ABERCROMBY, Sir Robert (1740-1827), of Airthrey Castle, Stirling.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



26 Feb. 1798 - 1802

Family and Education

b. 21 Oct. 1740, 3rd s. of George Abercromby of Tullibody, Clackmannan, and bro. of Sir Ralph Abercromby*. unm. KB 15 Aug. 1792; GCB 2 Jan. 1815.

Offices Held

Ensign 44 Ft. 1758, lt. 1759, capt. 1761, half-pay 1763; maj. 62 Ft. 1772; lt. col. 37 Ft. 1775; col. and a.d.c. to the King 1781; col. 75 Ft. 1787; maj.-gen. (Bombay) 1790, lt.-gen. 1797, gen. 1802.

Gov. and c.-in-c. Bombay 1790-2; c.-in-c. India 1793-7.

Gov. Edinburgh Castle Aug. 1801-d.


Abercromby served with distinction in both American wars and more particularly so in India, as commander during the Mysore and second Rohilla wars. He returned home with an eye disease in April 1797, commended by the governor general Sir John Shore for his zeal, excessive good nature and disregard for material gain. While his elder brother Sir Ralph was occupied in Ireland, he replaced him as county Member in February 1798. A military man sans phrase, he made no mark in Parliament, giving at most a silent support to government. His increasing blindness made further active service out of the question. He was consoled with the government of Edinburgh Castle, though he would have preferred that of Stirling.1

As Clackmannan was not due to be represented in the next Parliament, Abercromby looked to Stirlingshire on the prospect of a vacancy in November 1801, meaning to offer ‘either on the present occasion, or at the general election’, countenanced, as he always had been, by Henry Dundas. This caused bad blood with Addington’s ministry and the Duke of Montrose who supported a rival candidate. While Abercromby did not contest the by-election, he maintained his candidature for the general election, Dundas pointing out that he could not ‘retreat with honour’ unless government requested it of him ‘in kindness and civility’. As it turned out, Abercromby was defeated. He admitted that he was physically handicapped from doing justice to his pretensions: this was a reference to the state of his eyesight.2

Abercromby was never again in Parliament. Described in 1806 as ‘a silent, modest, sensible man’,3 he died 3 Nov. 1827, then the oldest general in the British service.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2507.
  • 2. NLS mss 1, ff. 99, 101; SRO GD51/1/198/26/7, 10; Edinburgh Advertiser, 20, 23 July 1802; Letters of John Ramsay (Scottish Hist. Soc. ser. 4), iii. 64, 83.
  • 3. Sheffield City Lib. Wharncliffe mss, Mrs Stuart Wortley to her husband, 24 Aug. 1806.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. (1827), ii. 559.