Posts Tagged ‘Charles Grey’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Henry Whitbread
4 January 1795 – 21 June 1867


William Henry Whitbread

William Henry Whitbread was an English Whig and Liberal Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1818 to 1835.

Whitbread was the son of brewer Samuel Whitbread and his wife Lady Elizabeth Grey, the eldest daughter of Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was awarded a M.A. in 1816 and became a partner with his brother Samuel Charles Whitbread in the brewing firm.

In 1818 Whitbread was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Bedford and held the seat until 1835. He was a J.P. and Deputy Lieutenant for Bedfordshire and became High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1837.

Whitbread lived at Southill, Bedfordshire and died at the age of 72.

Whitbread married, Harriet Sneyd, daughter. of the Rev. Wettenhall Sneyd, of the Isle of Wight on 5 November 1845. They had no family.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Edmund Byron Bettesworth
1785 – 16 May 1808

Captain George Edmund Byron Bettesworth was famous for being wounded 24 times. At an early age he went to sea as midshipman under Captain Robert Barlow, who commanded the frigate HMS Phoebe. While with Phoebe Bettesworth participated in two notable single ship actions. On 21 December 1797 Phoebe captured the French 36-gun frigate Nérëide. Then on 19 February 1801, she captured the 38-gun Africaine, which was crowded with the 400 soldiers she was carrying to Egypt. In the battle, Phoebe had one man killed and 14 wounded. The French had some 200 men killed, and 143 wounded, many of them critically. The high casualty count was due to the soldiers remaining on deck as a point of honor, even though they could not contribute to the battle.

Bettesworth remained with Phoebe until January 1804 when was he was promoted to lieutenant on HMS Centaur. On 4 February 1804 he took part in a cutting out expedition that captured the 16-gun French privateer Curieux at Fort Royal harbour, Martinique. Bettesworth received a slight wound in this engagement. The Royal Navy took Curieux into service as the sloop-of-war HMS Curieux. After her first commander, Robert Carhew Reynolds, died of the wounds he had received during her capture, Bettesworth then became her commander.

While captain of the Curieux, Bettesworth one day took her jolly boat in shore, together with the purser, who played his violin. A local black came out of the undergrowth on shore and held up a pair of fowl, indicating that he sought to sell them. Bettesworth took the bait and had his men row to the shore. The moment the boat touched the beach, a squadron of cavalry burst from the undergrowth. Their gunfire wounded Bettesworth in the thigh, causing substantial loss of blood, and broke the coxswain’s arm. At Bettesworth’s urging, the crew of his boat got it off the beach and rowed back to Curieux. On the way back Bettesworth wanted to open a bottle of champagne, but the purser broke it in his nervousness.

On 8 February 1805, Curieux chased the French 16-gun privateer Dame Ernouf for twelve hours before being able to bring her to action. After forty minutes of hard fighting the Frenchman, which had a larger crew than Curieux, maneuvered to attempt a boarding. Bettesworth turned with the result that the French vessel got stuck in a position where Curieux could rake her deck. Unable to fight back, the Dame Ernouff struck. Curieux suffered five killed and four wounded, including Bettesworth, whom a musket ball had hit in the head. The Frenchman had 30 killed and 40 wounded. The French recaptured Dame Ernouf shortly thereafter, but the British then recaptured her again too.

That same year (1805) he brought home from Antigua despatches from Admiral Nelson, apprising the government of Admiral Villeneuve’s homeward flight from the West Indies. On the way Bettesworth spotted the French fleet and alerted the Admiralty. His information led to Rear Admiral Robert Calder’s interception of the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Finisterre. For his services, Lord Barham promoted Bettesworth to Post-Captain.

In July 1806, he became captain of the 22-gun Banterer class Post-ship HMS Crocodile, on the Guernsey station, and later Halifax, Nova Scotia. While with Crocodile, Bettesworth was involved in an unsuccessful claim for salvage rights to the American vessel Walker. A French privateer had captured Walker, but her crew has subsequently recaptured their ship when Crocodile came on the scene and escorted her to Halifax. For this service, Crocodile claimed salvage rights. The court did not agree.

In October 1807, Bettesworth took command of the 32-gun frigate HMS Tartar. That month his cousin, the poet Lord Byron, wrote:

“Next January … I am going to sea for four or five months with my cousin, Captain Bettesworth, who commands the Tartar, the finest frigate in the navy … We are going probably to the Mediterranean or to the West Indies, or to the devil; and if there is a possibility of taking me to the latter, Bettesworth will do it, for he has received four-and-twenty wounds in different places, and at this moment possesses a letter from the late Lord Nelson stating that Bettesworth is the only officer in the navy who had more wounds than himself.”

