and sailor George Hamilton-Gordon (1841-1870), from 1864 the 6th Earl of Aberdeen.

Born at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, he was the eldest son of the 5th Earl of Aberdeen. In 1863, when he was still Lord Haddo, he went to Canada to visit his uncle, Arthur Hamilton-Gordon, who was then Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, but returned home a year later, after hearing his father had become seriously ill. He inherited his father's title the following year and travelled back to North America in the winter of 1866/67, under the assumed name of George Osborne. He entered a naval college in Boston and soon became a Captain in the United States Merchant Marine.

For a time he settled in Richmond, Maine, where he took jobs cutting ice and clerking at a store, where it is reported he lost his temper at being fired and told his employer that he ‘could buy and sell him many times over’ before storming out. As a sailor, he often shipped out of Richmond, and at one time captained a small ship called the Walton (or Waltham). His profession was not entirely unknown to his family at home, as he occasionally wrote letters to his mother and brother. Travelling from Boston to Melbourne on the Hera in 1870, Lord Aberdeen was washed overboard during a violent storm and drowned. It was reported he was swept away when attempting to take down the boom sail, which he could have ordered another man to do. His younger brother had been killed in a rifle accident two years earlier, so Aberdeen was succeeded by his next younger brother, John.

Photographer unidentified.

From an album compiled in Canada and Scotland by R H Wyllie of the 15th Foot and of Bolfracks House, Aberfeldy, Perthshire.

Code: 124526
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