Tullibody History Group
Sir Ralph Abercromby
(1734 - 1801)
Born at Menstrie on 7th October 1734 Ralph Abercromby was the eldest son of George Abercromby of Tullibody and his wife Mary. He was educated at Alloa and Rugby then went on to study law at Edinburgh and Leipzig Universitie.
He joined the army in 1756 with a commission in the 3rd Dragoon Guards and fought through the Seven Years War against the French, rising through the ranks due to good service. He became colonel of the King’s Irish infantry in 1781 retiring on half pay in 1783 when this regiment was disbanded.
From 1774 –1780 he was MP for Clackmannan and Kinross and he was also re-elected to this post at the general election in 1796.
When France declared war on Britain in 1793 he resumed his professional duties and served under the Duke of York in the disastrous campaign in Holland. In severe winter weather he had the task of conducting the retreat of the British Army with the sick and wounded from Holland. His humane conduct of this difficult operation earned him the respect of the Dutch and the British. In 1795 he was created a Knight of the Bath and put in charge of forces in the West Indies.
He had various other appointments and governorships, including commander-in-chief in Ireland, where he did much to restore discipline in the army.
In his 66th year Sir Ralph was put in charge of an expedition to the Mediterranean and then was sent to drive the French from Egypt. He landed at Aboukir Bay and after severe fighting defeated the French at Alexandria on 21stMarch 1801. Unfortunately he was wounded in the battle and died aboard HMS Foudroyant seven days later. His body was buried under the castle of St Elmo in Malta. A monument was erected in St Paul’s Cathedral (London) and his widow was created Baroness Abercromby of Tullibody and Aboukir Bay.
His old friend and commander the Duke of York paid tribute to the great soldier’s memory in general orders:
“ His steady observance of discipline, his ever-watchful attention to the health and wants of his troops, the persevering and unconquerable spirit which marked his military career, the splendour of his actions in the field and heroism of his death, are worthy the imitation of all who desire, like him, a life of heroism and a death of glory.”