Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gairdner, Gordon (1803–1877)

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Gordon Gairdner (1803?-1877), public servant, was born at Charleston, South Carolina, United States, the son of Edwin and Jane Drummond Gairdner, American loyalists, who went to England some time between 1805 and 1812. Gairdner entered the Colonial Office as a clerk in January 1824, became a second-class clerk employed on New South Wales affairs in January 1825, a senior clerk and head of the Australian and Eastern Departments in 1837, and chief clerk in January 1860. He was appointed C.M.G. and was registrar of that order. He retired in 1870 and died on 28 April 1877 at Hastings, leaving a widow.

E. T. Williams ('The Colonial office in the Thirties', Historical Studies, May 1943) described Gairdner as 'industrious, shrewd and clearheaded. There is no evidence of obvious bias in his penetrating memoranda though he obviously enjoyed a dig at those who bombarded the office with criticisms, worries or suggestions … His memoranda were always crisp and to the point and rarely did Stephen need to alter any letter or despatch Gairdner had drafted'.

Citation details

'Gairdner, Gordon (1803–1877)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 30 January 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

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