The promised voyage never took place and on 16 May 1808 Bettesworth died in the Battle of Alvøen . Tartar was watching some vessels outside Bergen and decided to cut some of them off from the protecting gunboats. However, Tartar became becalmed amid the rocks, which enabled the schooner Odin and five gunboats to attack. Their first shots killed Bettesworth, and in all Tartar lost two dead and seven wounded before she could escape. Tartar did manage to sink one gunboat.

Bettesworth had married Lady Hannah Althea Grey, the second daughter of General Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey and Elizabeth Grey, on 24 August 1807, while he was captain on Crocodile. After Bettesworth’s death, she married Edward Ellice, a merchant, on 30 October 1809. She died on 28 July 1832.

Betteworth’s body was buried at Howick, Northumberland, in the vault of the Grey family, on 27 May 1808. Major Trevanion, “a brother of Captain Bettesworth” and probably his natural brother as he was born John Bettesworth, was chief mourner. (Byron’s grandmother was a Miss Trevanion; John Bettesworth’s paternal grandmother was a Trevanion, through whom he inherited the Caerhays estate.)

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Samuel Whitbread (Politician)
January 18, 1764 – 6 July 1815


Samuel Whitbread

Samuel Whitbread (Politician) was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire, the son of the brewer Samuel Whitbread. He was educated at Eton College, Christ Church, Oxford and St John’s College, Cambridge, after which he embarked on a European ‘Grand Tour’, visiting Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Prussia, France and Italy. He returned to England in May 1786 and joined his father’s successful brewing business.

Whitbread was elected Member of Parliament for Bedford in 1790, a post he held for twenty-three years. Whitbread was a reformer — a champion of religious and civil rights, for the abolition of slavery, and a proponent of a national education system. He was a close friend and colleague of Charles James Fox. After Fox’s death, Whitbread took over the leadership of the Whigs, and in 1805 led the campaign to have Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, removed from office.

Whitbread admired Napoleon and his reforms in France and Europe. He hoped that many of Napoleon’s reforms would be implemented in Britain. Throughout the Peninsular War he played down French defeats convinced that sooner or later Napoleon would triumph, and he did all he could to bring about a withdrawal of Britain from the continent. When Napoleon abdicated in 1814 he was devastated.

Whitbread began to suffer from depression, and on the morning of 6 July 1815, he committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor.

Whitbread married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of the first Earl Grey on 26 December 1787. Their sons William Henry Whitbread and Samuel Charles Whitbread were also Members of Parliament.

Samuel Whitbread Academy in Central Bedfordshire is named after him.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Samuel Whitbread
30 August 1720 – 11 June 1796


Samuel Whitbread

Whitbread was born at Cardington in Bedfordshire, the seventh of eight children. He left for London aged 14 and became an apprentice to a London brewer, John Witman.

Whitbread went into partnership with Thomas Shewell in 1742, investing £2,600 in two of Shewell’s small breweries, the Goat Brewhouse (where porter was produced) and a brewery in Brick Lane (used to produce pale and amber beers).

Demand for the strong, black porter meant the business had to move to larger premises in Chiswell Street in 1750. Starting over, Whitbread invested in all the latest technology to industrialize production, storing the beer in large vats. The brewery was also one of the first to employ a steam engine (purchasing a sun and planet gear engine from James Watt’s company in 1785).

By 1760, it had become the second largest brewery in London (producing almost 64,000 barrels annually). Five years later Whitbread bought out Shewell for £30,000.

In May 1787 the brewery was visited by King George III and Queen Charlotte.

By the end of the century, Whitbread’s business was London’s biggest producer of beer, producing 202,000 barrels in 1796.

Whitbread was appointed High Sheriff of Hertfordshire for 1767–68 and elected Member of Parliament for Bedford in 1768, and held the seat until 1790, and then represented Steyning from 1792 to 1796. He was an early supporter for the abolition of slavery and took part in some of the anti-slavery debates of 1788 in the House of Commons.

He married firstly Harriet Hayton by whom he had two daughters, one of whom, Emma Maria Elizabeth Whitbread, married Henry St John, 13th Baron St John of Bletso and one son, the politician, Samuel Whitbread.

