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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


106 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. LI. SIR RALPH ABERCROMBY, KB,, GIVING THE WORD OF COKI\IAP\’D. SIR RALPH ABERCROMBY was the son of George Abercromby of Tullibody, in Clackmannanshire. He was born in 1734 in the old mansion of Menstrie,’ which at that period was the ordinary residence of his parents. The house, which is in the village of Menstrie, although not inhabited by any of the family, is still entire, and is pointed out to strangers as the birthplace of the hero. After going through the usual course of study, he adopted the army as his profession; and, at the age of twenty-two, obtained in the year 1756 a commission as Cornet in the third Regiment of Dragoons. During the early part of his service he had little opportunity of displaying his military talents, but he gradually rose, and in 1787 had attained the rank of Major-General.’ After the breaking out of the French revolutionary war, Sir Ralph Abercromby served in the campaigns of 1794 and 1795, under the Duke of York, and by his judicious conduct preserved the British army from destruction during their disastrous retreat through Holland. He commanded the advanced guard, and was wounded at the battle of Nimeguen. After the returh of Sir Charles Grey from the West Indies, the French retook the islands of Guadaloupe and St. Lucia, made good their landing on Martinique, and hoisted their national colours on several forts in the islands of St. Vincent, Granada, etc., besides possessing themselves of booty to the amount of 1800 millions of limes. For the purpose of checking this devastation, the British fitted out a fleet in the autumn of 1795, with a proper military force. Sir Ralph was entrusted with the charge of the troops, and at the same time appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in the West Indies. Being detained longer than was expected, the equinox set in before the fleet was ready to sail, and, in endeavouring to clear the Channel, several of the trans- The estate of Tullibody and Menstrie, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, belonged to Sir William Alexander the poet, better known as Earl of Stirling, which title w8s conferred upon him by King Charles I. His lordship was much involved in pecuniary difficulties, and his succeasora had not sufficient prudence to economise ; the result of all which was, that their estates were swept away by their creditors somewhere about the middle of that century, by what, in Scots law parlance, are termed “apprisings.” Sir Ralph’s grandfather, who was a writer in Edinburgh, was the first of the name of Abercromby that possessed Tullibody. He is represented by the Peerage compilers as a descendant of the family of Birkenbog; but no evidence has been produced to substantiate this averment. Alexander, an advocate, was, on the 7th June 1792, raised to the bench by the title of Lord Abercromby, and died 17th November 1795 ; and Sir Robed, K.C.B., a General in the Army, who died in 1827. He had two brothers who attained eminence in their respective callings. 9 In 1788 Sir Ralph’s place of residence in Edinburgh was in George Square.
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