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RANKEILLOR, Lord (1639–1706). [See under Hope, Sir John, Lord Craighall.]


RANKEN, ALEXANDER (1755–1827), author, was born in Edinburgh on 28 Feb. 1755. At the age of fifteen he entered the university of his native town, and, after graduating in arts, began to study divinity in 1775. On 28 April 1779 he was licensed to preach, and in the same year became assistant to the pastor of St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh. Here he remained two years, when he was appointed minister of the parish of Cambusnethen, Lanarkshire. On the invitation of the provost and magistrates of Glasgow he removed to the church of St. David in that city in July 1785, and there he remained until his death on 23 Feb. 1827. ‘His style in preaching was distinguished by the utmost perspicuity, chasteness, and simplicity.’ In April 1801 Glasgow University gave him the degree of D.D., and in 1811 he was appointed moderator of the general assembly of the church of Scotland. He married in 1782 Euphemia Thomson, who predeceased him, leaving a son and daughter.

Ranken's chief work was ‘The History of France from the Time of its Conquest by Clovis to the Death of Louis XVI,’ London, 1802–22, in 9 vols. The work is inaccurate and badly arranged, and the first three volumes drew a vigorous criticism from Hallam in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ April 1805. His other published works include: ‘The Importance of Religious Establishments,’ Glasgow, 1799, and ‘Institutes of Theology,’ Glasgow, 1822.

[Hew Scott's Fasti Ecclesia, ii. 26, &c.; Allibone's Dict. of English Lit.; Funeral Sermon by the Rev. J. Marshall.]

J. R. M.

RANKEN, GEORGE (1828–1856), major, royal engineers, was born in London on 4 Jan. 1828. After being educated at private schools, he in 1844 passed into the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. He obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the royal engineers on 1 Oct. 1847, went through the usual course of professional instruction at Chatham, and was promoted to be first lieutenant on 29 Dec. 1849. On 6 April 1850 Ranken embarked for Canada, arriving in Montreal early in May; he proceeded to Quebec, where he remained for two years, returning to Montreal in March 1852. In July he took a prominent part in endeavouring to extinguish the great fire at Montreal, when over ten thousand persons were rendered houseless. In February and March 1853 Ranken travelled through the United States of America and to the West Indies. During the tour he made the acquaintance of William Makepeace Thackeray, who was engaged in lecturing, and travelled with him. Ranken's journal of his travels was edited by his brother, and published as ‘Canada and the Crimea, or Sketches of a Soldier's Life,’ in 1862 (London, 8vo; 2nd ed. 1863). In the summer of 1853 Ranken was again at Quebec, and during the visitation of cholera he exerted himself to mitigate the sufferings of the poor. He advocated in the local press the formation of a society for the relief and assistance of distressed immigrants. In 1854 he distinguished himself in extinguishing the fire which destroyed the parliament buildings at Quebec, and received the thanks of the Canadian legislature for his share in saving the valuable library of the Literary and Historical Society.

Ranken returned to England early in 1855, and was quartered at first at Edinburgh, and then at Fort George, near Inverness. At this time he contributed letters on military topics to the ‘Morning Post,’ under the signature ‘Delta.’ He urged an increase of the pay of the soldiers serving in the Crimea, so as to induce the militia to volunteer for the line, a suggestion adopted by Lord Panmure [see Maule, Fox, second Baron Panmure]. He proposed the formation, since carried out, of camps of instruction; and also the reorganisation of the royal artillery and of the royal engineers.

While at Fort George Ranken volunteered for active service, and was at once ordered to the Crimea, arriving at Balaklava on 12 Aug. 1855. He was regularly employed on duty in the trenches. On 8 Sept. the British assault on the Redan took place. Ranken advanced in charge of the ladder party immediately after the skirmishers had been thrown out. He exhibited a rare zeal and courage in the operations, and thus raised the reputation of his corps. Although skilfully and obstinately contested, the assault proved unsuccessful; nevertheless by compelling the enemy to divide his forces, it enabled the French to establish themselves securely in the Malakoff, and the Russians, having lost the key of the position, evacuated the south side the same night. On the 10th Ranken rode into Sebastopol to see the ruins of the burning city.

The siege being over, Ranken was placed in charge of the waterworks for the supply of the army. He was promoted second captain on 25 Sept. 1855, and brevet major on 2 Nov. the same year for distinguished service in the field. On 28 Feb. 1856 he was accidentally killed while employed under Lieutenant-colonel Lloyd, R.E., on the demolition