He married secondly Lady Mary Cornwallis by whom he had one daughter, Mary Whitbread who married Sir George Grey, 1st Baronet, 3rd son of Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey of Howick.

Whitbread became very rich and bought Lord Torrington’s Southill Estate, Elstow Manor, and other substantial property. When he died on 11 June 1796, the Gentleman’s Magazine claimed that he was “worth over a million pounds”.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Edward Ellice
27 September 1783 – 17 September 1863


Edward Ellice

Known in his time as the “Bear“, was a British merchant and politician. He was a Director of the Hudson’s Bay Company and a prime mover behind the Reform Bill of 1832.

Ellice was born on 27 September 1783 in London, England to Alexander Ellice and Ann Russell. In 1795, his father purchased the Seigneury of Villechauve from Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière.

He was educated at Winchester and at Marischal College, Aberdeen. He became a partner in the firm of Phyn, Ellices and Inglis, which had become interested in the XY Company in Canada. He was sent to Canada in 1803, and in 1804 became a party to the union of the XY and North West Companies. He became a partner in the North West Company, and during the struggle with Lord Selkirk he played an important part.

He engaged in the Canada fur trade from 1803, and as a result was nicknamed “the Bear”. On 30 October 1809 he married Hannah Althea Bettesworth, née Grey, daughter of Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey, and the widow of Captain George Edmund Byron Bettesworth. He had one son by her, Edward.

In 1820, he was, with the brothers William and Simon McGillivray, active in bringing about the union of the North West and the Hudson’s Bay Companies; and it was actually with him and the McGillivrays that the union was negotiated. He amalgamated the North West, XY, and Hudson’s Bay companies in 1821.

He was Member of Parliament for Coventry from 1818 to 1826, and again from 1830 to 1863. He served as a Secretary to the Treasury, and a whip in Lord Grey‘s government (DWW-the brother of his wife), 1830-1832. He was Secretary at War from 1832–1834, during which time he proposed that appointments in the army should be made directly from his office. He founded the Reform Club in 1836 and supported Palmerston as premier. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1833.

He was awarded a DCL by St Andrews University. He privately urged French government to send troops into Spain in 1836. He was deputy-governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In 1843, he married, secondly, Anne Amelia Leicester, née Keppel, daughter of William Keppel, 4th Earl of Albemarle and widow of Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester. She died in the following year. His only son was Edward Ellice Jr., who also sat in Parliament. His brother General Robert Ellice married Eliza Courtney; one of their grandsons became his son’s heir in 1880.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John MacBride
1735 – 17 February 1800


John MacBride

John MacBride was born in Scotland around 1735, the second son of the Presbyterian minister Robert MacBride. The MacBrides moved to Ireland shortly after John’s birth, when Robert became minister of Ballymoney, in County Antrim. John’s brother, David MacBride, became a noted medical writer. John MacBride initially went to sea with the merchant service in 1751, and joined the navy as an able seaman three years later, in 1754. He served first aboard the 24-gun HMS Garland in the West Indies for a number of years, before returning to Britain and serving aboard HMS Norfolk, the flagship in the Downs for a few months.

MacBride passed his lieutenant’s examination and received his commission in 1758. He was moved into the hired cutter Grace, and in 1761 came across a French privateer anchored in the Dunkirk roadstead. MacBride made contact with the frigate HMS Maidstone and asked her captain for four armed and manned boats. Maidstone‘s captain readily agreed. The British boarded the vessel, and carried the ship with two men wounded. MacBride himself shot and killed the French lieutenant as he aimed a gun at the British boat. The total French losses were two dead and five wounded. Having secured the vessel, the British took her out to sea under the guns of a French battery. (DWW-a real cutting out expedition!)

MacBride’s good service brought him a promotion to master and commander on in 1762, and an appointment to command the fireship HMS Grampus. From there he moved to command the sloop HMS Cruizer in 1763. After some time spent on the Home station, MacBride received a promotion to post-captain in 1765, and took command of the 30-gun HMS Renown. This was followed in 1765 with command of the 32-gun HMS Jason, and a mission to establish a colony on the Falkland Islands. (DWW-so Argentina can be angry at MacBride.)

MacBride arrived with Jason, HMS Carcass and the storeship HMS Experiment, in January 1766, with orders to secure a settlement and to inform any existing inhabitants that the islands were a British possession. The British consolidated Port Egmont, made several cruises in the surrounding waters, and in December came across the French settlement. In a cordial meeting MacBride informed the French governor M. de Neville of the British claim, which the French politely rejected.

