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Abercromby
Abercromby
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power of election remained until 1832 in the hands of the self-elected council of thirty-three. On the accession of Canning to power in 1827, Abercromby was appointed judge-advocate-general. In 1830 he became chief baron of the exchequer of Scotland, and when in 1832 the office was abolished, he received a pension of 2,000l. a year. A parliamentary career being again open to him, he was chosen along with Francis Jeffrey to represent Edinburgh in the first reformed parliament. As on various questions of privilege he had manifested a special knowledge of the forms of the house, he was put forward by his party as a candidate for the speakership, but the vote was in favour of Manners Sutton. In 1834 he entered the cabinet of Lord Grey as master of the mint, but the ministry became disunited on the Irish question. At the opening of the new parliament in 1835 the condition of the political atmosphere was in some respects so uncertain, that the choice of a speaker awakened exceptional interest as a touchstone of party strength; and amid much excitement Abercromby was chosen over Manners Sutton by 316 votes to 310. As speaker Abercromby acted with great impartiality, while he possessed sufficient decision to quell any serious tendency to disorder. His term of office was marked by the introduction of several important reforms in the management of private bills, tending to simplify the arrangements and minimise the opportunities for jobbery. In spite of failing health he retained office till May 1839. On retiring he received a pension of 4,000l. a year, and was created Baron Dunfermline of Dunfermline in the county of Fife. He died at Colinton House, Midlothian, 17 April 1858.

Lord Dunfermline, after his retirement, continued to interest himself in public affairs connected with Edinburgh, and was one of the originators of the United Industrial School for the support and training of destitute children, with a provision for voluntary religious instruction in accordance with the beliefs of the parents. He wrote a life of his father, Sir Ralph Abercromby, which was published posthumously in 1861.

[Gent. Mag. 3rd series, iv. 547–551; Annual Register, c. 403–5; Anderson, History of Edinburgh (1856); Journal of Lord Cockburn (1874); Memoirs of Lord Brougham, iii. 230–231; Greville Memoirs, ii. 333, iii. 95, 201, 204, 213; Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th edit. i. 37.]

T. F. H.

ABERCROMBY, JOHN (d. 1561?) , a Scotch monk of the order of St. Benedict, was a staunch opponent of the doctrines of the Reformation, and on that account was condemned to death and executed about the year 1561. He was the author of ‘Veritatis Defensio’ and ‘Hæreseos Confusio.’ It does not appear that either of these works was printed.

[Dempster, Hist. Eccl. Gentis Scotorum, i. 28; Tanner, Bibl. Britannico-Hibernica.]

T. C.

ABERCROMBY, Sir JOHN (1772–1817), general, was the second son of the famous Sir Ralph Abercromby, and the elder of the two sons who followed their father's profession. He entered the army in 1786 at the age of fourteen, as ensign in the 75th regiment, of which his uncle Robert was colonel. He became lieutenant in the same regiment in 1787, and captain in 1792, and first saw service as aide-de-camp to his father in the campaigns in Flanders in 1793 and 1794. His father's military reputation and dependence on his services caused him to rise rapidly. In May 1794 he became major in the 94th, and in July, when only twenty-two, lieutenant-colonel in the 112th regiment. In 1795 he exchanged into the 53rd, and accompanied his father to the West Indies in 1796 and 1797, to Ireland in 1798, and in the expedition to the Helder in 1799 as military secretary. This was a post of more than usual importance on the staff of Sir Ralph, who was extremely short-sighted, and had in action to depend entirely for his knowledge of what was happening on his personal staff. In this capacity young Abercromby particularly distinguished himself, and on more than one occasion, notably at the attack on Morne Fortunée in St. Lucia, the father owed much of his success to his son's power of explaining the military situation. He was promoted colonel on 1 Jan. 1800, and thus removed by his rank from his father's personal staff, but was appointed a deputy-adjutant-general in the army under Sir Ralph in the Mediterranean, and attached to General Hutchinson's division. In Egypt he greatly distinguished himself, and was at least twice publicly thanked by General Hutchinson in general orders.

At the time of the rupture of the peace of Amiens in 1803, he unfortunately happened to be travelling in France, and with other travelling Englishmen was seized and imprisoned by Napoleon at Verdun. Nevertheless in his absence he was promoted major-general in 1805, and made colonel of his old regiment, the 53rd, in 1807. He was at last exchanged for General Brennier, who had been taken prisoner by Sir A. Wellesley at the battle of Vimeiro in 1808, was allowed to return to England, and was appointed