Son of William Gordon (1679-1745), 2nd Earl of Aberdeen, and Anne Gordon (1713-1791). Married (1769) to Anne Duff, daughter of William Duff. Sheriff of Kirkcudbright (1764-1784). Appointed judge of the Court of Session in 1784 as Lord Rockville.
According to Ramsay,
"[Gordon] was a judge distinguished in his day by his ability and decorum. "He adorned the bench by the dignified manliness of his appearance, and polished urbanity of his manners." Like most lawyers of his time, he took his glass freely, and a whimsical account which he gave, before he was advanced to the bench, of his having fallen upon his face, after making too free with the bottle, was commonly current at the time. Upon his appearing late at a convivial club with a most rueful expression of countenance, and on being asked what was the matter, he exclaimed with great solemnity, "Gentlemen, I have just met with the most extraordinary adventure that ever occurred to a human being. As I was walking along the Grassmarket, all of a sudden the street rose up and struck me on the face." He had, however, a more serious encounter with the street after he was a judge. In 1792, his foot slipped as he was going to the Parliament House; he broke his leg, was taken home, fevered, and died."1
- 1In Ramsay, Dean. (1872?) Reminiscences of Scottish Life & Character.
Boswell first mentions Gordon when they spent an afternoon together on November 7, 1762, in Edinburgh.