Unbeknownst to both de Neville and MacBride, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who had established the French settlement, had agreed to sell the colony to Spain. The resulting tensions between the Spanish and British claims would nearly lead to war in 1770, but in the meantime MacBride returned home, reporting the situation to the government.

He later published a 13-page monograph, in 1770, entitled A Journal of the Winds and Weather…at Falkland Islands from 1 February 1766 to 19 January 1767.

After his return to Britain MacBride was given command of the 22-gun HMS Seaford in 1767 and employed to cruise in the English Channel. He spent several years aboard Seaford, before transferring to take command of the 32-gun HMS Arethusa in 1771, followed by the 32-gun HMS Southampton later that year.

He was in command of Southampton in 1772 when he received orders to command a small squadron tasked with transporting Caroline Matilda, former Queen of Denmark and Norway and sister of King George III, from Elsinore to Stadt. The squadron consisted of Southampton, and two of MacBride’s former commands, Seaford, and Cruizer. In 1773 he took command of HMS Orpheus.

With the outbreak of war with the American colonies, MacBride was appointed to take command of the 64-gun HMS Bienfaisant in 1776. He was present at the Battle of Ushant in 1778, but did not become heavily engaged in the confused action.

In the ensuing argument over the outcome of the battle, MacBride gave evidence in favour of Admiral Keppel that was an important factor in Keppel’s acquittal at his court-martial. MacBride was less supportive of Sir Hugh Palliser.

He remained in command of Bienfaisant, and joined Sir George Rodney’s fleet to relieve Gibraltar. During the voyage the British fleet came across a Spanish convoy transporting naval stores from San Sebastián to Cádiz, and engaged it. The British succeeded in capturing the convoy, while MacBride distinguished himself in engaging the Spanish flagship Guipuscoana, which surrendered to him.

In 1780 the fleet again encountered Spanish ships, this time off Cape St. Vincent. The Spanish fleet, under Admiral Juan de Lángara, were engaged in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, and again MacBride was in the thick of the action.

He took his ship in to engage the San Domingo, with the Bienfaisant narrowly escaping significant damage after her opponent blew up. He then went on to chase down and capture Lángara’s flagship, the 80-gun Fenix.

MacBride sent Lieutenant Thomas Louis aboard to take possession, but as a smallpox outbreak was raging on the Bienfaisant, MacBride did not take the usual step of transferring some of the captured officers and men aboard his own ship. Both ships made it to Gibraltar without incident, after which MacBride was given the honour of taking Rodney’s despatches back to Britain. MacBride set off at once, but was delayed by adverse winds. Consequently his despatches arrived several days after an identical set had reached London, delivered by Captain Edward Thomson, who had left Rodney later than MacBride, but who had had a faster voyage.

Rodney’s fleet returned to Britain, and MacBride rejoined the Bienfaisant. In early August a large French privateer, the 64-gun Comte d’Artois, was reported to have sailed from Brest to cruise off the Irish south coast. MacBride was ordered to sail in company with the 44-gun HMS Charon and to capture the dangerous vessel. After several days in search of the vessel, a mysterious sail was finally sighted early on 13 August, chasing after some of the ships of a convoy departing from Cork.

MacBride ranged up and fell in with the unidentified ship, which hoisted English colours. Both ships came within pistol shot, and it was not until there was some communication between the two ships, that MacBride could be satisfied of her identity. By now the two ships were so close, with Bienfaisant off the Comte de’Artois‘s bow, that neither ship could bring their main guns to bear. Instead both ships opened fire with muskets until MacBride could manoeuvre away and a general action ensued.

After an hour and ten minutes the French vessel surrendered, having had 21 killed and 35 wounded, while Bienfaisant had three killed and 20 wounded. The Charon had only joined the action towards the end of the engagement and had a single man wounded. The capture had an unusual sequel, for just over a year later, and under a different captain, Bienfaisant captured another privateer, this time named Comtesse d’Artois.

In a further coincidence MacBride was appointed in 1781 to command the 40-gun HMS Artois. MacBride served in the North Sea with Sir Hyde Parker’s fleet, and fought against the Dutch at the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1781. After the battle Parker temporarily moved MacBride into the 80-gun HMS Princess Amelia, whose captain, John MacCartney, had been killed during the battle.

MacBride resumed command of Artois after the fleet’s return to port, and continued to cruise in the North Sea. On 3 December he engaged and captured two large 24-gun Dutch privateers, the Hercules and Mars. Nine men were killed and fifteen wounded on Mars, while 13 were killed and 20 wounded on Hercules. Artois had one man killed and six wounded.

