More about the Wicked Earl

George Gordon, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen, was an eccentric. He had three mistresses that he set up in three great houses all over Britain– the fortress of Cairnbulg in Buchan, Ellon Castle, and Winscombe Park in Devon. He plundered his home Haddo House to furnish the mistresses’ houses and he abandoned his wife and children to save his energy for his brown-eyed favourites.

Instead of “I”, he always referred to himself as “us.” When I wrote his dialogue in my novel Exiled from Eden, it always felt so awkward. It gave him a delightfully idiotic, almost Dickensian, character. I wish I could claim credit for inventing this quirk, but I found this tidbit of information in a book called Scotland’s Castles and Great Houses by Manus Magnusson.

The Wicked Earl was not a complete scoundrel to his wife and five children. He bought his son and heir a house called Gight from his cousin Mrs. Byron, the mother of the poet Lord Byron (whose name was also George Gordon). They had lost a great deal of money due to an extravagant lifestyle. This fire-sale acquisition of his family’s estate earned the lifelong enmity of the poet.

In 1791, the Wicked Earl’s son died after being thrown from a horse at the age of 27, leaving behind a wife and seven children. His widow, cut off from the Earl’s money because of her outspoken opinion of him, returned to England with her children. Her oldest son, the 4th Earl of Aberdeen, later became Prime Minister of Great Britain.

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