James Abercromby Dunfermline - Encyclopedia

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JAMES ABERCROMBY DUNFERMLINE, 1ST Baron (1776-1858), third son of General Sir Ralph Abercromby, was born on the 7th of November 1776. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1801, and became a commissioner in bankruptcy, and subsequently steward for the estates of the 5th duke of Devonshire. In 1807 he was chosen member of parliament for the borough of Midhurst, and in 1812 was returned for Calne by the influence of the 3rd marquess of Lansdowne. He attached himself to the Whigs, but his chief interest was reserved for Scottish questions, and on two occasions he sought to change the method of electing representatives to parliament for the city of Edinburgh. When the Whigs under George Canning came into power in 1827, Abercromby was made judge-advocategeneral, and became chief baron of the exchequer of Scotland in 1830, when he resigned his seat in parliament. This office was abolished in 1832, and Abercromby received a pension of 2000 a year, and was sent as member for Edinburgh to the reformed parliament. After being an unsuccessful candidate for the office of speaker he joined the cabinet of Earl Grey in 1834 as master of the mint. Again a candidate for the speakership in the new parliament of 1835, Abercromby was elected to this office after an exceptionally keen contest by a majority of ten votes. As speaker he was not very successful in quelling disorder, but he introduced several important reforms in the management of private bills. Resigning his office in May 1839 he was created Baron Dunfermline of Dunfermline, and granted a pension of £4000 a year. He continued his interest in the affairs of Edinburgh, and was one of the founders of the United Industrial school. He died at Colinton House, Midlothian, on the 17th of April 1858, and was succeeded in the title by his only son, Ralph. His wife was Marianne, daughter of Egerton Leigh of West Hall, High Leigh, Cheshire. He wrote a life of his father, Sir Ralph Abercromby, which was published after his death (Edinburgh, 1861).

See Spencer Walpole, History of England (London, 1890); Greville Memoirs, edited by H. Reeve (London, 1896); Lord Cockburn's Journal (Edinburgh, 1874).

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