By 1782 MacBride was operating in the Channel, and in April was sent out as a scout ahead of the main force under Admiral Samuel Barrington, which aimed to intercept a French squadron that had left Brest bound for the East Indies. He sighted the force on 20 April and alerted Barrington. The British moved in and that day and the following captured over half of the French force. After this success MacBride was appointed to the Irish station in June, where he worked in the impress service while Artois cruised under her first lieutenant.

At the end of the war with America, MacBride left the Artois, but was able to obtain command of the 32-gun HMS Druid. He commanded her until the end of 1782, after which he was temporarily unemployed at sea. MacBride took this opportunity to enter politics, and in 1784 he was elected as MP for Plymouth, holding the seat until 1790. He gave several speeches on naval matters, and sat on the Duke of Richmond’s commission into the defences of Portsmouth and Plymouth between 1785 and 1786.

He opposed a plan for fortifying the naval dockyards, both on the commission and in parliament. In 1788 he returned to an active, though not a seagoing command, when he took over the Plymouth guardship, the 74-gun HMS Cumberland. By 1790, with the threat of the Spanish Armament looming, MacBride took Cumberland to Torbay to join the fleet assembling there under Lord Howe.

MacBride was promoted to rear-admiral in 1793, as part of the general promotion following the outbreak of war. He became commander-in-chief on the Downs station, commanding a frigate squadron with his flag in Cumberland, later transferring his flag to the 32-gun HMS Quebec.

He took possession of Ostend after the French retreat in early 1793, and in October transported reinforcements under General Sir Charles Grey to assist in the defense of Dunkirk. He took command of the 36-gun HMS Flora at the end of the year and sailed from Portsmouth carrying an army under the Earl of Moira to support French royalists in Brittany and Normandy.

Following this service he took command of a small squadron in the Western Approaches, flying his flag in a number of different vessels, including the sloop HMS Echo, the 74-gun HMS Minotaur and the 64-gun HMS Sceptre.

The squadron did not achieve any significant successes, and MacBride had the misfortune to break his leg while mounting his horse, forcing him to temporarily relinquish his duties. He was promoted to rear-admiral of the red in 1794, and later to vice-admiral of the blue.

Promoted to vice-admiral of the white in 1795, MacBride became commander of the squadron in the North Sea assigned to watch the Dutch fleet in the Texel, flying his flag in the 74-gun HMS Russell. He stepped down from the post in late 1795, and was not actively employed at sea again. He was promoted to admiral of the blue on 14 February 1799. Admiral John MacBride died of a paralytic seizure at the Spring Garden Coffee House, London on 17 February 1800.

MacBride married early in his career, but no details are known, other than that his wife was the daughter of a naval officer. She is presumed to have died, for MacBride married Ursula Folkes, eldest daughter of William Folkes of Hillington Hall, in 1774. Their son, John David MacBride, became principal of Magdalen Hall, Oxford. MacBride’s daughter, Charlotte, married Admiral Willoughby Thomas Lake in 1795.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Ralph Abercromby
7 October 1734 – 28 March 1801


Ralph Abercromby

Sir Ralph Abercromby KB was a Scottish soldier and politician. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general in the British Army, was noted for his services during the Napoleonic Wars, and served as Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

He twice served as MP for Clackmannanshire, and was appointed Governor of Trinidad.

He was the eldest son of George Abercromby of Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, and a brother of the advocate Alexander Abercromby, Lord Abercromby. He was born at Menstrie, Clackmannanshire. Educated at Rugby and the University of Edinburgh, in 1754 he was sent to Leipzig University to study civil law, with a view to his proceeding to a career as an advocate.

Abercromby was a Freemason. He was a member of Canongate Kilwinning Lodge No 2, Edinburgh, Scotland

On returning from the continent he expressed a strong preference for the military profession, and a cornet’s commission was accordingly obtained for him (March 1756) in the 3rd Dragoon Guards. He served with his regiment in the Seven Years’ War, and the opportunity thus afforded him of studying the methods of Frederick the Great moulded his military character and formed his tactical ideas.

He rose through the intermediate grades to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of the regiment (1773) and brevet colonel in 1780, and in 1781 he became colonel of the King’s Irish infantry. When that regiment was disbanded in 1783 he retired upon half pay.

