Gordon, Lord George

Gordon, Lord George,

1751–93, English agitator, whose activities resulted in the tragic Gordon riots of 1780 in London. In 1779, Gordon assumed leadership of the Protestant Association, an organization formed to secure repeal of the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 (see Catholic EmancipationCatholic Emancipation,
term applied to the process by which Roman Catholics in the British Isles were relieved in the late 18th and early 19th cent. of civil disabilities.
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). On June 2, 1780, he led a huge crowd to present a petition to Parliament, and the demonstration rapidly turned into an orgy of destruction and plunder that lasted a week. The jails were broken open, and probably more than 800 people were killed and injured. Some 21 rioters were executed, but Gordon was acquitted through the efforts of his lawyer, Thomas Erskine. Dickens vividly described the riots in Barnaby Rudge.

Gordon, Lord George

leader of the anti-Catholic riots of 1780, in which the idiot Barnaby is caught up. [Br. Lit.: Dickens Barnaby Rudge]
See: Riot