Monday, July 9, 2012

The Butcher Kissing Duchess of...Gordon?

The Tory Queen, Jane Gordon was known for doing as she damn-well pleased as a little girl and marrying into the aristocracy and becoming a duchess didn't change that at all.  One of the things Jane would never compromise on was her love of Scotland.  She spoke in a brogue, encouraged social events in the Highlands, and encouraged her children to share her love for their country as well.  When her son, the Marquess of Huntly raised a company for the Black Watch, a regiment of Highland soldiers, Jane could have died of pride. 

Like a soccer mom on a mission, Jane wanted to help her wee one with his big project.  She appeared at public events and offered to men willing to join the regiment a King's Shilling from between her teeth for enlisting.  That way they got paid and got to say they kissed a duchess.  Funnily, eight years prior, her rival, Georgiana was accused of both bribing and kissing butchers in exchange for votes for Charles James Fox.  The Tories created the rumors in order to curtail Georgiana's success and force her to hide in shame and yet here was Jane obstinately doing exactly what her rival was only rumored to do.  Ballsy!  But Jane wasn't quite done with her parade yet.

At a London Ball in 1792 Jane barged in dressed head to foot in Black Watch tartan taffeta, which I can only imagine looking absolutely amazing.  Well, it must have looked amazing, because Jane started a trend for tartan with her bold look.  Soon it was reported that 'scarce a respectable female but wore a tartan waist to her gown at least, and there was hardly a waiter at any inn in London but appeared in his tartan waistcoat.' Hmm, perhaps that was an exaggeration, but as a life-long fan of plaid, I can't blame the fad!  Not bad to be a trend-setter in your 40s!


  1. I love this pattern! She was really an interesting and outstanding personality.

  2. What a fantastic story! And, happy chance, I just found a beautiful length of Black Watch wool - cozy vaguely turn-of-the-18th-century jacket coming right up!

  3. Weel now thats a verra subdued plaid and harmonizes nicely.

  4. The Duchess of Gordon is too facinating. I`m dying to know more about her. Where do you find all you awesome stories?!

  5. I have my sources ;)

    The most I've found written on her in a recent book book (as opposed to Oxford Dictionary of Biography) is in Rosemary Baird's Mistress of the House.

  6. Nice. I'm a real fan of costume as it relates to war. for more on the origin of the Black
    Watch regiment see Dear Harry; The Firsthand Account of a World War I Infantryman.