Up to this time, he had scarcely been engaged in active service, and this was due mainly to his disapproval of the policy of the government, and especially to his sympathies with the American colonists in their struggles for independence. His retirement is no doubt to be ascribed to similar feelings. On leaving the army he for a time took up political life as Member of Parliament for Clackmannanshire. This, however, proved uncongenial, and, retiring in favour of his brother, he settled at Edinburgh and devoted himself to the education of his children.

However, when France declared war against Great Britain in 1793, he hastened to resume his professional duties. Being esteemed one of the ablest and most intrepid officers in the whole British forces, he was appointed to the command of a brigade under the Duke of York, for service in the Netherlands. He commanded the advanced guard in the action at Le Cateau, and was wounded at Nijmegen. The duty fell to him of protecting the British army in its disastrous retreat out of Holland, in the winter of 1794–1795. In 1795, he received the honour of a Knighthood of the Bath, in acknowledgment of his services.

The same year he was appointed to succeed Sir Charles Grey, as commander-in-chief of the British forces in the West Indies. In 1796, Grenada was suddenly attacked and taken by a detachment of the army under his orders. Abercromby afterwards obtained possession of the settlements of Demerara and Essequibo, in South America, and of the islands of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Trinidad.

In this part of his career Abercromby was involved in crushing the revolt of the Garifuna (Carib) people on Saint Vincent, bringing to an end their centuries-long resistance to European colonization. One of Abercromby’s officers killed the Garifuna chief Joseph Chatoyer on 14 March 1795. While this was a minor campaign on the scale of Abercromby’s overall career, it is well remembered up to the present on Saint Vincent, where Chatoyer is revered as a national hero.

On 17 April 1797, Abercromby, with a force of 7,000-13,000 men, which included German mercenary soldiers and Royal Marines and a 60 to 64 ship armada, invaded the island of Puerto Rico. Island Governor and Captain General Don Ramón de Castro and his forces, consisting of the mostly Puerto Rican born Regimiento Fijo de Puerto Rico and the Milicias Disciplinadas, repelled the attack.

On 30 April, after two weeks of fierce combat, which included prolonged artillery exchanges and even hand to hand combat, Abercromby was unable to overcome San Juan’s first line of defense and withdrew. This was to be one of the largest invasions to Spanish territories in the Americas.

Abercromby returned to Europe, and, in reward for his important services, was appointed colonel of the regiment of Scots Greys, entrusted with the governments of the Isle of Wight, Fort-George and Fort-Augustus, and raised to the rank of lieutenant-general. He held, in 1797–1798, the chief command of the forces in Ireland.

After holding for a short period the office of commander-in-chief in Scotland, Sir Ralph, when the enterprise against the Dutch Batavian Republic was resolved upon in 1799, was again called to command under the Duke of York. The campaign of 1799 ended in disaster, but friend and foe alike confessed that the most decisive victory could not have more conspicuously proved the talents of this distinguished officer.

His country applauded the choice when, in 1801, he was sent with an army to dispossess the French of Egypt. His experience in the Netherlands and the West Indies particularly fitted him for this new command, as was proved by his carrying his army in health, in spirits and with the requisite supplies, in spite of very great difficulties, to the destined scene of action. The debarkation of the troops at Abukir, in the face of strenuous opposition, is justly ranked among the most daring and brilliant exploits of the British army.

A battle in the neighbourhood of Alexandria (21 March 1801) was the sequel of this successful landing, and it was Abercromby’s fate to fall in the moment of victory. He was struck by a spent ball, which could not be extracted, and died seven days after the battle, aboard HMS Foudroyant, which was moored in the harbour.

He was buried in the Commandery of the Grand Master, the Knights of St John, Malta

By a vote of the House of Commons, a monument was erected in his honour in St Paul’s Cathedral, Abercromby Square in Liverpool is named in his honour. His widow was created Baroness Abercromby of Tullibody and Aboukir Bay, and a pension of £2,000 a year was settled on her and her two successors in the title.

On 17 November 1767 Abercromby married Mary Anne, daughter of John Menzies and Ann, daughter of Patrick Campbell. They had seven children. Of four sons, all four entered Parliament, and two saw military service.

  • Hon. Anne Abercromby
  • Hon. Mary Abercromby
  • Hon. Catherine Abercromby
  • George Abercromby, 2nd Baron Abercromby
  • General Hon. Sir John Abercromby
  • James Abercromby, 1st Baron Dunfermline
  • Lt.-Col. Hon. Alexander Abercromby

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