g hamilton gordon

Ishbel Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair

Ishbel Maria Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, GBE (15 March 185718 April 1939), was a Scottish author, philanthropist and an advocate of woman's interests.


Born Ishbel Maria Marjoribanks, she was the third daughter of the 1st Baron Tweedmouth and Isabella Weir-Hogg. On 7 November 1877 she married the Liberal politician the 7th Earl of Aberdeen (later the 1st Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair), in St. George's Church, St. George Street, Hanover Square, London. The couple had four surviving children: George (1879) Marjory (1880), Dudley (1883) and Archibald (1884).

Life and work

Lady Aberdeen was president of the International Council of Women for thirty-six years (1893 - 1936) and the National Council of Women of Canada for six years (1893 - 1899). When her husband was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, she took up the fight against tuberculosis, starting the Woman's National Health Association. In 1897, when her husband was Governor general of Canada, she founded the Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada despite protests from the Family Compact. She was also the first President of the organisation. She also founded the Onward and Upward Association for girls employed in Aberdeenshire farms. She and her husband built a hall at Haddo House for musical and operatic performances.

In 1931, Lady Aberdeen presented to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland a petition of 336 women calling for women to be ordained to the ministry, diaconate and eldership of the Kirk. This resulted in a special commission, which recommended only that women should be ordained to the diaconate. It was to be many years until the full craves of the Aberdeen petition were granted by the Assembly of 1966.

She wrote the books The Musings of a Scottish Granny, We Twa, (published 1925), More Cracks with We Twa (published 1929). She thought very highly of Sir John Thompson (politician), Canadian prime minister from 1892-1894, and wrote frequently about him in her journal. Her book The Canadian Journal of Lady Aberdeen, 1893-1898, was edited by John Saywell, and published by the Champlain Society in 1960.

In Toronto, Canada, Aberdeen Avenue is a historically designated street in Cabbagetown named for Lord Aberdeen, Governor General of Canada 1893-1898, and Lady Aberdeen, an aristocrat-democrat with a strong social conscience who made lasting contributions to Canadian society.

In her vice-regal duties at Ottawa's Government House, invitations were eagerly sought to state dinners where she became famous for her tableaux, dramatizing incidents in Canadian history, conscripting household staff, guests and family members to play roles. She and Lord Aberdeen, in honour of the Queen's Jubilee in 1897, spent $4,000 of their own money to stage a huge pageant in Toronto celebrating Canada's progress in industry, arts, sciences and sports. (Apparently these expenses consistently exceeded Lord Aberdeen's £10,000 yearly salary, alarming the Edinburgh lawyers who managed their finances.)

Lady Aberdeen is credited with introducing the Golden Retriever to Canada and her father, Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth, a Scottish aristocrat, is best known as the originator of the breed.

In her boundless enthusiasm to improve the lot of working women, Lady Aberdeen created the Onward and Upward Association to help develop, socialize, and educate her staff, as well as encourage prostitutes to relinquish the street.

To honour the outstanding public contributions to the women of her time, an offshoot of women from Toronto's Aberdeen Avenue Residents' Group (AARG) has resurrected the Onward and Upward model in creating a modern-day salon as a forum for discussion of issues critical to modern day women.


In 1894 she received the Freedom of Limerick; she received the Freedom of Edinburgh in 1928 and was invested as a GBE in 1931. The Lady Aberdeen Bridge', which is the first bridge upstream to cross the Gatineau river, in Gatineau, was named in her honour. After falling through the ice at the confluence of the Gatineau and Ottawa Rivers, Lady Aberdeen was rescued by Gatineau locals. Out of gratitude she funded the construction of a church near the site of the accident and the Lady Aberdeen Bridge. Aberdeen Avenue in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was named after Lord and Lady Aberdeen who lived on Bay Street South between 1890-1898. They also presided over the opening of the Hamilton Public Library on September 16, 1890. Aberdeen Street in Kingston, Ontario is named for the couple; it is located near the Queen's University campus.



  • G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, p. 18.
  • Ibid, volume XIII, page 209.
  • Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest Times, Volume XIV: Addenda & Corrigenda (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 1998), p. 5.
  • Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd., 1999), volume 1, p. 11.

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