George William Gordon was born about 1820 on the Cherry Gardens estate in the parish of St. Andrew. He was born a slave, but his father, Joseph Gordon, a scottish planter, freed him. He was one of seven children, that his mother, also a slave, bore for Joseph Gordon. His father was a successful planter and businessman, who owned or managed 30 properties and had under him 8000 slaves.
George taught himself to read and write, and went to his godfather in Black River, St. Elizabeth, to learn business. In 1836 he opened a store in Kingston. He married Lucy Shannon, the white daughter of an Irishman. He was elected to the house of Assembly in the 1850s and served as a Justice of the peace in many parishes.
He also followed in his father as Mayor of Kingston. He was one of the founders of the Jamaica Mutual Life Assurance Society now known as Mutual Life. He cared for poor people and sold land at cheap prices to small farmers. He set up a marketing system, so small farmers could get a good price for the food they grew to sell. He also started chapels and schools in the country. He was also a Baptist minister, and ordained National Hero Paul Bogle as a deacon.
Because of his association with Paul Bogle, as well as his criticism of Governor Eyre, Gordon was falsely accused of planning The Morant Bay rebellion.
He and his friend Paul Bogle were court-martialed and executed at Morant Bay.
George William Gordon was made a National Hero because he worked to make life better for people and paid for this with his life.