ABERCROMBY, James (d.1724).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



16 Jan. - 21 Sept. 1710

Family and Education

illegit. s. of William Douglas Hamilton, 3rd Duke of Hamilton [S]. Prob. unmcr. Bt. 8 Mar. 1710.1

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. (R. Scots) 1696, half-pay 1697, capt. 1701, brevet maj. 1706, lt.-col. 1709–Dec. 1710, Mar. 1711–17, brevet col. Nov. 1711; capt. and lt.-col. Coldstream Gds. Dec. 1710–Mar. 1711; a.d.c. to Earl of Orkney 1704–c.1709; town maj. Dunkirk 1712–?16; commr. inspecting demolition Dunkirk fortifications 1713–16.2


The illegitimate son of the 3rd Duke of Hamilton, Abercromby made his army career in the Royal Scots, the regiment commanded by his half-brother, George, 1st Earl of Orkney. As Orkney’s aide-de-camp, he fought at Blenheim and Malplaquet, his deeds on the battlefield winning him a baronetcy. His brief appearance in Parliament was directly owing to Orkney and his elder brother, the 4th Duke of Hamilton. Abercromby was returned unanimously for Dysart Burghs at a by-election in 1710, but only after some convoluted manoeuvres. In the House Abercromby voted with the Court in order to earn the preferment he repeatedly solicited from the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). According to Lockhart, he voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, notwithstanding the conflicting evidence in contemporary lists.3

Abercromby did not seek re-election in 1710, and although he contemplated standing for Dysart or Linlithgow Burghs in 1713, in the event contested neither seat. His professional fortunes, however, prospered under the Tories, as in the summer of 1712 he was appointed town major of Dunkirk under its new governor, John Hill*, a position that proved safe even against Hamilton’s unexpected death at the end of the year. Having taken responsibility for the evacuation of French forces and the installation of an allied garrison, he subsequently supervised the withdrawal of those troops and the destruction of the fortress, accumulating in the process considerable arrears of pay and allowance. A memorial in his behalf was submitted to the Treasury in July 1714 and two years later he was still in pursuit of over £2,700 due to him. In 1717 he was obliged to dispose of his regiment to ease these ‘hardships’ and was granted £1,000 as royal bounty to tide him over. Abercromby died s.p. ‘at his habitation in Charing Cross’ on 14 Nov. 1724.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. SRO, Hamilton mss GD406/1/6507, Orkney to Hamilton, 1 May 1701.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvii. 299; xxxi. 151, 397; Ailesbury Mems. 579–80.
  • 3. Boyer, Pol. State, xxviii. 529; EHR, xix. 310, 318; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/805/9, Mungo Graham* to Montrose, 15 Dec. 1709; Lockhart Mems. ed. Szechi, 287; Add. 61283, ff. 3, 5.
  • 4. HMC Portland, iv. 626–7; v. 101, 199; Boyer, Pol. State, iv. 22; Bolingbroke Corresp. ii. 411–12; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxviii. 104–5; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708–14, pp. 596–7; 1714–19, pp. 221, 287–8; Add. 61602, ff. 157–8; The Gen. n.s. vi. 106.