Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


72 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. ’ No. XXXIII. LORD ROCKVILLE. DR. ADAM SMITH, AND COMNISSIONER BROWN. THE first of these figures represents the Honourable ALEXANDER GORDON, third son of William second Earl of Aberdeen, by Lady Ann Gordon, daughter of Alexander second Duke of Gordon. He was born in 1739, and, having studied for the bar, was admitted Advocate, 7th August 1759. He was appointed Steward-depute of Kirkcudbright in 1764, which office he held until the year 1784, when, on the death of David Dalrymple of Westhall, he was promoted to be one of the Senators of the College of Justice, and took his seat on the 1st of July, under the title of Lord Rockville; from an estate which he purchased in the county of Haddington. His lordship lived in that close in the Castlehill now called Rockville’s Close, and afterwards removed to St. Andrew Square, but did not long enjoy the honours conferred upon him ; for one day when stepping from the door of his own house, in order to attend his duty in the Parliament House, he slipped his foot, fell, and broke his leg, in consequence of which he fevered, and the progress of disease could not be arrested by the best medical skill that Edinburgh could afford. This accident terminated in his death, after a very short illness, on the 13th of March 1792. “He adorned the bench by the dignified manliness of his appearance, and polished urbanity of his manners.”l Though somewhat above the ordinary height,-his lordship was a very handsome man. He married the Countess of Dumfries and Stair, by whom he had a family. His lordship was a member of a convivial club, called the (‘ Crochdlan Fencibles,” which held its nocturnal revels in Daniel Douglas’s tavern, Anchor Close. One evening previous to his being raised to the bench, Lord Rockville made his appearance with the most rueful expression of countenance imaginable, and upon being asked what was the matter, he exclaimed with great solemnity, (‘ Gentlemen, I have just met with the most wonderful adventure that ever befell a human being. As I was walking along the Grassmarket, all of a sudden the street rose up and struck me in the face !” This extraordinary announcement created much astonishment, which, however, soon abated upon its being ascertained that the narrator had been making too free with the bottle, and that, whilst in this state, he had fallen upon his face. This adventure afforded much amusement to the merry wags assembled, and his lordship was sadly teased to explain why the very stones in Rome had risen in mutiny !” This anecdote Douglas’s Peerage, voL i p. 22.
Volume 8 Page 103
  Enlarge Enlarge  
Volume 8 Page 104
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures