ABERCROMBY, George Ralph (1800-1852).
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Family and Education
b. 30 May 1800, o.s. of George Abercromby†, 2nd Bar. Abercromby, of Tullibody, Clackmannan and Montague, da. of Henry Dundas† of Melville Castle, Edinburgh. m. 3 Apr. 1832, Louisa Penuel, da. of John Hay Forbes (Lord Medwyn, SCJ) of Medwyn, Peebles, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bar. Abercromby 1 Feb. 1843. d. 25 June 1852.
Ensign and lt. 3 Ft. Gds. 1817; cornet 3 Drag. Gds. 1818; capt. 12 Drag. Mar. 1822, half-pay June 1822; capt. 3 Drag. Gds. Nov. 1822; maj. army Apr. 1826, 3 Drag. Gds. June 1826; lt.-col. half-pay (unattached) 1828, col. 1841-d.
Ld. lt. Clackmannan 1840-d.
Abercromby was a grandson of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, and nephew of the 2nd Viscount, first lord of the admiralty in Lord Liverpool’s administration and manager of its Scottish interests. His army career was largely nominal. He was only 19 at the time of the 1820 general election, when his father gave his decisive support in Clackmannanshire to his cousin, Robert Bruce of Kennet, as a locum for him. He duly took the seat in July 1824, when he was reckoned to have made ‘an eloquent and impressive’ speech of thanks.1 He voted for the bill to suppress the Catholic Association, 25 Feb., Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 6 June 1825. He presented petitions from Alloa against relaxation of the corn laws, 4 May 1825, Kinross-shire against interference with the Scottish banking system, 7 Apr., and Alloa for the abolition of slavery, 2 May 1826.2 He divided with ministers against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., but was in the protectionist minority of 51 against the emergency admission of warehoused corn, 8 May 1826. The return passed to Kinross-shire at the general election the following month.
Abercromby was returned unopposed for Clackmannanshire at the general election of 1830.3 The Wellington ministry counted him among their ‘friends’, and he was in their minority in the decisive division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented an Alloa abolitionist petition, 25 Nov. 1830, and one against alteration of the colonial timber duties, 1 Mar. 1831. His conservative Whig uncle James Abercromby*, a Scottish judge, reported soon afterwards that he ‘seems disposed to hold fast by’ the Grey ministry, ‘who he says have followed a straightforward and manly course’.4 He presented Alloa petitions in favour of Scottish parliamentary reform, 16 Feb., and the government’s reform scheme, 19 Mar. He voted for the second reading of the English reform bill, 22 Mar. Not known to have spoken in debate in this period, he was in the ministerial minority of 19 Apr. 1831 against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, which precipitated a general election and gave the return to Kinross-shire.
He supported the successful Liberal at the 1832 general election in the new constituency of Clackmannan and Kinross.5 In 1837 he lost by one vote to a Conservative in Stirlingshire (where his family had property centred on Airthrey Castle) but had the return voided and came in unopposed. He was returned for Clackmannan and Kinross in 1841 and retired from the Commons when the new Parliament met in January 1842.6 A year later he succeeded his father in the peerage. At what point in his life Abercromby went blind is not clear, but his handicap did not curb his interest in county affairs as lord lieutenant or his enthusiasm for estate improvement. He died at Airthrey in June 1852.7 He was succeeded in the peerage by his sons, George Ralph Campbell (1838-1917), and John (1841-1924), on whose death the barony became extinct.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. NAS GD51/1/198/26/42; Edinburgh Evening Courant, 17 July 1824.
- 2. The Times, 5 May 1825, 8 Apr., 3 May 1826.
- 3. Edinburgh Evening Courant, 14 Aug.; Glasgow Herald, 16 Aug. 1830.
- 4. NLS mss 13172, f. 22.
- 5. NLS mss 24746, ff. 1, 5, 9.
- 6. Scottish Electoral Politics, 234, 240, 250, 257-8.
- 7. Add. 40553, f. 219; Gent. Mag. (1852), i. 197.