Wounded in battle, ringleader of an officers’ mutiny, survivor of a mauling by a tiger, candidate in a Parliamentary by-election – Patrick ‘Tiger’ Duff (1742–1803) had an eventful life. The son of a Speyside tenant farmer, he rose to the rank of General in the East India Company army and retired to a country estate near Turriff. He made a fortune in India, in part because of his family connections with the Gordons of Letterfourie. James and Alexander Gordon were successful wine merchants in Madeira. They not only provided for Patrick’s education, but also employed his brothers James and Robert in the wine trade. In turn, Patrick was able to win business for the partnership amongst the hard-drinking British in India.

Scottish merchants, such as the Gordons, were an important part of the British merchant community in Madeira. Wealth from both sources, the empire of conquest in India and the empire of commerce exemplified by Madeira, flowed back into Scotland and fuelled the process of agricultural improvement.