THIS week sees the bicentenary of the death of one of the greatest English poets, Lord George Gordon Byron, the man who was famously described by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”.

Some dubiously claim him as Scottish, and I suspect a lot of Scots know he had strong links to Scotland, but what exactly were they?

He was certainly born in London on January 22, 1788, the son of the scandal-mired Captain John Byron, known as Mad Jack. Scotland’s claim to Byron stems from his mother, Catherine Gordon, the heiress of the extensive estate of Gight in Aberdeenshire.

Orphaned in her early 20s, she moved to Bath and a misogynistic account of her at that time states: “Though she had royal blood in her veins and belonged to the superior branch of the Gordons, it would not have been easy to find a gentlewoman whose person and countenance were less indicative of ancestral purity.

READ MORE: Scottish band Niteworks releases single before going separate ways

“A dumpy young woman, with a large waist, florid complexion, and homely features, she would have been mistaken anywhere for a small farmer’s daughter or a petty tradesman’s wife, had it not been for her silks and feathers, the rings on her fingers, and the jewelry about her short, thick neck … even in her 25th year she would waddle through drawing-rooms and gardens on the development of her unwieldy person.

“Miss Gordon’s education was very much inferior to the education usually accorded to the young gentlewomen of her period. Unable to speak any other language, she spoke her mother tongue with a broad Scotch brogue, and wrote it in a style that in this politer age would be discreditable to a waiting woman.”

A widower, in 1785 after a whirlwind courtship, Mad Jack married Catherine Gordon for her money, and not her looks or decorum. He did, however, add the name Gordon to his own to assert his husbandly rights to her fortune. Within two years she was forced to sell Gight with its ancient castle to George Gordon, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen, to pay off her husband’s debts, leaving her with an income of £150 per year.

With her husband frequently absent to avoid his creditors, Catherine took her son to her family’s Aberdeen home when the child was barely two years old, and Mad Jack took off to France where he died of tuberculosis in 1791. Catherine was left to raise George Byron on her own in lodgings in Aberdeen, first in Queen Street and then Broad Street. He did have a nursemaid but she was found to be an abuser.

READ MORE: Aberdeen is so much more than just Scotland's oil capital

Differing accounts of his childhood speak of Byron’s ill temper – perhaps much of it caused by the deformity in his right foot, often described as a club foot – but more likely the effects of poliomyelitis. His childhood in Aberdeen was hugely influential on him. Intelligent and precocious, his foot did not stop him from playing with other boys and during summer holidays at Banff he learned to swim – he was such a strong swimmer that in later life, he swam nearly four miles across the Hellespont, now the Dardanelles.

His mother employed private tutors and insisted that he learned to read from a young age, and he could often be found in Aberdeen’s library. He was able to attend Aberdeen Grammar School during which time he suffered a bout of scarlet fever. His mother took him to the Highlands to recuperate in the clean air and Byron fell in love with the romantic myths of that part of Scotland.

At the age of 10, his great-uncle died and the boy became the 6th Baron Byron and owner of Newstead Abbey. Even then the influence of Scotland continued as he never quite lost his Scottish accent and he enrolled at the famous Dulwich Academy run by Dr William Glennie from Aberdeenshire.

We know from the man himself how much he thought of Scotland. At 19, he wrote of dark Loch na Garr:

Away, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses!

In you let the minions of luxury rove,

Restore me the rocks where the snow-flake reposes,

Though still they are sacred to freedom and love.

Yet Caledonia, beloved are thy mountains,

Round their white summits though elements war,

Though cataracts foam ‘stead of smooth-flowing fountains,

I sigh for the valley of dark Loch na Garr.

Years have roll’d on, Loch na Garr, since I left you,

Years must elapse ere I tread you again:

Nature of verdure and flow’rs has bereft you,

Yet still are you dearer than Albion’s plain.

England! thy beauties are tame and domestic

To one who has roved on the mountains afar:

Oh for the crags that are wild and majestic!

The steep frowning glories of dark Loch na Garr!

During the summer of 1818, Lord Byron completed the first part of what many experts consider to be his best and most famous work Don Juan. Written in Venice, the poem contained references to his own life:

But I am half a Scot by birth, and bred,

A whole one, and my heart flies to my head.

As Auld Lang Syne brings Scotland, one and all, Scotch plaids, Scotch snoods, the blue hills, and clear streams,

The Dee — the Don — Balgounie’s brig’s black wall,

All my boy feelings, all my gentler dreams

Of what I then dreamt, clothed in their own pall,

Like Banquo’s offspring; — floating past me seems

My childhood in this childishness of mine:

I care not — ‘t is a glimpse of ‘Auld Lang Syne.

So there’s proof positive of Byron’s attachment to Scotland. It is tempting to think that the political thought he began to develop in Scotland influenced his philosophy in later life when he campaigned and fought for the independence of Greece. It was in the west of that country at Missolonghi that he died on April 19, 1824, at 36.